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Client Spotlight

The Bullitt Foundation - Safeguarding the Natural Environment

Apr 22, 2020

A past and present picture of Denis Hayes next to each other, with the text "50th Anniversary of Earth Day"

As we celebrate the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, we wanted to spotlight a client leading the environmental movement.

The mission of the Bullitt Foundation, led by Denis Hayes, is to safeguard the natural environment by promoting responsible human activities and sustainable communities in the Pacific Northwest. The Bullitt Foundation leadership decided to move their banking to Beneficial State because our triple-bottom-line approach to banking is aligned with their climate values and vision for resilient communities.

In 1992, Hayes was selected as president and CEO of the Bullitt Foundation. Mobilizing the resources of the Foundation, Hayes has been working to make the Pacific Northwest a global model for sustainable development.

In 1970, Hayes dropped out of the Kennedy School at Harvard University when he was selected by Sen. Gaylord Nelson to become the National Coordinator of the first Earth Day – an event often credited with launching the modern American environmental movement.

Earth Day 1970 led to passage of landmark environmental laws in the United States, including the Clean Air, Clean Water and Endangered Species Acts. Many countries soon adopted similar laws, and in 2016, the United Nations chose Earth Day as the day to sign the Paris Climate Agreement.

In 1990, Hayes took Earth Day international, with events in 141 nations. Today, Earth Day is the world’s biggest secular holiday with more than 180 nations celebrating.

Hayes speaking at the first Earth Day celebration in 1970
Hayes speaking at the first Earth Day celebration in 1970

Thanks to Hayes’ leadership, the Bullitt Foundation is widely respected for the vision, integrity, courage, and strategic sensibility it has demonstrated in helping to direct the Pacific Northwest toward a sustainable future.

Since 1992, the Foundation has granted more than $200 million, developed the Bullitt Center, permanently protected $100 million in ecologically valuable lands through a revolving loan fund, funded the preparatory work to protect nearly 300,000 acres in national monuments, invested in emerging leaders, and endowed several professorships. It has played a leadership role in emphasizing JEDI (justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion) elements in green grantmaking.

The Bullitt Center is a milestone project of the Bullitt Foundation and a model for the green building community of what’s possible. As the first urban office building to be certified as a “Living Building,” the Bullitt Center is inherently about learning and discovery. With regular tours led by the University of Washington (temporarily postponed due to Covid-19), a community of mission-aligned organizations, and a renewed greenspace next door, the Bullitt Center is an energizing place for people to learn about green building and urban sustainability. It also serves as a highly visible example of what’s possible when a team of people come together to advance uncommon wisdom.

Learn more about the Bullitt Foundation and the Bullitt Center.

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