Our Story

Partnership with State Parks

Friends is passionate about our parks, and works to ensure that all local State Parks are thriving and available to all.

Through an innovative partnership with California State Parks known as the “Friends Model,” and by leveraging local community support, Friends has provided millions of dollars of funding for educational programs, visitor services and capital projects since 1976. To help illustrate everything that we do to support parks throughout the Santa Cruz District, from Palm State Beach in south Santa Cruz County to Montara State Beach in coastal San Mateo County in the north, we’ve created this chart.

Friend's Park Support Overview chart

Click to Enlarge

The unique and highly successful Friends Model enables us to provide visitor service staffing and fee collection at park entrance kiosks throughout decades of declining funding from the state and increasing visitor attendance. Furthermore, Friends is investing 100 percent of our net proceeds back into our local parks.

The Friends Model significantly extends the reach of State Parks in the areas of education and interpretation, capital improvements, park maintenance and public safety. And Friends leverages strong local support from business partners, grants and Friends members to fund programs and projects. Friends’ fans and followers on social media are an engaged, active community in support of our mission. In addition, proceeds from sales at five Friends ParkStores, as well as the ParkStore Online, also support park programs and improvements. The state legislature has indicated a desire for more entrepreneurial practices and incentive-based strategies at the local level. The Friends Model has been proven over the past three decades. It is consistent with the growing interest in innovative, enterprise-driven models in support of our state parks.

The Friends Model works

Check out The Friends Model Infographic or see our Parks Updates from past years:

Strategic Plan

Friends’ values through the years have remained solid: Friends is passionate about our parks, and works to ensure that all local State Parks are open and accessible. We are committed to providing quality, robust, engaging interpretive programs at local state parks.

Strategic Plan – Spring 2020

View the Executive Summary of 2015-18 Friends of Santa Cruz State Parks Strategic Plan.

Friends also recently earned the 2018 Platinum Seal of Transparency from GuideStar, the world’s largest source of nonprofit information. We’re excited to use GuideStar Platinum to share our story with the world. Friends is proud to be one of only 4,060 of the 1.8 million organizations on GuideStar that have earned the Platinum rating!

Non-Profit Partners

Share Our Work

If you love our work, then tell the world! Did you know that reviews from community members and visitors impact volunteering and donating decisions? Help us raise visibility for our work by posting a review of your experience on GreatNonprofits, a review site like Yelp but for nonprofits. All reviews will be visible to potential donors and volunteers.

It’s easy and only takes three minutes! Thank you!