Midpen approves five new grantmaking program proposals
In June 2023, the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District (District) announced the availability of $250,000 in funding through the 2023 Grantmaking Program grant round.
Organizations were invited to submit pre-proposals for three funding priorities:
- Applied science - advancing scientific understanding of natural processes and/or promoting environmental stewardship.
- Partnership and network support - cultivating, sustaining, and growing conservation networks.
- Access, interpretation, and education - educating and promoting open space protection.
The District received a total of 40 short-form pre-proposals totaling $1.7 million in funding requests. District staff selected 19 of the 40 pre-proposals to move forward to the full proposal stage for additional consideration. A total of 16 full proposals were received by the deadline, totaling $740,731 in requests.
The recommended five (5) proposals are composed of three (3) access, interpretation and education projects and two (2) network and partnership support efforts, for a total of $249,769 in District funding. The proposed grantees are Grassroots Ecology, Canopy, Saved by Nature, TOGETHER Bay Area and Tamien Nation.
Proposals under the Applied Science priority are invited to focus on academic or practitioner science projects that support the protection and enhancement of natural resources on Midpen lands. The intent is to develop and disseminate information that advances scientific understanding of natural processes. Proposals focused on Our Changing Ecosystems described below are encouraged.
Our Changing Ecosystems
A host of challenges face our world today. Climate change is impacting ecosystems in a myriad of known and unknown ways, from increased variability in precipitation and vulnerability to fire, to changes in species distributions and dispersal patterns. As a result, ecosystems are facing a combination of accelerated and new stressors, affecting the ability to rebound from any one event. Proposals for research that seek to understand these changes and identify potential response actions that can be taken related to land and resource stewardship practices are encouraged.
Types of projects may include applied academic research or proof-of-concept and may cover a variety of topics relating to Our Changing Ecosystems such as:
- Climate change and carbon sequestration
- Climate refugia
- Habitat loss and fragmentation
- Population dynamics
- Genetic diversity, including inbreeding and outbreeding dynamics
- Plant and wildlife pathogens
- Fire ecology
- Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK)
- Extreme weather events
- Drought and flood management or watershed function
- Sea level rise and shoreline resiliency
- Ecological resiliency
- Land management
- Research that examines the ecology and potential mitigation strategies to combat the spread of Phytophthora species that are of concern
- Research that identifies plant propagule collection protocols or best management practices for restoration activities based on genetic factors and or environmental factors
- Protocol and installation of monitoring plots for the use of students
- Research the impact of road construction on the movement patterns and genetic diversity of endangered species
- Research that examines how climate change affects the movement patterns of habitat or wildlife and the effectiveness of existing connectivity solutions
- Benefits and impacts of regional carbon sequestration actions on working/agricultural lands
Network and Partnership Support
California’s largest and most pressing challenges require working together to discover and implement innovative solutions. Landscape-scale stewardship is critical to ensuring solutions are scalable and have a broad impact. Consequently, this funding category focuses on grant proposals that cultivate, sustain, or grow established conservation networks.
Although future funding rounds may allow for the creation of new working groups or networks, in this round only projects submitted by established groups or networks will be considered. An established group or network refers to an organized and recognized entity that has already been formed and actively operates in a specific field or area of interest. It typically consists of multiple individuals, organizations, or institutions that collaborate and work together towards a common goal or purpose. Groups or networks should be primarily oriented toward topics that relate to land management, conservation, or public access to outdoor recreation. Applicants are encouraged to emphasize if and how the group or network bridges gaps in access, widens equitable participation, or otherwise helps lower barriers to traditionally underserved communities.
Proposals are invited to focus on developing organizational capacity or implementing projects to engage the group in working together towards developing shared priorities, exchanging best practices, or collaborating on research or educational outreach and education/interpretation, etc. Please note that funds may not be used for policy or advocacy work and therefore lobbying support is not an eligible project type.
- Support for forums, site visits, and other convenings for capacity building for indigenous knowledge, revitalization of Native American land management practices, and related partnership development
- Development of a network-wide data-sharing system
- Consulting support and staff time to build a strategic plan for a working group to coalesce around a shared understanding of how participants will work together
- Consulting support and staff time to leverage existing network capacity with a wider outreach to engage diverse partner organizations (e.g., serving additional age groups, diverse abilities, and/or traditionally under-represented communities)
- Consulting support or staff time to build organizational capacity towards building the network strengthening communication and collaboration under a joint vision
- Support to organize convenings to share research and best practices related to natural resource management
Access, Interpretation, and Education
Funding for access, environmental interpretation, and education will be directed towards facilitating equitable access and broad opportunity for all residents to experience Midpen lands while fostering an appreciation for open space protection, nature study, and environmental stewardship. Proposals are invited to focus on projects that contribute an understanding and appreciation of our natural systems, restore indigenous knowledge, facilitate opportunities for outdoor engagement and nature-based experiences, or provide nature-based educational and interpretive experiences for children and/or adults. Applicants are encouraged to emphasize if and how the proposal bridges gaps in access, widens equitable participation, supports indigenous communities, or otherwise helps lower barriers to traditionally underserved or under-represented communities.
Funding can be used for staff time to create or execute programming, provide transportation to opportunities for outdoor engagement or nature-based experiences, facilitate knowledge of outdoor recreational opportunities, broaden access to the outdoors, engage residents in environmental stewardship activities, etc. Transportation-related projects must be to and from Midpen preserves.
- Public access or educational programs for the public, teachers, students, volunteers, and/or docents including topics such as wildlife connectivity, biodiversity, climate change, and resilience
- Develop and/or improve interpretive signs and services along trails, including bilingual materials
- Outreach and/or activity programs that connect tribal members with their ancestral homelands and foster indigenous knowledge
- Complete gaps in a regional trail system that connect communities to trails and open space (e.g., outreach and engagement strategies for community and partner support for regional trail connections)
- Outreach and/or activity programs or training materials that encourage outdoor engagement and nature-based experiences in underserved communities
In the 2023 grant round, the Midpen board of directors awarded funding to the following applicants:
- Canopy - Two-year program comprised of 12 outdoor events focusing on environmental education and stewardship. The paid internship program will offer 140 internships for high school students in underserved communities - $49,972
- Grassroots Ecology - Two-year pilot project, expanding their prior work through the “Right Relations” Program, to increase access of Native American communities to District lands. The project will include outreach, community events, volunteer opportunities, honorariums, and visits to District land - $49,850
- Saved by Nature - Field trips led by Naturalist Richard Tejeda to Midpen preserves for up to 350 students from Tile I Elementary and Jr. High schools - $49,946
- Tamien Nation - Provide community workshops and training sessions to enhance climate education, build partnerships, and support understanding of indigenous land stewardship through knowledge-sharing and capacity building - $50,000
- TOGETHER Bay Area - Nine-month program consisting of three cohorts that engage Native organizations in relationship and capacity building for climate resilience and equity through online workshops, six field trips, seven round table discussions, and various sessions focused on action planning - $50,000
In the 2021 grant round, the Midpen board of directors awarded funding to the following applicants:
- Coastside Land Trust Outdoor education and stewardship program for students in Cabrillo Unified School District in coastal San Mateo County - $25,000
- Creekside Science Two years of grassland surveys of Midpen lands in which the environmental and management drivers of native species will be rigorously documented - $50,000
- Dominican University of California Undergraduate-led wildfire ecological monitoring project to assess wildfire-induced changes on terrestrial salamander populations - $25,000
- Peninsula Open Space Trust A planning effort to close gaps on the California Coastal Trail in San Mateo County through the California Coastal Trail Feasibility Study - $25,000
- Pie Ranch Outdoor engagement and nature-based learning experiences with a focus on reaching youth from traditionally underserved and underrepresented communities to increase environmental and food literacy - $50,000
- San Francisco Bay Bird Observatory Outdoor experiences for underserved communities, virtual nature talks, and the development of a high school education module focused on the Motus radio telemetry tower network in the Bay Area and how scientists use the network data to study and conserve birds - $24,980
- San Jose State University Opportunity for undergraduate students to participate in environmental restoration projects on Midpen lands and apply techniques for managing natural areas - $49,964
- Saved by Nature Field trips to Midpen preserves for students from Davis Jr High, Stipe Elementary, and Edenvale Elementary led by naturalist Richard Tejeda - $24,783
- UC Elkus Ranch Hands-on educational activities at a working ranch for underserved, urban youth - $17,250
- Vida Verde Nature Education Equitable access to immersive, multi-day experiences in nature for students from low-income communities and their families - $50,000
In July 2019 the Midpen board of directors awarded funding to the first round of grantees:
- Environmental Volunteers
Collaborative Interpretation Project between Cooley Landing and Lucy Evans Nature Center - $25,000
- Groundswell Coastal Ecology
Teaching Design Thinking for Coastal Resilience - $49,025
- San Francisco Bay Bird Observatory
Outreach Education Expansion - $25,000
- San Francisco Bay Bird Observatory
Restoring Transitional Habitat with Bird Nests - $24,704
- Thrive Alliance
Environmental and Sustainability Thrive Action Group - $25,000
- University of California, Santa Cruz
Does French broom invasion limit the success of native forbs in annual grasslands? - $49,375
- Vida Verde Education Center
Multi-day Environmental Education Experiences for Students from Low-Income, Bay Area Schools - $50,000
Hands-On Learning: Midpen grant introduces students to science outdoors
Despite the early hour and chill in the air, a group of San José State University (SJSU) students ventured bright-eyed into an area of Sierra Azul Open Space Preserve dominated by nonnative, invasive eucalyptus trees. Dubbed the “bird group,” this crew kept a keen eye and ear out for flapping wings and high-pitched chirps. What birds live in this eucalyptus forest? How are their populations different from those of nearby native habitats? The bird group sought answers to these questions to fulfill the field research component of their environmental restoration course.
Follow along as a group of middle school students from San Jose experience nature and ocean views in a Midpen preserve, some for the first time. Grant partnerships like this one between Midpen and the local nonprofit organization Saved by Nature, are helping connect Bay Area youth with the physical, emotional and mental benefits of time spent in nature.
The grant application period is now closed. Please sign up for the Grantmaking Program interest list below to receive notifications about future grant rounds.