Saul Weisberg Catalyst Fund

The Practice of Strategic Opportunism

Saul Weisberg co-founded North Cascades Institute in 1986 to address urgent threats to the Pacific Northwest at a time when polarization over environmental issues was at an all-time high. The Institute sought to build trust and use education as a tool for conservation. Today, the Institute is a national leader in environmental education, connecting more than 12,000 people every year to rich experiences in nature and to one another.

The Institute’s success is based in large part on Saul’s practice of “strategic opportunism”. His training as a naturalist led him to ask questions. His innate entrepreneurial spirit led him to take risks. His approach led him to value collaboration, especially in order to reach new audiences.

Throughout the Institute’s history, Saul’s values were demonstrated through his support for creative new ideas, such as Youth Leadership Adventures, to empower the next generation of conservationists; uniting a diverse coalition of partners to build the Learning Center and forever change the face of the Institute; and, quickly adapting to deliver outdoor learning in rural districts during the pandemic.   

Carrying Saul's Legacy Into the Future

To honor his 35 years of leadership, North Cascades Institute has created the Saul Weisberg Catalyst Fund to spur innovative new ideas and lead the Institute into the future, all while honoring Saul’s legacy and working to protect the shared places we love and depend upon.

Through the Catalyst Fund, the Institute will allocate $35,000 of seed funding annually to:

  • Pilot and test new initiatives
  • Create new programs or expand existing programs in innovative ways
  • Assess community needs
  • Increase access for new audiences by removing economic barriers to nature
  • Build trust and form strategic new partnerships
  • Learn from successes and failures

Advancing the Institute's Core Ideas

Efforts advanced by the Saul Weisberg Catalyst Fund will further core ideas that have been foundational to the origins and success of North Cascades Institute including:

  • SENSE OF PLACE: We discover place and build community through both solitary adventures and shared experiences. The Institute engages people of all ages in the study, stewardship and celebration of the ecosystems and human communities of the North Cascades.


  • NATURAL HISTORY: The key attributes of a naturalist are curiosity and mindful attentiveness to the nonhuman and human world. The Institute is a leader in experiential and interdisciplinary learning encompassing science, arts and the humanities.


  • WORKING TOGETHER FOR THE FUTURE: If we are to make the world a better place for ourselves and future generations, it is critical that we all commit to equity, inclusion and justice. The Institute strives to be at the forefront of training new naturalists, educators and nonprofit leaders.


  • HEALTH AND WELLNESS: Nature energizes us, grounds us and nurtures our minds, spirits and bodies. The Institute educates people of all ages about the benefits we receive from nature and the actions we must take to steward the precious world that we all call home.


Join Us in Celebrating Saul

To honor Saul, the Institute’s Board of Directors has allocated up to $400,000 as a 2-to-1 match to the Saul Weisberg Catalyst Fund. We now seek $200,000 or more in new contributions from loyal supporters like you.

Please join us today in celebrating Saul’s vision, leadership and legacy. Join us in carrying forward his values and practice of “strategic opportunism”. Join us in creating the next generation of stewards for the places we love and depend upon.

To designate your gift to the Saul Weisberg Catalyst Fund, simply note your intention in the "Notes or Requests" field at the bottom of the donation form.