The Newport Beach-based Orange County Community Foundation has announced via a press release grants totaling nearly $600,000 to advance environmental conservation and education.
This total includes $100,000 granted from OCCF’s Environmental Grant Program that will support the work of 15 nonprofit organizations dedicated to environmental education and the conservation of natural resources, in addition to $495,000 granted from the Henry W. and Ellen R. Warne Family Endowment Fund for Endangered Species.
These combined grant programs allow OCCF to become one of the largest and most impactful funders of conservation in Orange County – an area home to over 30 endangered species and ecosystems critical to the survival of these species, according to OCCF.
“We are honored to provide leadership in protecting the rich natural environment of Orange County, and educating the next generation about the responsibilities of stewarding Orange County’s unique environmental resources,” Shelley Hoss, president and CEO of OCCF, said in a statement. “OCCF is proud to connect our donors and partners to the causes they are most passionate about, including conservation efforts and environmental education.”
Officials explain in the message that the Environment Grant Program supports nonprofit projects and programs that enhance environmental literacy and public understanding of Orange County’s environmental issues. Funding is directed to hands-on education programs that increase awareness and understanding about energy, water and the conservation of natural resources, as well as the creation or support of urban parks, gardens, greenways, trail systems and rivers.
The Henry W. & Ellen R. Warne Family Endowment Fund was founded at OCCF as a permanent legacy endowment that directs one-third of its grantmaking to the protection of endangered species, according to the OCCF press release. The Warne Fund is dedicated to conserving endangered species and lands and restoring native habitats while providing for endangered species.
According to OCCF, one grant recipient — the Laguna Canyon Foundation — is receiving grants from both funding sources. These grants will support the South Coast Wilderness Education Program to bring thousands of second through fifth grade students from Title I schools in Santa Ana to Orange County Parks’ Laguna Coast Wilderness and Aliso and Wood Canyons Wilderness Park for a day on the trails.
The funding will also support the Aliso Creek restoration and enhancement project to improve population numbers and habitat conditions for Least Bell’s Vireos and Southwestern Willow Flycatchers by helping the Laguna Canyon Foundation to restore approximately 80 acres of upland habitat in a severely degraded portion of the Aliso Creek watershed.
“We are so grateful to OCCF for their support in protecting the sensitive native plants and animals that call Orange County home,” Laguna Canyon Foundation Executive Director Hallie Jones said in a statement. “By enabling its generous donors and partners to contribute to these vital conservation efforts, OCCF is safeguarding the future of our unique and beautiful region for future generations.”
For more information, visit oc-cf.org