History & Mission

The Town Creek Foundation was established in 1981 by Edmund “Ted” Stanley, a retired printing industry executive.  Over the years our grantmaking has ranged across a broad geographic and programmatic scope. In recent years we have sharpened the focus of our grantmaking, and today our mission is to provide resources to help catalyze, support, and accelerate progressive changes in environmental policy and practice within the State of Maryland.

We are supporting research and stakeholder engagement processes to develop strategies for confronting Maryland’s most important environmental challenges. We are funding organizing and advocacy campaigns to build public support for stronger environmental policies and we are supporting administrative advocacy and litigation to reduce pollution and hold polluters accountable. Through all of this we are helping to build a bigger, stronger, and more diverse base of environmentally engaged Marylanders.

In the Fall of 2010 the Town Creek Foundation Board of Trustees decided to ‘sunset’ the foundation over a ten year period. With particular respect to restoring the Chesapeake Bay and transitioning Maryland to a low carbon economy, they believe that the urgency of the challenges and the promise of the opportunities is such as to warrant a full commitment from us. Accordingly, the pace of our grantmaking will accelerate so as to exhaust our endowment sometime around 2021.

We believe that Maryland’s efforts to restore the Bay and reduce greenhouse gas emissions have evolved to the point where a special window of opportunity has opened for substantial progress. In each area the State has established clear goals, an ambitious timetable, and robust planning processes. Over the next ten years the Town Creek Foundation will be doing what we can to help ensure the success of these efforts.

Notwithstanding this, our analysis suggests that these efforts – while valuable and worthy of our support – are limited to the extent that they do not confront fundamental questions about the sustainability of existing, entrenched policies, practices and systems. We believe that Town Creek can also help to create conditions under which these kinds of questions can be fruitfully explored, and that doing so will expand the prospects for a truly sustainable future for the state.

We think that true sustainability and resilience – in an increasingly unstable, crisis-prone world – will depend on fundamental transformations of the systems (including the value systems) by which everyday life is organized. These include the systems by which we make and consume energy, food, and materials, and the systems by which we make and enforce social decisions.

Therefore, while we are identifying and engaging opportunities to support, strengthen and accelerate existing initiatives to achieving Bay restoration and climate change mitigation goals, we will also be promoting work that explains and exemplifies the need for frameworks and processes of an even more transformational nature.