Earth Day Network




Tax ID:


Tax-Exempt Status:


Budget (2021):

Revenue: $3,828,196
Expenses: $3,677,483
Assets: $1,412,741


Environmental Advocacy Organization




Gaylord Nelson, Denis Hayes

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Earth Day Network is a nonprofit organization that is behind Earth Day, a global environmentalist holiday celebrated on April 22. Earth Day was created as a day to organize activists to host local protests advocating for environmentalist policies. Earth Day Network claims to have over one billion participants each year with demonstrations held in over 192 countries. 1

In an interview with website The Rumpus that discussed the motivation for the founding of Earth Day Network, cofounder Denis Hayes argued it is not possible for private companies to single-handedly eliminate pollution in a free market, but instead, public policy should restrict companies from being able to engage in activities it claims cause pollution. He goes on to specify what primary policy recommendations he has, which includes regulating energy use of big buildings, subsidizing electric vehicle companies, public funding of an electric train system, and eliminating the use of conventional energy and relying on weather-dependent energy. 2

Based on testimony from Nixon White House Domestic Policy Advisor John Ehrlichman in which he claimed then-President Richard Nixon witnessed the amount of support for the first Earth Day and wanted to capture the support of the movement, Earth Day Network claims credit for the founding of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). 3 4 5


In 1969, Denis Hayes and then-U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson (D-WI) met to discuss how an environmentalist movement could enact policy changes based on the ideas in Rachel Carson’s book Silent Spring, which has been credited as the driving force behind the banning of the pesticide DDT. 6 7 8  Hayes and Nelson came up with Earth Day, first observed on April 22, 1970, as an annual holiday to organize protests that advocate for environmentalist policies. 9

In an interview with Time, Denis Hayes recalled receiving support from the United Auto Workers (UAW) labor union, which helped pay for a phone-banking operation to organize local demonstrations nationally on Earth Day. He also stated that it had hired organizers to attempt to recruit college students who were anti-war activists during the Vietnam War, but he claims organizers mostly found success in recruiting college-educated stay-at-home mothers. 10

Earth Day Network reports that with a staff of 85 organizers, over 20 million people participated in the first Earth Day event in 1970 through protests and rallies. 11

In anticipation of Earth Day 1990, Denis Hayes was recruited by Earth Day Network to organize global celebrations of the event, having over 200 million participants in 141 countries, which it claimed helped start the first United Nations Earth Summit in 1992 in Rio de Janeiro. A developing focus for Earth Day Network at the time was on recycling. 12

Earth Day Network reports that it solicited Denis Hayes to lead its campaigns headed into the 2000s, including a focus on global warming and weather-dependent energy. It states that Earth Day 2000 had over 5,000 participating groups in 184 countries and used the internet to begin organizing activists. 13

By Earth Day 2010, Earth Day Network reported over 1 billion people engaged with the event and had over 75,000 partner organizations globally in 192 countries. Also in 2010, it launched A Billion Acts of Green and the Canopy Project. 14


Canopy Project

The Canopy Project was started by Earth Day Network in 2010 and uses donations to plant trees in nurseries across the globe. It reports that it has planted millions of trees since the project started and specifically chooses locations based on a perceived need for trees to address so-called climate change. As of October 2023, the Canopy Project states that it is planting trees in the Mt. Elgon region of Uganda, the Himalayas in India, near Sierra Gorda in Mexico, and in Madagascar. 15

A Billion Acts of Green

A Billion Acts of Green, a project of Earth Day Network which it once described as “the world’s largest environmental service campaign,” advocates for individuals to make environmentalist-aligned choices, which can include reducing energy consumption or reducing consumption of natural resources in general. The campaign is done under the guise of reducing carbon emissions to protect the environment. 16

Climate Education

Earth Day Network has a Climate Education campaign that promotes educational materials that claim human activities are catastrophically affecting climate change. It advocates for teachers and educators to incorporate Earth Day Network’s climate curriculum to motivate students to engage in environmentalist activism and advocacy and alter their own lifestyles as well. 17 The Climate Education campaign has a set of environmentalist principles for teachers to include in their lessons, which instructs teachers to teach students humans are responsible for catastrophic climate events and that “Social, Racial, and Environmental Factors […] are associated with experiencing and mitigating climate change.” It also asks teachers to incorporate social-emotional learning (SEL) practices in lesson planning. 18

Foodprints for the Future

Foodprints for the Future is an Earth Day Network campaign against production, transportation, and storage of food in ways that it claims would impact the environment. It specifically criticizes using natural resources and emitting greenhouse gasses diffused by plants and animals as it states they make up 30 percent of greenhouse emissions. Foodprint for the Future campaigns for people to eat alternatives to animal products under the guise of environmentalism. 19 20

Foodprints for the Future also has a 20/20 Pledge that asks colleges and universities to commit to replacing 20 percent of animal products sold through their food services with alternatives and to reduce waste by 20 percent. 21


Denis Hayes is a cofounder of Earth Day Network and has been a main organizer of its various campaigns from the time of its inception in 1970 through the 2000s. 22 After the creation of Earth Day Network, Hayes also began working as a senior fellow at WorldWatch Institute, an environmental advocacy organization. In 1979, President Jimmy Carter appointed Hayes as director of the Federal Solar Energy Research Institute (SERI), which included advocating for and research of solar energy use and overseeing a $130 million annual budget. 23 24 In 1992, he was asked to advise the Bullitt Foundation on initiatives it could pursue. He recommended they pursue environmentalist advocacy and has since worked as the foundation’s CEO. 25 26

Kathleen Rogers is the president of Earth Day Network. She is an attorney that specializes in environmental public policy and law. Rogers has previously worked as chief wildlife counsel for the National Audubon Society and several other nonprofit advocacy groups and law firms. 27


According to its tax returns, Earth Day Network reported having $3.8 million in total revenue in 2021. 28 It also reported having $3.6 million in total expenses, including $2.0 million spent on employee salaries and compensation and $244,000 spent on grants. 29


  1. “The History of Earth Day.” Earth Day, August 9, 2023.
  2. “The Rumpus Interview with Earth Day Organizer Denis Hayes.” The  April 22, 2009.
  3. “The History of Earth Day.” Earth Day, August 9, 2023.
  4. Waxman, Olivia B. “Earth Day Founder on What to Know about the First Earth Day.” Time, April 19, 2019.
  5. EPA history: Earth Day | US EPA – U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Accessed October 1, 2023.
  6. “The History of Earth Day.” Earth Day, August 9, 2023.
  7. Trewavas, Tony. “Carson No ‘beacon of Reason’ on DDT.” Nature News, June 27, 2012.
  8. Ludwig, Hayden. “Margaret Sanger: The Woman Who United the Left.” Capital Research Center, May 19, 2020.
  9. “The History of Earth Day.” Earth Day, August 9, 2023.
  10. Waxman, Olivia B. “Earth Day Founder on What to Know about the First Earth Day.” Time, April 19, 2019.
  11. “The History of Earth Day.” Earth Day, August 9, 2023.
  12.  “The History of Earth Day.” Earth Day, August 9, 2023.
  13. “The History of Earth Day.” Earth Day, August 9, 2023.
  14. “The History of Earth Day.” Earth Day, August 9, 2023.
  15. “The Canopy Project.” Earth Day, February 27, 2023.
  16. “A Billion Acts of Green: Reduce Your Ecological Footprint.” Earth Day, September 3, 2013.
  17.  “Climate and Environmental Literacy.” Earth Day, September 18, 2023.
  18. “Climate Literate Lesson Guide.” Earth Day Network. Accessed October 2, 2023.
  19. “Climate Change and the American Diet Final Report.” Earth Day Network. Accessed October 2, 2023.
  20. “Foodprints for the Future.” Earth Day, February 2, 2023.
  21. “20/20 Pledge.” Earth Day, March 15, 2021.
  22. “The History of Earth Day.” Earth Day, August 9, 2023.
  23. “The Modern Environmental Movement.” PBS. Accessed October 1, 2023.
  24. Schwartz, John. “The ‘profoundly Radical’ Message of Earth Day’s First Organizer.” The New York Times, April 20, 2020.
  25. “Bullitt Foundation Staff.” The Bullitt Foundation Staff Comments. Accessed October 1, 2023.
  26. Schwartz, John. “The ‘profoundly Radical’ Message of Earth Day’s First Organizer.” The New York Times, April 20, 2020.
  27. Kathleen Rogers.” World Bank Live. Accessed October 1, 2023.
  28. Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax (Form 990). Earth Day Network Inc. 2021. Part I, Line 12.
  29. Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax (Form 990). Earth Day Network Inc. 2021. Part I, Lines 13-18.
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Nonprofit Information

  • Accounting Period: December - November
  • Tax Exemption Received: May 1, 1995

  • 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
    2021 Dec Form 990 $3,828,196 $3,677,483 $1,412,741 $323,462 N $3,653,830 $0 $193 $411,065
    2020 Dec Form 990 $3,459,448 $4,428,111 $1,639,598 $384,156 N $3,310,572 $0 $132 $411,876
    2019 Dec Form 990 $3,850,304 $4,027,240 $2,556,980 $307,109 N $3,889,161 $0 $7,124 $432,552 PDF
    2018 Dec Form 990 $3,479,660 $2,302,615 $2,555,383 $134,231 N $3,526,653 $0 $732 $435,392 PDF
    2017 Dec Form 990 $3,909,898 $2,970,282 $1,394,765 $149,713 N $3,952,438 $0 $1,124 $395,861 PDF
    2016 Dec Form 990 $1,297,225 $1,817,725 $338,399 $32,963 N $1,309,818 $0 $641 $443,009 PDF
    2015 Dec Form 990 $3,537,710 $2,865,697 $909,353 $83,417 N $3,520,608 $0 $93 $558,469 PDF
    2014 Dec Form 990 $1,524,618 $1,455,023 $199,372 $45,449 N $1,493,807 $0 $286 $513,432 PDF
    2013 Dec Form 990 $1,398,369 $1,560,664 $159,322 $79,043 N $1,327,562 $0 $105 $601,013 PDF
    2012 Dec Form 990 $1,594,049 $2,834,186 $375,155 $125,899 N $1,617,041 $0 $1,558 $662,863 PDF
    2011 Dec Form 990 $928,786 $2,465,857 $1,535,100 $53,764 N $937,157 $0 $5,377 $651,991 PDF

    Additional Filings (PDFs)

    Earth Day Network

    1616 P ST NW STE 340
    WASHINGTON, DC 20036-1458