The next round of WHALE TAIL® Grants will open in fall 2021. Below is information from 2019.

WHALE TAIL® grants support experiential education and stewardship of the California coast and its watersheds. Shoreline cleanup and coastal habitat restoration projects that have an educational component are also eligible for these grants. WHALE TAIL® grants focus on reaching communities that are poorly served in terms of marine and coastal education, and strive for a broad geographic distribution throughout California.

2019 Application & Guidelines Packet

Examples of grant resolutions

Research-Based Best Practices in Environmental Education

A webinar was held on October 3 to introduce participants to the grant process. View and listen to a video of the webinar or download the slideshow with script that was presented during the webinar.

Getting an early start restoring the Tolowa coast. Youth from 
								multiple indigenous Nations stand ready with their shovels in front of 
								a rising sun
Photo: Tolowa Dunes Stewards

Read highlights of past WHALE TAIL® Grant recipients

Find more grants from the State of California:

California Grants Portal logo


Approximate $300,000 will be distributed in the 2019/20 grant cycle. Applicants may request any amount up to $50,000, and 25-50% of the funding will be allocated in small grants up to $12,000.


Projects may fall into the following categories: 1) shoreline cleanup and enhancement programs (such as Adopt-A-Beach®); 2) youth education programs; 3) programs for educating the general public. Applicants can also request funding under two special subcategories: a) projects addressing climate change as it relates to the ocean or coastline; b) grants for organizations with annual operating budgets of $500,000 or less, that are working with underserved communities.


Applicants may be either a non-profit organization, school or school district, or a government entity. Projects funded by WHALE TAIL® grants must serve audiences in California.


This program distributes funds from sales of the WHALE TAIL® Coastal Protection License Plate and from donations to the Protect Our Coast and Oceans Fund listed on the California state tax form. The WHALE TAIL® License Plate is an official specialty license plate issued by the California Department of Motor Vehicles. Proceeds from the sales of the plates benefit the California Coastal Commission's Adopt-A-Beach® Program, California Coastal Cleanup Day and a wide variety of coastal and marine education projects throughout the state. The Protect Our Coast and Oceans Fund is one of the "tax check-off" funds listed on the California state tax form, offering taxpayers the option to provide voluntary donations of any amount. Proceeds from contributions to this fund specifically benefit the WHALE TAIL® Grants Program. Since the WHALE TAIL® Grants Program began in 1998, it has awarded $13.3 million to more than 700 projects.


  • WHALE TAIL® grants emphasize reaching communities underserved by marine education and conservation, so to help grantees we've sponsored free workshops on equity and inclusion in environmental education, provided by Youth Outside. We invite new grantees to these workshops to learn more about best practices for increasing cultural relevancy in their programming.
  • For Grantees
  • Program Evaluation Guidance

Past Grant Recipients
full reports


  • e-mail us at
  • call Annie Kohut Frankel, Grants and Education Programs Coordinator, at (415) 597-5888.