Breathe/Respira Community Grants

The Breathe/Respira Community Grant program was launched in 2014 with funds from Parks Measure A. The grants provide funding to connect communities, community programs, and resources to Marin’s parks and open spaces. The program has served thousands of residents by extending wellness programs and other community services outdoors while cultivating the relationship of Marin residents to their public lands.

The application deadline for this year's community grants was June 24, 2022.

Community Grants FAQ

What is the focus of Breathe/Respira Grants in 2022?

This year Marin County Parks is focusing community grant funding on bringing existing programs into parks to help improve youth and adolescent mental health. While we will consider applications that seek to overcome barriers improve access to parks for any Marin community, this year we are encouraging applications that consider Marin County Youth Commission survey results, and help improve access to the mental and physical benefits of the outdoors for young people. 

This year, following a Declaration of a National Emergency in Child and Adolescent Mental Health by the American Academy of Pediatrics, Marin County Parks partnered with the Marin County Youth Commission to implement a parks survey helping to inform this year’s grants and future work to improve access to Marin’s parks. The survey asked about park interests and barriers, and focused on residents ages 14-24 years old, which a 2018 visitor study indicated is the age group least represented in our parks and open spaces.

The Youth Commission survey was shared by young residents and local community organizations through their social networks. 320 local youth representing a diverse cross-section of the community responded to the survey. Survey highlights include:
  • Top places young people look to relax and have fun include a friend’s house, the beach, a park, coffee shop, movie theater, open space, and pool.
  • Over half preferred to relax and have fun with friends.
  • 28% spend 30 minutes per day outdoors seven days each week, with another 27% spending 30 minutes outdoors 5-6 days each week.
  • 95% reported feeling a positive difference in mental and physical wellbeing after spending time outdoors.
  • Young people reported being most inspired by the following outdoor activities: spending time with friends, relaxing in nature, hiking, swimming, photography, and bicycling.
  • Friends or family, followed by social media, are the most common ways young people learn about new activities.
  • 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.
  • The greatest barriers to visiting a park included lack of familiarity, lack of awareness about what to do at the park, cost of entry, and difficulty getting there.
  • The majority of respondents get around using a family car or personal car, followed by walking and biking.

How is Parks partnering with Behavioral Health and Recovery Services?

Marin County Parks is partnering with County of Marin Behavioral Health and Recovery Services (BHRS) to provide additional resources to residents and community partners, including:

  1. Mental health first aid online classes- these classes, offered free by BHRS, will be scheduled for participation by Marin residents.
  2. Training for parks staff and partners- Special trainings will be scheduled to empower parks partners and community organizations with data to encourage use of parks for personal wellness and recovery, and skills to support wellness in the field (ex: deep breathing, mindfulness, equity and engaging with difference and trauma).
  3. Parks Rx Coaching Tool - A new Parks Rx coaching tool will support broad coaching on the use of parks for improved personal wellness. A webinar will unveil and train Marin’s healthcare and community organizations on the use of this tool, data on outdoor access and wellness, and training on how to research and visit park locations.

This year Parks is working closely with BHRS to identify communities that need the most support. We also know there are people throughout Marin County experiencing barriers to making use of parks and open space. We will be focusing our attention on geographically-situated communities identified in the lower quarter of The Portrait of Marin Human Development Index rating table. However, we will consider funding any project or program that supports an underserved community, as long as that community is adequately characterized and described in relation to this program. Marin County Parks will continue engaging partners to improve our knowledge of equity issues and barriers to enjoyment regarding the lands and programs we offer.

What are the available grant opportunities?

Pending the re-implementation of this grant program’s funding source by voters on June 7, 2022, the department will award up to $200,000 in total. 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.

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 the specific funding areas for 2022 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 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.

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

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 
  • Mission statement
  • Description of how the organization serves Marin communities
  • Primary contact information (name, phone, email, organization website)
  • Additional team members
  • Proposed project title
  • Project scope
  • Alignment with grant funding priorities
  • Proposed project budget, with budget line items

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 2022 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..

No proposals or supporting materials will be accepted after the proposal deadline each year.

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 Youth Commission participants, 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: May 19, 2022

Application Form Due: June 24, 2022

Parks and Open Space Commission Votes to Recommend Proposals: July 21, 2022

Grant Agreements Sent to Successful Applicants: Late July 2022

Board of Supervisors Executes Grant Agreements: Late August 2022

Grant Period: September 1, 2022 to August 30, 2023

Mid-year Report: February 2023

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

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 POSC.

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.