For small, locally based environmental groups, finding the resources to engage governmental agencies and conduct compelling scientific research can be difficult, but this could change thanks to two different funding initiatives dedicated exclusively to assisting grassroots environmental initiatives in California. The California Wildlands Grassroots Fund is about to start its second year of grant making. In its first year, the fund (administered by the Tides Foundation) awarded nearly three dozen grants in support of “individual citizens taking leadership in their communities,” mostly in areas outside of urban centers. The fund, started by an anonymous donor, helps grassroots groups complete land purchases, provide public education, advocate for legislation, conduct media campaigns, and prepare documentation for environmental impact statements and habitat conservation plans. The fund recently granted $4,000 to the Institute for Ecological Health to organize a coalition of environmentalists to work on the East Contra Costa County’s Habitat Conservation Plan and Natural Community Conservation Plan. For application information visit www.calwildlandsfund.org.
The recently established Northern California Environmental Grassroots Fund (NCEGF), administered by the Rose Foundation, was formed to fund small projects that would probably have been overlooked by larger grant makers. The funding area includes the Sierra Nevada, Central Valley, Central Coast, and North Coast. The program offers grants of $5,000 or less for all aspects of environmental work, including projects designed to protect water resources, agricultural land, and communities confronting environmental injustice. Last August NCEGF awarded a $3,000 grant to the Hayes Valley Neighborhood Parks Group for the Koshland Park Community Learning Garden. The garden, which is less than an acre, helps 300 children in grades K-5 learn science, develop social skills, gain self-esteem, and experience first hand the value of community service. The park also hosts activities for older students, seniors, and other community members. NCEGF also awarded $4,000 to the Rush Ranch Educational Council in Fairfield (Solano County), an all-volunteer organization that promotes public access and environmental education at Rush Ranch Open Space and the surrounding Suisun Marsh. The first deadline to apply for NCEGF funding in 2004 is March 31. For more information and instructions for the streamlined application process, visit www.rosefdn.org/grants/grassroots.html.