Resources Legacy Fund




Tax ID:


Tax-Exempt Status:


Budget (2020):

Revenue: $37,185,698
Expenses: $52,971,056
Assets: $108,829,932


Land conservation group




Avi Garbow

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Resources Legacy Fund (RLF) is a left-of-center grantmaking and environmental conservation group. RLF was originally founded to protect California coastlines but has expanded internationally. Most of its efforts are directed toward land conservation, but RLF also engages in political advocacy for environmentalist and left-progressive social-policy goals.

RLF was founded with funding from the David and Lucile Packard Foundation. It has also received major donations from large left-of-center grantmaking groups including the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and Walton Family Foundation.

RLF claims to have generated $30 billion in government funding for public lands and to have protected over five million acres of land. 1


In the 1990s, Jeanne Sedgwick, the conservation program director at the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, asked Michael Mantell, the undersecretary of the California Natural Resources Agency, to increase support for coastal Californian land protection. Mantell soon left the agency and began working with Sedgwick. In 1998, with financial support from David Packard, they launched the Conserving California Landscapes Initiative, a five-year program designed to protect 250,000 acres of coastline. 2

In 2000, Sedgwick and Mantell consolidated their effort into two independent but linked organizations: the Resources Legacy Fund and the Resources Law Group. 3

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Resource Legacy Fund explicitly prioritizes diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) principles in its grantmaking process “by directing funds to those who have been marginalized” historically. 4 RLF’s website states that “Modern society is built, in part, on a foundation of elitism, racism, sexism, ageism, and other forms of oppression” and therefore, “Advancing DEI is a moral imperative and essential to our mission.” 5

In 2019, RLF launched an initiative to increase its commitment to DEI. Since then, its staff and board have gone through “trainings covering topics such as implicit bias, anti-racism, cultural humility, and the history of the conservation movement, which has been marred by exclusion and racism” 6

Partner Organizations

Resources Legacy Fund lists three partner organizations. The Resources Law Group is an environmentalist law group established as an offshoot of RLF. Fund for a Better Future is a left-of-center grantmaker that funds advocacy groups and lobbyists that promote environmentalism and oppose Republicans. The Shared Ascent Fund is a left-wing grantmaking group primarily focused on “advancing economic, racial, and gender equity.” 7 The Shared Ascent Fund, Fund for a Better Future, and RLF are all led by Avi Garbow. 8 9

Public Health Alliance Project

Resources Legacy Fund has financed a project by the Public Health Alliance of Southern California to develop a “Green Infrastructure, Climate Resilience, and Health Equity Policy Agenda” at the local, state, and federal levels. The agenda primarily consists of promoting environmentalist infrastructure projects (like rainwater collection) with an emphasis on supporting minority communities, particularly indigenous groups. 10 11


In 2020, the Resources Legacy Fund earned $37,185,698 in revenue, almost $32 million of which came from grants. 12

RLF has received funding from many left-of-center grant makers, including the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, 13 Arnold Ventures, 14 the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, 15 the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, 16 and the Walton Family Foundation. 17


Avi Garbow is the president of the Resources Legacy Fund, as well as its partner groups, Fund for a Better Future and the Shared Ascent Fund. Garbow became president in 2021, succeeding Michael Mantell, the co-founder of RLF who had run the group since 2000. 18 Garbow has also worked as an environmental advocate for Patagonia, a for-profit clothing company known for supporting environmentalist causes. In the past, Garbow served as senior counselor to the administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency under President Joe Biden, general counsel of the EPA under President Barack Obama, and as a federal environmental crimes prosecutor at the U.S. Department of Justice. 19

Vice president Helena Choi leads the RLF’s diversity, equity, and inclusion committee. She previously worked as a program officer for the Global Development and Population Program of the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, and at the Open Society Foundations. 20

Director of grants management Krista Batey previously worked as associate director, director, and senior director of grantmaking and compliance at Arabella Advisors. 21


In an op-ed at the left-wing Daily Kos, Dan Bacher criticized the Resources Legacy Fund for successfully backing the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA), a bill in California which supposedly put a significant portion of the California coastline under environmental protection. According to Bacher, the protected areas only prohibit fishing, and do not prohibit “offshore oil and gas drilling, environmentally destructive energy projects, military testing, pollution by corporations and cities.” Bacher attributes the passage of the MLPA to Nancy Vogel, the communications director of the RLF, who has a long history with the California government, including serving as deputy secretary for communications at the California Natural Resources Agency from 2015 through 2017, and assistant director for communications at the Department of Water Resources from 2012 through 2015. 22

The David and Lucile Packard Foundation gave more than $8 million to the RLF to support its efforts to push the passage of the MLPA. 23


  1. “The RLF Story.” Resources Legacy Fund. Accessed June 15, 2022.
  2. “The RLF Story.” Resources Legacy Fund. Accessed June 15, 2022.
  3. “The RLF Story.” Resources Legacy Fund. Accessed June 15, 2022.
  4. “Grantmaking.” Resources Legacy Fund. Accessed June 15, 2022.
  5.  “Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.” Resources Legacy Fund. Accessed June 15, 2022.
  6. “Overview of RLF’s Plan for Advancing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.” Resources Legacy Fund. 2020. Accessed June 15, 2022.
  7. “About Us.” Shared Ascent Fund. Accessed June 15, 2022.
  8. “Avi Garbow.” Resources Legacy Fund. Accessed June 15, 2022.
  9. “Partner Organizations.” Resources Legacy Fund. Accessed June 15, 2022.
  10. “Green Infrastructure, Climate Resilience, & Health Equity.” Public Health Alliance of California. May 2022. Accessed June 15, 2022.
  11. “Green Infrastructure: Advance Climate Resilience and Promote Health Equity.” Public Health Alliance of Southern California. Accessed June 15, 2022.
  12. Resources Legacy Fund. Return of an Organization Exempt From Income Tax (Form 990). 2020.
  13. [1] “Resources Legacy Fund.” Macarthur Foundation. Accessed June 15, 2022.
  14. “Resources Legacy Fund.” Arnold Ventures. Accessed June 15, 2022.
  15. “The RLF Story.” Resources Legacy Fund. Accessed June 15, 2022.
  16. “The alarming ties between Jerry Brown’s Delta Tunnels and his faux Marine Protected Act.” Red Green and Blue. October 12, 2017. Accessed June 15, 2022.
  17. Bacher, Dan. “Walton Family Foundation Dumped $91.4 Million Into Greenwashing in 2012: Walmarting the Rivers and Oceans.” Truthout. December 11, 2013. Accessed June 15, 2022.
  18. “Announcement: Resources Legacy Fund Welcomes Avi Garbow as New President.” Resources Legacy Fund. November 18, 2021. Accessed June 15, 2022.
  19. “Avi Garbow.” Resources Legacy Fund. Accessed June 15, 2022.
  20. “Helena Choi.” Resources Legacy Fund. Accessed June 15, 2022.
  21. “Krista Batey.” Resources Legacy Fund. Accessed June 15, 2022.
  22. Bacher, Dan. “The Revolving Door from the Resources Legacy Fund to Director of Newsom’s Water Portfolio Program.” Daily Kos. May 2, 2019. Accessed June 15, 2022.
  23. “The alarming ties between Jerry Brown’s Delta Tunnels and his faux Marine Protected Act.” Red Green and Blue. October 12, 2017. Accessed June 15, 2022.

Donation Recipients

  1. American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) (Non-profit)
  2. American Bird Conservancy (Non-profit)
  3. American Rivers (Non-profit)
  4. Asian Pacific Environmental Network (APEN) (Non-profit)
  5. Backcountry Hunters and Anglers (Non-profit)
  6. BlueGreen Alliance Foundation (Non-profit)
  7. California Coastkeeper Alliance (Non-profit)
  8. Campaign Legal Center (Non-profit)
  9. Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) (Non-profit)
  10. Ducks Unlimited (Non-profit)
  11. Energy Foundation (Non-profit)
  12. Environment America Research and Policy Center (Non-profit)
  13. Environmental Health Coalition (Non-profit)
  14. Evangelical Environmental Network (EEN) (Non-profit)
  15. Friends of the Earth (Non-profit)
  16. Fund for a Better Future (Non-profit)
  17. Fund for the City of New York (Non-profit)
  18. Global Fund for Women (Non-profit)
  19. Heal the Bay (Non-profit)
  20. League of Conservation Voters Education Fund (LCVEF) (Non-profit)
  21. Los Angeles Waterkeeper (Non-profit)
  22. Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) (Non-profit)
  23. National Audubon Society (Non-profit)
  24. National Parks Conservation Association (Non-profit)
  25. National Religious Partnership for the Environment (NRPE) (Non-profit)
  26. National Wildlife Federation (Non-profit)
  27. Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) (Non-profit)
  28. The Nature Conservancy (TNC) (Non-profit)
  29. New America Media (Non-profit)
  30. New Venture Fund (NVF) (Non-profit)
  31. Ocean Conservancy (Non-profit)
  32. Oceana (Non-profit)
  33. Open Space Institute (Non-profit)
  34. Partnership Project (Non-profit)
  35. Partnership Project Action Fund (Non-profit)
  36. Planned Parenthood Mar Monte (Non-profit)
  37. Public Advocates (Non-profit)
  38. Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (Non-profit)
  39. RepresentUS Education Fund (Non-profit)
  40. Roosevelt Institute (Non-profit)
  41. Rose Foundation for Communities and the Environment (Non-profit)
  42. San Francisco Baykeeper (Non-profit)
  43. SisterSong (Non-profit)
  44. Social and Environmental Entrepreneurs (Non-profit)
  45. Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) (Non-profit)
  46. Strategic Actions for a Just Economy (SAJE) (Non-profit)
  47. Surfrider Foundation (Non-profit)
  48. Taxpayers for Common Sense (Non-profit)
  49. Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership (Non-profit)
  50. Trout Unlimited (Non-profit)
  51. Trust for Conservation Innovation (For-profit)
  52. Trust for Public Land (Non-profit)
  53. Western Conservation Foundation (Non-profit)
  54. Western Environmental Law Center (Non-profit)
  55. Wilderness Society (Non-profit)
  56. World Wildlife Fund (Non-profit)
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Nonprofit Information

  • Accounting Period: December - November
  • Tax Exemption Received: December 1, 1998

  • Available Filings

    Period Form Type Total revenue Total functional expenses Total assets (EOY) Total liabilities (EOY) Unrelated business income? Total contributions Program service revenue Investment income Comp. of current officers, directors, etc. Form 990
    2020 Dec Form 990 $37,185,698 $52,971,056 $108,829,932 $10,246,906 N $31,625,799 $1,589,677 $1,916,676 $1,584,674 PDF
    2019 Dec Form 990 $46,839,654 $43,732,870 $119,775,483 $7,361,263 N $43,117,911 $757,481 $2,878,186 $2,202,795 PDF
    2018 Dec Form 990 $53,881,281 $42,257,855 $111,513,686 $7,975,843 N $50,591,348 $361,626 $2,481,018 $1,255,464 PDF
    2017 Dec Form 990 $48,699,055 $45,079,223 $105,688,396 $9,457,385 N $46,709,215 $112,229 $1,702,424 $1,227,226
    2016 Dec Form 990 $96,724,079 $43,480,869 $104,767,349 $7,407,450 N $96,196,546 $75,320 $452,213 $1,466,048
    2015 Dec Form 990 $34,151,251 $27,041,225 $53,504,978 $9,469,320 N $33,718,590 $252,985 $179,676 $1,157,826 PDF
    2014 Dec Form 990 $25,370,774 $29,078,900 $46,785,507 $9,922,302 N $25,146,258 $67,105 $156,992 $987,010 PDF
    2013 Dec Form 990 $31,733,662 $33,189,494 $51,285,262 $11,017,214 N $31,554,634 $29,519 $149,509 $173,102 PDF
    2012 Dec Form 990 $34,990,333 $36,116,778 $54,205,287 $12,495,964 N $34,779,223 $13,815 $197,258 $183,472 PDF
    2011 Dec Form 990 $33,650,280 $29,305,110 $60,764,559 $17,948,264 N $33,446,600 $42,545 $161,993 $267,390 PDF
    2010 Dec Form 990 $35,512,265 $32,033,145 $60,612,444 $22,137,562 N $35,315,000 $42,562 $154,550 $175,016 PDF

    Additional Filings (PDFs)

    Resources Legacy Fund

    555 CAPITOL MALL STE 1095
    SACRAMENTO, CA 95814-4608