Marisla Foundation® was established in 1986 as a private,
non-operating charitable institution. The Foundation awards grants quarterly in two program areas - Environment and
Human Services - and a Special Interests category for proposals invited by the Board of Directors.


Marisla Foundation operates with three full-time program directors and one half-time assistant administrator. Of the hundreds of proposals received each year only a small number are funded, and we are currently funding few new grantees as we adjust the foundation's total annual funding to a sustainable level. For the convenience of organizations seeking support, the application process is short and concise. To manage applications received more efficiently, the Foundation uses an online application system exclusively. We do not require or accept letters of inquiry (LOIs).

The Foundation is able to support only those organizations that have received tax-exempt status under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code or that are governmental entities. Grants are not made to individuals or for activities that support candidates for political office. Through donor-advised fund partners, Marisla is able to recommend Environment Program funds to international projects for specific geographies. Marisla funds its Human Services grants in Orange County and Los Angeles through the Orange County Community Foundation.

The Foundation strongly discourages the submission of multiple applications from one organization. This includes chapters or field offices. The Foundation also will not review more than one application per year (any twelve-month period) from any organization, with the exception of organizations that are fiscal sponsors of nonprofits.

Human Services

The Human Services Program addresses the needs of women, primarily focusing on physical, emotional and mental health, and financial wellbeing. Grants support activities and integrated approaches to homelessness, substance abuse, domestic violence, and vocational training. The geographic limitation is Los Angeles and Orange County, California.


The Environment Program concentrates on activities that promote the conservation of biological diversity and advance sustainable ecosystem management. Primary emphasis is on marine resources conservation with a geographic focus on western North America, Chile, and the Western Pacific. The Environment Program also supports the search for solutions to health and environmental threats caused by toxic chemicals.

Special Interests

Invited proposals for this category are opportunities of interest by individual board members and may be outside the stated program areas.


The Marisla Foundation Board of Directors makes funding decisions on a quarterly basis. Applications may be completed online at any time within the two-month windows detailed below. If the quarter starting date is a Saturday, Sunday, or holiday, the application will be accessible the next business day. However, the closing or deadline date does not change. The application must be submitted by midnight Eastern Standard Time (U.S.) or 9:00pm Pacific Standard Time (U.S.) on January 15, April 15, July 15 and October 15. Application windows are as follows:

Application Deadlines

Applications Accepted Board Meeting
November 15 through January 15 March
February 15 through April 15 June
May 15 through July 15 September
August 15 through October 15 December
Note: Deadlines are midnight EST/ 9:00pm PST on the day listed.

Indirect Cost Policy: Indirect costs or overhead may not exceed 15 percent of direct costs. The indirect cost allowance is to cover items such as rent, electricity, office furnishings and equipment, heat, accounting/staff services, and the time of the organization's chief executive, financial, and administrative officers.

ATTENTION: The proposal and reporting guidelines for the Environment Program are up to date as of August 15, 2016. Organizations use the new reporting guidelines for any final reports submitted for grants awarded in Q4 2016 and after. The proposal and reporting guidelines for Human Services are up to date as of August 15, 2017. Organizations use the new reporting guidelines for any final reports submitted for grants awarded in Q4 2017 and after. The proposal and reporting guidelines for the Special Interests category have not changed.

View this Webinar to learn more about the Environment Program Updated Proposal and Reporting Guidelines.

View this Webinar or PowerPoint slideshow to learn more about the Human Services Program Updated Proposal and Reporting Guidelines.

How to Apply

Step 1: Eligibility Quiz

If the application window is open (see schedule above), click on the START button to access Marisla's Eligibility Quiz. If you meet the basic funding guidelines of the Foundation, you will gain access to the online application.

Step 2: Online Application

The online application is the first and most often the only way to communicate your organization's objectives and activities. The online application process allows you to save drafts and return at any time within the quarterly timeframe. A link to the draft application will automatically be emailed to you so that you can add to and edit the proposal until the funding deadline, which is midnight Eastern Standard Time (U.S.) and 9:00pm Pacific Standard Time on the day listed. The Marisla staff and Board do not have access to draft applications.

Step 3: Review

Applicants can expect to receive a response approximately two to three months after the funding deadline.

How to Contact Us

Technical Inquiries

Should you have technical questions regarding the online application process, please contact Foundation Source, (800) 839-5316, or, and they will be happy to assist you.

To view our Frequently Asked Questions, please click here to open them in a new window.

Programmatic Inquiries

Hard copy or emailed proposals will not be accepted. If you have programmatic inquiries please contact Margaret Lauer, Administrator, at