4Rs Grants Program

The Office of Sustainability is offering funding assistance to government agencies, nonprofit organizations, and educational institutions (e.g., schools, school/college districts, state university systems, etc.) through the 4Rs (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Rot – Compost) Grants Program. The 4Rs Grants Program’s objective is to divert waste from being sent to the landfill by financially supporting eligible entities create and implement projects in San Mateo County that focus on the 4Rs – reduce, reuse, recycle, and rot. The program offers two tiers of funding: (1) Mini Grant ($2,000 to $5,000) and (2) Mega Grant (up to $25,000).

Available Grants

Half Moon Bay H.S. environmental club students promoting recycling in their school.

Mini Grant: The Mini Grant (for funding requests from $2,000 to $5,000) is available to support and fund small projects that will educate and increase awareness around the 4Rs – including reducing waste, increasing recycling, increasing or implementing composting, and increasing reuse. The Mini Grant is designed to serve a variety of potential applicants who need access to small amounts of funding for a limited time and for a specific purpose.

Mega Grant: The Mega Grant (for funding requests up to $25,000) is available for qualified entities to help initiate or expand innovative programs that promote reuse, waste reduction, recycling, and composting or education about these environmental issues throughout San Mateo County (county-wide focus).

Examples of Grant Projects

  • Classroom workshops, trainings, or activities by nonprofits
    Community members collecting food scraps to compost using buckets provided by Fresh Approach.
  • School garden start-up funding, which includes funding for garden structures such as sheds and garden beds constructed with salvaged lumber
  • Fixit Clinics or other reuse/repair projects
  • Food waste reduction and reuse programs
  • Materials associated with expanding/implementing a campus/facility-wide recycling, reuse or waste reduction program
  • Environmental educational field trips to waste or recycling facilities, museums, etc.
  • Books, materials and equipment, which will be utilized by teachers and students over the years

Current Program Year (PY) 2020-2021 Grantees

A total grant amount of $199,615 will be distributed to 6 Mega Grant grantees and 12 Mini Grant grantees between fall 2020 to fall 2021.  The list of the current year’s grantees and their projects can be found here. Congratulations to the newest recipients of the 4Rs Grants Program!

Djerassi Resident Artist Program staff constructing their Earth Cube unit for composting their artists-in-residents and visitors’ food scraps on-site.

Past Years’ Grantees

Next Grant Cycle Information (PY 2021-22)

The call for applications for the next 4Rs Grants cycle for Program Year 2021-22 is now open! The call for grant applications will close on Monday, March 8, 2021 at 6:00 pm.

Below are the grants guidelines and applications, along with other resources.

* The application has been translated into Spanish and Chinese as a language assistance resource for English as a Second Language (ESL) applicants. However, all applicants must submit their applications online in English in the appropriate applications links provided above.


OOS staff will be hosting an informational webinar where you can find out more about the upcoming 4Rs Grants Program cycle on Tuesday, January 26, 4:00-5:00 pm. You can participate in the Zoom webinar by clicking here.

You can also join by phone:

  • Call in number: 669-900-6833
  • Meeting ID: 937 7410 3121

For those that cannot make the webinar, a recording of the webinar will be made available on this website soon after.

Virtual Office Hours

OOS staff will have available weekly drop-in virtual office hours during the next few weeks to answer questions about the 4Rs Grants Program guidelines and applications. Click here for the office hours schedule.

Grant Writing Support

RethinkWaste is now offering limited grant application writing support for 4Rs Grants Program applicants that are located within their service area on a first-come, first-serve basis. Please contact Environmental Education Manager, Emi Hashizume (ehashizume@rethinkwaste.org) for additional information.


If you have questions regarding the 4Rs Grants Program, please email sustainability@smcgov.org or call 888-442-2666.