Read about the latest WHALE TAIL® Grant recipients, announced February 7, 2024

Join the email list for details about the next grant opening, anticipated in September 2024. Below are details from the previous grant round.

WHALE TAIL® grants support experiential education and stewardship of the California coast and its watersheds. Grant projects can engage youth or adults and can take place anywhere in California.

Frequently Asked Questions about the WHALE TAIL® Grant

2023 Guidelines & Application Form:

Read the Guidelines before beginning your grant application.

An online meeting took place on September 20, 2023 with a detailed walk-through of the grant application and guidelines, including time for general questions about the grant and application process. View the slides and presenter notes (PDF). Watch a video of the meeting.

If you have questions or would like to discuss your project idea, please contact Annie Kohut Frankel at or Chris Parry at


Approximately $2 million will be distributed in the FY2023/24 grant cycle, with a maximum award of $50,000. At least 25% of funded projects will be small grants of up to $20,000.

This is a reimbursement grant, meaning that grant recipients will invoice for work done and purchases made, and be reimbursed for those expenses.

Project Categories

Projects must relate to the coast and ocean and may fall into one or more of the following categories: 1) youth education programs, 2) programs for educating the general public or adults, 3) climate change education and stewardship, 4) shoreline cleanup and enhancement programs with community involvement (such as Adopt-A-Beach®).

We strongly encourage projects that engage communities that have historically received fewer opportunities for coastal and marine education and stewardship, and applicant organizations based in and composed of the communities they are engaging.

Eligible Applicants

Non-profit 501(c)(3) organizations, projects of a non-profit fiscal sponsor, public schools or districts, government entities, Federally Recognized Tribes and other California Native American Tribes as defined by Governor's Executive Order B-10-11.

Projects funded by WHALE TAIL® grants must engage audiences in California, and can take place anywhere in California.


This program is supported by sales of the WHALE TAIL® Coastal Protection License Plate and donations to the Protect Our Coast and Oceans Fund listed on the California state tax form. In 2021, funds were also allocated for this program through the state budget.

The WHALE TAIL® License Plate is an official specialty license plate issued by the California Department of Motor Vehicles. Proceeds from sales of the plate benefit the California Coastal Commission's Adopt-A-Beach® Program, California Coastal Cleanup Day, and a wide variety of environmental projects throughout the state. The Protect Our Coast and Oceans Fund is a "tax check-off" fund 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 $23.5 million to 1,007 projects.



Other grants to be aware of:

Find more grants from the State of California:

California Grants Portal logo