Animal Protection Program

Due to the large number of proposals already submitted, we are no longer accepting Letters of Interest for our September 2024 Board Meeting. We will next reopen the grants portal on Monday, November 11, 2024 for our February 2025 Board Meeting. Thank you.


Animal Protection Program Overview

Guided by founder Annie Lee Roberts’ desire to eliminate fear, pain, and suffering of all animals, the Summerlee Foundation promotes a new ethic toward our fellow beings. We support efforts to research, rehabilitate, rescue, protect, and advocate for animals. Our grantees give second chances to companion animals and injured or orphaned wildlife, provide refuge and sanctuary for exploited wild and domestic animals, and increase the understanding and protection of wildlife commonly vilified. Collectively, we advance and expand the rights of animals, defend the laws that protect them, and create policies and programs to address grievances against them. Through thousands of grants totaling over $65 million, the Summerlee Foundation is honored to play a small role in the accomplishments of so many passionate, effective organizations in their tireless work to protect animals.

Program Goals

Our aim is to help the most overlooked, underfunded, and heavily exploited animals. Much of our funding goes to small and medium-sized lean and agile groups where we believe our contribution can be utilized quickly with an out-sized impact. We believe in balancing urgent, direct care for individual animals with efforts to address the root causes of suffering to affect enduring, systemic change. We know we can’t often rescue, adopt, or rehab our way out of core problems.

Funding Priorities

The focus of our grantmaking evolves over time as progress is made in some areas and new threats and opportunities emerge in others. Our current priorities are as follows:


Most of our funding is within the United States, with smaller amounts directed elsewhere in the Americas. Special emphasis is placed on communities that are the most challenged and underserved.

Program Areas

Focus on advocacy/educational campaigns and ethical research protecting North American wildlife, including big cats, bears, coyotes; efforts to reform state wildlife agencies that set policy and management practices; wildlife rehabilitation facilities

Animal Sanctuaries
Focus on domestic and captive wild animal sanctuary facilities; must be verified or accredited by the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries (GFAS)

Farmed Animals
Focus on efforts to decrease cruelty and reform practices in industrial animal farming

Focus on sterilization and Trap-Neuter-Return, primarily in rural or underserved communities and primarily in the United States and Canada

Focus on sterilization in Latin America or First Nations communities

Emergency Funding for Animal Cruelty Cases
May be awarded through the Annie Lee Roberts Emergency Animal Rescue Fund administered by Greater Good Charities; contact Denise Bash, for fund availability

We also consider timely, creative, compelling projects outside of our funding priorities.

Eligibility & Guidelines

Must be a 501(c)(3) public charity. We do not fund individuals. Animal sanctuaries must be accredited or verified by the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries. We generally do not fund capital campaigns, endowments, buildings, government agencies, organizations with large cash reserves, reintroduction of ‘listed’ endangered species, and land preservation. Organizations should have animal protection as their primary purpose.

We also respectfully ask organizations to wait 18 months between receiving a Summerlee Foundation grant and applying for another, although we recognize that some exceptions may be necessary to this general rule. This spacing allows us to reach more and new organizations rather than fund the same (though solid) organizations year after year.

Application Process

We strive to make it easy to apply to the Summerlee Foundation, provide funds with the fewest possible strings or conditions (most grants are general support), and then request a reasonable amount of grant reporting, including a simple Final Report. We want to be of assistance, not a hinderance.

The first step in the grant process is to submit a Letter of Interest during one of the designated “open periods” prior to our Board Meetings held three times a year (February, May, and September). Our grant process is fully online and explained on the How to Apply page. Out of fairness to all grantseekers, we publicize in advance when our Grant Portal will begin accepting applications, and then close the portal when the maximum number of submissions are received (typically within a week).

Thank You

Thank you for your interest in the Summerlee Foundation and for being an animal advocate. While we celebrate many successes, we must also confront the emerging and expanding threats to our most vulnerable animal populations such as climate change, exploitation of animals on an industrial scale, wildlife disease and displacement, and continued companion animal overpopulation. The challenges are serious and many. By working together, creatively and opportunistically, with vision and wisdom, we will continue to protect animals from cruelty and neglect.

The Summerlee Foundation is enormously proud of the dedication and achievements of our grantees and congratulates all animal advocates for their vision, commitment, and unceasing efforts to make a difference in the lives of so many.

Mitchell Fox, Program Director,

Download Guidelines


We’re happy to help—please contact us for more information.