Center for Ecosystem Restoration / Earth Island Institute (Saunderstown, RI)


  • Name:Thomas Ardito

Organization Address

  • Organization Name:Center for Ecosystem Restoration / Earth Island Institute
  • Address:PO Box 476
    Saunderstown, RI 02874
    United States

Organization Phone

  • Main phone:4015756109

Organization Web

User Email


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  • Mission:
  • The Center for Ecosystem Restoration is a non-profit organization dedicated to improving communities through projects that restore land and water, strengthen local economies, and foster civic engagement. We work by building private/public partnerships to restore and improve shared public spaces, including city parks, urban rivers, downtown areas, urban waterfronts, wetlands, even former industrial sites. Our goal is to use environmental restoration to achieve something much broader than simple physical improvement: to revitalize communities' social and economic life by renewing civic commitment to public spaces. CER is located in Wickford, RI, and is affiliated with Earth Island Institute, which serves as our fiscal agent. At present we work primarily in Southern New England, but with the help of the Lawrence Foundation, we will greatly broaden our impact -- not simply by scaling up but also by providing a replicable model for other organizations and communities throughout the U.S.

  • Overview:
  • CER works with local individuals and organizations to identify community priorities; we then build diverse public/private partnerships to address those local needs while accomplishing broader societal goals as well. CER provides leadership, technical support, administrative assistance, outreach and fundraising to develop and complete restoration projects from start to finish, working closely with all of our community partners.

    For example, we are bringing together local citizens, businesses, city government, and public and private funders to restore Rhode Island's largest urban park, Roger Williams Park in Providence. The work will achieve local priorities such as environmental justice, outdoor recreational opportunities, economic development and public art space, while tackling regional environmental issues such as climate change adaptation, water pollution reduction, fisheries and biodiversity restoration. Perhaps most importantly, the project is empowering citizens to take ownership of shared public spaces, inspiring individuals to positively transform their environment, and fostering a renewed sense of community stewardship and civic engagement. The park restoration will help spark economic renewal in Providence while preserving and improving the City's most culturally significant landscape for future generations.

    In Andover, MA, and in west-central Rhode Island, CER is leading projects to remove obsolete dams from the Shawsheen and Pawtuxet Rivers, respectively. These projects bring together private property owners, local businesses, non-profit organizations, the fishing community, and state, federal and municipal agencies. Our goals are to reduce flooding, restore fisheries and biodiversity, enhance river recreation and aesthetics, restore water quality, and reduce dam-related liability, risks and hazards. These projects are further designed to improve recreational and pedestrian access to and along the river, in order to spur downtown improvement and business development. These complex multi-year projects would not be possible without an organization such as CER, with capacity in technical, communications and administrative aspects of environmental restoration.

    On Aquidneck Island, RI, CER developed a major coastal restoration project which is now being funded with $3.2 million in federal Hurricane Sandy relief funds. We are working with the Town of Middletown, RI, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, and local partners to restore beach dunes and salt marshes; strengthen and "green" roadways; and improve storm water management. The project will make this coastal community more resilient to intense coastal storms by protecting public and private property, and reducing costs for road and beach repair. By reducing water pollution, it will protect public beaches that are a vital source of direct economic revenue for the Town, as well as an indirect source of millions of dollars in economic activity for surf shops, restaurants, and other local businesses.

    With support from the Lawrence Foundation, we will be able to continue to expand and increase the impact of CER's restoration work. CER's projects to date have been funded primarily by direct project grants from federal, state, city, and non-governmental organizations, including local businesses. Our projects have universally made a substantial positive impact; however CER itself has not had sufficient unrestricted funding for organizational development, advocacy, marketing, or project development. We are seeking funding from the Lawrence Foundation to assist in fundraising and organizational development. Our near-term goal is to significantly raise CER's leadership, impact and profile regionally. Our long-term goal is to become a national leader and advocate for integrated environmental restoration, while maintaining our connections to on-the-ground project activities that improve communities in real ways. Lawrence Foundation funding will provide operational and contractual support to develop new funding and a new strategic plan that serves as a road map for the future of the organization.

  • History:
  • I established Center for Ecosystem Restoration (CER) in 2007 with a small group of committed individuals and virtually no funding of any kind. For several years I ran CER strictly as a micro-scale social enterprise while working full time at the University of Rhode Island. In 2008 the prestigious Earth Island Institute (EII) of Berkeley, CA, founded by the late David Brower, accepted CER into its family of small environmental programs making a big impact around the world. We have worked closely with EII since that date. EII is a national 501(c)3 non-profit corporation that serves as our fiscal sponsor and agent, providing a wide range of administrative, accounting, fiscal and programmatic services at a small indirect rate.

    In early 2014, I began developing CER as a full-time organization. Over the past 14 months I have grown the organization's budget from approximately $20,000 to $100,000 per year (exclusive of contractual pass-through funding). Much of this funding was raised through competitive grants; in addition I developed an innovative social enterprise funding model that includes both grants and fee-for-service work. CER now has offices in Wickford, RI and two employees. Funding sources include private charitable foundations; corporations; state, local and municipal governments; and other non-profit or private organizations. Virtually all of our funding is targeted toward specific projects, with very few unrestricted dollars available. At present we are managing five major environmental restoration projects, ranging as large as $3.2 million, in Rhode Island and Massachusetts.

    With the help of the Lawrence Foundation and other partners, we intend to continue to grow CER in both size and impact. We have made a substantial positive difference in the quality of communities' lives in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and Connecticut, and have fully demonstrated that our innovative approach is both scalable and replicable throughout the Northeast and the nation. We sincerely hope to have the opportunity to partner with the Lawrence Foundation as we continue on this exciting journey, improving the quality of life for communities through integrated approaches to environmental restoration.

  • Year established:2007
  • Endowment:Unknown


  • Executive / Trustee board size:10
  • Advisory board size:10
  • Staff size:2


  • Organization type:Grantseeker
  • Country of registration:United States
  • Tax Determination Letter:Received Determination Letter
  • IRS Section:501(c)(3)
  • IRS Subsection:None
  • Tax ID:94-2889684

Other Organization Web

IRS Business Master File Information

  • EIN:942889684
  • Sort (Secondary) Name:
  • Care Of Name:
  • Organization Address:2150 ALLSTON WAY STE 460
  • Organization City:BERKELEY
  • Organization State:CA
  • Organization Zip:94704-1375
  • Group Exemption Number:0000
  • Subsection Code:03
  • Classification Code(s):1, 2
  • Subsection/Classification Desc.:Charitable Organization, Educational Organization
  • Affiliation Code:3
  • Ruling Date:March, 1984
  • Deductibility Code:1
  • Foundation Code:15
  • Foundation Code Desc.:Organization which receives a substantial part of its support from a governmental unit or the general publicĀ 170(b)(1)(A)(vi)
  • Activity Code(s):120, 350
  • Activity Code Desc.(s):Publishing activities, Preservation of natural resources (conservation)
  • Organization Code:1 (Corporation)
  • Exempt Org. Status Code:01 (Unconditional Exemption)
  • Tax Period:June, 2017
  • Filing Requirement Category:01 (990 (all other) or 990EZ return)
  • Accounting Period:June
  • NTEE Code:C300
  • Asset Amount:$10,715,975
  • Asset Code:8 ($10,000,000 - $49,999,999)
  • Income Amount:$11,347,792
  • Income Code:8 ($10,000,000 - $49,999,999)
  • 990 Revenue Amount:$11,222,807
  • Last Updated:2/19/2018 9:14:00 pm

This information is directly from the IRS Exempt Organization Business Master File at Exempt Organizations Business Master File Extract. This information is not under the control of the Common Grant Application and is collected and compiled and can only be changed by the IRS.