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Founded in 2003, the Chesapeake Bay Funders Network is truly a collaborative effort. The membership is comprised of over a dozen grant-makers, either based in or funding projects in Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and the District of Columbia. Through their involvement, each member has the ability to influence decision-making and guide priorities. There are also 30 organizations (community foundations, regional grantmaker associations, etc.) that make up the broader CBFN community and benefit from the information-sharing and networking opportunities.

Among funder affinity groups, the CBFN is notable for having moved quickly from its earlier model of serving as a forum for sharing information about Bay restoration and common experiences to its current model of actively funding its core initiatives, either through pooled or coordinated grantmaking.

Beginning in late 2004, the partners agreed to focus their joint efforts – either through grant alignment or pooled funding programs – on building the capacity of small watershed groups, assisting farmers with the implementation of Bay-friendly farming practices, and working with stakeholders to reduce the impacts of growth on water quality.

The CBFN continues to build its own capacity through renewed strategic planning efforts, sustained grant contributions and membership dues as we cultivate new members and explore new opportunities for strategic partnerships with both private and public entities involved in the restoration of the Chesapeake Bay. These opportunities include stormwater projects, the Chesapeake Commons data-sharing tool, and the Choose Clean Water Coalition, the first large-scale, sustaining support organization comprised of non-governmental leadership from local, regional, and national nonprofits in the Bay region.

In 2009, the CBFN was awarded the Critical Impact Award by the Council on Foundations. The Council on Foundations is a nonprofit association with a membership of more than 2,100 grantmaking foundations and corporations in the United States and abroad with a mission to provide the opportunity, leadership, and tools needed by philanthropic organizations to expand, enhance, and sustain their ability to advance the common good. The Critical Impact Award was created in 2006 by the Council’s leadership to honor grantmakers who have supported innovative leadership, bold visions, and significant impact in advancing the common good through effective grantmaking, which can serve as a model for others in philanthropy. The award was presented on at the Council’s 60th Annual Conference in Atlanta, GA in May 2009.

The CBFN is sponsored by the New Venture Fund, a 501(c)(3) public charity offering full fiscal sponsorship services to the philanthropic community, including domestic and international grantmaking, grant and contract management, and execution of donor-developed projects.  The New Venture Fund conducts public interest projects and provides professional insight and services to institutions and individuals seeking to foster change through strategic philanthropy.  NVF helps donors and social entrepreneurs launch new projects quickly and effectively, collaborate with each other efficiently, and develop high-impact grantmaking programs.