Investing in a Net Zero Emissions Future

Application

The SoCal Climate Champions Grant is an open invitation grant program. Non-profit organizations submit an online application, which can be prepared offline in advance if preferred. To do so, download the offline application and prepare your answers before applying below.

The application process requires the setup of a free account with your email for our application platform. This allows you to save your application in progress. Following registration there is a pre-screening for eligibility. Afterwards you will be able to access the bulk of the application itself, which centers on the grant rubric and priorities. Additional follow-up questions may be submitted to finalists prior to Phase 1 grant selection.

Three kids, their backs to the viewer, run across the sands of the beach, waves lapping against the shore out of focus in the background.

Applications Closed

The SoCal Climate Champions Grant is not currently accepting applications. Once open, the application platform will require applicants to set up a free account with their email and a password of their choice.

Application Procedures

Open Applications

Applications are currently closed

Applicants should submit strong support of how their proposal advances a resilient energy, clean air, or organic waste diversion climate solution within a Southern California community served by SoCalGas. Proposals should further demonstrate how these climate solutions are implemented through an Educational, Community Planning-based, or Municipal strategy.

For more on these solutions and strategies, please see the Application Priorities and Definitions.

For details on how applications will be assessed by judges, see the official Judging Criteria and Scoring Rubric.

Finalists

Finalists may need to submit additional budget materials or answer follow-up questions. If required, finalists will be contacted by the grant administrators.

Judging Process

The Climate Champions Initiative has a three-part judging process. Each step is driven by the rubric. Each criterion will be assessed on an 11 point scale, from 0-10, based upon the projects’ demonstrated potential for completion and success within that category as seen through the contents of, and methods described within, the applicant response.

For more on scoring, please see the official rubric.

Part 1

Phase 1 Desk Review

First, experts conduct a desk review to promote the highest-scoring applications to the next phase. Several judging panels review each application. This process results in advancing no more than 20 applications to the finalist round.

Part 2

Phase 1 Finalist Judging

A new panel of experts will convene to review finalists’ original applications and any additional requested materials. Up to 8 proposals will be selected for Phase 1 grants.

Part 3

Phase 2 Judging

A final panel of experts will convene to review six-month impact reports submitted by the Phase 1 grant recipients.

Grant Eligibility

Overall Grant Purpose

The Climate Champions Initiative focuses on programs, projects, and research submissions (herein referred to as proposals) that address climate solutions within communities in Southern California served by SoCalGas.

Eligible Organizations

Applicant organizations must be a US 501(c)(3) not-for-profit. Not-for-profit organizations serving as fiscal sponsors for emerging organizations may also apply.

Solutions

SoCalGas is seeking climate solutions in the following areas:

  • Resilient Energy Solutions accelerate, improve, or increase the application of innovations in clean energy, such as renewable energy, fuel storage, energy storage, alternative energy generation, efficient energy use, diversification of clean energy solutions, or energy backup systems.
  • Clean Air Solutions accelerate, improve, or increase the application of techniques for better air quality, such as air monitoring, sequestering atmospheric carbon, or reducing emissions.
  • Organic Waste Diversion Solutions accelerate, improve, or increase the application of approaches for reducing organic waste, such as repurposing organic waste, supporting a circular economy, improving anaerobic digesters, or producing biogas, renewable natural gas, and low and zero carbon fuels.

Strategies

Applicants should propose climate solution(s) that will be implemented or advanced within communities we serve using one or more of the following strategies:

  • Education Strategies engage people in learning about, designing, and/or participating in climate solutions in their homes and communities.
  • Community Planning Strategies coordinate and/or implement community-level solutions through policy, design plans, facilitated community forums, or other community-based strategies.
  • Municipal Strategies design and/or implement green infrastructure, such as developing new technology, designing new systems, building engineering prototypes, advancing clean transportation, or greening heat islands.

Geography & Audience

Applicants must operate within a SoCalGas service area or serve a community within a SoCalGas service area. Applicants based outside of the SoCalGas service area must apply any awarded funding to work that serves a community, or communities, within a SoCalGas service area. To see the SoCalGas service area, please click here.

Additionally, an applicant's parent organization must be based in a US state or a territory in the US. Special consideration will be given to applicants that serve schools, particularly Title 1 schools.

Exclusions

The following are not eligible:

  • B-Corporations, Public Benefit Corporations, and 501(c)(4) organizations
  • Individuals
  • Groups that practice discrimination based on age, gender, sexual orientation, marital status, physical or mental abilities, race, color, religion, national origin or ancestry
  • Sectarian or denominational religious groups, except for programs that are broadly promoted, available to any one, and free from religious orientation.

Funding Restrictions

Award funds may not be used for:

  • General operating expenses that are unrelated to the execution of the proposed work.
  • Equipment purchases not primarily related to the intended purpose of the proposed work.
  • Political advocacy initiatives and programs.
  • Land acquisitions.
  • Capital campaigns.
  • Major travel expenses.
  • Loans or loan guarantees.
  • Debt reduction or past operating deficits.
  • Liquidation of an organization.
  • Any other cost or expense unrelated to the execution of the proposed work.

Schools & Universities

Formal education institutions, such as K-12 schools and universities, may not apply directly. However, they may be associated with applicants. For example:

  • A 501(c)(3) organization under an education institution's larger umbrella is eligible to apply.
  • Not-for-profits serving schools and/or universities are eligible.
  • Applicants based in universities are eligible as long as they meet all other eligibility criteria, including being operated under a US 501(c)(3) not-for-profit.

Previous Applicants

All previous applicants including previous recipients of Phase 1 or 2 granting, or recipients of past Environmental Champions' grants or other SoCalGas grants, are eligible to apply to this funding program.

Application Priorities & Definitions

Introduction

In addition to the parts of your proposal that will receive scores (see the Judging Criteria), there are parts of your proposal that will not receive scores but will play an important role in judges’ deliberations. These priorities reflect the vision of the SoCal Climate Champions Grant and values of SoCalGas. This guide for additional priorities and definitions explains these ideas and terms to help applicants prepare their proposals.

Solutions & Strategies

The SoCal Climate Champions Grant focuses on programs, projects, and research that champion climate solutions within communities in Southern California.

In the context of The SoCal Climate Champions Grant, climate solutions  refer to reducing, mitigating, and sequestering greenhouse gas emissions, improving air quality, and organic waste diversion solutions in the communities we serve. 

Proposals should focus on one or more of the following solutions:

  • Resilient Energy Solutions accelerate, improve, or increase the application of innovations in clean energy, such as renewable energy, fuel storage, energy storage, alternative energy generation, efficient energy use, diversification of clean energy solutions, or energy backup systems.
  • Clean Air Solutions accelerate, improve, or increase the application of techniques for better air quality, such as air monitoring, sequestering atmospheric carbon, or reducing emissions.
  • Organic Waste Diversion Solutions accelerate, improve, or increase the application of approaches for reducing organic waste, such as repurposing organic waste, supporting a circular economy, improving anaerobic digesters, or producing biogas, renewable natural gas, and low and zero carbon fuels.

Additionally, proposals should focus on implementing their climate solutions using one or more of the following strategies:

  • Education Strategies engage people in learning about, designing, and/or participating in climate solutions in their homes and communities.
  • Community Planning Strategies coordinate and/or implement community-level solutions through policy, design plans, facilitated community forums, or other community-based strategies.
  • Municipal Strategies design and/or implement green infrastructure, such as developing new technology, designing new systems, building engineering prototypes, advancing clean transportation, or greening heat islands.

The examples in these definitions are by no means exhaustive. The SoCal Climate Champions Grant values a diverse range of ideas that advance climate solutions and strategies within our communities.

However, there are several important priorities to keep in mind as you write your proposal. These priorities reflect the values of SoCalGas and vision of the Climate Champions Initiative grant program.

Championing People & Communities

SoCalGas values people and communities. For climate solutions to be effective, they must consider the diverse needs of the people and communities they serve. We look for the many ways a project might empower its community -- some examples include: incorporating stakeholder input, strengthening community members' leadership, providing transparent and equitable communication, coordinating outreach and engagement within local communities, or other people-forward approaches.

Core Values

SoCalGas lives by three values: do the right thing, champion people, and shape the future. Applicants should consider how their proposed work aligns with these values, considering the following question: In what ways does the work aim to do the right thing? How does it support local communities and their needs? How does the proposed work contribute to shaping a safer and more resilient clean energy future?

Emerging Organizations

SoCalGas is interested in supporting emerging or grassroots organizations with a clear vision for solutions that could thrive with additional investment. Judges will consider organizations with a demonstrated need for capacity to implement or sustain the proposed work.

Supporting Schools

The SoCal Climate Champions Grant is committed to projects that support schools across Southern California. While schools themselves are not eligible, we encourage nonprofits that serve schools to apply. In particular, judges will consider projects that support schools with a Title 1 designation.

Judging Criteria & Scoring Rubric

Introduction

Applicants should review the criteria and rubric below that judges will use to assess and score eligible submissions for all phases of the judging process (For questions on eligibility see the eligibility section). When assessing proposals with similar scores, judges may consider additional priorities, such as those found in the Additional Priorities & Definitions guide. However, those qualities will not hold as much weight as those described within the criteria and rubric.

Potential Impact Criteria

Judges look for evidence that a proposal can successfully meet its intended goals. The following three criteria focus on evidence that demonstrates the potential impact of a project -- specifically, how and why a project will be successful in reaching its goals for both the environment and people. Evidence may be based on previous research from your own organization or other organizations, evaluations, needs assessments, community listening techniques, and the many other ways of gathering and interpreting information.

Additionally, applicants are asked to clearly define outcomes they aim to achieve and metrics they will use to demonstrate their success after receiving the award. We encourage applicants to think creatively about measuring the success of their work, keeping in mind that funded projects will have the opportunity to submit impact reports to be considered for a second phase of funding.

Criterion 1: Community Impact

While there is no requirement for the number of people or communities impacted by a solution, strong projects have potential for achieving breadth and/or depth of impact for community members. Judges equally appreciate proposals that have broad community impacts across a large population or multiple contexts, and those that have deep and highly focused community impacts within a smaller population or single context. Projects that are able to enhance their community impact in creative and resourceful ways can be particularly powerful.

Criterion 2: Environmental Impact

Strong proposals clearly outline the potential for making positive environmental impacts -- specifically toward accelerating and/or improving clean energy, clean air, and/or waste diversion solutions in Southern California. Judges recognize that some solutions will have longer timelines toward measurable environmental impacts, which will not count against proposals in the judging process. Judges look for descriptions of the logic of how your solution will lead to the desired environmental impact, emphasizing links between your short-term, intermediate, and longer-term goals.

Criterion 3: Depth & Scale

Strong proposals demonstrate the potential for a strong depth or scale of impact. Proposals should clearly illustrate the ways a solution can be successfully expanded so as to broaden its impact, deepen the impact within a particular context, or both. Additionally, exemplary proposals demonstrate the potential for replication -- the ability to be adopted and repeated by other organizations or in different contexts. Strong proposals provide evidence of depth and/or scale by citing literature and/or successful past efforts. There may also be indirect or co-benefits that a solution might produce, which could involve public health, the economy, and many other aspects of resilience.

Project Design Criteria

The next three criteria focus on how a project will be designed, developed, and implemented. Judges will focus on the quality of the design itself in these three criteria.

Criterion 4: Innovation

Successful solutions and strategies innovate by creating or adapting new paths to climate resilience. Applicants incorporate novel approaches into climate solutions and strategies, which depart from traditional practices and ways of thinking related to energy, air, and waste. Projects may be innovative because they apply a technique in a new location or community, or they may use new engagement strategies, interventions, or technology in addressing this challenge, though we acknowledge that new or advanced technology does not necessarily involve innovation in and of itself. When thinking about the quality of a project, strong solutions and strategies may not always be fully tested or widely implemented. Managed risk and experimentation are always involved in innovation.

Criterion 5: Safety and Reliability

Successful projects offer stable, dependable solutions to Southern Californians. A strong proposal presents solutions and strategies that are sustainable and adaptable so they useful for a community over time even in the face of a changing climate and extreme weather. These solutions might highlight diverse options for alternative energy, backup systems for energy stability or air quality and emissions mitigation, or other proposals that understand that good solutions provide fail-safes to ensure successful operation and the reliability of reaching and maintaining their climate goals. Recognizing that not everything goes to plan, judges will further consider how the project will successfully navigate obstacles and manage risks.

Criterion 6: Communities & Collaboration

Strong climate solutions and strategies support the abilities of both individuals and communities to thrive. These solutions must consider the diverse needs of the communities they serve, and be accessible to constituents in multiple ways, including conceptually, economically, and physically. Successful projects recognize that solutions are stronger when they are developed by or in collaboration with the communities they will impact and authentically include diverse voices, perspectives, and expertise. Collaborations can be used to increase understanding of a climate issue, knowledge of a community’s aspirations or needs, and insight into how to implement a solution to benefit all stakeholders. They can also be used to drive co-beneficial solutions, which could involve public health, the economy, and many other aspects of resilience that would require collaborative partnerships.

Assessment & Scoring Rubric

Each criterion will be assessed on an 11 point scale, from 0-10, based upon the projects’ demonstrated potential for completion and success within that category as seen through the contents of, and methods described within, the application.

In determining a criterion’s scoring, each point within the scale shall be defined in terms of the demonstrated potential for success, considering the quantity and quality of evidence provided and/or implied in the applicant response. In other words, judges will assess how much evidence is provided for a program’s potential success within each criterion, and the quality of that evidence. A defined scale shall be provided that will assign point values to each unique combination of quantity and quality of evidence that demonstrates the potential success of the proposal.

This methodology is employed to ensure that an objective assessment is in place to which judges can be calibrated and that offers a definable metric to ensure scoring between differing judges for the same project remains within an equitable margin of error. Furthermore, multiple judges shall be assigned to each project, to further balance scoring and guarantee that each project is provided a fair and equitable opportunity to succeed.

Ratings

Ratings of these criteria use the chart in the figure below to cross-reference quality and quantity of demonstrated potential for completion and success in determining the 0-10 point score for that criterion.

Quantity of demonstrated potential is rated from no demonstration of potential through considerable demonstrated potential, while quality of demonstrated potential is rated from poor through excellent.

0 - Null

Programs that do not address potential success in a given category will not receive any points for that category.

1-3 - Insufficient

Programs that demonstrate insufficient potential for success in a given category, may score no more than 3 points for that category, no matter the amount of potential demonstrated.

2-5 - Adequate

Projects that display an adequate potential for success can score 2-5 points depending upon the amount of demonstrated potential.

4-7 - Above Average

Projects that display an above average potential for success can score 4-7 points depending upon the amount of demonstrated potential

5-8 - Great

Projects that display great potential for success can score 5-8 points depending upon the amount of demonstrated potential.

7-10 - Exemplary

Projects that exemplify excellence of potential for success can score 7-10 points, but will only be considered for this category if they demonstrate a moderate to considerable amount of support for their potential.

Rating Evidence of Potential for Completion and Success (Quantity and Quality)
0 Points Response does not address potential for success.
1 Point Some implied potential OR minimal amount of evidence or explanation of potential BUT implied potential/evidence or explanation is an insufficient example for success within this criterion.
2 Points

Moderate amount of evidence or explanation of potential BUT evidence or explanation is an insufficient example for success within this criterion.

OR

Some implied potential OR minimal amount of evidence or explanation of potential AND implied potential evidence or explanation is an adequate example for success within this criterion.

3 Points

Sufficient OR considerable amount of evidence or explanation of potential BUT evidence or explanation is an insufficient example for success within this criterion.

OR

Moderate to sufficient amount of evidence or explanation of potential AND evidence or explanation is an adequate example for success within this criterion.

4 Points

Considerable amount of evidence or explanation of potential AND evidence or explanation is an adequate example for success within this criterion.

OR

Some implied potential OR minimal amount of evidence or explanation of potential AND implied potential/evidence or explanation is an above average example for success within this criterion.

5 Points

Overabundant amount of evidence or explanation of potential AND evidence or explanation is an adequate example for success within this criterion.

OR

Moderate to sufficient amount of evidence or explanation of potential AND evidence or explanation is an above average example for success within this criterion.

OR

Some implied potential OR minimal amount of evidence or explanation of potential AND implied potential/evidence or explanation is a great example for success within this criterion.

6 Points

Considerable amount of evidence or explanation of potential AND evidence or explanation is an above average example for success within this criterion.

OR

Moderate to sufficient amount of evidence or explanation of potential AND evidence or explanation is a great example for success within this criterion.

7 Points

Overabundant amount of evidence or explanation of potential AND evidence or explanation is an above average example for success within this criterion.

OR

Considerable amount of evidence or explanation of potential AND evidence or explanation is a great example for success within this criterion.

OR

Moderate amount of evidence or explanation of potential AND evidence or explanation exemplifies excellence of potential for success within this criterion.

8 Points

Overabundant amount of evidence or explanation of potential AND evidence or explanation is a great example for success within this criterion.

OR

Sufficient amount of evidence or explanation of potential AND evidence or explanation exemplifies excellence of potential for success within this criterion.

9 Points Considerable amount of evidence or explanation of potential AND evidence or explanation exemplifies excellence of potential for success within this criterion.
10 Points Overabundant amount of evidence or explanation of potential AND evidence or explanation exemplifies excellence of potential for success within this criterion.