Every year CSPF typically awards between $150,000 and $200,000 in small grants to California’s state parks, governmental entities or nonprofit organizations working to protect, enhance and preserve our parks. These grants, referred to as “discretionary grants,” are awarded three times a year through a competitive process. Discretionary grants primarily support four of CSPF’s core areas of interest: Volunteer Efforts and Recognition, Education and Interpretation, Natural and Cultural Resource Protection, and Capacity-Building.
Volunteer Efforts and Recognition. CSPF recognizes the critical role volunteers play in improving, maintaining, enhancing and advocating for our magnificent state parks. Grants of this nature are primarily supported by the Ranger Lane Volunteer Enhancement Fund—established in 1996 for former CSPF Trustee and Honorary State Park Ranger Bill Lane. Anchor California Lager will support grants in this category as well. Grants will be considered for volunteer-related activities including but not limited to:
- Recruitment, training and recognition of volunteers
- Transportation of volunteers
- Tools and equipment, including computers, software, and printers that support volunteer activities/projects
- Matching funds for special events run by volunteers or in support of volunteer projects
Education and Interpretation Grants. California’s state park system offers unrivaled educational experiences for Californians of all ages. Our parks showcase the geology, biology and natural resources that are distinctly Californian. Our park system is second only to the state’s public education system in offering educational opportunities to school-aged children and youth. Grants will be considered to support, expand and enhance park interpretation and educational activities, including but not limited to:
- Interpretive panels, audio tours and living history programs
- Educational/interpretive brochures, including plant/wildlife identification brochures
- Supplies for educational programs such as binoculars, water testing and other field equipment
- Support for in-class educational programs (i.e. transportation, video projectors)
Natural and Cultural Resource Protection Grants. Our 280 state parks contain natural wonders and cultural and historic treasures that are found nowhere else in the world. It is our duty to safeguard and preserve these priceless resources for generations to come. Grants will be considered for activities including but not limited to:
- Habitat restoration projects, including non-native species removal
- Environmental quality and wildlife monitoring
- Cultural resource cataloguing and restoration efforts
- Trail restoration and pathways to improve visitor accessibility
- Trail crew training, materials, and workshops
Capacity-building Grants. State park cooperating associations provide critical programmatic and financial support to enhance parks in a variety of ways, such as upgrading park facilities, providing living history and environmental education programs, and producing a variety of publications to showcase a park’s unique natural and cultural history. CSPF will consider capacity-building grants to cooperating associations to further their stewardship of our state parks. Capacity-building funds are unrestricted but must be a request for one of the following:
- Special project
- One-time capital request
- Seed money for start-up program
Requests for general operating support are discouraged. Capacity-building grants are limited to a maximum of one-third of the operating budget of the organization, with start-up funds as the exception.
In order to qualify for a discretionary grant, the applicant organization must meet the following eligibility criteria:
- Be a nonprofit that is tax-exempt as defined under Section 501(c )(3) of the US Internal Revenue Code, state park unit or other governmental entity;
- Propose a project that fits within CSPF’s mission and at least one grant area of interest; and
- Have the support of the California Department of Parks and Recreation for the implementation of the project
Grant applications will be reviewed on the following dates:
You may submit the application via our on-line application, but please note, you cannot begin the application, save the information, and come back to it a later time. We recommend creating a word document and cutting and pasting information from that document into our on-line application.
Due to the competitive nature of grant funding, the California State Parks Foundation sometimes awards grants for less than the amount requested.
For any information regarding our grant program, please contact:
Policy and Research Assistant
(916) 442-2119 or kateL@calparks.org