the foundation

Our Mission
The Henry David Thoreau Foundation supports undergraduate scholars through tuition scholarships and grant programs to prepare them for environmental leadership.

About the Foundation
A catalyst to action:
It is critical to foster future environmental leaders. The clean-up of waterways, the regulation of toxic pollutants, the protection of species on the verge of extinction and the advent of recycling - each are advances made by dedicated and creative people, charging to repair our degraded environment. But to match every environmental advance there is often more than one new dilemma born. Problems connected with climate change, habitat destruction, biodiversity loss and the consumption of fossil fuels are just a few of the threats growing on our planet and in our lives.

We select top-ranking high school seniors from Massachusetts who demonstrate the propensity for environmental leadership and who want to pursue interdisciplinary environmental studies in college. Each year we award eight to ten, four-year tuition scholarships to individual students. Students who seek to examine their chosen field of interest through an environmental lens are encouraged to apply for this highly competitive scholarship. Those accepted as Henry David Thoreau Scholars will receive up to $20,000 for undergraduate tuition. In addition, our scholars will be eligible for an environmental internship stipend, which usually takes place between the Scholar's junior and senior year.

We also seed fund visionary environmental leadership programs at US undergraduate institutions. Through our faculty grant program we have made strong alliances with leading colleges and universities, strengthening our environmental network and deepening our impact.

Since 1999, we have provided about $5 million in environmental scholarships and grants. Our foundation believes in the innovative abilities of all our scholars and undergraduate programs to improve the health of our planet.

Henry David Thoreau
Massachusetts' own Henry David Thoreau (1817–1862), a writer, philosopher, and naturalist, ranks among the very first Americans who sounded the call for environmental preservation. An early nature writer, he focused intently on his outdoor surroundings near his hometown of Concord. Graduating from Harvard College in 1837, he briefly pursued a teaching career. Shortly thereafter, he occupied a hut near Walden Pond, where he lived, worked, and observed nature. His sojourn at Walden lasted a little more than two years. He was not fully appreciated during his lifetime and saw only two of his books printed, A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers and Walden, or Life in the Woods. Now, his name is synonymous with the necessity for preserving our rapidly vanishing natural environment. Like our Scholars, Thoreau seemed to be ahead of his time, viewing the world with intense curiosity and calling for the connection between humans and nature. For additional information: www.walden.org, www.mass.gov/dcr/parks/northeast/wldn.htm.