The Watershed Project

Inspiring Watershed Protection and Education in the San Francisco Bay Area

Richmond, CA   |  www.thewatershedproject.org

Mission

To promote understanding and appreciation of the San Francisco Bay Watershed, increase awareness of the human impacts upon these resources, and inspire community involvement and action that will protect and restore the Estuary and the watershed that surrounds it.

Notes from the nonprofit

The Watershed Project is grateful to all current and prospective donors for supporting and learning about our work. We're happy to answer any further questions you may have, and/or to just have a conversation! Please feel free to reach out to Executive Director Juliana Gonzalez at [email protected], or Fundraising Advisor Tonya Hennessey at [email protected]

Ruling year info

1997

Executive Director

Ms. Juliana Gonzalez

Main address

1327 S 46th St, Building 155 Richmond Field Station

Richmond, CA 94804 USA

Show more contact info

Formerly known as

Aquatic Outreach Institute

EIN

91-1767292

NTEE code info

Water Resource, Wetlands Conservation and Management (C32)

Environmental Education and Outdoor Survival Programs (C60)

Natural Resource Conservation and Protection (C30)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Communication

Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Since 1997, The Watershed Project (TWP) has educated, engaged, and empowered SF Bay Area communities to protect our San Francisco Bay watersheds. Based in Richmond, CA, we educate children, young people, and adults through award-winning K-12 environmental education, service-learning, and volunteer stewardship programs. TWP offerings build an understanding of how watersheds work and how people’s individual and collective actions translate into healthier, stronger communities, and a more beautiful and resilient place to live. TWP builds conservation and resilience in the Bay Area by raising awareness about local water quality and the importance of stewarding nature in the city; creating a network of rain gardens, bioswales, and urban trees in Richmond that filter urban runoff pollution; training community scientists to monitor creek health; restoration projects; community-based green urban planning in N. Richmond, and expertise in watershed management and stormwater planning.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Watershed Education

Students of all ages and backgrounds deserve to have opportunities to meaningfully engage with their local watershed. By strengthening school-community partnerships, we seek to address systemic problems that inhibit students from connecting with their local community and natural environment.

The Watershed Project supports teachers and students in building these relationships through opportunities to learn outdoors in an experiential and academic program, aligned with Next Generation Science Standards and the Common Core State Standards. In all of our coursework, we incorporate best practices in environmental science education, equity and inclusion, and social-emotional learning, with the goal of developing more resilient individuals, communities, and watersheds.

Our community-based restoration sites provide the chance for students to roll up their sleeves and experience local watershed restoration firsthand. Through hands-on, place-based stewardship education both in the classroom and outdoors, students gain the knowledge, tools, and local connections they need to advocate for equitable access to the benefits of a healthy environment.

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, teachers are asked to be even more creative and adaptable than usual, and we are ready to provide that same flexibility for our partner schools with programs that are entirely compatible with distance learning. We look forward to resuming classroom visits and field trips when safety allows, but in the meantime, we remain committed to providing students with opportunities to learn in nearby nature, whether in their backyards, neighborhoods, local parks, or schoolyards.

We offer both online (interactive exercises, videos, Google Classroom) and offline (design projects, labs, nature journals) activities to accommodate diverse age groups and learning styles. We provide all physical materials and equipment as our grant funding allows. In cases where we are unable to provide physical material kits, we are still happy to lead activities and share sources for purchasing materials.

The structure of our programs is designed to be customizable based on the amount of time available, the content that is most important to cover, and the teaching format of the class. Each program contains 4-8 lessons, which are approximately 60 (for elementary) to 90 (for middle/high school) minutes long. However, these lessons can be split into multiple smaller lessons, or expanded and combined into longer lessons. We’ll ask participating students to go outside to explore nearby nature multiple times during the program.

Whenever possible, our educators teach the program directly with students using live video lessons, Google Classroom or similar assignments, and/or written feedback on student work. We believe students benefit from hearing perspectives from different instructors, and we strive to build a relationship with them by interacting with each class several times over the course of the program. In the case that we receive more requests than our schedule and small staff can accommodate, or if the teacher prefers, we are happy to provide a curriculum for teachers to lead with their classes.

If you are homeschooling, you are welcome to use our curriculum! While it is not feasible for our staff to provide direct support for just one or a few students, we are happy to share our curriculum for you to use with your student(s). Please contact us using the information provided below.

Population(s) Served

Restoring natural function to the urban landscape by building green infrastructure with volunteers of all ages:

We help communities plan and implement strategies such as bioswales, rain gardens, and low-impact design projects that protect local watersheds from the pollution generated by modern life. These collaborative efforts help ensure the free flow of local creeks, reduce urban runoff, promote the spread of native plants, and improve the natural beauty and biodiversity of our urban watersheds.

Rain Gardens and Bioswales are examples of green infrastructure, also called Low Impact Design, and use natural functions to capture and filter stormwater. Rain gardens and bioswales tackle the issue of pollution in waterways due to urban runoff by absorbing 30% more stormwater into the ground than a conventional lawn and reduce 70% of surface water pollution that originates from stormwater runoff. Learn more about rain gardens and bioswales.

With community input and volunteer assistance, The Watershed Project constructs bioswales and rain gardens across Richmond and San Pablo, including a network of 14 bioswales and rain gardens along the Richmond Greenway.

Creek Stewardship:

Natural creeks flowing through parks, past businesses, and behind homes are a wonderful but sometimes under-appreciated asset in our urban areas. The Watershed Project’s Creek Stewardship programs engage local communities, including students, to protect and enhance creeks and the adjacent vegetation – the riparian corridor. Our multiple goals are ambitious, but we are achieving them with community volunteer and service-learning activities.

The Watershed Project has been instrumental in fostering creek stewardship on a large scale throughout the East Bay. Our current focus is Rheem Creek adjacent to the Rollingwood neighborhood, upstream of Contra Costa College. We also work with the City of Richmond on Baxter Creek. Past creek projects have included Wanlass Park in San Pablo, CA, and parks along Wildcat Creek near San Pablo City Hall and 23rd Street in downtown San Pablo. Future projects are planned in San Pablo along San Pablo and Wildcat Creeks.

Urban Canopy:

Trees in urban areas have multiple benefits for human health, the environment, and improve quality of life in neighborhoods. They improve air and water quality, provide shade and reduce temperatures in cities, and increase property values. They also provide a means to bring residents together to improve their communities, and offer job training and employment to local youth.

Since 2012, in collaboration with other nonprofits including Groundwork Richmond, Pogo Park, and Richmond Trees and with funding from the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection and the City of Richmond, The Watershed Project has planted more than 500 trees in the Coronado, Santa Fe, Booker T, and North Richmond Neighborhoods.

Population(s) Served

We promote Healthy Watersheds by preventing pollution from entering the watershed through marine debris education, creek and shoreline trash cleanups, and inspiring behavioral change.

What we do on land affects the health of our watersheds and ocean. The Healthy Watersheds Initiative is changing people’s perspectives about litter and other sources of pollution. We help kids and adults understand that their ordinary, everyday decisions can improve the health of our watersheds, the San Francisco Bay, and the entire Pacific Ocean. We advocate for policies to reduce the use of products like plastic bags and Styrofoam that too often end up in our waterways.

We encourage “extended producer responsibility.” This strategy stops trash from entering our watersheds by requiring those who design, produce, or sell a product to minimize its environmental impact throughout the product’s life cycle.

The Healthy Watersheds volunteer-driven clean-ups engage and educate communities on reducing the amount of waste entering our creeks, ocean, and watersheds. Annual events such as Coastal Cleanup Day, Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service, and Earth Day bring out thousands of volunteers from across the Bay Area to our shorelines and result in the removal of hundreds, even thousands, of pounds of waste. We also hold cleanups in more ecologically sensitive areas, like riparian zones next to urban creeks and marshes, with smaller groups of dedicated volunteers. The Watershed Project’s involvement in local cleanups for two decades has generated a wealth of collected data on the amount and types of waste removed, a valuable resource for policymakers involved in trying to reduce pollution.

Population(s) Served

Building the next generation of watershed stewards by providing local youth with experience and professional development in the environmental field.

Our Green Careers program offers training in environmental, leadership, communication, and administration skills through our Green Collar Corps and Internship programs.

We give high school students, undergraduates, graduate students and professionals just starting out in their careers hands-on work experience and specialized training in the fields of non-profit management and operations, environmental education, marketing and communications, program management, and restoration. The program is designed to provide the maximum educational benefit to participants by placing interns in positions that fit their interests and providing mentoring opportunities with professional staff.

Green Collar Corps (GCC):

The Watershed Project’s Green Collar Corps (GCC) student worker program is made for college students looking for paid, hands-on work experience in the environmental field. GCC members gain valuable job skills and exposure to a wide variety of environmental careers by working side by side with environmental professionals, both in the field and in the office, and on personalized projects based on their own interests. In addition to these projects, GCC members participate in frequent educational trainings and team-building activities.

This is a flexible, part-time position (12-16 hours a week), designed to accommodate college courses. Due to how the program is funded, the GCC program is intended for residents of the Richmond, El Cerrito, and San Pablo area, but a limited number of positions are available to residents outside that region.

Internship Program:

The Watershed Project’s internship program is tailor-made for talented undergraduates, graduates, and beginning professionals looking for hands-on work experience and specialized training. It is a great way to test the waters for a career serving the environment.

Interns learn about and gain experience in:

Non-profit management and operations
Environmental education
Marketing and communications
Watershed management

Our program gives interns the maximum educational benefit by placing them in positions where they work under the guidance of our professional staff on projects that fit their professional interests and skill sets.

We encourage individuals with a variety of backgrounds to apply. We especially seek interns who have been directly involved in environmental work and have a demonstrated commitment to watershed and community stewardship.

Population(s) Served

Where we work

Awards

Best of Richmond Award 2019

Richmond Chamber of Commerce

Our Sustainable Development Goals

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn more about Sustainable Development Goals.

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

The Watershed Project's goals for K-12 Environmental Education in Richmond, San Pablo, Oakland, and San Franciso focus on under-resourced Title I schools. K-12 Environmental Education is our largest program.

"Building Watershed Connections" is a youth-led environmental education program that will provide access to rich, oftentimes new, experiences in urban and regional parks for 600 K-12 students at underfunded schools in the San Francisco Bay Area and for seven young adults from communities that have historically faced systemic racism who participate in The Watershed Project’s "Green Careers" paid internship program. TWP’s internship program provides opportunities for high school and community college-age youth from Contra Costa and Alameda Counties. As a key part of "Building Watershed Connections," the interns will serve as mentors for the younger students during park field trips, deepening their leadership and communication skills and providing a peer experience for the younger kids.

TWP internships provide high school students and college-ready young adults from local communities with paid work experience in the environmental field. Our goal is to inspire them to become the next generation of environmental stewards and leaders. Recognizing the reality that people of color, particularly those from underfunded communities, are underrepresented in the environmental field, we actively recruit these kids and young adults to participate in our internship program.

Program Objectives 2020-2021 School Year

* Build the leadership and communication skills of seven young adult interns from East Bay communities that have historically suffered systemic racism and poverty.
* Employ a youth-led model to design and implement the immersive intern field trips and the K-12 field trips.
* Deliver 4-6 interactive field trips to local and regional East Bay parks for 600 K-12 students from under-resourced schools in Richmond, San Pablo, and Oakland. We have reduced the number of students anticipated for this school year from our regular 1,500 served due to the COVID-19 pandemic. TWP will follow all safety protocols to ensure a clean and safe experience for all involved in the field trips.

Before the pandemic hit, we taught over 1,500 K-12 students every year in classrooms and outdoors with experiential nature exploration and service-learning activities. We work largely with schools in Richmond, San Pablo, and parts of Oakland and San Francisco as these cities experience both a higher susceptibility to environmental impacts and a higher % of families under the federal poverty threshold.

TWP is one of the few nonprofits offering environmental education programs for middle and high school students across the SF Bay Area. To address existing and exacerbated inequities in access to nature and high-quality science education, we prioritize schools with higher percentages (at least 50%) of low-income and minority students.

The Watershed Project brings a watershed perspective to the urban environment, promoting green design and supporting natural cycles. Through our award-winning environmental education and volunteer stewardship programs, we give children, youth, and adults the information, skills, and support they need to understand how watersheds work and how their individual and collective actions translate into healthier, stronger local communities.

TWP has provided educational services to West Contra Costa, Oakland, and San Francisco Unified School District schools for 20 years, teaching interactive watershed education curriculum to students of all ages (K-12) in the classroom and through hands-on outdoor field trips and service-learning activities. Our education programs directly serve more than 1,500 students around the SF Bay Area each year and we provide watershed stewardship opportunities for over 3,500 volunteers annually. We have employed young people from Richmond through our green careers programs and provided internships to local students since 2009. This project builds on our existing internship program, allowing it to be richer and stronger.

Our diverse staff includes biology and environmental education experts, who are highly knowledgeable about the San Francisco Bay and Pacific Ocean ecosystems and trained in youth engagement. Several of our staff are bilingual so as to meet the needs of our Spanish-speaking program participants.

Environmental Education 2019-2020: Before COVID-19 and school closures, we took over 500 students on 12 field trips to local creeks. Ordinarily, our K-12 education programs are a package deal of 2-4 classroom lessons combined with 1-2 field trips to local parks or restoration sites. Elementary students are exploring creeks in our Kids In Creeks and Explore Your Watershed programs. Middle school students participated in our From Me to the Sea program, where they learned about how trash can travel through a watershed to become marine debris. Their field trips were an opportunity for a trash cleanup, but also just to explore and form a relationship with the local shoreline ecosystem. In our Wild Oysters program, high school students participated in two field trips. They collect data to monitor the health of native Olympia oyster populations on our reef at Point Pinole and also visit Hog Island Oyster Company in Tomales Bay to learn about oyster farming. They get a lesson in shucking oysters and the opportunity to taste, if they wish!

In TWP's Greening the Urban Watershed Program, the Iron Triangle Urban Greening is a series of new bioswales, rain gardens, and trees on the Richmond Greenway from 16th – 20th Streets, built as an extension of the Unity Park in partnership with the Trust for Public Land. Once major construction was completed in 2018, TWP planted trees and (bio)swales throughout 2019, engaging many local volunteers along the way. A section of redbud trees had to be replaced with Coastal Live Oaks this year in March just before C-19 SIP. The project is near completion with signage now in process.

From Spring to Fall 2019, The Watershed Project planted 50 trees in North Richmond to expand the urban canopy in this industrially-impacted community. The benefits of trees are well-documented - here are just a few:
Reducing air pollution; Filtering stormwater, reducing pollution and flooding; Cooling the ambient temperature;
Providing habitat for wildlife; Residents who adopted the trees were involved in species selection and instructed in how often to water, the importance of mulching, and the importance of the urban forest. With the help of the community, student and corporate volunteers, 50 planting holes were dug, tree root balls were prepped and mulch was applied to give these trees a really good start.

In our Healthy Watersheds Program, this year we published our "Water Quality in Contra Costa" database for our robust water quality network, with the goal of making our data understandable and interesting to a non-technical audience. We feature multiple data sources, compare water quality parameters and sites, and include interpretive elements (including report cards) to help people understand why certain parameters are important and how they interact. And, over 2000 Volunteers at 26 sites in Contra Costa County participated in Coastal Cleanup Day in 2019. Collectively we removed nearly 22,000 gallons of trash.

How we listen

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Seeking feedback from people served makes programs more responsive and effective. Here’s how this organization is listening.

done We demonstrated a willingness to learn more by reviewing resources about feedback practice.
done We shared information about our current feedback practices.
  • How is your organization collecting feedback from the people you serve?

    Electronic surveys (by email, tablet, etc.), Paper surveys, Focus groups or interviews (by phone or in person), Community meetings/Town halls,

  • How is your organization using feedback from the people you serve?

    To identify and remedy poor client service experiences, To identify bright spots and enhance positive service experiences, To make fundamental changes to our programs and/or operations, To inform the development of new programs/projects, To identify where we are less inclusive or equitable across demographic groups, To strengthen relationships with the people we serve,

  • What significant change resulted from feedback?

    TWP uses best practices to evaluate the effectiveness of our programs to guide refinement and evolution. For example, we recently improved upon our Watershed Education Program for students and teachers through evaluating the Wild Shorelines program during the 2016-2017, 2017-2018, and 2018-2019 school years. We conducted pre- and post- surveys for each student participating in the program, and asked open-ended questions prompting them to describe ecosystem and other benefits associated with oysters; teachers also completed evaluations of the entire program as well as in-person or phone meetings as a way to provide detailed feedback about the trainings, the curriculum, and their overall experience. We also utilized student work like workbooks, posters, and journals to assess.

  • With whom is the organization sharing feedback?

    The people we serve, Our staff, Our board, Our funders, Our community partners,

  • What challenges does the organization face when collecting feedback?

    We don’t have the right technology to collect and aggregate feedback efficiently, It is difficult to find the ongoing funding to support feedback collection,

Financials

The Watershed Project
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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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Connect with nonprofit leaders

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  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

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The Watershed Project

Board of directors
as of 2/25/2021
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Mr. Dan Abbott

Reef Check California

Term: 2020 -

Eric Hyman

Waterbar

Jane Gire

(ask Jane)

Nancy Hamill

Office of the General Counsel of the University of California

Brittni Milam

Government Accountability Office

Paul Randall

EOA Inc.

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? Yes
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? No
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? Yes

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 10/30/2020

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? GuideStar partnered on this section with CHANGE Philanthropy and Equity in the Center.

Leadership

The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
Hispanic/Latino/Latina/Latinx
Gender identity
Female, Not transgender (cisgender)
Sexual orientation
Heterosexual or Straight
Disability status
Person without a disability

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity

 

Sexual orientation

Disability

No data