Community Grants

Connecting communities with parks and preserves.

Breathe/Respira Grant Application

Since 2014, Breathe/Respira grants have helped bring underserved, high risk, and vulnerable community members to parks and preserves. Qualified community organizations are invited to apply for 2023 Breathe/Respira Grants. These grants fund group visits, community outreach, and programs to help overcome barriers that limit or prevent access.

The deadline for Breathe/Respira Grant proposals is June 2, 2023. Read the FAQ below, then submit an online application:

Marin County Parks Government Affairs Manager Kevin Wright is available to answer questions and assist with the application process. All proposals that require coordination with Marin County Parks staff and Parks programs are encouraged to contact Kevin to ensure the feasibility of their proposal.

Breathe/Respira FAQ

What is the focus of Breathe/Respira Grants?

This grant program seeks to connect communities experiencing barriers to parks to Marin’s parks, preserves, recreational facilities, staff and programming through partnerships with a broad network of trusted relationships and service providers. 

In 2021, Marin County Parks joined with Marin’s leaders and community-based organizations working toward equitable park access to form the Parks Equity Roundtable. Over the last year the Roundtable has convened to build community, share resources, and overcome structural barriers preventing Marin’s communities of color and other groups from enjoying parks and recreational opportunities. The Roundtable has helped to remove barriers to public meeting participation, inform equitable changes to the Measure A Ordinance 3760, secure funding for dedicated parks workforce housing, partner on grant applications, explore connections between local workforce programs and parks jobs, share summer job opportunities and help ensure the pool and other facilities remain open at peak times, and gather to grow relationships across the county and identify partnership opportunities.

Most recently the Roundtable met to discuss barriers caused by and changes to county park fees and reservations policies. Conversations reinforced the value of this Community Grant Program and its combined approach of providing free access with engaging programming through trusted relationships. Visitor data shows that Marin County Parks’ regional parks attract significantly more racial diversity compared to open spaces and are the places that best accommodate social gatherings of family and friends; a priority of many underserved groups including youth 13-24 and communities of color. Roundtable leaders expressed that an approach that combines fee policy changes with expanded community-based organization and school partnerships would help maximize positive impacts for underserved Marin County residents. Free entrance and/or reduced entrance fees for specific populations came up multiple times during the September 2022 Roundtable meeting as an important tangible change that would "increase equitable access" to Marin County park sites.

Based on feedback from the Roundtable, Marin County Parks is working with the Parks and Open Space Commission and Board of Supervisors to eliminate park entry and parking fees by the end of the 2022-23 fiscal year. The Roundtable also agreed that a multipronged approach combining fee reductions with partnerships and structural changes is key. The Roundtable specifically urged progress in the following areas:

  • Centering communities of color as participants at the table of government and agency decision making to remove policy barriers and increase access to parks. Transportation continues to be a priority issue.
  • Empowering youth ambassadors to build relationships between peers and parks.
  • Connectivity across partner organizations/entities to facilitate collaboration on new program development, outreach needs/opportunities, and engagement of key populations, e.g. communities of color, youth, seniors, immigrant, or low-income residents.
  • Engaging, culturally relevant programs providing positive experiences for specific populations through art, music, health, older adult and youth-focused programs, culturally and linguistically appropriate events, and BIPOC (black, indigenous, people of color) or bilingual staff to help deliver these programs.
  • Shuttle services for specific populations, on certain days, or from specific neighborhoods/to specific trailheads, including field trips for children.
  • Expanded partnerships with Marin’s schools, community event organizers, and leaders providing services in immigrant communities.
  • Over half preferred to visit a new park with a friend.
  • Half of those who responded would be motivated to visit a park if an interesting program was being offered. Photography and art were identified as interesting programs, followed by kayaking and yoga.
  • Fostering cultural relevance, a sense of belonging, and JEDI (justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion) issues in order to foster connection to parks and to help people feel welcomed and safe.

What are the specific funding areas for 2023 grant proposals?

  • Visits to Parks: Organize and lead trips to our parks, open space preserves, and recreation facilities. These outings may be coordinated with planned or existing events and/or programs at Marin County parks or open space preserves in partnership with our ranger, volunteer and environmental education staff.
  • Outreach in Communities: Many people are introduced to new park outings through friends and family. Help Marin County Parks expand its reach into Marin’s communities that are unfamiliar with county parks, open space preserves, and programs by working with us to share information about public lands and programs. Help us build community knowledge and use of public lands by helping us to connect with the communities you are already connected to through culturally responsive approaches.
  • Bridges to Enjoying the Outdoors: Plan and lead programs that overcome existing barriers preventing communities from accessing and enjoying Marin County parks and open space preserves. Proposed strategies could address language, transportation, ability level, information access, and a wide range of other barriers.

What are the available grant opportunities?

In 2023, $200,000 is available for Breath/Respira grants. Applications are due on June 2, 2023. The maximum amount of each individual grant will be $8,000.

Each grant will focus on improving outdoor access or removing barriers to parks for any community where an inequity can be addressed, and will prioritize existing projects and programs of community partners. Grant proposals that support a partnership between two organizations that improves services to the community and access to outdoor spaces will be prioritized for funding.

Grant applications submitted after the June 2, 2023 deadline will be considered on a case-by case-basis. Up to $30,000, plus any funds not awarded under the first competitive round, will be available, until these funds are expended.

What types of projects and programs are eligible?

An existing project/program is defined as any project, program, or service an organization has been successfully implementing for a minimum of the last six months that connects underserved communities with positive outdoor experiences, or health and wellness activities, or safety net services (ex: access to food, counseling services, etc.) that can be adapted to the outdoor environment. Proposals may include modification to existing applicant programs.

Grants may be used to match other funding sources. Grants will be awarded one year at a time, with no promise of future funding. All grants must be spent out by grantee on an annual basis. Unspent funds will revert back to this program. An organization may be a sub-applicant on multiple proposal teams. However, an organization functioning as the lead applicant may apply for funding as the lead on only one proposal per grant cycle.

What are the qualifying criteria for a grant proposal?

An applicant organization (or fiscal agent) must be:

  • a city or county
  • a non-profit organization (501(c)3)
  • a special district or Joint Powers Authority (JPA) formed pursuant to Chapter 5 (commencing with Section 6500) of Division 7 of the Government code
  • a community group, community-based organization, or emerging or existing coalition

Applicants that are not a city, county, non-profit organization (501(c)3), special district or JPA formed pursuant to Chapter 5 (commencing with Section 6500 of Division 7 of the Government code if at least one of the parties to the Joint Powers Agreement qualifies as an eligible applicant), must work through a fiscal agent to apply.

  • The applicant currently provides programs to underserved, high-risk, or vulnerable populations in Marin.
  • The applicant is committed to improving the health, wellness, and/or environmental awareness of populations in Marin.
  • The proposal focuses on improving mental health, and increasing access to and use of Marin County Parks or Marin County Open Space District lands, facilities, and/or staff and programs.
  • The proposal is designed around one or more of the three program areas discussed in the Funding Areas section below.
  • The proposal seeks funds for an existing project or program.

What are some project examples?

  • Example 1: An organization caring for residents with developmental disabilities proposes to experiment with bringing their clients and programming outdoors to enjoy the parks and learn how the organization may offer and expand these types of trips in the future (grant application would request funding for transportation, development of program materials, food and activity materials, coordination with Marin County Parks staff, and limited purchase of first aid or other specialized materials needed for accommodating the safe and enjoyable experience of their clients).
  • Example 2: A non-profit organization providing counseling services to first-responders and front line workers proposes bringing groups to parks to support mental health and recovery. The organization(s) propose five park outings and request funding for transportation, snacks, and additional staff support..
  • Example 3: An assisted living facility and community center director partner on a proposal to organize 3 small-group social outings for seniors who have been largely isolated over the last year. The proposal requests funding to cover the time of a bus driver and food. Partners match their grant request by providing free access to the assisted living facility shuttle and additional free social programs through the community center.
  • Example 4:An organization teams up with local artists to provide an ArtRx program where young people explore photography and other art forms in local parks. Participants develop a knowledge and relationship with local parks, and explore personal artistic interests. The proposal requests funding for art supplies, snacks, transportation, and staff coordinator time. 

These are only examples. Please consider proposing any strategies related to the existing work of your organization that would promote mental health and connect Marin residents with the county parks and open spaces. We look forward to learning about your innovative ideas!

What are the funding restrictions?

Grant funds may be used to cover a wide range of expenses related to the implementation of proposed events or programs. However, the following activities and costs will not be covered by this funding:

  • Conducting lobbying, carrying on propaganda, or otherwise attempting to influence legislation or political decision making
  • Influencing the outcome of any specific election through any means
  • Purposes other than those that are charitable, scientific, or educational
  • Fundraising purposes
  • Budget shortfalls or endowment funds
  • Administrative costs not related to the implementation of the program or event
  • Scholarships, fellowships, or grants to individuals
  • Land acquisition or real estate purchases
  • Trips or activities outside of Marin County
  • Items outside of the scope approved by the Board of Supervisors where changes were not agreed to in advance
  • Group events exceeding 50 people or events that are planned for and marketed to the general public. Larger groups may be permitted in parks on a case by case basis through the Special Event Permit process

15% of each grant may be allocated to cover program or event-related administrative costs directly related to work performed under this grant. 

What is the checklist of information needed to submit a grant application?

To submit the Breathe/Respira online application form, have the following information ready:

  • Lead grant applicant organization name 
  • Type of qualifying organization or fiscal sponsor
  • Primary contact information
  • Requested funding amount
  • Clear idea of project scope and budget
  • Notes on alignment of proposal with grant program goals
  • Organization mission, overview and annual budget

During the application period, interested applicants may direct all questions about the grant program, including questions regarding the online proposal form, to Marin County Parks’ Government Affairs Manager, Kevin Wright, at


What is the application process?

The Breathe/Respira! Grant program will solicit proposals from qualified applicants at the beginning of each annual grant cycle. Any grantees from previous years that demonstrated excellent funding implementation may be asked to re-apply. The grant application form is available online:

Breathe/Respira 2023 Grant Application

During the application period, interested applicants may direct all questions about the grant program, including questions regarding the online proposal form, to Marin County Parks’ Government Affairs Manager, Kevin Wright, at kwright@marincounty.orgAll proposals that require coordination with Marin County Parks staff and programs are encouraged to contact the Government Affairs Manager to ensure the feasibility of their proposal.

We ask that you align your plans with our existing quarterly calendar of free monthly programming on our website, or rely largely on your organization and programming when connecting people to our lands and facilities due to the time constraints of Marin County Parks staff.


What if we miss the June 2 application deadline?

Grant applications submitted after the June 2, 2023 deadline will be considered on a case-by case-basis. Up to $30,000, plus any funds not awarded under the first competitive round, will be available. The maximum amount of each individual grant will be $8,000. These second chance grants will be awarded through January 1, 2024, or until the budget is expended, whichever comes first.

What is the selection process?

A review team comprised of Marin County Parks environmental education, volunteer, equity team, and executive staff will review all grant proposals and ensure applicants qualify for program funding according to the Qualifying Criteria. The Government Affairs Manager may contact applicants to discuss small changes to better align proposals with Marin County Parks operations, programming, and staff availability.

Two or three members selected from the Parks and Open Space Commission (POSC), in partnership with staff and community partners, will be responsible for recommending successful proposals. Staff will prepare a summary of all proposals and provide all application materials for review during the decision-making process. POSC members will review staff recommendations and form recommendations for winning proposals and funding allocation. The Government Affairs Manager may contact an applicant with questions from the POSC team prior to forming a recommendation for an award. The entire POSC will review recommendations of the smaller POSC team at a regularly scheduled public meeting, and will vote to recommend successful proposals and award amounts to the Marin County Board of Supervisors (BOS).

Staff will prepare grant agreements and send to each successful applicant for signature. Staff will work with each successful applicant to include specific performance objectives within each grant agreement. Grant agreements will ultimately be approved by the BOS, based on a recommendation by the full POSC. All applicants are invited to attend POSC and BOS meetings. Successful proposals may not receive the full amount requested in their applications. Grantees will receive the full grant amount upon approval of a grant agreement by the BOS. Additional information regarding disbursements and other grant requirements are itemized in the grant agreement. Please note that all proposals become public documents.

What is the timeline?

Application Period Announced: March 16, 2023

Workshops to Share and Develop Grant Ideas: March 17 - May 5, 2023

First Round Grant Applications Deadline: June 2, 2023 

Parks and Open Space Commission Votes to Recommend Proposals: July 20, 2023

Grant Agreements Sent to Successful Applicants: Late July 2023

Board of Supervisors Executes Grant Agreements: Late August 2023

Grant Period: September 1, 2023 to August 30, 2024

Mid-year Report: February 2024

Grant Reporting Due: 30 Days After End of the Grant Period

Rolling Grant Applications Accepted: June 3, 2023 - January 1, 2024

What if I just want free access to park group sites for my program?

Qualified organizations can now apply for free group site reservations even if they are not applying for any grant funding. Complete this online form, and Parks staff will contact you to discuss your request. This can be done at any time throughout the year. 

What are the reporting requirements for grant awardees?

Mid-year reports will include a brief summary of progress to date, examples of success meeting grant objectives to date, and future planned trips and activities.

Upon completion of a project, or at the end of the funding period each grantee will be required to complete a final report. Grantees will be asked to provide a summary of expenditures and provide receipts and payroll summaries to verify expenses. Grantees will be asked to provide detailed information about the program’s or project’s beneficiaries, whether the program or project was successful based on initial goals identified in the application, and performance objectives listed in grant agreements, lessons learned, feedback on the grant program, and photos from events and activities. Grantees are required to give a final presentation of grant work and accomplishments during a regularly scheduled public meeting of the Parks and Open Space Commission.

During events and activities grantees may be asked to post signs or use Measure A logos on program materials recognizing the contribution of Measure A tax dollars.

What other Parks resources can support grantees?

Marin County Parks offers a wide range of resources and programs to local communities. Every successful applicant will have an initial discussion with MCP’s Government Affairs Manager to discuss the entire suite of resources that can be shared to support funded proposals. The discussion will include appropriate strategies for coordinating with our Environmental Education and Volunteer Programs. Aside from the parks and preserves themselves, a brief list of the resources offered by Marin County Parks includes:

  • Maps and other informational materials
  • Limited printing and similar services
  • Scheduled Marin County Parks programs led by environmental education, ranger, and volunteer staffs
  • Meeting rooms
  • Connections with other community partners and resources
  • Technical materials covering environmental education, recreation, and volunteer management
  • Program and event outreach support
  • Limited administrative staff support

All grantees may have the opportunity to attend a tour of parks, open spaces, and programs. Also, annual idea-sharing and grantee educational opportunities may be planned to grow capacity and increase grantee and staff effectiveness.

How will Parks staff support the grants program?

The Government Affairs Manager will work closely with grant applicants and grantees to assist with the application process and realize the full potential of their project or program when funding is awarded. The Manager will act as a liaison between Marin County Parks staff, Parks and Open Space Commissioners, and grantees. The Manager will work with the Marin County Parks and Open Space Commission during the grant selection process each year and with the Measure A Community Oversight Committee during the annual reporting process. Finally, the Manager will seek to connect grantees with other relevant community groups and members, and will reach out to Marin-based organizations working with underserved communities to continue refining this program and Marin County Parks’ approach to effectively working with communities it wishes to better serve.

Environmental Education, Equity Team, and Volunteer Program staff may work directly with grantees when applicable once grant agreements have been signed.

Grant Opportunities Open House Events

Local non-profit, government, and community leaders seeking funding to connect residents to parks, secure new park land, or find funding for food access and sustainable agriculture, are invited to join Marin County Parks staff to discuss possible funding sources at these open houses:

  • March 21, 2023: Marin City Senior Center, 640 Drake Ave, Sausalito, 12:00 to 1:00 p.m.
  • April 4, 2023: Dance Palace Church Space, 503 B St, Point Reyes Station, 12:00 to 1:00 p.m.
  • April 13, 2023: Pickleweed Community Center Art Room, 50 Canal Street, San Rafael, 12:00 to 1:00 p.m.
  • April 18, 2023: Hamilton Community Center, 503 Palm Drive, Novato, 12:00 to 1:00 p.m.

Breathe/Respira Fee Waiver Application

Qualified community organizations may now apply for limited free group access to Marin County parks and preserves. The purpose of this initiative is to encourage positive social outdoor experiences for Marin’s communities of color and others facing barriers to enjoying the outdoors. For groups whose outings are approved, the following fees will be waived: parking fees, site reservation fees, special use permit, and special event permit fees.

The County of Marin's Race Equity Action Plan states that we will achieve racial equity in Marin County when one’s racial identity no longer predicts how one fares. The Marin County Parks Equity Roundtable identified free access to group sites as important. The goal is to build enduring community relationships with outdoor public spaces, to enhance mental and physical well-being for all.