Rose Foundation’s unique role as a bridge between philanthropy and the community has been recognized by state and federal courts, which have appointed the Foundation as a trustee of restitution, cy pres, and mitigation funds. Over the past 22 years, Rose has received approximately 400 settlements related to consumer and environmental issues. Through this program, the Foundation has been entrusted with $50 million in settlement funds and has helped enable grants in California, Washington, Oregon and nationally.
In accordance with charitable law, each settlement document assumes the force of a deed of gift and specifies the allowable uses of the funds. As part of aligning grant awards with the nexus of the settlement, to the extent possible, the Foundation prefers to award grants to organizations that are active in the communities which suffered the original harm.
Strategically Reinvesting Settlements into Communities
Specialized grants funds are created based on settlement requirements. Rose Foundation provides stewardship over the restitution or cy pres funds, takes full responsibility for meeting court-ordered use restrictions, constitutes expert Advisory Boards as needed to oversee the resulting grantmaking initiatives, and prepares full reports as needed describing the use of funds to satisfy U. S. Justice Department and any other oversight requirements. Restitution and cy pres grant funds have included:
- California Watershed Protection Fund: Originally constituted as the San Francisco Bay Citizens Action Fund and seeded with a $900,000 restitution award from Exxon and supplemented by payments from hundreds of additional settlements involving Waterkeepers, California Sportfishing Protection Alliance, and many other non-profit environmental watchdogs, this fund has awarded $15 million to support hands-on restoration, technical research, educational and advocacy projects throughout California, and led to the creation of other funds throughout the Pacific Northwest which have cumulatively awarded another $5 million, as well as partnerships with governmental enforcement agencies that have steered additional millions of dollars to impacted communities.
- Consumer Privacy Rights Fund: Originally seeded with $1.3 million from Union Bank and Cal Fed Bank and supplemented by several other cy pres awards from settlements involving the Utility Consumers’ Action Network and others, this fund has awarded $5 million in support of research, public education and advocacy in California and throughout the US.
- Consumer Financial Education Fund: Created originally by a $4.2 million cy pres award from Bank of America, the fund has awarded more than $5 million in support of financial literacy programs throughout the US.
- Kern County Air Pollution Mitigation Fund: Created with a series of settlements between the Sierra Club and residential developers in the Bakersfield area, the fund has awarded more than $3 million for on-the-ground mitigation projects, including helping to purchase clean-fueled school buses.
- Herbal Products Fund: Created with a small pool of settlements involving individual plaintiffs and manufacturers and distributors of herbal supplements, this fund supports research and advocacy around human health issues related to herbal products, and catalyzed a series of product performance and truth-in-advertising funds which have awarded over $1 million
How We Administer Settlement Funds
Rose Foundation establishes grants funds that closely conform with the nexus of each settlement. Most of these grants funds are advised by an expert funding board. Click here to read in detail how we administer settlement funds.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Tim Little, Executive Director
Email: tlittle[AT]rosefdn.org (please replace AT with @)