Seeley Swan Pathfinder -

By Andi Bourne

The Cinnabar Foundation awards $401,500 in grants


MISSOULA – The Cinnabar Foundation is designed to give life and strength to Montana’s conservation traditions and the people who will carry them into the future. The Foundation continued this mission by awarding 68 organizations with grants ranging from $1,000-$15,000. Local organizations that received grants this year included the Blackfoot Challenge, Clearwater Resource Council and Swan Valley Connections.

The Cinnabar Foundation, established in 1983, by philanthropists Len and Sandy Sargent annually awards grants to environmental and conservation organizations operating in Montana and the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. Since 1985, the Cinnabar Foundation has awarded nearly 2,000 grants exceeding $8.7 million dollars in total funding to organizations and projects engaged in the Foundation’s areas of interest: climate action; private and public land conservation; environmental advocacy, education and research; Montana conservation history; sustainable communities and agriculture; watershed partnerships and youth in conservation programs. These grants exceed $8.3 million in total conservation funding.

This year the Foundation’s trustees reviewed applications from 93 nonprofit organizations. They awarded $401,500 to 68 organizations. The Blackfoot Challenge and Swan Valley Connections each received $10,000 and CRC was awarded $3,000 in general operating grants.

For a complete list of Cinnabar’s 2019 grantees, and to learn more about the Foundation’s grant program, visit

After 22 years of service as the Cinnabar Foundation’s board president, Robin Tawney Nichols handed over the reins of the Foundation to Gordon “Corky” Brittan during the spring meeting of the board of trustees.

Brittan has served as the Foundation’s vice president since 2012. Like his predecessor, Corky and his wife Vanessa, had known Cinnabar’s founders Len and Sandy Sargent for decades. Born in Chicago, Corky first fell in love with Montana where he vacationed often with his parents on the ranch they had purchased with friends near Livingston. Having earned an undergraduate degree from Amherst College and a Ph.D. in Philosophy from Stanford University, Brittan found a way to return to Montana and permanently settle his family on their own ranch in the same area.

Both a rancher and a retired philosophy professor who taught at Montana State University for 35 years, Brittan brings to the Cinnabar Foundation a pragmatic, introspective and long-view approach to philanthropy and conservation stewardship.

“For much of the history of the West, the shots have been called by distant interests. I want Montanans to provide our own answers to Montana questions. I want our young people to be the leaders of change in the West,” said Corky.

“The beauty and strength of the Cinnabar Foundation is the volunteer board’s rock-solid commitment to the Foundation’s vision and its nimble ability to adjust course as appropriate,” said Executive Director Gary Wolfe. “Corky brings a wealth of experience and a sharp and strategic mind to his new position, and the trustees and I are eager to work with him to advance Cinnabar’s mission.”


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