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:

  • Projects Supported: The project must be designed to benefit the water quality of the currently eligible watersheds and their ecosystems:
    • Southern California Bight and Los Angeles area waterbodies, including Los Angeles River, Santa Ana River, and San Gabriel River
    • Sacramento – San Joaquin River Delta and their watersheds including American River and Feather River. Projects located within the Delta or in San Joaquin County are especially encouraged.
    • Humboldt Bay and Mad River
    • Russian River and its tributaries, Laguna de Santa Rosa, and other local watersheds in Sonoma and Mendocino County
    • San Francisco Bay-Delta
    • There are also limited funds for Santa Cruz area, Lombardi Creek, and Central Coast area water bodies
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Frequency of Applying: Organizations that are funded may re-apply after one year if their evaluation form has been submitted and accepted.
  • 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.
  • Grant Amount: Due to the volume of applicants, we anticipate that this funding process will be very competitive and most grants awarded will be in the $7,500 – $25,000 range.

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.


Laura Fernandez, Program Officer
Email: lfernandez[AT]rosefdn.org (please replace AT with @)

Tim Little, Executive Director
Email: tlittle[AT]rosefdn.org (please replace AT with @)

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