The next WHALE TAIL® Grants round will open in September 2022.

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. Below are details from the 2021 grant cycle.

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Frequently Asked Questions about the WHALE TAIL® Grant

2021 Guidelines & Application:

A webinar was held on October 6 to walk through the grant application process. Download a PDF of the slides and script (best viewed with Adobe Acrobat rather than in your browser), or as a PowerPoint file. A video of the live webinar can be viewed here.

Note regarding digital submission of applications: The maximum size to email your application package is 30 Mb. If your application is saved as a PDF, you can use the "Reduce File Size" tool under the "File" menu to reduce your file size. You are also welcome to send attachments in separate emails. If your package is larger than 30 Mb, you can upload it to our Dropbox folder, within the same deadline. Please name your file with your applicant organization name. Refer to the Guidelines and Application documents, above, for complete instructions on submitting your Whale Tail Grant proposal.


More than $3 million was distributed in the 2021/22 grant cycle, with a maximum award of $50,000.

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, 3) climate change education and stewardship, 4) shoreline cleanup and enhancement programs (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, 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 serve 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 $18.3 million to 867 projects.



Other grants to consider applying to: