GAIA Endowment Grants are intended to promote understanding and generate specific policies to foster constructive change with economic, social, and sustainability benefits. Organizations seeking grant funding should have expertise and background in public policy, demography, macroeconomics, or sustainability research.

Grant-funded projects are intended to explore the societal challenges in developed economies in the 21st century, with specific emphasis on these Priority Themes:

  • Generational Cohort Realignments: Adaptations to accommodate the varied economic/social impacts – especially of the expanded seniors cohort.
  • Extreme Consumerism: Incentives which serve to moderate patterns of consumption at the individual, corporate, and governance level.

Priority Dimensions within each theme: Problem-Set, Change-Incentives, and Strategy-for-Adoptability

Grant proposals should describe a systematic approach to three essential components intended to set an agenda for real world societal change. 

  • First, the set of problems or challenges with explanation of their importance and why a significant portion of society might be amenable to change.
  • Second, the specific change-incentives (individual, corporate, cultural, voluntary, informally-compelled, statutory) which could achieve a level of acceptance as voluntary or legislative interventions to address the identified set of problems/challenges.
  • Third, the strategy-for-adoptability that focuses on ways to improve the likelihood of social acceptance of various change-incentives and provides the methodology to assess the probability of successful adoption at all levels where change is predicted to be possible.

I Set of problems or challenges

There is abundant literature describing a litany of environmental/ ecological challenges. Many of these issues are exacerbated by the extreme consumerism that is widespread in developed economies. But entrenched consumerism is a bulwark supporting the vibrant economies of developed nations. There is also much discussion and dire warnings about the economic and social dislocation from coming generational realignments. After all, the current labor cohort of employed adult workers provides vital support for public services and particularly for senior’s pensions. For these reasons any discussion of disruption of the status quo will likely be seen as a threat by the public and many policy makers. Unfortunately the ecological threats posed by continuation of the status quo are of far less concern for most of the public – even as some policy makers voice concern for the macro-ecological threats.

Our GAIA Grants have been established with awareness of this context of perceived threats to the status quo – economic, societal, and ecological. Civil society may feel challenged by the coming generational realignment (smaller youth cohort, fewer young adult working-age cohort, and larger elderly cohort) and the impetus to moderate consumerism. It is because of the potential for economic, social, and ecological disruption that GAIA Grants are to focus on promoting constructive change in these perilous times. 

An important consideration in the grant evaluation will be how clearly the proposal clarifies an understanding of various aspects of the problem-set subject of their project:

  •  a comprehensive description of the set of problems/challenges which the project intends to address.
  • a projection of at-risk-issues – to the macro-economic, societal, and ecological disruption – posed by the project’s identified problem-set.
  • an assessment of the evidence of current concern by the  public regarding the problem-set.
  • an analysis of expressed concern by economic, societal, environmental policy makers regarding the problem-set.
  • a projection of potential positive impacts –  in macro-economic, societal, and ecological implications –  which may result from resolution of the problem-set. 
  • an estimation of the likelihood of acceptance by the public and/or policy makers of possible remedial actions that might be taken regarding the problem-set.

II – Specific change-incentives

Specific change-incentives – (individual, corporate, cultural, voluntary, informally-compelled, statutory): 

For years much has been written about the urgency of various ecological threats which are exacerbated by the extreme consumerism of our culture. More recently there is a growing literature about the macro-economic threat of the coming generational cohort realignment (smaller youth, fewer working-age, larger elderly). It is not uncommon that such writings may speak of the crisis, the existential urgency, even the moral imperative that action be taken on identified threats.

Interestingly, there has been less attention to operative incentives or policy prescription that would counter the threats of consumerism and/or generational realignment. Why is that? Surely one part of the answer is the malaise or cultural lack of interest in these threats. But if we are serious about the need for change then we must become more focused on real-world incentives required to ameliorate the consequences of these threats.

An essential element of our GAIA Grants is to foster greater awareness of specific change-incentives. Some may be directed toward individual behaviors through personal education. Some will be corporate where the organization and its internal structures and its economic outputs incentivize change. Others will be broadly based and enlist the support of civic institutions, churches and other values-institutions, and public media messaging.

There will be an emphasis on what can be done to effectively enlist voluntary change. There may be civic or corporate policies that are informally-compelled (an example in recent culture – a restaurant owner’s business decision to have separate non-smoking and smoking sections before it became legislated). And as there becomes a strong shared consensus – driven by economic, environmental, health, bio-diversity, and sustainability considerations – the hand of governance will surely be called upon to create civic and statutory incentives. 

An important grant evaluation consideration will be the extent to which the proposal addresses the continuum of change-incentives that could effectively ameliorate the project’s subject challenge/problem. The goal is to push beyond the moral imperative or environmental necessity or economic rationale on threats related to extreme consumerism and generation cohort-realignment to the question: How might this be changed? 

III – Strategy-for-Adoptability and Assessment

The GAIA Grants program acknowledges that research on its primary purposes – generational realignment and extreme consumerism – may not always result in concrete policy proposals with a likelihood of popular or leadership support. However, if there is an urgent need – some would suggest an existential crisis – regarding the coming generational upheaval and the environmental degradation associated with our consumerist culture, then we should commit our efforts beyond lofty treatises unlikely to be adopted in the next 100 years. 

We believe there is a place for intervention-focused inquiry where a strategy of policy adoption is a central element of the funded project. For that reason an important grant evaluation consideration is whether the policies formulated by the research can be shown to have a likelihood of adoption in the next generation within 20 years. Grant proposals should set forth a “strategy-for-adoptability” and a systematic evaluation methodology to validate the likelihood of adoption of the project’s policy recommendations.

There are many ways to ascertain the level of public or policy-maker acceptance for proposed changes. One approach which may increase the likelihood of policy adoption will be an incrementalist framework where the goal for change is set forth in ways to introduce it conceptually one step at a time. We understand that this focus on policy adoptability may well seem too directive for those accustomed to policy research unfettered by the bounds of reality. The GAIA Grant’s emphasis on policy adoptability is intended as evidence of our commitment to foster real-world near-term change. 



2023 Endowment GrantsPriority, Duration, Number, Scale, Application Timeline

  • Project grants will involve in-depth policy exploration as set forth in our Funding Priorities.
  • Duration. Major project grants may extend 2 to 4 years.
  • Number. There will be at least five grant awards – but not more than eight.
  • Scale. The funding level of major grants will be from $200 thousand to $1 million. At least 3 grants will be awarded in the upper level of the funding range. Smaller grants will range from $50 thousand.
  • Application Timeline. April 10, 2023 earliest date to submit first step Expression-of-Interest (EOI). The last submission date for completed EOI is June 1, 2023.


For more Information on the GAIA Foundation Endowment Grants:

Grant Life Cycle – summarizes the Timelines and Due Dates; the Project Deliverables; and the Steps in the Application.

Application Instructions – describes the Project Review sequence, the Steps in the Application and How to Apply for a Grant.



.We welcome your questions, suggestions, and your words of support for our initiative to become more aware of issues of human population and balance with our planet earth