University of California announces groundbreaking $80 million grant program to spur climate action projects

As part of a historic partnership between the University and the state of California to combat climate change, UC will award $80 million in research grants across the state. The funding is part of a landmark alliance with the state to bring cross-disciplinary, multi-sector expertise to bear on the climate crisis. The University is grateful to the state Legislature and Gov. Newsom for providing a total of $185 million to support UC’s trailblazing research on climate change.

Researchers from California institutions of higher education are invited to apply for the awards, with the goal of creating real-world solutions and targeted policies in partnership with California communities to tackle the existential threat of climate change.

“This is an all-hands-on-deck moment,” said University President Michael V. Drake, M.D. “The climate crisis is the preeminent challenge of our time, and as such it requires bold, innovative and scalable solutions to meet the challenge. I want to thank the governor and the Legislature for placing their trust in us with these funds, and for helping our researchers continue to lead the way in the fight against climate change. For California’s researchers and community partners, this is our moment.”

The California State Budget Act of 2022-23 included the funds to spark climate action research and projects that will have measurable impact over the next one to three years. The grants, which will be awarded through a competitive, peer-review process, are intended to create practical solutions that advance climate resilience and social equity, particularly in communities where the effects of climate change are felt most acutely. These are key state goals the University wholeheartedly supports as they build upon the University’s longstanding efforts to decarbonize and mitigate the effects of climate change.

The balance of the $185 million in climate funds supports the University’s campus-based climate initiatives and grants to support systemwide innovation and climate action entrepreneurship. As the research arm of the state, the University of California has a long and successful track record of administering grants on behalf of the state through its Research Grants Program Office housed within the University’s office of Research and Innovation. 

“By drawing on the vast expertise and creativity within our colleges and universities, these climate action research funds will tap the depth and breadth of California’s brain trust to develop scalable ideas for climate resilience, mitigation and adaptation,” said Theresa Maldonado, vice president for Research and Innovation. “The stakes we face couldn’t be higher and this moment demands our very best collective thinking through meaningful partnerships. California — and the world — are counting on us.”

As part of the effort, requests for proposals have been issued in two funding categories: Climate Action Seed Grants, which will provide awards of between $500,000 and $2 million, and Climate Action Matching Grants, which will fund projects of between $2 million and $10 million. Letters of intent are due Jan. 17.

Both grant programs will provide up to two years of funding and are intended to catalyze and advance innovative climate action solutions that directly address the state’s priorities. Seed grants will support smaller, more targeted proof-of-concept projects while matching grants support large projects with matching funds from non-state sources such as the federal government, foundations, industry or not-for-profit organizations. Applications will be judged through a peer-review process by experts from across the U.S. Successful applications will include a community partner, tangible outcomes and a collaborative, multi-disciplinary approach. End-user partnerships with stakeholders impacted by California climate issues are required for the Climate Action Matching Grant and strongly encouraged for the Climate Action Seed Grant.

Applicants are invited to apply using the University of California Office of the President Research Grants Program Office SmartSimple grants management system. For more information on the climate action funding please go here.