Cedar Tree Foundation




Tax ID:


Tax-Exempt Status:


Budget (2015):

Revenue: $8,177,699
Expenses: $7,088,571
Assets: $97,984,396


Private Grantmaking Foundation


Mid-1990s; Re-named Cedar Tree Foundation in 2002

Executive Director:

Sophia M. Kolehmainen

Contact InfluenceWatch with suggested edits or tips for additional profiles.

The Cedar Tree Foundation, formerly known as the David H. Smith Foundation, is a private environmentalist grantmaking foundation. 1 It supports conservation education and environmentalist nonprofits, particularly those based in minority communities and those that offer market-based solutions.

It was endowed by the late David H. Smith, inventor of the vaccine for meningitis.


The Cedar Tree Foundation was founded as the David H. Smith Foundation in the mid-1990’s by David H. Smith, a doctor and entrepreneur who was best known for developing the vaccine for meningitis. 2 Made wealthy through the profits from that vaccine and the sale of his company, Praxis Biologics, Smith was able to spend millions each year on environmentalist projects.

Initially, the Foundation focused on local conservation efforts on Massachusetts’s Cape Cod, such as the creation of Martha’s Vineyard’s Moshup’s Trail and the Polly Hill Arboretum. 3 It was also a close supporter of The Nature Conservancy, which, at the time of Smith’s death, had dispersed $9 million of his grants under the David H. Smith Conservation Research Fellowship Program. 4 As of October 2019, it continues to support that fellowship program.

In 2002, however—just under three years after the death of Smith—the Cedar Tree Foundation, now run by his family, pivoted from local conservation to supporting national environmentalist research and advocacy nonprofits. 5

From 2002 until 2016, it funded market-based projects in two specific categories: environmental health—specifically air pollution—and sustainable farming in urban populations.

In 2017, the Cedar Tree Foundation replaced these categories with two others: the Children’s Environmental Health and the Regenerative Grazing Initiatives, which still focus on marketplace solutions but with an added emphasis on serving minority communities.

Present Activities

Aside from its Children’s Environmental Health and Regenerative Grazing Initiatives, the Cedar Tree Foundation has three other funding spheres. 6

It funds anti-natural gas-exploration efforts in the Delaware River Valley, small community organizing nonprofits in Detroit, and educational fellowships for teachers through the North American Association for Environmental Education.

According to the Cedar Tree Foundation’s most recent publicly available filings, it gives out over $4 million each year to nonprofits under such parameters. 7


The executive director of the Cedar Tree Foundation is Sophia M. Kolehmainen. She has held this position since 2002 and draws no salary. 8

The treasurer and board member of the Cedar Tree Foundation, Rachel Smith, is the daughter of the late David H. Smith. In 2019, she founded the Alternative Foundation to expand upon the work of the Cedar Tree Foundation’s Detroit initiative. 9


According to the Cedar Tree Foundation’s most recent publicly available filings, it has total revenues of $8,177,699 and total expenses of $7,088,571.


  1. Smith, Arnold L, and Richard Insel. “David Hamilton Smith, M.D., 1932–1999: A Tribute.” OUP Academic. Oxford University Press, September 1, 1999.
  2. Freeman, Karen. “David H. Smith, 67, Developer Of Vaccine Against Meningitis.” The New York Times. The New York Times, March 1, 1999.
  3. “David H Smith Biography .” The Smith Fellowship. Accessed October 20, 2019. ; Wells, Julia. “David Smith and Polly Hill Form Unusual Conservation Alliance.” The Vineyard Gazette – Martha’s Vineyard News, August 5, 1997.
  4. Freeman, Karen. “David H. Smith, 67, Developer Of Vaccine Against Meningitis.” The New York Times. The New York Times, March 1, 1999.
  5. “Who We Are.” Cedar Tree Foundation. Accessed October 24, 2019.
  6. “Current Funding Priorities.” Cedar Tree Foundation. Accessed October 24, 2019.
  7. “Cedar Tree Foundation Inc 990s.” ProPublica, May 9, 2013.
  8. “Sophia Kolehmainen .” LinkedIn. LinkedIn. Accessed October 24, 2019.
  9. “Rachel.” Alternative Foundation. Accessed October 24, 2019.
  See an error? Let us know!

Nonprofit Information

  • Accounting Period: December - November
  • Tax Exemption Received: September 1, 2005

  • 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
    2015 Dec Form PF $8,177,699 $7,088,571 $97,984,396 $443,137 $0 $0 $0 $0 PDF
    2014 Dec Form PF $10,605,447 $6,799,332 $101,943,478 $370,724 $0 $0 $0 $0 PDF
    2013 Dec Form PF $8,437,479 $16,133,210 $98,969,569 $169,866 $0 $0 $0 $0 PDF
    2012 Dec Form PF $8,031,897 $9,336,826 $99,216,905 $157,187 $0 $0 $0 $0 PDF
    2011 Dec Form PF $6,946,863 $6,023,957 $94,761,796 $89,119 $0 $0 $0 $0 PDF

    Additional Filings (PDFs)

    Cedar Tree Foundation

    BOSTON, MA 02110-1537