Grants for Parks

Discretionary Grant Guidelines

At this time, grant applications cannot be submitted. Changes to Discretionary Grants will be announced in late July. If you would like to be notified when changes are announced or have any questions, please contact Kate Litzky, Policy and Research Specialist at or (916) 442-2119.

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

Grantmaking Procedures

Grant applications will be reviewed on the following dates:

  Deadline Notification
Round 1 September 12 October 10
Round 2 January 23 February
Round 3 May 15 June 19