Chino Cienega Foundation




Tax ID:


Tax-Exempt Status:


Budget (2015):

Revenue: $275,532
Expenses: $335,793
Assets: $7,088,675


Private Grantmaking Foundation


Stephen C. Nichols



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Chino Cienega Foundation (CCF) is a California-based private grantmaking foundation that funds environmentalist activism and advocacy related to the effects of the Vietnam War. Chino Cienega maintains no paid staff, but is completely run by its board of directors and advisory board. 1

It hands out small-scale grants, operating heavily in Southeast Asia, in countries such as Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. Much of the foundation’s work deals with the impact of the Vietnam War; for example, the 2004 Fund for Reconciliation and Development and War Legacies Project both address the impact of the effects of Agent Orange. 2 Chino Cienega Foundation has also partnered with the American Friends Service Committee, a left-aligned foreign policy organization associated with the Quaker religious movement. 3


Stephen C. Nichols, President and Founder of Chino Cienega Foundation, is a former Washington, D.C. attorney with experience representing non-profits. He is former assistant to the general counsel of the 1977 Privacy Protection Study Commission. 4

Robert M. Wolcott, in addition to his work as an economic consultant, is chairman of the board of the Environmental Protection Network. He is a former Deputy Assistant Administrator for Policy at the EPA, and later worked as director of the divisions of Water Policy, Agriculture, and Economic Analysis at the EPA in Washington, D.C. 5

Lauren A.B. Nichols, graduate of Duke University’s School of the Environment, is Technical Manager of the American Carbon Registry, which manages the regulation of California’s carbon cap-and-trade system. 6 7

June Taylor is a former communications director for the Center for Climate Strategies,8 as well as Get America Working, a think tank that endeavors to replace payroll taxes with a carbon tax. 9
She also edited and coordinated the 2007 Montana Climate Change Action Plan. 10

Chet Tchozewski is a longtime environmental activist, former staff member of the American Friends Service Committee, and former executive director of Greenpeace Pacific Southwest. He is founder of the Global Greengrants Fund, which hands out small-scale grants for environmentalist and left-leaning policy issues worldwide, with a focus on mining. 11 He is founder and CEO of the RTC Impact Fund, a Colorado-based environmental legal advocacy group. He sits on the board of directors and is co-founder of business mediation firm Collaborative Decision Resources, and is also co-founder of left-leaning social advocacy group Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center. 12 In a July 2015 interview Tchozewski is quoted as saying “There’s very little hope that we’ll create a sustainable global economy that doesn’t include some kind of mining.” 13

Sarah J. Benson is secretary and treasurer of the foundation and a trustee of the Benson-Nichols Trust. 14

Stimson/Mekong Project

The Stimson Center, a left-leaning environmental and social advocacy group, began an initiative in 2006 known as the Mekong Policy Project, which focuses on limiting the building and development of hydroelectric dams in the Mekong River region of Southeast Asia. This is achieved through their partnership with various NGOs such as the Institute for the Study of Natural Resources and Environmental Management and the Center for Water Resources Conservation and Development. 15

Chino Cienega Foundation played a pivotal role in the funding of this project, providing its start-up funding and small yearly grants to sustain it. 16

Other Projects

While Chino Cienega Foundation generally restricts its grantmaking to small amounts, in 2014 it made a short-term loan to Friends of Palm Springs in the amount of $350,000 to purchase land in California for land conservation purposes. 17

In 2009 Chino Cienega Foundation began funding the Activist Video Archive, a series of long-form interviews with left-wing and radical-left political and environmental activists in California. Interview subjects include former ACLU executive director Ramona Ripston, anti-death penalty nun Patricia Krommer, and Greek revolutionary Aris Anagnos. 18

In 2010 Chino Cienega Foundation gave funding to build the Mine Risk Education and Visitor’s Center in Quang Tri, Vietnam, as well as a $20,000 donation to Project RENEW to support prosthetics training and education. 19

Other programs include the funding of digitization and archive of ancient texts (Vietnamese Nom Preservation Foundation), a series of climate change workshops (Partners for Innovative Strategies in Asia), and the funding of studies on the preservation of the wetlands in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley (A Rocha Lebanon). 20


  1. Chino Cienega Foundation. “Welcome to Chino Cienega Foundation.” Website. Undated. Accessed January 13, 2020.
  2. Chino Cienega Foundation. “Global Grantmaking During Our First Decade.” Website. Undated. Accessed January 13, 2020.
  3. Discover the Networks. “American Friends Service Committee (AFSC). Website. Undated. Accessed January 14, 2020.
  4. Chino Cienega. “Board of Directors.” Website. Undated. Accessed January 13, 2020.
  5. Environmental Protection Network. “Board of Directors.” Environmental Protection Network Website. Undated. Accessed January 15, 2020.
  6. American Carbon Registry.  “What We Do.” American Carbon Registry Website. Undated. Accessed January 15, 2020. 
  7. American Carbon Registry.  “Our Team.” American Carbon Registry Website. Undated. Accessed January 15, 2020.
  8. Chino Cienega Website. “Board of Directors.” Website. Undated. Accessed January 13, 2020.
  9. Get America Working. “The Big Idea.” Get America Working Website. Undated. Accessed. January 13, 2020.
  10. Montana Climate Change Advisory Committee. “Montana Climate Change Action Plan.” Deq.Mt.Gov Website. Undated. Accessed January 15, 2020.
  11. Global Greengrants Fund. “What We Do.” Global Greengrants Fund Website. Undated. Accessed January 15, 2020. 
  12. Collaborative Decision Resources. “Our Board.” Collaborative Decision Resources Website.” Undated. Accessed January 20, 2020.
  13. Mendenhall, Megan. “Mining & Community: Deep Impact Investing.” RSF Social Finance Website. July 22, 2015. Accessed. January 20, 2020.
  14. Chino Cienega Website. “Board of Directors.” Website. Undated. Accessed January 13, 2020.
  15. Stimson. “Mekong Policy Project.” Website. Undated. Accessed January 24, 2020.
  16. Stimson. “Chino Cienega.” Website. July 11. 2014. Accessed January 24, 2020.
  17. Arabella Advisors et al. “Essentials of Impact Investments.” Arabella Advisors website. 2015. Accessed January 20, 2020. 
  18. Activist Video Archive. “Featured Voices.” Activist Video Archive Website. Undated. Accessed February 5, 2020.
  19. Peace and Security Index. “Chino Cienegs Foundation: Mine Risk Education and Visitor’s Center.”
  20. Chino Cienega Foundation. “Global Grantmaking During Our First Decade.” Website. Undated. Accessed January 13, 2020.
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Nonprofit Information

  • Accounting Period: December - November
  • Tax Exemption Received: February 1, 2003

  • 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 $275,532 $335,793 $7,088,675 $6,988 $0 $0 $0 $0 PDF
    2014 Dec Form PF $370,923 $416,747 $7,142,246 $298 $0 $0 $0 $0 PDF
    2013 Dec Form PF $586,689 $398,406 $7,189,175 $1,403 $0 $0 $0 $0 PDF
    2012 Dec Form PF $898,256 $413,940 $7,000,761 $1,272 $0 $0 $0 $0 PDF
    2011 Dec Form PF $278,207 $368,751 $6,890,883 $375,710 $0 $0 $0 $0 PDF

    Additional Filings (PDFs)

    Chino Cienega Foundation

    PALM SPRINGS, CA 92262-4449