San Francisco Department of the Environment

SF Carbon Fund Request for Proposals

Questions & responses for week of 12/10

Grant  RFP Issue Date

Tuesday, December 10, 2019


Pre-Application Meeting

Thursday, January 2, 2020

10 am

1455 Market Street-12th floor  

You must RSVP to [email protected]

Final day for questions (email or pre-application meeting - no phone calls)

Friday, January 10, 2020

[email protected]

Questions posted on website

Weekly until January 13, 2020

Proposals Due

No later than 5:00 PM, Friday, January 17, 2020

[email protected]

Environmental Commission Approval of Awards

Tuesday, March 24, 2020


The mission of the San Francisco Department of the Environment is to provide solutions that advance climate protection and enhance quality of life for all San Franciscans.  Our environmental vision is expressed simply as “0-80-100 Roots”— we must achieve 0 waste, take at least 80% of our trips sustainably, and use 100% renewable energy while reducing consumption. While those goals are about being less harmful to the planet, our “Roots” goal is about healing the planet by protecting nature’s diversity, planting trees and promoting soil health to absorb carbon and restore natural systems.

In keeping with its “Roots” commitment, since July 2009, San Francisco has levied an innovative carbon fee on municipal airline travel. Revenue generated supports the San Francisco Carbon Fund (SF Carbon Fund), which is administered by the Department for local projects that mitigate and sequester carbon emissions and enhance the quality of the environment. The SF Carbon Fund has made investments in biodiesel fueling, energy efficiency for small businesses, and urban forest and other greening projects.

The Department is currently seeking projects that sequester and mitigate carbon emissions through increasing the number of healthy trees and green space and decreasing the amount of energy needed to treat the City’s wastewater by improving habitats. Eligible project types include: Street, Schoolyard, and Alleyway Trees; Swales; Planted Buffer Strips; Rain Gardens; Wetlands; Edible Gardens or some combination of these. The Department is prioritizing greening projects in neighborhoods that have been underserved by the SF Carbon Fund and have been identified as being at greater risk of heat impacts than other parts of the city—Chinatown, the Tenderloin, and South of Market.

Co-benefits of SF Carbon Fund projects support the City’s long-term climate and resiliency goals—supporting health and well-being by reducing urban heat island impacts and flooding risks, helping small businesses thrive, expanding the production of locally grown food, increasing neighborhood walkability, providing equitable access to green space, restoring biodiversity, and amplifying community action.

The Department expects to award no more than 5 grants totally $110,000. Grants will be awarded for three (3) years, with the majority of the grant (90%) awarded in the first year and less funding (5% per year) for the following 24 months to cover maintenance and reporting. Funding for each year of the grant is subject to satisfactory completion of grant-funded activities.

Only 501(c) 3 nonprofit organizations and schools are eligible. Applicants are required to submit proof of non-profit status before funds will be awarded. For-profit businesses may participate as sub-contractors to an eligible organization. Those entities that have an existing Department grant will only be considered for funding if current grant-funded projects are on track.

Electronic submissions are required.
Proposals will NOT be accepted after the submission deadline of

5:00 PM, Friday, January 17, 2020

Questions & responses for week of 12/10


Questions for week of 12/10-12/16 for SF Carbon Fund RFP

  1. Can we still apply if we do not attend the meeting about the RFP?


  1. To clarify, do you mean 5 grants will be awarded @ $110,000 per grantee? Or do you mean $110,000 is split between 5 grantees

The total we have available is $110,000, which will be split among projects. Max grant amount is $50,000, as noted in the RFP.

  1. The RFP states that the Tenderloin, Chinatown and SOMA are priority areas because they will be impacted by heat, but what about Bayview—won’t it also see a greater heat impact compared to the rest of the City?

That is true. We note in the RFP that the three prioritized neighborhoods have been underserved by the SF Carbon Fund. The SF Carbon Fund has invested in myriad projects in Bayview Hunters Point and other parts of Southeast San Francisco—including community gardens, sidewalk gardens, tree plantings and removing hardpack.

  1. Does that mean you would not even consider proposals in other neighborhoods?

We will consider projects in other neighborhoods, but we want to encourage organizations serving the three prioritized neighborhoods to apply.

  1. Would you consider a project that helped clean up soil for planting? A project we are considering is in a priority neighborhood but requires hazard mitigation of the soil.

Yes, we would consider if it was very clear that there was community commitment to ensuring the project moved forward with planting once the mitigation was complete.

  1. When would projects start?

As soon as grant agreements are signed.  This can take anywhere from 2-6 months after approval, depending on the timeframe for grantees completing the required paperwork to become a Certified City Vendor.

  1. Does this funding allow a renter or homeowner to apply for a grant to plant trees and an edible garden?

Please check the RFP for questions about eligibility and project requirements. Applicants must be a 501c3 and projects must be publicly accessible unless they are in schools or other organizations that serve youth.

  1. Can we do a garden installation at a private site, and film it discussing how this increases locally grown food and decreases urban heat as an urban education program, with website and multilingual materials?

The purpose of the funding is permanent carbon mitigation and sequestration. As noted in the RFP the majority of the budget has to go for publicly accessible greening projects that will result in quantifiable carbon savings.

  1. If we already have a grant do we have to apply for a new project or can we apply to expand an existing project.

Either one is fine. Just be very clear on how the currently funded project is expanding.

  1. How many grants will you give out?

As noted in the RFP, we anticipate up to 5 awards.

  1. Can we ask for the entire amount of funding available?

We probably would not give out the entire amount of funding to one project.

  1. What is the average grant size?

We can’t really say until we get proposals in and evaluate them.

  1. When is the proposal due?

Please review the RFP. You should start the process of uploading your proposal well before the 5 pm deadline.

  1. Can we apply if we already have a grant with the Department of the Environment?

Yes, but in order to be awarded your project must be in good standing and being implemented per your existing workplan. Also, we sometimes award a second grant, but it may not start until the first grant is completed—it depends on the circumstances and we would negotiate that after the award is announced.

  1. Can we use funding to remove trees (such as Eucalyptus)?


  1. How many applications do you think you’ll receive?

It is hard to say. With the last round of funding the Department had $150,000 available and received seven proposals totaling $382,375 in funding requests.

  1. How do we decide what trees to plant?

You should plant the kinds of trees that the community wants to maintain.

  1. Can we plant fruit trees as street trees?

You should make sure that any plantings are in keeping with city policy.  The Department of Public Works doesn’t allow fruit trees to be planted near sidewalks.

  1. If we don’t know what kind of trees we should plant can we rely on the references at the end of the RFP?

You should review those lists, but also work with your community on deciding what types of trees they want to plant and maintain.

  1. What if we don’t know what permits we need?

There are links in the RFP to learn about various permits. You should review this prior to submitting the proposal. While you don’t have to have the permits in place, we want to know that you understand what is entailed in securing the permitting.