LEAF Grant Guidelines

What Are LEAF Grants?

The Santa Barbara Foundation LEAF (Landscapes, Ecosystems, Agriculture, Food Systems) initiative seeks to increase community resiliency by preserving and enhancing the landscapes and systems that sustain nature, human health and our economy. The LEAF strategy included the development of a countywide Food Action Plan. In support of the initiative, the foundation is offering grants to help strengthen the local food system, increase agricultural sustainability, and build capacity for implementing the Santa Barbara County Food Action Plan (SBCFAP).

Focus & Priority – Food Systems

LEAF grants in 2018 will be used to support local Food System projects that align with one or more of the 16 goals and related strategies of the Santa Barbara County Food Action Plan (SBCFAP). The plan was released in 2016 and project partners Community Environmental Council, Foodbank of Santa Barbara County and the Santa Barbara Foundation are working to grow community capacity in order to create positive change in the local food system. To review the SBCFAP please see: sbfoundation.com/leaf.

Types of Support

LEAF Food System grants are available for:

  • Creating or expanding partnerships, networks and collaborations between non-profit organizations, government or private sector partners for greater efficiencies, better delivery of services or fresh approaches to addressing needs or opportunities as defined in the Food Action Plan.
  • Piloting or expanding projects that demonstrate best practices in agriculture, fisheries or other parts of the local food system that align with one or more of the goals or related strategies of the Food Action Plan.
  • Capacity building support to facilitate adoption of best practices and policies that support the goals of the Food Action Plan.

The strongest projects will incorporate:

  • community involvement, awareness or education element
  • a collaborative framework

Funding Amounts and Duration

Grant awards up to $20,000. Application deadline is Monday, October 29, 2018.

Grants will be awarded in December 2018 and the grant period is up to one year from the award date. A final report is required and is due within 13 months of the grant award, preferably no later than 30 days following the project completion.


  • Projects must address one or more of the 16 goals and related strategies of the Santa Barbara County Food Action Plan through either a geographic approach (city or neighborhood) or an issue-specific approach (a specific goal or strategy of the SBCFAP).
  • Projects must help build capacity for current or future implementation of Food Action Plan. This may include:
    • network and collaboration development
    • feasibility and planning
    • small capital projects that catalyze SBFAP focused projects
    • piloting or expanding a ‘best practice’ in agriculture, fisheries or food system (see additional criteria for ‘Best Practices’ below).
    • agricultural land conservation (see additional criteria for ‘Land Conservation’ below)
  • Projects must have clearly defined goals and outcomes, and a strategy and timeline in place for achieving the stated goals.
  • Applicants must agree to provide data and results of their projects for inclusion in the SBCFAP evaluation framework.
  • This grant program is not intended for existing or ongoing food service, delivery or distribution programs, rather it is intended to create or expand partnerships; and/or pilot, adopt or expand best practices.

Additional Criteria: SBCFAP Best Practices & Conservation

Best Practices:

  • Projects part of a larger or longer-term effort must demonstrate how it relates to future work, including a financial sustainability concept or strategy for scaling up the project.
  • Project planning, implementation or investigation/research of best practices or innovative approaches must address a specific challenge or opportunity in agriculture, grazing, fisheries or the food systems, and align with a specific goal or strategy identified in the Food Action Plan.
  • Pilot implementation or facility improvement projects should serve as a model that can be replicated and/or scaled up in the future.

Land Conservation:

  • Projects must have clearly defined strategies and timeline.
  • Projects should align with a conservation plan or strategy and be recognized as a valuable component of a longer-term plan or vision. This may include providing permanent (or long-term) protection for lands with high agriculture value or ecosystem function. Allowable projects include:
    • Planning and feasibility for new or emerging opportunities for early phases of land or easement acquisition (i.e., good-faith deposits to begin landowner negotiations, appraisals or other land use investigations).
    • Closing or completion costs for land acquisition or easement purchases.
  • The organization and/or project partners demonstrate expertise and capacity in negotiating land deals, and have capacity to manage the scale and scope of the project to fruition

Grant Limitations

LEAF Grants are not made for:

  • Direct support to government agencies or private landowners (grantees must be a 501(c)(3) organization and serve as the primary project lead agency; public or private entities may be part of a collaboration)
  • General operating support

Please visit the Eligibility Criteria & FAQs for a complete list of what the foundation does not fund.

Eligibility Requirements

  • Organizations must be certified as tax exempt under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code or use a fiscal sponsor with 501(c)(3) tax status. Applications that do not contain a valid EIN (tax ID) number will not be considered. Organizations using a fiscal agent are asked to include a one-page letter signed by the fiscal agent’s executive director signifying the intent to serve as such and describing the relationship between the two groups.
  • The foundation accepts applications from public entities such as schools, universities, and libraries through an affiliate or supporting 501(c)(3) organization. Please see the Eligibility Criteria & FAQs for additional qualifying information and instructions.
  • An agency acting as the fiscal sponsor on behalf of a community collaborative may be eligible to submit proposals on behalf of its own agency needs as well as the needs of the collaborative. Please contact a member of the Community Engagement team for more information and to discuss your specific situation.

NEW ONLINE Application Process

The 2018 LEAF Food System Grant program is now utilizing an online application. Please follow the instructions below to access, complete and submit your application to the foundation.

  • To apply, go to sbfoundation.org/apply
  • On the Welcome to the Santa Barbara Foundation Grants Portal page, click on “Register” and complete the form to create an account for the Grants Portal. You will be asked to furnish an email address, create a password and state the name of your organization. We advise using a perpetual email address (such as info@orgname.com or grants@orgname.com) so that the organization’s profile is not exclusively linked to one individual’s email address.
  • IMPORTANT – Once an account has been created, please allow 48 hours for the registration to be confirmed and for the organization’s profile to be created. (Please note that if you are establishing an account on Friday, the registration confirmation will occur on the following Monday). You will receive an email confirming that your account is active and you will then be able to complete and submit a grant application. Please take this timing into consideration when reviewing application deadlines as you must allow time for your account to be created prior to submitting an application before the deadline.
  • Once your account has been confirmed, you may login and complete the LEAF Grant application.
  • You may save your work and log out at any time.
  • To access the partially complete application again, you will log into the account you created and access the LEAF Grant you saved.

Submittal Procedures

  • Applications will be accepted only through the online process. Paper applications will not be accepted.
  • To submit the completed and saved application, while on the “Submit” page, click the “I agree” box under Proposal Authorization. A “Submit” button will appear at the bottom of the page for you to click. If you attempt to submit the application with any errors you will receive a “validation” box listing the errors. Once the errors have been corrected, you may resubmit the application. Please note, some questions have character counts (indicated beneath the question). While you will be able to continue entering text beyond these character counts, you will not be able to submit your application. Please ensure you do not exceed the character count in order to successfully submit your application.
  • You will receive an automatic email when your grant application has been received. Please retain this receipt for your files.

Important Dates

2018 LEAF Grant Deadline:
Monday, October 29, 2018


Contact Information

For questions about the LEAF Food System Grant program and funding eligibility, please contact Pedro Paz, Director of Grantmaking, at (805) 963-1873 or ppaz@sbfoundation.org.

For questions regarding technical assistance and support, please contact Deanna Vallejo, Community Engagement Officer, at (805) 963-1873 or dvallejo@sbfoundation.org.