Animal Protection Program

The Animal Protection Program will begin accepting LOI’s November 1, 2023 (closing when the maximum number has been reached). LOI’s received during this period will be reviewed for possible consideration at our Board of Directors meeting on February 27, 2024.


Animal Protection Program Overview

The Summerlee Foundation promotes a new ethic toward our fellow beings, supporting 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 domesticated animals, increase the understanding and protection of wild carnivores, and bring about the demise of industries, contests, and practices that abuse animals. Collectively, we alleviate fear, pain, and suffering in animals’ lives, advance and expand the rights of animals, defend the laws that protect them, and create policies and programs to address new grievances against them. Through thousands of grants totaling over $60 million and counting, the Summerlee Foundation is honored to play a small role in the accomplishments of so many passionate, committed organizations in their tireless work to protect animals.

Program Goals

Our aim is to help the most overlooked, underfunded, and heavily exploited animals. The majority of our funding goes to small and medium-sized, lean and agile groups where we believe our contribution can be used quickly and have an out-sized impact. Our grant making is focused on assisting organizations in the United States (with a limited amount of Canadian funding). We believe in balancing hands-on, urgent, direct care for individual animals with efforts to address the root causes of suffering to affect a more enduring, systemic change. We know we can’t rescue, adopt or rehab our way out of core problems.

Funding Priorities

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

  • Animal Sanctuaries
    Emphasis on advocacy and policy engagement; must be GFAS accredited or verified
  • Free Ranging Cats*
    Emphasis on strategic Trap-Neuter-Vaccinate- Release
  • Native Wild Animals
    Emphasis on efforts to reform state wildlife management practices
  • Wildlife Rehabilitation
    Emphasis on policy engagement complementing hands-on animal care
  • Unexpected Opportunities
    Timely, compelling projects outside established interest areas
  • Animal Cruelty
    Emergency funding for animal cruelty cases is awarded separately, through the Annie Lee Roberts Emergency Animal Rescue Fund, administered by Greater Good Charities. Contact Denise Bash,

* Note our companion animal focus is deliberately on cats since they continue to lag behind dogs in trendlines and key indicators of progress. In particular we find feral and free-roaming cats to be among the most overlooked and underserved of the animal shelter/rescue issues. Nor do we fund “access to care” projects at this time, given the amount of well-deserved attention this topic is receiving from other public, private, and charitable funders.

    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. With rare exceptions we do not fund capital campaigns, endowments, buildings, government entities, organizations with large cash reserves, organizations that do not have animal protection as the primary purpose, cat and dog sanctuaries, dog- centered projects, “access to care” programs, endangered species reintroduction, or land preservation.

    We also respectfully ask organizations to wait 18 months between receiving a Summerlee Foundation grant and applying for another. This spacing allows us to reach more and new organizations rather than fund the same (albeit great) 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 burden.

    The first step in the grant process is to submit a Letter of Interest during one of the designated periods prior to our board meetings in February, May, and September. Our grant process is fully online and you can find detailed instructions on the How to Apply page.

    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: climate change, persecution and exploitation of animals on an industrial scale, wildlife extinction and disease, companion animal abandonment, and intentional cruelty and neglect. The challenges are serious and many. By working together, creatively and opportunistically, with vision and wisdom, we will continue to protect and give aid to the underserved, persecuted, and voiceless.

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

    Mitchell Fox, Program Director,

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