Explore the Coast Grants

kids playing in the water on the beach

Viva Verde Education Program

The 2023 ETC RFP will come out in late 2022/ early 2023.  To be kept up to date on our RFPs, sign up for the Conservancy mailing list here.

California’s ocean, coast, and beaches are spaces of joy, relaxation, and healing. The ability to experience the coast without fear of financial cost, physical barriers or feelings of not belonging, is crucial to how people cultivate their own lifelong connections with the coast. The State Coastal Conservancy’s Explore the Coast (ETC) grant program seeks to provide coastal experiences for people and communities who face challenges to accessing or enjoying the coast (“ETC Priority Communities”). ETC Priority Communities include but are not limited to lower-income individuals and households, people with disabilities, people of color, immigrant communities, and foster youth, among others.

Grant funding is available to public agencies, federally-recognized tribes, and nonprofit organizations. There is no minimum grant size, but the maximum grant award varies depending upon the availability of funds.

The Budget Act of 2021 allocated $14 million dollars of State General Funds to the Coastal Conservancy for the Explore the Coast Program. The Conservancy is usually able to allocate approximately $700,000 per year from the Environmental License Plate Fund, Coastal Access Account, and other sources to support an annual ETC Grant Round; the program is regularly oversubscribed, with need greatly exceeding amount of funds. This fiscal year’s General Fund allocation will enable support for many more projects to help communities access and enjoy the coast and the San Francisco Bay Shoreline, as well as launch an anticipated two years of a companion “Coastal Stories” grant.  Staff anticipates offering grant rounds for both ETC and Coastal Stories in 2022 and 2023.

Since 2013, the Conservancy has awarded over $18.2 million in 296 separate Explore the Coast grants (updated October 2022).

ETC grants fund a wide range of programs that bring people to the coast or to the shores of San Francisco Bay. At least 50% of participants served by the ETC grant must be from an ETC Priority Community.  In addition to meeting this requirement, projects must also meet one or more of the following program priorities:

  • Provides an enjoyable experience at the coast.
  • Reduces economic, physical, operational, or societal barriers to accessing or enjoying the coast.
  • Inspires ongoing coastal resource stewardship ethic through active learning and interactive activities.

To be notified of upcoming ETC Grant Rounds, sign up for our mailing list here.

Advisory Board

The ETC Grant Program benefits from the guidance of an Advisory Board.  The Advisory Board is comprised of experts and people with experience with outdoor education and equity. Their professional backgrounds will serve in the interest of the communities in grant program.  The Advisory Board counsels Conservancy staff on the application process, review of applications, and ongoing delivery of the Explore the Coast grant program. To learn more about the Advisory Board and its current members, click here.

Examples of ETC Grantees

Amah Mutsun summer camp

Amah Mutsun Land Trust Summer Camp

The Amah Mutsun Land Trust’s Summer Camp provides Native American youth meaningful and fun experiences to enjoy their coastal ancestral territory on the San Mateo and Santa Cruz coast while learning about coastal conservation and traditional ecological knowledge. Participants experience hands-on cultural learning and coastal, recreational activities that promote appreciation and connection their cultural identities.



Brown Girl Surf

Brown Girl Surf’s Surf Sister Program


Brown Girl Surf’s Surf Sister Program offers surfing lessons, history, and ocean education for women and girls who identify as Black, Indigenous, or people of color primarily from Alameda and other Bay Area Counties. The program builds a welcoming community of “surf sisters” who support each other to surf and safely enjoy the ocean.



Outdoor Outreach

Outdoor Outreach’s Coastal Adventure Club Program

In San Diego, Outdoor Outreach’s Coastal Adventure Club Program creates coastal outings for disadvantaged youth to go kayaking, paddle boarding, surfing, biking, hiking, and tide-pooling. This program also offers a pathway to job and leadership opportunities where participants can go on to become instructors and peer mentors for other youth in the program.



Environmental Traveling Companions

Environmental Traveling Companions

Environmental Traveling Companions offers life-changing sea kayaking, whitewater rafting, and cross-country skiing, and youth leadership adventures to more than 100,000 people with special needs, including people with visual or mobility impairments, developmental disabilities, cancer and other life-threatening illness, and youth from economically disadvantaged backgrounds. Environmental Traveling Companions has received Explore the Coast grants to facilitate sea kayaking adventures in Richardson and Tomales Bay in the San Francisco Bay Area.


Programs that teach Californian’s to value the state’s coastal resources or programs that combine education with beach maintenance and habitat restoration projects should also consider applying for a Coastal Commission Whale Tail Grants.

Grant News

Email List Icon Image Sign up and Stay Informed!

Visit the State of California Department of Public Health online for all the latest publicly available information and guidance on the COVID-19 virus Visit the State of California
Department of Public Health online
for all the latest publicly available information
and guidance on the COVID-19 virus

SCC/OPC Project Viewer Photo of sea otter in the ocean Help Save Sea Otters at Tax Time