- Assets $233,640,422 (2009)
- Grants Received: $0 (2009)
- Grants Awarded: $12,112,837 (2009)
The Jenifer Altman Foundation (JAF) describes itself as a “private foundation dedicated to the vision of a socially just and ecologically sustainable future through program interests in environmental health and mind-body health.” It was named in memory of the granddaughter of David Samuel Gottesman (1885-1956), a Hungarian immigrant who became an investment banker and developed Central National Gottesman, Inc. into a billion-dollar pulp and paper company.
When Jenifer developed cancer in her late forties, she sought treatment at a California holistic center called Commonweal, which attempts to combat disease through such mediums as yoga, meditation, massage, vegetarianism, support groups, and discussion groups. Notwithstanding these efforts, the disease eventually took her life in 1991. Shortly before Jenifer's death, Commonweal President Michael Lerner helped her establish the Jenifer Altman Foundation, which, since its inception, has focused its philanthropy mainly on environmentalist organizations that oppose the use of land for such endeavors as logging, mining, construction, and oil exploration; many of these groups are hostile to a capitalist economic model as well.
A longtime anti-corporate, anti-trade, anti-capitalism activist, Lerner characterized Ms. Altman's death as a tragic by-product of the modern "Age of Extinctions," attributing her demise to climate change, ozone depletion, toxic chemicals, and deforestation. An excerpt from the Altman Foundation website amplifies this worldview:
"It is not a bad thing, we believe, to focus our grantmaking on efforts to end this Age of Extinctions and to help bring the birth of a new Age of Interbeing, to borrow an expression from the great Buddhist teacher and activist Thich Nhat Hanh, in which a deep consciousness of the interdependence of all life will fundamentally transform the primitive death-dealing technologies that we thoughtlessly deploy today into fully conscious technologies that support and sustain the tree of life rather than weaken it. This will require, unquestionably, a deep transformation in human consciousness and human activity on the earth."
In 2005 the Foundation established the Jenifer Altman Awards, which are given annually “in honor of outstanding commitment and service to the promoting and protecting of human and ecological health.”
Among the recent beneficiaries of Jenifer Altman Foundation grants are: Alliance for Global Justice; the Earth Action Network; the Earth Island Institute; the Environmental Defense Fund; Environmental Media Services; the Environmental Working Group; Friends of the Earth; Global Exchange; Greenpeace; the National Religious Partnership for the Environment; the Natural Resources Defense Council; the New America Foundation; Physicians for Social Responsibility; the Public Citizen Foundation; the Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) Charitable Trust; the Rainforest Action Network; the Rockefeller Family Fund; the Sierra Club; the Tides Foundation and the Tides Center; the World Resources Institute; and the World Wildlife Fund.
To view a list of additional noteworthy grantees of the Jenifer Altman Foundation, click here.
(Information on grantees and monetary amounts courtesy of The Foundation Center, GuideStar, ActivistCash, the Capital Research Center and Undue Influence)