Sustaining Environmental Systems

Photo: Mississippi Park Connection

Our Goal

We strive to enable all Minnesotans to have equitable and sustainable access to healthy land and water.

Our Beliefs

We believe that if a broad base of Minnesotans has positive exposure to and experiences with land and water, they will be enabled to acquire, share, and/or implement a range of environmental approaches resulting in:

  • Effective environmental solutions and stewardship that originate in and are led by and for communities most affected by the environmental impact. 


  • Opportunities for all communities to experience ways of being, learning, and respectfully and mutually leveraging knowledge that provides alternatives to dominant extractive human/land and water relationships that lead to better outcomes for the land, water, and all Minnesotans.


  • Reduced and repaired environmental harms to black, indigenous, people of color (BIPOC), and other historically marginalized communities resulting in restoration of relationships, communities, and environments.

Photo: Metro Blooms

Climate and Racial Justice

As we are learning to prioritize racial and climate justice in our work, we seek partners who are doing the same, acknowledging that climate change:

• Interacts with and worsens existing inequalities in society that are shaped by racism, exclusion, and oppression.

• Requires integrated approaches centering the well-being of human and natural communities most adversely impacted.

• Will be best addressed through knowledge, ideas, and leadership from BIPOC communities and others adversely impacted by climate and other environmental harms.

Photo: Metro Blooms

Our Partners

In addition to prioritizing climate and racial justice in their work, we seek partners who work to sustain healthy land and water.

We acknowledge that a range of environmental approaches could be used to accomplish this outcome and work with partners who promote:

• Information, education, and practices that lead to new, deeper, and/or resurfaced understanding, and/or a renewed relationship with land and water.

• Opportunities for BIPOC and other historically marginalized communities to practice and/or renew culturally based stewardship practices that lead to improved land, water, and community health.

• Sustainable economic options grounded in environmental approaches that meet basic needs, stimulate growth, and create opportunity.

• Policy solutions that center community voice to reduce environmental harms to BIPOC and other historically marginalized communities.

• Two or more of the approaches above, understanding that comprehensive approaches will achieve deeper and more sustainable outcomes. For example, while an organization that works exclusively to help BIPOC youth understand how their behaviors affect the environment through participating in community-wide cleanups may be considered, an organization that engages those same youth in leadership and advocacy to reduce environmental harms to communities while also supporting the communities where the youth live in transitioning to solar power would receive higher consideration.

Photo: Friends of the Mississippi River

The Mortenson Family Foundation may make multi-year grants as an additional way to support partner organizations with two- or three-year grant commitments that are capped at 33% of the following year’s projected grantmaking budget. The Foundation will use its discretion in considering an organization for a multi-year grant.

The Foundation accepts Letters of Inquiry from prospective partners annually.

Geography: Minnesota

Photo: Mississippi Park Connection

Our Committee

Rodrigo Cala

Sachi Graber

Alice Mortenson

Chris Mortenson

Mark Mortenson

Mathias Mortenson

Brett Ramey

Darlene St. Clair

Janiece Watts

“There’s no limit to what we can accomplish when we work together.”

Photo: Minnesota Land Trust