Natural Environment

The Maddox Fund envisions a world in which people and planet flourish together in regenerative systems free from oppression and threat. Central to this vision is the intertwined relationship between humanity and the world around us. “We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny,” as the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. observed. What threatens nature, threatens humanity. As such, our shared liberation is essential.

During our equity journey, The Maddox Fund reflected on what we learn from nature and how we can weave those lessons into our culture and practices.

  • Trees teach us we are stronger together.
  • Grasslands show us that diversity feeds us.
  • Earth teaches us that seeds grow in fertile ground.
  • Water teaches us to bend, adapt and keep moving forward.
  • Animal communities teach us how to lead and follow.

For a full description of what we learned and what it means for the workplace, you can check out our full culture statement here.

Most of our new environmental interest areas seek to connect people and planet and advocate for regenerative policies and practices. We believe this focus honors the legacy of Dan and Margaret who were avid outdoors people and were committed to conservation, including hunting and fishing. Across our focus areas, we are seeking partners with lived commitment to environmental sustainability in policy and practice and a lived commitment to racial justice.

Accountable to our Values

Over 14 years, The Maddox Fund has made grants of $6.2 million toward environment and conservation efforts; only $394,000 went to organizations led by Black, Indigenous, and People of Color. These organizations have historically received smaller grants that constrain their ability to grow and thrive. The Maddox Fund will be mindful of our participation in paternalistic practices and is committed to addressing these disparities in the future.

Environmental Interest Areas

Community-Based Nature Programs

People feeling connected to nature is a first step in understanding how the well-being of people and planet are intertwined. The Maddox Fund is interested in funding programs that get young people outdoors and that examine our symbiotic relationship with the earth. Community-based programs emerge from and are led by people with lived experience and, for Maddox, those systemically restricted from accessing nature. Examples of Community-based Nature Programs might include sustainable practices, land as liberation, camping, nature play, water protection, habitat preservation, environmental education and environmental justice.

Diversifying Environmental Leadership

A common refrain of our environment and conservation partners is that the field has limited diversity and that these limitations are reflected in the composition of their staff and board of directors. The Maddox Fund is interested in funding programs that address this ongoing disparity and the resulting underrepresentation of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color as well as those identifying as queer in the field. Examples of Environmental Leadership Pipeline Programs might include paid internships, paid fellowships and other leadership development programs that support racial diversity in environmental circles.

Hunting & Fishing

Dan and Margaret became conservationists because they observed nature’s beauty while sitting on deer blinds and hiking remote trails. The Maddox Fund will continue supporting hunting and fishing programs that embrace our responsibility to nature. Special attention will be given to programs that advance racial diversity in the next generation of hunters and anglers.

Environmental Advocacy

Studies show that two-thirds of young people experience some level of eco-anxiety. Maddox believes that youth want a larger voice in the future they will inherit. We are interested in funding: 1) youth-led power building around climate change, environmental justice and sustainable futures; and 2) advocacy efforts that advance our conservation commitment.

Apply for a Grant

In our commitment to justice and liberation, Maddox grantmaking has changed.  These changes include new funding processes and a a new set of priorities for reviewing grant applications.

Equity Resources

We have collected equity resources related to historical and systemic inequities, nonprofit operations, and the environment.  We are committed to learning and always welcome any suggestions.

Featured Partners

To see the grants made in the last five years, check out our directory.

Fisk University Outdoor Life Program

$25,000 in 2022 to support the Outdoor Life Program that exposed middle schools students from North Nashville to outdoor activities in the form of fishing and wildlife conservation.

Sunrise Movement Nashville

$8,500 to support the Youth Climate Summit, a  training for Tennessee chapters of the Sunrise Movement, a youth-led climate justice advocacy organization. 

TN Environmental Council

$25,000 in 2022 to provide general operating support to the TN Environmental Council, an organization that is educating and advocating for the conservation and improvement of Tennessee’s environment, communities and public health.

Land Acknowledgement

As we learn more about racial equity,  land acknowledgements are a way to recognize and express gratitude to the First Nations land that we are on. For colonizers, the act of performing a land acknowledgement is a very basic and fundamental step towards reconciliation between Indigenous Peoples and colonizers who occupy the land.

We acknowledge that the Maddox Fund occupies the traditional homelands of Indigenous Peoples and that our office sits near the Trail of Tears death march.  We know that at least eight tribes called Tennessee home, including the Muscogee Band of Creek, Yuchi, Chickasaw, Chickamauga Band of Cherokee, Choctaw, Eastern Band of Cherokee, Shawnee and Seneca. None of these tribes are officially recognized by the state of Tennessee.

Maddox is committed to supporting Indigenous people and nations through ongoing action, and encourages others to create action plans of their own.