WHALE TAIL® Grants are now open. Apply by November 5, 2021.

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

2021 Guidelines & Application:

Register to attend a webinar on October 6, 3:30-4:30pm for a walk-through of the grant application process and an opportunity to ask questions. If you miss it, the webinar will be available to view later.

Whale Tail License Plate and Protect Our Coast and Oceans Fund logo


Find more grants from the State of California:

California Grants Portal logo


Approximately $1,500,000 will be distributed in the 2021/22 grant cycle. Applicants may request any amount up to $50,000, and at least 25% of the funding will be allocated in small grants up to $20,000.

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 $14.2 million to more than 744 projects.


Other grants to consider applying to:

Staff reports from past WHALE TAIL® Grant Cycles