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How We Work

The challenges of the 21st century are immense, but at Ecotrust we believe that true wellbeing is possible. To get there, we need radical transformation of current institutions — those ways of living from banking to building, from transportation to tree harvesting, that dominate our lives.

We see urgency in building up an economy that restores nature and invests in people. And we believe the way to build that economy is through bold experimentation in the bioregion we call home — the Pacific Northwest. We are continually creating and supporting new businesses, nonprofits, alliances, networks and programs that build wellbeing in nature and community and deliver economic prosperity. The industrial economic model that’s reigned for the last 300 years simply can’t last. It’s time for a more natural model of development. At Ecotrust, we believe the new economy starts here — in our backyards, communities, cities and regions.


Ecotrust's mission is to inspire fresh thinking that creates economic opportunity, social equity and environmental wellbeing. Our goal is to foster a natural model of development that creates more resilient communities, economies, and ecosystems here and around the world.


Ecotrust’s role is to innovate, invest and inspire in ways that create wellbeing for people and the places they live. We are:

  1. An incubator for social enterprise, designed to identify and test deep innovation;
  2. A capital vehicle for investing in promising innovations, both to prove concepts and to scale them.
  3. A growing constellation of public, private, for-profit and nonprofit organizations designed to inspire change around the world.


Food & Farms
Forests and Ecosystems Services
Knowledge Systems
Marine Consulting Initiatives
Indigenous Affairs Program
Natural Capital Fund
Whole Watershed Restoration Initiative


The history of Ecotrust is a story of innovation, adaptation and evolution. A committed group of individuals led by Spencer Beebe founded Ecotrust in 1991 in Portland. Previously, Beebe co-founded Conservation International and served as the president of The Nature Conservancy International. Beebe and his colleagues started Ecotrust with the goal of bringing to America the best sustainability and conservation ideas emerging around the world. The organization’s mission has evolved into an ambitious one: we want to lead an American economic revolution by deploying new business models that build economic, social and environmental wellbeing. In that pursuit of wellbeing, we have been at the cutting edge of efforts to creatively deploy knowledge, technology and capital. Much of it has been covered in the press, in our own monthly chronicles, and, comprehensively, in Spencer Beebe’s autobiographical account, Cache: Creating Natural Economies. But the measure of success is on the ground, where we’ve been making steady headway to create lasting change.

About Ecotrust

How We Work

Board & Council

Impact & Accountability



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Learn More

Our Bioregion

Principles of a Resilient World

	Annual Report 2012
Ecotrust 2012 Annual Report

Ecotrust Fresh Thinking brochure
Ecotrust: Fresh Thinking

Ecotrust Collaborators
Some of the many groups we've worked with on projects large and small in the last two decades.

Contact Us

Jean Vollum Natural Capital Center
721 NW 9th Ave, Suite 200

Portland, Oregon 97209

tel: 503.227.6225
fax: 503.222.1517
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Copyright © 2013 Ecotrust