WHALE TAIL Grants Program

California Coastal Commission

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Grant amount: Up to US $50,000

Deadline: Nov 4, 2019

Applicant type: Indigenous Group Government Entity Nonprofit

Funding uses: Education / Outreach

Location of project: California

Location of residency: California

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Public Education Whale Tail® Grants

WHALE TAIL® grants support programs that teach California's children and the general public to value and take action to improve the health of the state's coast and ocean. Adopt-A-Beach® programs, as well as other beach maintenance 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.


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.


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: 

  • shoreline cleanup and enhancement programs (such as Adopt-A-Beach®);
  • youth education programs;
  • programs for educating the general public.

Applicants can also request funding under two special subcategories:

  • projects addressing climate change as it relates to the ocean or coastline;
  • grants for organizations with annual operating budgets of $500,000 or less, that are working with underserved communities.

You can learn more about this opportunity by visiting the funder's website.


  • 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.


  • Grants will not be awarded to provide for an organization’s general, ongoing  administrative costs, or to fund advocacy work.
  • Grants cannot be awarded to programs that unlawfully limit participation based on gender, race, color, religion, ancestry, ethnicity, or national origin, disability, medical condition, genetic information, marital status, sexual orientation, citizenship, primary language, immigration status or membership in any other protected group.
  • Grants cannot be awarded for projects that include religious content in their programming.