Sustainability

Frank Von Hippel, Loren Buck, Danielle Dillon of Northern Arizona University
Northern Arizona University’s Frank Von Hippel (center) was the principal investigator on a 2017 Flinn Foundation translational-research grant to examine the impact of perchlorate exposure in southwest Arizona.

The Flinn Foundation was born from Robert and Irene Flinn’s commitment to Arizona.

Dr. Robert S. Flinn came to northern Arizona’s rugged mountains as a young boy, the child of a physician who used the healing properties of clean, dry air for his patients’ benefit. Irene Flinn likewise was drawn to Arizona as a land that could restore vitality.

In the early years of their giving, the Flinns invested especially in people and tools that could improve health in their community. Today, we steward a perpetual endowment and a mission similarly oriented toward the long term: to improve the quality of life in Arizona, to benefit future generations.

Sustainability in Our Philanthropic Approach

Given that mission, sustainability is a priority embedded in our four areas of philanthropic interest. At the core of two of those areas of interest, the Flinn Scholars Program and the Arizona Center for Civic Leadership, is preparation of Arizona’s future leaders. The individuals we directly support—and those they in turn lead—are in immediate demand as Arizona moves to confront the 21st century’s profound sustainability challenges, from rapid urbanization to the preservation of natural resources and biodiversity, and especially mitigating the impacts of climate change.

Across our areas of philanthropic interest, we recognize the value of ecosystem thinking: fostering work across perspectives, disciplines, industries, regions, and cultures; developing strategies to nurture and leverage networks; investing in relationships among individuals and organizations toward a stronger Arizona. Employing ecosystem models strategically goes hand-in-hand with a commitment to sustainability.

Sustainable Practices Day-to-Day

The Flinn Foundation also aims to raise its sustainability standards operationally, inspired by broader concepts like the triple bottom line and social accounting, which persuasively connect organizations’ financial and programmatic outcomes to their societal and environmental impacts.

Our targets for improvement in sustainable practices and policies include:

  • Greater reliance on locally-based, environmentally friendly suppliers and vendors;
  • More sustainable management of our conference facility for Arizona’s nonprofit sector, including an emphasis on waste reduction;
  • Development of environmental-impact assessment for events we present;
  • Seeking opportunities to encourage sustainable practices among our bioscience and arts-and-culture grantees, program participants, and community partners.

These targets are the starting point. The Flinn Foundation has many more opportunities to encourage sustainability best practices and learn from those of our colleagues and stakeholders across Arizona. We recognize the call upon the philanthropic sector to greater leadership, and its unique responsibility to benefit society at large and the planet on whom we all depend.


The Flinn Foundation is proud of its May 2019 designation by the City of Phoenix as a Platinum-Certified Green Business Leader.