Explore the Coast Grants
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, tribes, and nonprofit organizations. There is no minimum grant size, but the maximum grant award is $50,000. Grant funding comes from the Environmental License Plate Fund, from the Coastal Access Account and other sources.
If funding is available, the Conservancy will offer these grants every year. Since 2013, the Conservancy has awarded over $7.2 million in 220 separate grants (updated January 2021).
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.
The ETC Grant Program benefits from the guidance of an Advisory Board, which represents the interests and needs of communities served by this 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
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’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.
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 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.
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