The 2023-2024 Annual Huplits Grant Awards

By Bob Smith, Huplits Grant Committee, Allegheny Group

The Allegheny Group Sierra Club’s Huplits Grant Committee awarded about $140,000 in grants between July 2023 and January 2024.  The funds for the grants originate from the Huplits Foundation Trust, a family charitable trust established in 1990.  The Trust annually donates 20% of its income to the Sierra Club Foundation, and those contributions have reached about $1.5 million over the lifetime. The 12 awardees are listed at the bottom of this article.

With guidance from the Sierra Club Foundation, the qualifying purpose of the grants has been expanded from protecting wildlife and its habitat in Pennsylvania to include projects that promote the Sierra Club’s policies and mission in Pennsylvania.  A proposal may involve public education, litigation, land acquisition, grassroots campaign organization, or research pertaining to issues related to Sierra Club’s mission, in addition to projects directly benefiting wildlife and habitat.

Currently, the Huplits Grant Committee and the Allegheny Group are revising the committee’s guidelines and looking to fill 3 open positions on the grant committee.  Members of the grant committee must be Sierra Club members living in Pennsylvania, and should have knowledge of and/or interest in the club’s mission.  The work involves roughly 5-7 hours of work per month for about 2 months, annually analyzing the grant applications and meeting [by Zoom] to discuss, rank, and decide on grant winners and the dollar awards.  Anyone interested is urged to contact Bob Smith of the Allegheny Group [] and Tom Schuster, Chapter Director []. 

The 2024 Request for Proposals (RFP) will be announced in June or July.  Executive  Committee members should be considering projects their group may perform and alerting other non-profits that share our mission about the Huplits grant program.  Be on the lookout for the future announcement of the 2024 RFPs and specifics of the application. In addition to the annual RFP, the committee will accept “mini-grant” proposals of $3,000 or less from Sierra Club entities on a rolling basis while funding lasts.

The following Huplits Grants were awarded in July 2023:

Allegheny Land Trust $30,000
Description of Project:  Helping to acquire 24 acres of woodland in Ross Township for their permanent conservation.  This acquisition will create a contiguous 67-acre green space in an important watershed in a highly developed community.

Friends of the Urban Forest $6,254
Description of Project:  To install 44 habitat boxes and educational signage across 5 acres of the Lawrenceville campus.  These habitats will help improve several native PA wildlife populations, including  little brown bat and bluebird populations in the Allegheny River region.

Philadelphia Metro Wildlife Center $3,856
Description of project:  The award will be used for nutritional support and eye diagnostics for  an expected 3,500  patients in 2023.  The nutritional supplies will meet the health requirements of neonatal mammals, orphaned songbirds and raptors.  The funds will also be used to procure an ophthalmoscope for vision diagnostics.

On January 18, 2024, a quorum of the Huplits Committee met and voted unanimously to award the following package: a total of $99,989 in grants to nine applicants. The award details are as follows:

Lycoming College Clean Water Institute: $10,283
Description of project:  This project will install 75 Eastern Hellbender artificial nest boxes in Lycoming Creek, expanding the scope of existing long-term monitoring efforts in western Pennsylvania, thus allowing for a broader assessment of trends in hellbender demography and reproductive ecology across gradients of habitat and water quality.  

Pennsylvania Bat Rescue: $14,625
Description of project: The objective of this project is to expand our rehabilitation center and renovate the existing space to accommodate the growing need for bat conservation and rehabilitation.  

Sierra Club/Lake Erie Group: $1,517
Description of project: To enable Erie’s inner-city youth to experience the quality of the natural environment and historic resources in northwest Pennsylvania

The Scott Conservancy: $3,510
Description of project: To preserve a 5.8 parcel of property for future generations, which is adjacent to a larger public preserve.

Washington County Watershed Alliance: $3,705
Description of project: This project will serve as the pilot for the ‘next generation’ of educational creek crossing signs by installing interactive signs with QR codes at three sites in environmental justice areas within Washington County Pennsylvania.

Streets Run Watershed Association DBA Watersheds of South Pittsburgh: $3,461
Description of project: Using Saw Mill Run and Streets Run Watersheds and their respective streams, our goal is to raise the collective community awareness about the importance of our urban streams, waterways, and urban ecology through hands- on educational and

Three Rivers Waterkeeper: $14,138
Description of project: Document the major polluters’ impacts on water quality and uncover theDEP’s lack of enforcement on the Clean Water Act on these known major polluters in our region.  

Citizens to Save Allegheny Mountain: $19,500
Description: The project will educate the general public, municipal officials, governmental permitting agencies, elected officials, and others regarding the
environmentally destructive Allegheny Mountain tunnel bypass project proposed by the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission.

Citizens for Responsible Development – Lower Saucon Township: $29,250
Description of project:  To support our mission of saving 275 acres of pristine forest including areas of Natural Heritage Inventory Core Habitat located on land subject to scenic and conservation easements within the watershed of the Lehigh River from landfill development which will terminate the easements and deforest the property.

The Allegheny Group had approved spending up to $100,000 during this round of grant making. We received 15 total applications, for a combined request of $323,742. As a result, none of the funded projects received their full request. Two projects were eliminated due to late submittals with incomplete information. One project was referred to and funded by the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign, and therefore removed from consideration. Three other applications were eliminated by a majority of the Committee for reasons specific to each project.

This blog was included as part of the April 2024 Sylvanian newsletter. Please click here to check out more articles from this edition!