With help from philanthropists, California State Parks Foundation offers new park operating grants

 In Philanthropy, Public Lands

redwoodsThe California State Parks Foundation tapped into its donor base with a strong case for new support.

At least 57 parks that protect beaches, cultural artifacts, redwood forests and other spectacular features are facing closure on July 1, 2012. Many nonprofits that have been educational partners to parks for decades, are hosting fundraisers and negotiating with the California Department of Parks and Recreation to gain a reprieve. Support for these organization’s efforts can go a long way toward saving our state’s natural and cultural heritage.

If your nonprofit is one of dozens around the state raising funds to save a local state park, then you will want to apply for a new grant opportunity — “Park Operating Grants” — announced this past week. These grants will support qualified nonprofits that have stepped up to enter into an operating agreement with California State Parks to prevent a state park on the closure list from closing.

Proposals for the first round of grants are due April 23. Visit the foundation’s website for more information and to apply online.

On April 5, I spoke to Davida Hartman, the foundation’s Vice President of Development. She said the news about the grants is already spreading. “We are getting responses already.” She said the foundation is open to the request amount, so it is up to the applicant to make a case for the funds they need to help them get across the finish line for a one-year reprieve. “We are staring down at July 1, and this is our top priority,” said Hartman.

These new Park Operating Grants will be made possible by generous funding from the S. D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation and the Thomas J. Long Foundation, two San Francisco Bay Area foundations. The foundation is also waiting to hear back from a number of other funders, which they hope will come through to grow the pool of funds for re-granting.

Legal assistance and operations planning for nonprofits

In addition to grants, the State Parks Foundation is also offering technical assistance to nonprofits such as legal support for negotiating an operating agreement with the parks department and guidance on fundraising, operating plans and budgets. Supporting this effort is Randy Widera, a nonprofit consultant who for 12 years served as the executive director and director of operations for Friends of Santa Cruz State Parks, a nonprofit state parks cooperating association.

About the California State Parks Foundation

California State Parks Foundation logoThe California State Parks Foundation (CSPF) was founded in 1969 by William Penn Mott, Jr., former director of both California’s Department of Parks and Recreation and the National Park Service. CSPF is the only statewide independent nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting, enhancing and advocating for California’s state parks. Since 1969, CSPF has raised more than $186 million to benefit state parks. Today they have 130,000 members. The foundation publishes a blog, e-newsletters and actively posts updates on the state parks crisis on its Facebook and Twitter pages.

Bay Nature Special Coverage Continues

Bay Nature cover image April 2012The generous support of CSPF and the S. D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation to help our state parks extends further. Along with Save the Redwoods League, they are providing funding for Bay Nature magazine’s coverage of the state parks crisis. Be sure to pick up a copy of the April issue at your local newsstand or bookstore. Joan Hamilton, formerly chief editor at High Country News, Climbing and Sierra magazines, roamed the state to write a special section titled “The Parks and The People: Keeping State Parks Alive.”

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