Project Selection Criteria


The Coastal Conservancy adopted its current Project Selection Criteria on September 23, 2021.

Eligibility Criteria

  1. Consistent with purposes of the funding source.
  2. Consistent with Conservancy enabling legislation: Public Resources Code, Division 21.
  3. California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) Compliance – The Conservancy must consider how CEQA applies to each funding decision. Unless an exemption applies to the project or to the work being funded, such as the exemption for feasibility or planning studies, the required CEQA documentation must be complete before the Conservancy authorizes a grant. CEQA documentation does not have to be complete to apply for a grant.
  4. Grantee capacity – The grantee has the ability to administer the funds and conduct the project in a manner that will meet the State’s requirements and will protect the grantee from potential financial or legal risk. If the grantee does not have the capacity, they have partnered with a fiscal sponsor that will provide them the needed administrative support.
  5. Site ownership/control – The grantee has or will have the legal right to carry out the project on the land on which the project is proposed.
  6. Long-term management – The grantee has a plan for the long-term management, maintenance, and monitoring of the project.

Selection Criteria

  1. Extent to which the project helps the Conservancy accomplishes the objectives in the Strategic Plan.
    • Develop the California Coastal Trail as a major recreational amenity, tourist attraction, and alternative transportation system.
    • Expand the system of coastal public accessways, open-space areas, parks, and inland trails that connect to the coast.
    • Revitalize coastal and inland waterfronts that provide significant public benefits and promote sustainable economic development.
    • Expand environmental education efforts to improve public understanding, use, and stewardship of coastal resources.
    • Protect significant coastal resource properties, including farmland, rangeland, and forests.
    • Enhance biological diversity, improve water quality, habitat, and other natural resources within coastal watersheds.
    • Enhance coastal working lands, including farmland, rangeland, and forests.
    • Enhance the resiliency of coastal communities and ecosystems to the impacts of climate change.
    • Improve public access, recreation, and educational facilities and programs within the Santa Ana River Parkway.
    • Protect and enhance natural habitats and connecting corridors, watersheds, scenic areas, and other open-space resources of regional importance in the Santa Ana River watershed.
    • Identify and prioritize long-term resource and recreational goals for the San Francisco Bay Area.
    • Protect and enhance natural habitats and connecting corridors, watersheds, scenic areas, and other open-space resources of regional importance in the Bay Area.
    • Improve public access, recreation, and educational facilities and programs in and around San Francisco Bay, along the coast, the ridgelines, in urban open spaces, and natural areas.
    • Protect Bay Area working lands and support farmers and ranchers in implementing stewardship of the natural resources on their lands.
  1. Project is a good investment of state resources.
    • Project provides important benefits to Californians.
    • Project is feasible.
    • Budget is reasonable.
    • Project leverages non state resources including volunteer work, in-kind support, or partnerships.
    • Project advances statewide goals and is consistent with regional and local plans.
    • Project advances the state’s 30×30 Executive Order.
    • Protects or enhances significant resources.
    • Pilot project has demonstration value and serves as a model to be used in
    • other areas of the State.
    • Pilot project includes monitoring to ensure the lessons of the project can be shared.
    • Applicant has consulted with relevant State and Federal agencies.
    • Scientific assumptions of project are explained in proposal, project follows best practices.
  1. Project includes a serious effort to engage tribes. Examples of tribal engagement include good faith, documented efforts to work with tribes traditionally and culturally affiliated to the project area in the following types of ways:
    • Communicate, consult, or engage with tribes who are traditionally and culturally affiliated to the project area as early as possible in project development.
    • Work with tribes to enable traditional stewardship and cultural practices on ancestral land and co-management of their ancestral lands and natural resources.
    • Assist tribes to regain access to their ancestral lands on the coast.
    • Incorporate indigenous voices, leadership, and perspectives, including traditional ecological knowledge, indigenous stewardship, and educational programs.
    • Respect tribal knowledge and concerns in the project.
    • Protect archaeological and cultural resources or mitigate to the extent feasible impacts to these resources.
    • Include tribal land acknowledgement and accurate historical information in signage, communications, and other project information.
  1. Project benefits will be sustainable or resilient over the project lifespan.
    • Project will continue to deliver benefits over a reasonable time period.
    • Project is resilient to or able to adapt to expected sea level rise during the project’s lifespan.
    • Project is resilient to or able to adapt to expected climate change impacts including extreme heat, wildfire, flood, and drought.
    • Project will not make future climate adaptation more difficult.
    • Planning project has identified potential implementation funding and has a strategy for obtaining necessary approvals.
  1. Project delivers multiple benefits and significant positive impact.
    • Project provides co-benefits and alleviates multiple stressors within communities, such as improving public health, addressing the need for additional recreational amenities, reductions in pollution burden, access to parks and open space, habitat enhancement or other environmental benefits.
    • Project increases equity and environmental justice by benefitting underserved and/or frontline communities.
    • Project increases community-preparedness or resilience to future climate change impacts such as drought, extreme heat, floods, wildfires, and other climate-related impacts.
    • Project increases carbon sequestration or protects existing sequestration on natural lands.
    • Project provides benefits to underserved communities, such as: job training, job creation, workforce development, and training programs structured toward long-term careers and not limited to entry-level skill building.
    • Project provides community benefits such as support for increased civic engagement, leadership development opportunities, funding for education, and volunteer opportunities.
    • Urban parks, urban trails, education centers, and waterfront revitalization projects include consideration of anti-displacement strategies where appropriate.
    • Projects that increase urban greening, open space, and tree canopy.
  1. Project planned with meaningful community engagement and broad community support.
    • Engage with local and regional communities in public co-visioning processes before projects are developed to reflect community needs and desires. Project concepts are anchored in community priorities and expertise.
    • Communities engaged in meaningful way to build mutual trust and relationships. Examples could include: 1) process involves staff, board members, or consultants who are from or have experience working with respective communities or 2) process includes dialogue between all affected and necessary parties, and/or direct involvement of local community groups.
    • Engagement process addresses unequal power dynamics between communities and government, historic inequity, injustices, and trauma. Communities have a decision making or co-leadership role in the development of the project, and the engagement process should be diverse and inclusive of the community members.
    • Community is represented on applicant’s staff, board, and within the project’s planning group, or project is partnering with local community based organizations.
    • Engagement process makes it easy for community members to participate by, for example, providing stipends, meeting in convenient locations and times, using virtual venues, providing childcare and food.
    • Outreach facilitated in a manner appropriate for the intended community/audience, and may include mailers or flyers, telephone calls, newspapers, publications, and/or social media.
    • Project team has a track record working within communities and incorporating insights gained from community engagement into project planning.
    • Materials developed during the project are made available in multiple languages that are representative of the languages spoken in the engaged community.
    • For acquisition projects where outreach prior to the closing is not feasible, the project plans for community engagement after acquisition.


Grant News

  • Explore the Coast 2023 Grant Round Open!
    The California State Coastal Conservancy is pleased to announce the availability of grants to public agencies, federally-recognized tribes and indigenous communities, and nonprofit organizations for programs that facilitate and enhance the public’s opportunities to explore California’s spectacular coast and San Francisco Bay shoreline through our Explore the Coast grant program. The ocean, coast, and beaches […] (Read more on Explore the Coast...)
  • SCC Grant Availability Webinar Nov 9
    The State of California has made an unprecedented investment in the resilience and accessibility of the coast.  As a result, the Coastal Conservancy has significant funding available to non-profit organizations, public agencies, and federally-recognized tribes for projects that benefit public access, natural resources, working lands, and climate resiliency at the coast, coastal watersheds, and the San […] (Read more on SCC Grant Availability...)
  • Coastal Stories Grant Program Launched to Support Inclusive Storytelling about the California Coast
    The Coastal Conservancy has launched a new grant program that intends to make the outdoors more inclusive and welcoming for all Californians by fostering representation of Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) and other historically excluded groups in outdoor spaces – through storytelling. Our Coastal Stories Grant Program seeks to fund projects that plan, develop, […] (Read more on Coastal Stories Grant...)
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