Philanthropy California Awarded $2M Grant to Expand Non-Profit Access to Public Funds for Climate and Disaster Resilience


Philanthropy California — a statewide alliance of Catalyst of San Diego & Imperial Counties (Catalyst), Northern California Grantmakers (NCG), and SoCal Grantmakers (SCG) — is proud to announce that it has been awarded a two-million-dollar grant from The California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) to expand its role in advancing resilience as a central component of equitable climate and disaster philanthropy over the next nineteen months.

Natural hazards like wildfires, heatwaves, and earthquakes continue to test the resilience of communities across California and are projected to only increase in the coming years. Moreover, organizations led by or that serve Black, Indigenous, and other communities of color often lack the necessary technical, relational, and staffing capacities to identify and apply for government funding because of decades of under-investment by governments and philanthropy. The health and sustainability of these regions — and California overall — depend on these organizations’ resiliency, readiness, and ability to catalyze equitable support from public and private partners.

To address these disaster inequities, Philanthropy California, the California Governor’s Office, and Cal OES have cultivated a strong partnership over the last four years to coordinate philanthropic investment in equitable disaster relief and recovery. This new grant is a testament to the ongoing coordination, collaboration, and dual commitment to a resiliency-centered approach to disasters.

This grant will allow Philanthropy California to create a series of trainings for nonprofits and funders to address capacity gaps for nonprofits, expand philanthropic co-investment in California grantees, and continue its role as a trusted platform for publicizing vetted funds for place-based relief, recovery, and resilience. This grant will ultimately support Philanthropy California in advancing a future where California’s communities are protected from the impacts of natural hazards and have equitable access to resources to mitigate, adapt to, prepare for, respond to, and recover from hazard events.

In October 2023, Philanthropy California hired Dr. Lily Bui as Climate and Disaster Preparedness and Resilience Manager. In this role housed at SoCal Grantmakers, Lily will oversee all the Cal OES grant-related projects and help ensure Philanthropy California meets its grant requirements. Additionally, Lily will work with regional and statewide teams to respond to disasters, coordinate philanthropy, and grow and strengthen organizational climate and disaster resilience efforts.

Phase One: Website & Technical Assistance Programs for Grantees

Philanthropy California has hired Gary Bess Associates (GBA) to deliver in-person and virtual grant application and technical assistance trainings to community-based nonprofit organizations that have traditionally been left out of private and public funding processes. This training series will help nonprofits and CBOs access and leverage private and public funding effectively for equitable climate and disaster resilience and partner with government and foundations more efficiently and effectively.

The virtual grant training will launch in late January 2024. Then, starting in March 2024, eight in-person workshops will be held in regions across the state to allow participants to delve deeper into components of a proposal for funding and include tips on writing to specific sources. Organizations led by and that serve Black, Indigenous, and other communities of color are encouraged to register for the technical grant trainings, including organizations serving other underrepresented California regions and Tribes that intend to apply for the LISTOS California grant.

Additionally, GBA will soon launch a complete website to house all grant-related activities, including updates, events, resources, and more at This site will be updated regularly with new information and opportunities to get involved. In the meantime, GBA has created a mailing list for funders and their grantees interested in keeping up-to-date with all Philanthropy California’s Cal OES various offerings and other upcoming climate and disaster-related work. Join the email list to be notified when registration opens for virtual and in-person events throughout 2024.

Looking Forward

In the months ahead, Philanthropy California will use its expertise and statewide platform to publicize trusted funds for place-based relief, recovery, and resilience. Additionally, Philanthropy California will develop a program series focused on helping funders navigate rapid response proposals and provide education on filling gaps in publicly available funding programs for disaster resilience.

Beyond the initial project scope and 19-month grant period, Philanthropy California is actively planning for the sustainability and expansion of this work to continue advancing climate and disaster resilience in affected communities. Philanthropy California’s current climate and disaster priorities include:

  • Strengthening statewide coordination linking philanthropy across California with key government, private, and statewide nonprofit partners.
  • Increasing philanthropic investments in reducing communities’ risks and vulnerability to disasters and climate crises and supporting equitable long-term disaster recovery efforts.
  • Advancing equitable disaster and climate change policies at the municipality, state, and federal levels.

Funders are encouraged to share the upcoming events mentioned above with their networks and their grantees across California who meet the criteria mentioned above and would benefit from technical assistance.

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Regional Contact List: 

  • Lily Bui | Manager, Climate and Disaster Preparedness and Resilience, SoCal Grantmakers |
  • Karla Mercado | Director, Philanthropy California & Public Policy, Philanthropy California |
  • Katie Oran | Fellow, Climate and Disaster Resilience, Northern California Grantmakers |
  • Megan Thomas | President & CEO, Catalyst of San Diego and Imperial Counties |

About Philanthropy California 

Philanthropy California is an initiative of California’s three major philanthropy-serving organizations (PSOs): Catalyst of San Diego & Imperial Counties (Catalyst), Northern California Grantmakers (NCG), and SoCal Grantmakers (SCG). Philanthropy California brings these statewide philanthropic networks together to increase our impact in building and sustaining thriving, equitable communities. Our combined membership represents more than 600 foundations, corporate funders, philanthropic individuals and families, giving circles, and government agencies that invest billions yearly to support communities across the state, the country, and worldwide.

About The California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES)

Cal OES serves as the state’s leadership hub during all major emergencies and disasters. This includes responding, directing, and coordinating state and federal resources and mutual aid assets across all regions to support the diverse communities across the state. Cal OES also supports local jurisdictions and communities through planning and preparedness activities, training, and facilitating the immediate response to an emergency through the longer‐term recovery phase. During this process, Cal OES serves as the state’s overall coordinator and agent to secure federal government resources through the Federal Emergency Management Agency.