Community Outreach Small Grants

Applications must be received by March 9th, 2018.

Does your organization work with residents in San Mateo County? Harness the power of your existing communications, outreach, and services to help secure a healthy environment and ensure your clients are saving money at the same time!

Peninsula Clean Energy (PCE) invites applications from nonprofit organizations for a pilot small grant program to collaborate on outreach to residents in San Mateo County. Applications must be received by March 9th, 2018.


Peninsula Clean Energy (PCE) was created in 2016 by San Mateo County and its twenty cities to meet local climate action goals through cleaner energy at lower rates. As the official electricity provider of San Mateo County, Peninsula Clean Energy provides electricity for almost all residents and businesses throughout the County. [expand title=”Learn More” ]PCE is a public agency like the San Mateo County Library System. Peninsula Clean Energy purchases cleaner electricity on behalf of our customers, and PG&E continues to deliver the power over their poles and wires.  Peninsula Clean Energy customers are still eligible for PG&E, state, and federal discount and energy efficiency programs. PCE customers with Medical Baseline discounts enjoy significant additional savings.

Peninsula Clean Energy is already having positive impacts on the local economy and protecting the climate due to our lower rates and cleaner energy compared to PG&E. PCE is projected to save San Mateo County customers $17 million per year. PCE helps the environment by avoiding a projected 680 million pounds of greenhouse gases each year that cause climate change – equivalent to the amount of greenhouse gases absorbed by a forest the size of San Mateo County!

Peninsula Clean Energy is by law an automatic enrollment program, while offering customers the choice to opt out at any time. Each customer received four different mailers describing the program when they were enrolled. PCE currently enjoys a low county-wide opt-out rate of just 2.2%. However, we find that some customers opt out and lose their benefits due to misinformation over billing, rates, or access to discount programs. [/expand]

Grant Program Eligibility

All 501c3 nonprofit organizations or their fiscally sponsored projects with an established track record of public outreach, communications, providing social services, or case management in San Mateo County are eligible and encouraged to apply.

Grant Program Goals

Peninsula Clean Energy invites nonprofit organizations to apply for small grants to fund short-term collaboration with our outreach team to provide accurate information about PCE to your members, clients, constituents, and broader audiences. Grants will be awarded in amounts up to $10,000 per outreach project, for work to be completed by September 30th 2018, with a report completed by October 12th. This small grant program is a pilot project that may result in renewed opportunities for collaboration funding based on results. [expand title=”Learn More” ]The goals of the program are to collaborate with trusted local nonprofits to increase knowledge of the following points among residents in San Mateo County, specifically:

    1. Understanding of Peninsula Clean Energy, its mission, and benefits
    2. Understanding of how PCE savings appear on residential energy bills
    3. Knowledge of eligibility for energy discount, efficiency, and associated programs

PCE is especially interested in reaching the following audiences:

  • Low-income residents
  • Seniors
  • Customers eligible for Medical Baseline discounts (see below)
  • Customers with low English language proficiency
  • Residents of northern San Mateo County focusing on San Bruno, South San Francisco, Pacifica, and Daly City

Customers eligible for Medical Baseline discounts are dependent on life-saving medical devices that use electricity, and which may significantly raise their energy bills. Target audiences are often senior, chronically ill, and disabled populations. Medical Baseline is one of several state public benefit discount programs administered in San Mateo County by PG&E. Peninsula Clean Energy customers are eligible to be considered for all such discount programs administered by PG&E. Medical Baseline customers specifically are exempt from paying a fee which results in an effective 30% or greater discount on the electricity generation line item of their bill, which can result in significant savings. [/expand]

Grant Program Deliverables

PCE expects that organizations will generally include PCE’s key messages in their existing outreach, communications, services, and programs. Grantees will be expected to produce the following deliverables by September 30, 2018:

  1. Collaborate with PCE staff to provide at least 5,000 households in San Mateo County with target messaging. This may include a mix of in-person presentations and conversations at events, email blasts based on confirmed open rate, confirmed traditional media and/or social media reach, and other creative outreach ideas based on your organization’s capacity. In-person outreach methods are preferred. Organizations that do not have capacity to reach 5,000 households may use this application to apply for grants of smaller amounts proportionate to their outreach capacity.
  2. Ten high quality photos of your outreach activities, with signed participant waivers allowing PCE use.
  3. Short grant report listing expenses by line item, statistics on how many people were reached by each outreach method, estimated demographics of people reached based on target populations, community feedback on PCE messaging, lessons learned, and proposed next steps.

Grantees will collaborate with PCE to customize messaging for your audience, with PCE providing creative content and speakers as needed. PCE will provide a one-day training on understanding and presenting our key messages which will be required for all grantee staff implementing the project.

Grant Selection Criteria

Grantee organizations will be selected by PCE staff based on the following criteria:

  1. Demonstrated outreach capacity to key audiences in San Mateo County described above
  2. Quality of proposed plan to meet required grant deliverables
  3. Preference for organizations based in San Mateo County
  4. 501c3 nonprofit status, or ability to provide a letter of fiscal sponsorship from a 501c3 nonprofit that will receive the grant on your behalf
  5. History of meeting grant deliverables, and/or meeting PCE outreach expectations
  6. Diversity of approaches and audiences across the County

If this pilot grant program is successful, PCE may consider additional rounds of funding for outreach collaboration.

Grant Application Process and Requirements

Interested organizations are requested to provide the following information in a proposal of no more than five pages including budget. Please email application as an attached Word or PDF document, along with all other required attachments to Kirsten Andrews-Schwind at Questions may also be sent to this email address. All application materials are due by end of day March 9th, 2018.

Organizations may submit one request for each specific outreach project. Each request may be made in an amount up to $10,000 per project. Grants will be paid 50% up front, and 50% upon receipt of a brief mid-cycle progress report.

Please provide:

1. Legal name of organization, address of local office(s), and email and phone number for your main point of contact. If your organization is not a registered 501c3 nonprofit, please provide this information for your organizational fiscal sponsor as well. Note additional required attachments for fiscally sponsored projects.

2. One paragraph summary of proposal with amount requested

3. Your organization’s history of and demonstrated capacity to reach and effectively communicate with residents in San Mateo County, especially with:

  • Low-income residents
  • Seniors
  • Customers eligible for Medical Baseline discounts
  • Customers who communicate primarily in a language other than English
  • Residents of northern San Mateo County focusing on San Bruno, South San Francisco, Pacifica, and Daly City
  • Residents of other San Mateo County locales

4. Please provide quantitative measures of outreach capacity specifically in San Mateo County, such as number of local subscribers to your email newsletters, annual attendees at events and workshops, residents served, annual caseload, etc. Specific measures related to our target audience outlined above are appreciated.

5. Your proposed work plan and timeline to meet required grant deliverables in the time period of April 1st through September 30th Please include:

  • Your proposed communication methods. All types of communications are eligible, with highest preference given to in-person interactions that allow questions to be answered.
  • A specific plan to track the number of residents you reach through each communication method, especially the populations outlined in #3. Examples include counting numbers of people who received information about PCE while visiting an event booth, providing copies of workshop sign-in sheets, providing screen shots of analytics on open rates of email newsletters or social media post interactions, or tracking number of clients who received PCE information during case management.

5. A simple budget for implementing your proposed workplan, including staff time, overhead, direct expenses, and sources of any additional funding for your proposal.

6. Your organization’s history of meeting grant deliverables for other funders, and/or meeting PCE outreach expectations. If applicable, you may provide contact information for up to three funders as references.

7. Required Attachments:

  • Most recent IRS 501c3 nonprofit determination letter, for your organization or your fiscal sponsor
  • If working with a fiscal sponsor, your fiscal sponsor organization will need to provide:
    • Fiscal sponsorship letter taking responsibility for your organization’s fiscal administration
    • Letter of request authorizing your organization to apply to PCE for the amount you are requesting

Optional Attachments if Available:

  • Examples of materials or reports from similar outreach work recently conducted by your organization


Community Outreach Small Grant Pilot Program Guidelines and Application (PDF)