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Apply to the 2024 Parks California Career Pathways Grants Program

We are accepting submissions for the 2024 Parks California Career Pathways Grants Program from December 1, 2023 to February 29, 2024. Click here to apply!


Parks California’s Career Pathways Grant Program aims to expand career pathways to California State Parks jobs for underrepresented communities. This program supports workforce development partnerships between state parks and local organizations that meaningfully address key access barriers and prepare participants for park careers. The program aims to not only prepare the next generation workforce with necessary skills but also expand awareness about the diversity of careers in parks and public lands, connect participants to mentors and professional networks to support them in their career journey, and helps participants navigate state hiring processes.

This program is made possible through a public private partnership, supported by private fundraising by Parks California, and the California Department of Parks and Recreation’s Waterway Connections Initiative. The Career Pathways Grant Program is aligned with the goals of California Natural Resources Agency’s Outdoors for All program. Through this partnership, Parks California is expanding the Career Pathways grants program with increased opportunities for water-related outdoor access and experiences.

The goals for this grant program are to:

  • Broaden and expand career pathways to jobs in California State Parks and public lands
  • Address key access barriers faced by underrepresented communities
  • Add on-the-ground capacity to California State Park high priority projects
  • Build and strengthen partnerships between communities, organizations, and California State Parks
For the 2024 Career Pathways grant cycle, applications will be accepted December 1, 2023 through February 29, 2024 and will support activities that commence June 2024. This year, Parks California will consider two types of proposals for grant awards:
  • 9-month projects with grant awards up to $30,000
  • This funding is intended for emerging programs that require research and staff time to cultivate partnerships with communities and coordinate with California State Parks to design a Career Pathways project. Final Project Plans developed through this grant opportunity will include goals and project objectives, define alignment with the Career Pathways program goals, and provide tangible outcomes and success metrics, partner roles and responsibilities, scope and budget, milestones, deliverables, and a timeline for implementation. Successful project plans may be eligible for Parks California Career Pathways implementation level funding in subsequent years to launch their proposed project or program. Planning and Development grants are not required to serve participants directly, though pilot training programs are welcomed.
  • Successful Planning and Development projects may be eligible for up to $150,000 to implement projects June 2025-May 2027
  • 2-year projects with grant awards up to $150,000
  • Implementation Grants will deliver Career Pathways projects in 2024-2026 that meet the Career Pathways Grant Program Eligibility Criteria and achieve career development outcomes for participants. Implementation Grants may also focus on scaling and/or replicating existing Career Pathways projects to additional parks or communities. Successful projects may be considered for a one-year extension for June 2026-May 2027.
  • Provides job training skills, mentorship, work experience, and career development that meaningfully prepares program participants ages 16 and up for park careers focused on park operations and stewardship.
  • Primarily works with and in California State Parks properties that connect participants to parks, inland waterways, and/or beaches
  • Addresses key barriers faced by participants from communities who have been underrepresented in the California State Park workforce.
  • Builds a new or continues existing partnership with California State Parks that offers participants paid work experience and connections with California State Parks staff.
  • Meet the needs of program participants from Priority Communities, which are defined as participants that:
    • Reside in cities of 2,500 or more people
    • Are near rivers, inland waterways, and inland water systems and
    • Are underinvested and underrepresented
  • Projects and partnerships that connect Priority Communities with inland waterways, including lakes, rivers, watersheds, and water systems
  • Demonstrate prior experience implementing career pathway programs with other local, state, or federal government agencies
  • Expand or scale a successful and existing pathways program that prepares participants for careers in California State Parks
  • Demonstrate strong partnerships with community-based organizations/leaders that are representative of the communities identified for program recruitment
  • Provide participants with meaningful career development experiences and exposure to multiple types of careers in public lands
  • Programming that includes education and training about state hiring process
  • Deliver memorable experiences in nature that increase participants interest in stewarding California State Parks and public lands
  • For program evaluation efforts, provide Parks California opportunity for random sampling of participants for follow-up surveys.
  • 501(c)3 Organizations
  • Federal- and State- Recognized Tribal Governments (Tribal Government Programs, such as Tribal Arts Programs, Heritage Departments, Economic Development Entities, etc.)
  • Native 7871 Organizations
  • Fiscally sponsored Community Organizations
  • Government Agencies (excludes CDPR)
  • Education Institutions (Community Colleges, Universities)

If applying for the Planning and Development grants, the proposal must demonstrate how the funding will be used to create a Project Plan that addresses the Eligibility Criteria and multiple preference criteria listed above.


Parks California held an informational webinar on December 12, 2023 to discuss Career Pathways Grants goals and address common questions regarding the application process. Click here to watch the recording.

We’ve also created an FAQ to answer common questions.

Applicants are encouraged to attend the webinar or watch the recording, and thoroughly review the FAQ’s prior to submitting a proposal.

Parks California staff will be available to answer questions, support proposal development, and offer technical application support to all interested applicants. Staff will be available during community office hours on:

  • December 18, 2023 – from 10:00 am to 11:00 am and 2:00 pm to 3:00 pm
  • January 17, 2024 – 10:00 am to 11:00 am and 2:00 pm to 3:00 pm


To register for Community Office hours, click here. These office hours are open to everyone, allowing you to join at your convenience.

Staff will also be available to meet with organizations for one-on-one 15-minute calls on:

  • January 24, 2024
  • February 7, 2024
  • **Additional dates may be added.


To schedule a 15-minute meeting during “Individual office hours”, click here.

For additional information, including FAQs and other helpful resources, visit the 2024 Career Pathways Grants Program Resource Hub. If you have additional questions contact Alfonso Orozco at

After reviewing all the materials, if you have additional questions contact Alfonso Orozco at

  1. December 1, 2023 – Application opens
  2. December 12, 2023 at 3pm – Informational Webinar
  3. February 29, 2024 – Proposals due by 5pm PST
  4. May 2024 – Awardees notified
  5. June 2024 – Funds disbursed