Public & Private Funding

Urban Forestry funding from state grants and other programs

There are more state dollars available now to support some or all aspects of urban forestry than there ever have been in California’s history – which indicates that urban trees are now better recognized and better integrated into many public projects. This opens numerous doors of opportunity for nonprofits and community groups to secure significant public funds for urban forestry and tree planting projects connecting to greenhouse gas reductions, environmental mitigation, active transportation, sustainable communities, environmental justice, and energy conservation.
When California ReLeaf learns of grant cycles for the programs below, and other opportunities, we distribute information to our email list. Sign up today to get funding alerts in your inbox!

State Grant Programs

Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities Program (AHSC)

Administrated by: Strategic Growth Council (SGC)

Synopsis: The SGC is authorized to fund land-use, housing, transportation, and land preservation projects to support infill and compact development that reduce GHG emissions.

Connection to Urban Forestry: Urban Greening is a threshold requirement for all AHSC funded projects. Eligible urban greening projects include, but are not limited to, rainwater recycling, flow and filtration systems including rain gardens, stormwater planters and filters, vegetated swales, bioretention basins, infiltration trenches and integration with riparian buffers, shade trees, community gardens, parks and open space.

Eligible Applicants: Locality (e.g. local agencies), Developer (entity responsible for project construction), Program Operator (day-to-day operational project administrator).

Cal-EPA Environmental Justice Action Grants

Administrated by: California Environmental Protection Agency (CalEPA)

Synopsis: The California Environmental Protection Agency (CalEPA) Environmental Justice (EJ) Action Grants is structured to provide grant funding to a wide variety of projects intended to lift the burden of pollution from those most vulnerable to its effects: supporting community-based organizations and residents to engage in emergency preparedness, protecting public health, improving environmental and climate decision-making, and coordinated enforcement efforts affecting their communities. In California, we know that some communities face disproportionate impacts from climate change, particularly low-income and rural communities, communities of color, and California Native American tribes.

Connection to Urban Forestry: Urban Forestry-related projects could fit many of the allowable funding priorities, including emergency preparedness, protecting public health, and improving environmental and climate decision-making.

Eligible Applicants:  Federally recognized tribes; 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations; and organizations receiving fiscal sponsorship from 501(c)(3) organizations.

Application Cycle Timelines: Round 1 of grant applications will open on August 29, 2023, and close on October 6, 2023. CalEPA will review applications and announce funding awards on a rolling basis. CalEPA will assess the timeline of additional application rounds in October 2023 and expect to review applications twice per fiscal year.

Cal-EPA Environmental Justice Small Grants

Administrated by: California Environmental Protection Agency (CalEPA)

Synopsis: The California Environmental Protection Agency (CalEPA) Environmental Justice (EJ) Small Grants are available to help eligible non-profit community groups/organizations and federally recognized Tribal governments address environmental justice issues in areas disproportionately affected by environmental pollution and hazards.

Connection to Urban Forestry: Cal-EPA has added another project category that is very relevant to our network: “Address Climate Change Impacts Through Community-Led Solutions.” Projects examples include energy efficiency, community greening, water conservation, & increased biking/walking.

Eligible Applicants: Non-profit entities or federally recognized Tribal governments.

Urban and Community Forestry Program

Administrated by: California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE)

Synopsis: Multiple grant programs supported by the Urban and Community Forestry Program will fund tree planting, tree inventories, workforce development, urban wood and biomass utilization, blighted urban lands improvements, and leading edge work that advances the goals and objectives of supporting healthy urban forests and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Connection to Urban Forestry: Urban forestry is the primary focus of this program.

Eligible Applicants: Cities, counties, non-profits, qualifying districts

Active Transportation Program (ATP)

Administrated by: California Department of Transportation (CALTRANS)

Synopsis:  The ATP provides funding to encourage increased use of active modes of transportation, such as biking and walking.

Connection to Urban Forestry: Trees and other vegetation are significant components of several eligible projects under the ATP, including parks, trails, and safe-routes-to-schools.

Eligible Applicants:  Public agencies, transit agencies, school districts, tribal governments and non-profit organizations. Non-profits are eligible lead applicants for parks and recreational trails.

Environmental Enhancement and Mitigation Program (EEMP)

Administrated by: California Natural Resources Agency

Synopsis: The EEMP encourages projects that produce multiple benefits which reduce greenhouse gas emissions, increase water use efficiency, reduce risks from climate change impacts, and demonstrate collaboration with local, state and community entities. Eligible projects must be directly or indirectly related to the environmental impact of the modification of an existing transportation facility or construction of a new transportation facility.

Connection to Urban Forestry: One of two primary focal points of the EEMP

Eligible Applicants: Local, state, and federal governmental agencies, and nonprofit organizations

Outdoor Equity Grants Program

Administrated by: California Department of Parks and Recreation

Synopsis: The Outdoor Equity Grants Program (OEP) improves the health and wellness of Californians through new educational and recreational activities, service learning, career pathways, and leadership opportunities that strengthen a connection to the natural world. OEP’s intent is to increase the ability of residents in underserved communities to participate in outdoor experiences within their community, at state parks, and other public lands.

Connection to Urban Forestry: Activities can include teaching participants about the community’s environment (which can include the urban forest/community gardens etc.) and taking educational walks in the community to discover nature in action. Additionally, there is funding to support residents, including youth, to receive internships that can be used for future employment resumes or college admission for natural resources, environmental justice, or outdoor recreation professions.

Eligible Applicants:

  • All Public Agencies (local, state, and federal government, school districts and educational agencies, joint powers authorities, open-space authorities, regional open-space districts, and other relevant public agencies)
  • Non-profit organizations with 501(c)(3) status

Statewide Park Program (SPP)

Administrated by: California Department of Parks and Recreation

Synopsis: The SPP funds the creation and development of parks and other outdoor recreational spaces in underserved communities throughout the state. Eligible projects must create a new park or expand or renovate an existing park in a critically underserved community.

Connection to Urban Forestry: Community gardens and orchards are eligible recreation features of the program and urban forestry may be a component of park creation, expansion, and renovation.

Eligible Applicants: Cities, counties, districts (including recreation and park districts and public utilities districts), joint powers authorities, and nonprofit organizations

Urban Greening Grant Program

Administrated by: California Natural Resources Agency

Synopsis: Consistent with AB 32, the Urban Greening Program will fund projects that reduce greenhouse gases by sequestering carbon, decreasing energy consumption and reducing vehicles miles traveled, while also transforming the built environment into places that are more sustainable enjoyable, and effective in creating healthy and vibrant communities.

Connection to Urban Forestry: This new program explicitly includes urban heat island mitigation projects and energy conservation efforts related to shade tree planting. The existing draft guidelines favor tree planting as the primary quantification methodology to reduce greenhouse gases.

Eligible Applicants: Public agencies, nonprofit organizations, and qualifying districts

ICARP Grants Programs – Extreme Heat and Community Resilience ProgramGovernor's Office of Planning and Research - State of California Logo

Administrated by: Governor’s Office of Planning and Research

Synopsis: This program funds and supports local, regional, and tribal efforts to reduce the impacts of extreme heat. The Extreme Heat and Community Resilience Program coordinates the state’s efforts to address extreme heat and the urban heat island effect.

Connection to Urban Forestry: This new program funds planning and implementation projects that keep communities safe from the impacts of extreme heat. Investments in natural shade is listed as one of the eligible types of activities.

Eligible Applicants: Eligible applicants include Local and Regional Public Entities; California Native American tribes, community-based organizations; and coalitions, collaboratives, or associations of nonprofit organizations that a 501(c)(3) non-profit or academic institution sponsors.

Federal Funding Programs

Inflation Reduction Act Community Change Grants Program

Administrated by: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)United States Environmental Protection Agency Seal / logo

Synopsis: The grant program supports environmental and climate justice activities to benefit disadvantaged communities through projects that reduce pollution, increase community climate resilience, and build community capacity to address environmental and climate justice challenges.

Connection to Urban Forestry: Urban Forestry and urban greening can be a climate solution to address public health issues at the community level. Urban Tree projects / urban greening can address extreme heat, pollution mitigation, climate resiliency etc.

Eligible Applicants:

  • A partnership between two community-based non-profit organizations (CBOs).
  • A partnership between a CBO and one of the following:
    • a Federally-Recognized Tribe
    • a local government
    • an institution of higher education.

Applications are due by November 21, 2024

Other Funding Programs

Bank of America Community Resilience Grant

Administrated by: Arbor Day Foundation

Synopsis: Bank of America’s Community Resilience Grant Program enables the design and implementation of projects that utilize trees and other green infrastructure to build resilience in low- and moderate-income communities. Municipalities are eligible to receive $50,000 grants to strengthen vulnerable neighborhoods against the impacts of a changing climate.

Connection to Urban Forestry: Urban Forestry is the primary focus of this program.

Eligible Applicants: To be eligible for this grant, your project must take place within Bank of America’s footprint in the United States, with priority being given to projects in areas that primarily serve low- to moderate-income residents or take place in underserved communities. If the primary applicant is not the municipality, a letter of participation must come from the municipality stating their approval of the project and your ownership of its execution and long-term investment in the community.

California Resilience Challenge Grant Program

Administrated by: The Bay Area Council FoundationCalifornia Resilience Challenge Logo

Synopsis: California Resilience Challenge (CRC) Grant Program is a statewide initiative to support innovative climate adaptation planning projects that strengthen local resilience to wildfire, drought, flood, and extreme heat events in under-resourced communities.

Connection to Urban Forestry: Eligible projects will consist of planning projects that are targeted at improving local or regional resilience to one or more of the following four climate challenges, and water and air quality impacts of the foregoing:

  • Drought
  • Flooding, including from sea level rise
  • Extreme heat and increasing frequency of hot days (Urban Forestry related projects addressing extreme heat could be eligible)
  • Wildfire

Eligible Applicants: California-based non-government organizations, including community-based organizations, representing under-resourced communities are encouraged to apply, as are local California public entities that represent under-resourced communities in partnership with a California-based non-government organization. CRC intends “under-resourced communities” to include and prioritize the following communities that are susceptible to the impacts of climate change and face large barriers to accessing public funds, while also adjusting for significant cost of-living variations throughout the state.

California Environmental Grassroots Fund

Administrated by: Rose Foundation for Communities and the Environment

Rose Foundation for Communities and the EnvironmentSynopsis:The California Environmental Grassroots Fund supports small and emerging local groups across California that are building climate resilience and advancing environmental justice. Grassroots Fund grantees tackle the toughest environmental problems facing their communities from toxic pollution, urban sprawl, sustainable agriculture, and climate advocacy, to the environmental degradation of our rivers and wild places and the health of our communities. They are rooted in the communities they serve and committed to building the environmental movement through broad outreach, engagement, and organizing.

Connection to Urban Forestry: This program supports environmental health and justice and climate advocacy and resilience which may include urban forestry related work and environmental education.

Eligible Applicants: California nonprofit or community group with an annual income or expenses $150,000 or less (for exceptions, see application).

Community Foundations

Administrated by: Find a Community Foundation Near You

Synopsis: Community Foundations often have grants for local community groups.

Connection to Urban Forestry: Although not usually Urban Forestry focused, Community Foundations may have grant opportunities related to Urban Forestry – look for grants related to public health, climate change, flooding, energy conservation, or education.

Eligible Applicants: Community foundations usually fund local groups within their jurisdiction.