Eligibility and Priorities California Watershed Protection Fund

To be eligible for a California Watershed Protection Fund grant, the applicant and project must meet the following criteria:

  • Geographic Focus: projects must be designed to benefit the water quality of the following watersheds and their ecosystems:
    • Los Angeles River and Dominguez Channel watersheds
    • The Santa Ana River watershed including Orange County and the Inland Empire. 
    • Central Coast, specifically the Santa Maria and Sant Ynez River watersheds (Note: there is a special opportunity for larger multi-year grants available for the Santa Ynez watershed, please contact Mitigation Funds Director for information)
    • San Francisco Bay (due to very limited funds, please contact Gabriel Rosenstein (grosenstein@rosefdn.org) to discuss location and size of grants available)
    • Napa River watershed (Limited funding)
    • Watersheds tributary to Tomales Bay
  • Types of Projects Supported: projects must benefit the surface water quality of the watershed in question. Eligible activities include water stewardship, advocacy, outreach and education, restoration, and watershed protection. We are especially encouraging projects that involve impacted communities, benefit vulnerable populations, and are centered around principles of equity and environmental justice. Projects focusing exclusively on groundwater quality are not eligible unless there is known interconnectivity to surface waters.
    • Please note: Outreach and Education Projects must have a palpable water quality benefit. Applicants should consider the inclusion of hands on activities such as planting, restoration, or trash cleanups as part of their projects or other activities that will have a more immediate impact.
  • Applicant requirements: The applicant must demonstrate the capacity to complete the proposed project, including experience in successfully conducting similar or otherwise related work in the past.
  • Environmental Justice: While this is not specifically an environmental justice fund, supporting environmental and social justice is a core organizational value that guides all of our grantmaking. Projects that advance environmental justice, as well as water quality, will receive preference.
  • Duration of Support: Most grants are for a one-year period; however, you do not have to ask for a one-year grant. It is permitted to request a shorter or longer grant period if that is what you need.
  • Frequency of Applying: Organizations that have been funded may only re-apply in the next cycle after their grant report has been submitted and approved. Organizations with an active grant from this Fund are not eligible to reapply. 
  • Nonprofit status: The applicant must be a 501(c)3 organization, fiscally-sponsored by a 501(c)3, or a governmental or tribal entity. If you work with a small organization that lacks non-profit status but has a compelling project, the Rose Foundation may be willing to act as your fiscal sponsor for this grant proposal.


California Watershed Protection Fund Grants are not recommended for very small organizations or first-time grant seekers.


Does my project have to be located in one of the eligible watersheds?

In most cases, the applicant organization does not need to have its physical address in the watershed. However, eligible projects must relate strongly to one or more of the eligible watersheds. If your project is broader in scope than an eligible watershed (for example: statewide policy advocacy), you must be able to demonstrate the specific benefits to one or more of the eligible watersheds.

Does my project have to focus exclusively on water quality?

No. Many factors affect water quality. For example, land development and transportation patterns significantly impact the volume and toxicity of storm water run off. Through aerial deposition, toxics released into the air may return to the ground and pollute watersheds. Sustainable agriculture and integrated pest management reduce pesticide use and correspondingly benefit water quality. Therefore, projects do not necessarily need to have an explicit water quality focus to be eligible, but need to be able to address the impacts as they relate to water quality.

Does my project have to include a strong water quality element?

Yes. A successful applicant will be able to clearly demonstrate the linkages between their project and water quality. For example, do your outreach materials include water quality as one of the elements the project is working on? If you are engaged in regulatory or legal advocacy, is water quality one of the issues you are raising? If your project relates to urban farming, can you quantify pesticide reductions, or reductions in stormwater flows or pollution stemming from your efforts?

Does my group have to be a 501(c)(3)?

Eligible projects must demonstrate 501(c)(3) status. Non 501(c)(3) projects may apply through fiscal sponsors. Governmental agencies and resource conservation districts are also eligible.


Gabriel Rosenstein, Grants Administration and Contracts Lead
Email: grosenstein-at-rosefdn.org (please replace at with @)

Jodene Isaacs, Mitigation Funds Director
Email: jisaacs-at-rosefdn.org (please replace at with @)


the content below is just for reference and will be deleted before launch