California Wildlands Rapid Response Fund

“The idea of wilderness needs no defense.

It only needs more defenders.” — Edward Abbey


This Fund is intended to provide immediate support for urgent, near-term opportunities to protect, defend, or advocate for the enhancement of California’s federal public lands and national marine sanctuaries, and California Marine Protected Areas. The Fund is limited to special short-term projects requiring a rapid response. These efforts may include (but are not limited to) securing new or stronger protections or building new constituencies for federal lands with wildland values; safeguarding existing conservation protections on federal lands; defending and protecting America’s bedrock laws and policies; and ensuring the integrity of critical regulations and policies governing the management of National Forest, National Park, National Wildlife Refuge, Bureau of Land Management lands, and marine sanctuaries.

The Fund was created to provide immediate, urgent funding for near-term initiatives with a limited window of opportunity.* To qualify for funding, applicants must demonstrate the urgency of the threat or opportunity the project will address, and clearly articulate why their project requires immediate funding to conduct work that is beyond the scope of ongoing conservation work and above and beyond expected annual organizational expenses. Applicants whose requests include any significant levels of funding for regular staffing or organizational costs should clearly explain why these costs are necessary elements of the project, and are welcome to contact the Rose Foundation for advice before submitting an application.

*The goal of the Rapid Response Fund is to make a decision on your grant proposal within 2-3 weeks. However, it is possible that the process will take slightly longer if your application requires additional follow-up questions.



Applications are accepted on a rolling basis.


To be eligible to apply to the California Wildlands Rapid Response Fund, the applicant organization must be able to answer YES to all of the following eligibility requirements/questions:

  • Does the proposed project have a strong focus toward protecting federally owned public lands or marine sanctuaries in California, or California Marine Protected Areas?
  • Does the applicant organization have a track record of protecting and preserving public lands or marine sanctuaries in California?
  • Is the applicant organization based in California? If not, do you have a strong presence, including paid staff or a robust volunteer contingent based in California, or otherwise have the ability to generate the necessary capacity?
  • Does your organization have a 501(c)(3) or 501(c)(6) status from the Internal Revenue Service, or is it a sponsored project of a 501(c)(3) organization?
  • Is your funding request $25,000 or less? If the project requires more than $25,000, can you clearly identify a funding commitment for the balance, or can you identify other sources for the remaining funds?
  • Does the proposed workplan focus on important near-term activities in response to an imminent threat or opportunity, and does the grant period for your project reflect these near-term activities and the urgent, rapid response nature of this Fund?
  • Does the project budget have specified line items for all project expenses? (Please note: general organizational overhead is not allowed in Rapid Response budgets.)


If you answered NO to any of these questions, you will not qualify for a grant from the California Wildlands Rapid Response Fund.


Funding Priorities:

Applicants do not need to meet all of these priorities to earn a grant award. However, a successful applicant must be able to show how their proposal addresses at least some of these priorities:

  • Projects involving unexpected near-term opportunities, or precedent-setting threats, to federal public lands, marine sanctuaries, and/or the authority of federal land management agencies.
  • Short-term projects, generally 6 — 8 months maximum, that represent extra costs to the organization beyond the regular annual budget.
  • Projects involving at-risk wildlands.
  • Projects in regions of the state where local political power has been less than supportive of sound conservation policy and law.
  • Projects with easily identifiable goals, clear targets, effective strategies, and a means for measuring success.
  • Projects leveraging partnerships with other nonprofits and tie-ins with coordinated campaigns and initiatives.
  • Projects which build new constituencies for federal public lands conservation and stewardship, especially projects which engage non-traditional stakeholders, including communities of color.
  • Projects involving immediate threats to Marine Protected Areas.


Projects with the following elements are not likely to be viewed as eligible for Rapid Response funding:

  • Projects with grant periods of longer than 6-8 months may be viewed as annual support proposals, which do not fit the Fund’s rapid response criteria and are therefore discouraged.
  • Absent an extremely persuasive argument as to why regular staff salaries are included in a Rapid Response budget, projects requesting funding to cover core salary costs will not be viewed as eligible for Rapid Response funding.

Eligible Organizations:

501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations working to preserve the integrity of federally managed public lands in California, or California Marine Protected Areas.

Eligible Activities (include, but are not limited to):

  • Public outreach or organizing including phone banks, mailings, paid advertising, or special events.
  • Advocacy, research, or other activities conducted by experts or other consultants including but not limited to media, communications, economics, outreach, or legal work. Educational activities targeting legislators are allowable, but grant dollars may not be used for lobbying as defined by IRS 501(c)(3).
  • Travel funds to allow organizational staff, experts, or members of the public to attend key administrative or legislative hearings or sessions, or otherwise personally reach targeted decision-makers.
  • Funding for salaries of core or permanent staff time for project-related activities is only eligible if the applicant clearly demonstrates why the project work is not part of their regular duties.

Non-Eligible Activities:

  • Capital expenses, including equipment purchase.
  • General organizational expenses. This is a fund designed to support discrete projects and urgent campaigns that are a response to immediate opportunities or threats.
  • Long-range programs. While your project may be part of a longer-range conservation strategy, it must center around responding to an immediate threat or opportunity.
  • Most core or permanent staff salaries.
  • Lobbying activities as defined by IRS 501(c)(3).


Please check all eligibility requirements before starting the online application. To complete the online application Click Here

*The goal of the Rapid Response Fund is to make a decision on your grant proposal within 2-3 weeks. However, it is possible that the process will take slightly longer than this if your application requires additional follow-up questions. 


If your organization is awarded a grant, you must submit a grant report. Please refer to your Grant Agreement for the date on which your report is due.

Please log into our online portal to begin filling out your assigned grant report.

You are free to include other documents in your report, such as pamphlets, photos, and news clippings. However, these are to be supplementary and should tie into your more general narrative.

Grant Report forms (also listed as “Follow-Up Forms” in the online portal) are automatically assigned to the user account that originally completed/submitted the application. Follow-up forms can only be assigned to and accessed by one user account at a time. If you are not the original applicant contact but you are completing the grant report, please contact us at We will create a user account for you and then re-assign the report form to you.

Current and past Grantees

Click here to review descriptions of all grantees.

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