SGC Catalyst Model Addressing Barriers to Access: Invest in Capacity Building

Capacity building is the process by which individuals, groups, organizations, and institutions grow, enhance, and organize their systems, resources, and knowledge. It is essential to recognize that capacity is often present in communities but under-supported and underinvested. In building capacity, funding agencies should seek to lean on the expertise and knowledge that community organizations already have. Increased capacity, or network resilience, creates the necessary environment to support communities in taking sustained action, pursuing and implementing ongoing funding, and scaling efforts.


  • Reduces barriers and levels the funding playing field for community participation
  • Builds clear venues and confidence for community participation in local planning, project building, and advocacy efforts.
  • Establishes a platform for ongoing trust building and new processes for community organizations to partner with government and vice versa.
  • Supports sustained capacity beyond the grant to accelerate community transformation
  • Improves program effectiveness by increasing the ability and equity across disinvested communities to access resources to plan for and create healthy and sustainable communities

How to Do This

Building capacity and community resilience can be achieved passively by including strategies within a grant or funding program that increase knowledge, skills, relationships, and other factors during project implementation (see Model 1, Element 3). Overall readiness for available grants and investment, however, requires capacity to be built actively through stand-alone programs that provide capacity-building support to communities, organizations, or individuals.

The following actions can help to ensure that every community has the same opportunity to access the necessary resources to achieve its climate and equity goals.

Activate leaders in place

Realizing a community’s vision for climate resilience and social equity starts first with a connected and mutually supportive network of supported community leaders. Increasing the capacity of leaders in California’s communities is the first crucial step to advancing community-driven, equitable climate solutions at the pace and scale demanded by climate change and ongoing injustices.

See Partners Advancing Climate Equity (PACE) for more information.

Build community-wide readiness in communities and regions

Under-resourced communities often face challenges accessing State funding to address community priorities. Capacity building at the community and regional scale enables cross- sectoral partners to deepen relationships and strengthen local coordination, leadership, knowledge, skills, and access to critical resources to drive and sustain climate action.

To build community-wide readiness, explore the Regional Climate Collaboratives Program Round 1 Guidelines.

Center and empower communities along the full pathway from readiness to implementation

Empowering the communities most impacted by pollution to choose their own goals, strategies, and projects to enact transformational change ensures context-sensitive solutions that may otherwise be missed through a one-size-fits-all funding approach.

To center and empower communities as part of planning and implementation, explore the SGC Catalyst Model 3: Centering Communities in Place-Based Investment.