The 2017 application has passed. Please check back after Labor Day 2018 for the next grants announcement.

The 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 marine and coastal resources. 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. This grants program focuses on reaching communities that are currently poorly served in terms of marine and coastal education.

2017 Application & Guidelines Packet

Examples of grant resolutions

Research-Based Best Practices in Environmental Education

A webinar offering extra guidance on completing the grant application was provided on October 12, 2017. View a one-hour recording of the entire presentation, including the question and answer session. To view the PowerPoint presentation only, click here.

Live Oak School District students working on a poster about the ocean
© Live Oak School District


A total of $327,337 will be distributed in the 2017/18 grant cycle. Applicants may request any amount up to $50,000, and 25-50% of the funding will be allocated in small grants of up to $12,000.


The WHALE TAIL® Grants Program funds projects that fall into any one of the following three categories: 1) Adopt-A-Beach® programs; 2) Youth programs; 3) Programs for the general public. In addition, applicants may request funding under a subcategory for projects addressing climate change and/or ocean acidification.


Applicants must be either a non-profit organization, a school, or a governmental entity. For beach operation and maintenance projects, the applicant must be a non-profit organization or local governmental agency. For proposals in the Adopt-A-Beach® category, both current and new Adopt-A-Beach® managers are eligible to apply.


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 $12.5 million to 684 different projects.


Past Grant Recipients
full reports