Save the Sound

New Haven, CT   |


The mission of Save the Sound is to protect and improve the land, air and water of Connecticut and Long Island Sound.

Ruling year info



Leah Schmalz

Main address

127 Church Street, 2nd Floor

New Haven, CT 06510 USA

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NTEE code info

Energy Resources Conservation and Development (C35)

Land Resources Conservation (C34)

Water Resource, Wetlands Conservation and Management (C32)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

We work to ensure that: Long Island Sound, rivers, and lakes are safe for swimming, fishing, and boating, and our waters and coastal habitats support thriving populations of fish, shellfish, whales, turtles, seals, and birds. Families have clean air to breathe, communities are healthy and vibrant, and that Connecticut leads the nation in slowing climate change and building a clean energy economy. Our last great open spaces and the lands that filter your drinking water are protected from over-development, and critical natural areas can support wildlife, recreation, and clean water. The laws that protect natural resources and public health are strong, and the region’s residents are empowered to use them.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Ecological Restoration

We restore habitats critical to the Long Island Sound watershed and work to repair damaged and threatened ecosystems. We remove outmoded and often hazardous dams to reopen traditional fish migration runs and restore tidal flow, and install native plants along the banks. We combine these activities with public engagement and volunteer opportunities to build awareness, generate a sense of ownership, and help ensure future stewardship of the areas we restore. We also undertake green infrastructure projects to combat polluted stormwater: Rain gardens; green roofs; and permeable pavement projects that capture, retain, and filter rain where it falls—before it becomes harmful stormwater runoff. Our green infrastructure projects around the state filter millions of gallons of stormwater runoff each year, and reduce the burden on municipal “gray” infrastructure. We also serve as Connecticut Coordinator for the International Coastal Cleanup each year.

Population(s) Served

Through our Climate and Energy Program we work to secure state policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase investments in clean energy and energy efficiency; promote the authorization of a full-scale shared solar program in Connecticut (similar to that of our neighbor states like New York and Massachusetts); establish policies to significantly accelerate adoption of electric vehicles and the infrastructure to support them. We also advocate for preserving and following through on already established policies that promote energy efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Population(s) Served

We are working to protect Plum Island, which is located in Long Island Sound and owned by the federal government. The island provides habitat for a wide range of species, including migrating birds, seals and other wildlife. The federal government is in the process of selling the island to the highest bidder. We believe it should be preserved as a protected refuge with the opportunity for passive recreation. We established the Preserve Plum Island Coalition and are using grassroots engagement and legal and legislative advocacy to protect it.          We are also working to protect Oswegatchie Hills, a fragile coastal forest in East Lyme that provides habitat for a wide variety of species and public recreation. A proposed high-density development there would further degrade water quality in the Niantic River. We are fighting this unwise development using grassroots outreach and legal advocacy. A successful outcome would protect one of the last, large coastal forests in the Long Island Sound watershed.

Population(s) Served

Bacterial pollution from sewage in Long Island Sound poses serious public health risks. Our water quality monitoring program measures bacteria levels at beaches, shorelines, streams, and rivers throughout western Long Island Sound. We use the data that we collect to identify and eliminate sources of fecal contamination, drive investment in wastewater infrastructure repairs, and engage the public and elected officials in combating this persistent and hazardous form of water pollution. The Sound also suffers from nitrogen pollution, which causes hypoxic (low-oxygen) conditions in parts of the Sound that marine life cannot survive. In response to this problem, we developed and coordinated an ongoing study that measures the impacts of nitrogen pollution on Sound bays and harbors each year—the Unified Water Study. In addition, the Long Island Soundkeeper plays a vital role on the water: A watchdog, doing what’s possible only through direct contact: patrolling the Sound’s waters, engaging with you, the public, spotting new opportunities for restoration, and finding and stopping pollution with the help of our legal team.

Population(s) Served

Where we work

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

Our organization has four strategic goals:
1. Our rivers, lakes and Long Island Sound are restored.
2. Natural areas are protected and support wildlife, clean water and recreation.
3. Connecticut’s communities are healthy and energy-efficient.
4. The ability of citizens to protect our natural resources and public health remains strong.

We tackle issues that require legal, scientific and coalition-building expertise as well as outreach, advocacy and citizen engagement. Many of the issues we take on typically take years rather than months to resolve. We're known for our innovative solutions, collaborative achievements, solid science, committed advocacy and, when necessary, strategic litigation.

Our staff of 33 individuals has a broad range of skills, including legal and administrative advocacy, engineering and project management. Our "toolbox" includes the law, policy development, and communications (including social media), We also develop, raise money for, and manage "green projects," including marsh restoration, dam removals, river restoration and green infrastructure project, such as rain gardens, bioswales and permeable pavements. We work with many partners, including local, state and federal officials, community groups, other environmental organizations and nonprofits, and 2500 volunteers. We work with our 5,000 members and 2500 volunteers.

Fighting Climate Change and Protecting Clean Air
We’re living in a time of climate destabilization: historic heat waves and droughts, bizarre cold snaps that disrupt farming, and massive hurricanes that produce destructive flooding and drive people from their homes. Despite these recurring crises, our federal government appointed an EPA administrator with the explicit mission of dismantling policies and programs instituted to reduce fossil fuel use and build a renewable and sustainable future. Save the Sound is waging legal battles to halt this anti-climate agenda and fighting ill-advised pollution-producing projects at the local level.

Protecting the region's land, air, and water takes constant vigilance at both the Connecticut and New York legislatures. That is where laws that clean up Long Island Sound and our rivers are made. It’s where companies trying to mine on the lands that clean your drinking water are stopped. And it is where the line to protect our planet’s climate is drawn. Save the Sound’s lawyers and advocates work with legislators, draft bills, and fight for laws that will make a difference to your family’s health and the environment you love. Here is a sampling of our victories over the years.

Through our Ecological Restoration projects, we remove outmoded dams that harm wildlife and cause flooding. An example is our project at Rocky Neck State Park in Connecticut. Until the 1970s, around 250,000 alewife traveled upstream through Bride Brook in East Lyme each year. But narrow culverts that restricted tidal flow to the upstream marsh dropped that number to 80,000. Save the Sound replaced the collapsing metal culverts with a larger, concrete box culvert in 2010—restoring five river miles, five dune acres, 72 lake acres, and 81 marsh acres. Volunteers planted thousands of dune grass shoots and 100 native shrubs around the stream’s mouth to restore damaged dunes. The following year, the alewife run more than doubled and in 2017, 386,000 alewives passed through Bride Brook. Restoring active tidal flow to the marsh also improved water quality, plant health, and conditions for birds, and the revitalized environment has increased tourism.

Another example is our restoration work at Sunken Meadow State Park in New York--enjoyed by two million visitors each year, and home to 80 acres of salt marsh and 55 acres of tidal creek and marsh, as well as coastal forest, dunes, and beach. We worked with volunteers to plant native marsh plants and prevent stormwater runoff from the park’s parking lots. The free-flowing tidal creek and healthy salt marsh are already attracting a diversity of fish and migratory birds. See more accomplishments at our Impact Map:

How we listen

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Seeking feedback from people served makes programs more responsive and effective. Here’s how this organization is listening.

done We shared information about our current feedback practices.
  • Who are the people you serve with your mission?

    Our environmental work primarily serves residents of Connecticut and coastal New York.

  • How is your organization using feedback from the people you serve?

    To identify bright spots and enhance positive service experiences, To make fundamental changes to our programs and/or operations, To inform the development of new programs/projects, To strengthen relationships with the people we serve, To understand people's needs and how we can help them achieve their goals

  • Which of the following feedback practices does your organization routinely carry out?

  • What challenges does the organization face when collecting feedback?

    We don't have any major challenges to collecting feedback


Save the Sound

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The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.


Connect with nonprofit leaders


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Connect with nonprofit leaders


Build relationships with key people who manage and lead nonprofit organizations with GuideStar Pro. Try a low commitment monthly plan today.

  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

Want to see how you can enhance your nonprofit research and unlock more insights? Learn More about GuideStar Pro.

Save the Sound

Board of directors
as of 02/06/2023
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Mr. Todd Cort

Lecturer in Sustainability, Yale School of Management and Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies

Term: 2020 - 2022

Barbara David

Lyme Open Space Committee; Board of the Hartt School at the University of Hartford

Katherine Kennedy

Assistant Clinical Professor, Dept of Psychology, Yale University

Todd Cort

Lecturer in Sustainability, Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies

E. Elliott

Professor, Yale School of Law; Senior of Counsel, Covington & Burling, LLP

Raphe Elkind

Teacher, fifth grade, New Canaan Country Day School

Evan Heller

Real Estate Advisor; Institute of Urban Research, University of PA

Dina Brewster

Founder & Owner, The Hickories, Ridgefield, CT

Johan Varekamp

Professor of Earth & Environmental Sciences, Wesleyan University

Dawn Henry

Marketing and Brand Strategy Professional

Joseph MacDougald

Professor-in-Residence and Executive Director, UConn Center for Energy and Environmental Law

Elizabeth Barry Swanson

Associate, Prospect Capital Management; advises environmental giving at John and Daria Barry Foundation; Brand ambassador, Sail Escapes. Former business development manager, KAYAK. Former product manager, Ipreo;

Richard Angle

Shoreline Greenway Trail Founding Chair; Former Chair and Treasurer of Rails-to-Trails Conservancy; Former Senior Vice President-Operations & Chief Administrative Officer for Time Warner.

Celia Felsher

Former Chief Operating Officer and Partner of Reservoir Capital Group

Leslie Lee

Honorary Director, Greenwich Land Trust; Zone II Conservation Representative, Garden Club of America;

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? Yes
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? Yes
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? No

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 2/1/2023

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? Candid partnered with CHANGE Philanthropy on this demographic section.


No data

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity


Sexual orientation

No data


No data

Equity strategies

Last updated: 03/15/2021

GuideStar partnered with Equity in the Center - an organization that works to shift mindsets, practices, and systems to increase racial equity - to create this section. Learn more

  • We ask team members to identify racial disparities in their programs and / or portfolios.
  • We analyze disaggregated data and root causes of race disparities that impact the organization's programs, portfolios, and the populations served.
  • We employ non-traditional ways of gathering feedback on programs and trainings, which may include interviews, roundtables, and external reviews with/by community stakeholders.
  • We have long-term strategic plans and measurable goals for creating a culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.
Policies and processes
  • We seek individuals from various race backgrounds for board and executive director/CEO positions within our organization.
  • We help senior leadership understand how to be inclusive leaders with learning approaches that emphasize reflection, iteration, and adaptability.
  • We engage everyone, from the board to staff levels of the organization, in race equity work and ensure that individuals understand their roles in creating culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.