Eligibility and Priorities California Wildlands Grassroots Fund

What and Who We Support

Because of the complex network of agencies, stakeholders, processes and programs involved in land and habitat issues, wildland protection efforts are challenging. The Cal Wildlands provides a broad range of support to promote the ability of activists and organizations to protect wildernesses throughout the state. Specifically, the Fund focuses on the following:

  • Small nonprofit organizations (with annual expenses and income of $100,000 or less)
  • Individual activists (with a sponsoring organization) who show a demonstrated ability and commitment to conserve California’s natural landscapes, ecosystems, plants and wildlife.*
  • Geographic areas and advocacy efforts that have not received significant foundation support.

The strategies we support include, but are not limited to the following:
Grassroots organizing, citizen participation in public meetings and hearings, public education, legislative advocacy, media campaigns, lawsuits, listing petitions, conferences and meetings, skills and leadership trainings, restoration, scientific research, coalition building and developing partnerships with government agencies, private entities, nonprofit organizations and communities.

The activities we support include, but are not limited to the following:
Mailings, paid advertising, advocacy-related travel, research, hiring technical, legal or scientific experts, consultants, equipment purchase or rental, training, retreats, monitoring, mapping, advocacy-related personal expenses, i.e. childcare.

Priorities for funding:

  • Requests for discrete, project-specific support, where both the site and strategy are concrete and specific, e.g., saving the River Styx from hydroelectric development by getting stakeholders and community members to a hearing in Sacramento.
  • Geographic or issue area that has not received significant financial support in the past, including rural communities and other regions without easy access to financial and political support.
  • Community-based advocacy and organizing efforts in which the campaign/project is steered by affected community members and interest groups.
  • Effort is predominantly driven and staffed by volunteers.
  • Project will establish or combat a critical precedent that will influence other wildland protection efforts.
  • Innovative strategies.
  • Project outreach and organizing target non-traditional stakeholders and interest groups.

Other parameters and requirements:

  • Typical grants range between $1,000-$3,500.
  • Maximum grant is $5,000.
  • The fund targets project-specific requests. We will support stipends for organizers; portions of staff salaries linked with a project; consulting fees for technical experts; equipment purchase; and research costs.
  • Our goal is to help as many organizations throughout the state as possible and, as a result, we are not always able to fund 100% of each worthy project.
  • We do not fund beach clean-ups.
  • We do not fund  film or video production or completion, although we will fund outreach or communications strategies that use films or videos as advocacy and organizing tools.

*Note: Individuals may apply for Cal Wildlands support, but must be affiliated with 501(c)(3) organization. Cal Wildlands cannot make grants directly to individuals.

Tips for Applicants

  • Does the proposal address the goals of Cal Wildlands (as described in the funding priorities)?
  • How important is the overall issue addressed by the proposal?
  • Is the work plan clear and reasonable?
  • Is the budget realistic? Can the work be done for the amount requested? Is there a viable plan to raise any additional needed funds?
  • Does the organization have the capacity and leadership to complete the workplan?
  • Does the project help build a broader environmental constituency and reach diverse stakeholders?
  • Does the project have an effective outreach and communications strategy, including a clearly defined target audience?
  • Does the project have clearly defined results and impacts?

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