PACE Frequently Asked Questions

PACE Informational Webinar Materials

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) for the Partners Advancing Climate Equity (PACE) Program

Updated November 20, 2020

Program Vision & Goals

Is this program related to Property Assessed Clean Energy?

Although they share the same acronym, this program is in no way associated with the State Property Assessed Clean Energy financing program.

What are the outcomes of PACE?

Our goal is that upon completion of the PACE program, cohort members will be equipped with more knowledge, strategies, and partnerships to become effective drivers of change and facilitators of ongoing capacity building within their own local ecosystems. Each PACE participant will create a community needs assessment to help identify concrete strategies to address capacity gaps and inform the State of local needs. By nurturing the collective power of frontline community leaders, we will support them and their networks in advancing community priorities and realizing their community’s equitable climate resilience vision. The program is a train-the-facilitator project with the goal of supporting and growing the skills and knowledge of others and the expectation that participants will facilitate related work in their communities.

Does your definition of frontline communities include communities who are on the frontlines of experiencing climate impacts?

Yes. We define frontline communities as those most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change and without sufficient resources and capacity to respond or even meet their basic needs. This particularly includes, but is not limited to, Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC), low-income and other marginalized communities. Please review the program priorities section from the About PACE page to learn more on how we define frontline communities.

What is PACE’s vision? Will the program focus on policy, systems, or environmental change? Is it more advocacy-oriented or action-oriented?

The PACE program is focused on systems change by increasing the capacity of leaders in California’s frontline communities to advance community-driven, equitable climate solutions at the pace and scale demanded by climate change and ongoing injustices. We envision a connected and mutually supportive network of emboldened community leaders with sufficient capacity, resources, and partnerships to realize their community’s vision for climate resilience and social equity. The program is more oriented towards action and collective impact strategies than advocacy. Please see the About PACE page to learn more about our vision.

What are measures of success of the program? What initiatives do you see community leaders accomplishing?

The program will be a success if, upon its completion, cohort members are equipped with more knowledge, strategies, and partnerships to become effective drivers of change and facilitators of ongoing capacity building within the communities in which they work. Initiatives could include any number of projects that are eligible for funding from California Climate Investment programs, or any other community-driven efforts that reduce climate pollution and/or reduce vulnerability to climate impacts.

Why is it important to PACE to prepare advocates/activists/volunteers in community organizing practices and techniques?

A central tenet of the PACE program is that in order to achieve climate justice, the communities most impacted by climate change and environmental burden should set the goals and priorities for climate action. Effective community organizing is necessary for meaningful community participation in these decision-making processes. Please see the Team page to learn more about our program’s values.

Is PACE aimed at creating policy change, or overseers of state resources with respect to climate change readiness?

The PACE program supports communities in the development and implementation of strategies that they identify as effective drivers of climate justice. Work on policy and resource allocation could be a part of those strategies.

Program Structure & Cohort Experience

Can I still participate in PACE while working full time? How many hours is this program? What time of day will the program meetings be held?

Yes, you can still participate in the PACE program while working full-time. However, we anticipate that most cohort sessions would take place during normal working hours, and expect that some cohort participants will need to schedule some of their normal work commitments around PACE sessions in order to avoid schedule conflicts. In Phase 1 (6 months), participants will engage in virtual workshops and supplemental activities for approximately 10-15 hours per month. We anticipate a similar time commitment for Phase 2 (an additional 6 months). We are polling cohort applicants in the application form to find meeting times that accommodate the most people possible. We will finalize the session times once the cohort members are selected.

What resources would be available to support the success and technological needs of the cohort?

The PACE program team will organize virtual workshops, peer networking opportunities, and supplemental activities, such as training on data platform tools. Additionally, a workbook will guide cohort participants through the curriculum and a resource library will direct them towards additional resources. In the second phase of the PACE program, cohort participants will receive custom project development assistance to help them establish necessary partnerships and develop action plans. Participant support of up to $8,000 is offered to support the cohort participants’ time commitment and participation within the program. Cohort members will need access to the internet and a computer with a webcam.

Will all participation be virtual due to COVID-19?

Phase 1 of the program will be held virtually until further notice, but there may be an opportunity for some in-person convenings later in the program depending on local and State COVID-19 guidelines. Already in Phase 1, participants will have the option to conduct some place-based supplemental activities and aspects of their Community Needs Assessment in-person.

How will the peer network be facilitated? Will PACE set up regional groups within the cohort?

The entire 20-person PACE cohort will attend virtual workshops together, and individuals will have a chance to connect in breakout sessions with their peers from similar geographic regions and areas of expertise. The PACE program seeks to nurture participants in growing local and regional networks to advance community climate priorities and will offer some mentorship and guidance, but will look to the community leaders themselves to be the drivers of change in their community.

Will the entire cohort participate in Phase 2? If not, how are participants selected for this phase?

We are hoping to support all cohort participants in Phase 2, but this will depend on participant readiness, scope of need, and available resources.

What will be included in the PACE curriculum? What are some concrete details on what we would be learning?

In the PACE program curriculum, we plan to incorporate case studies that highlight effective strategies for driving change. We will also cover the key components of developing a Community Needs Assessment, including data sources to make the case for greater equity, and ecosystem and power mapping methods to recognize interconnected systems and stakeholders to bring into the movement. Cohort participants will also practice facilitation techniques and learn about ways to build effective collaborations. They will gain familiarity with State funding opportunities and tips on effective grant writing. Participants will go into Phase 2 with a robust manual, a resource library, and a network of practitioners.

Who will be facilitating the trainings?

The PACE program team will implement the curriculum with occasional guest speakers and trainers. To learn more about the PACE program team, please visit the Team page.

Will some of your trainings emphasize use of the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals as ways to benchmark progress? Or GRI/similar sustainability activity metrics?

PACE is a capacity building program aimed at developing the social infrastructure that is needed to realize tangible on-the-ground capital projects. This includes developing the right partnerships and action plans to move emissions-reducing and resilience-building projects forward, but this program won’t directly fund those projects. The curriculum will emphasize strategies that meet multiple objectives and underscore the interconnectedness and intersectionality of climate equity issues. We will provide guidance on how community leaders can use a range of metrics to measure the impact of their proposed projects. The ‘Participant Benefits’ listed on the About page describe some of the learning objectives that the PACE program hopes to achieve. The program will include an evaluation strategy to benchmark our progress in meeting those learning objectives.

Application, Eligibility Requirements & Prioritization Factors

Who qualifies to apply for PACE? What qualifies a person as a community leader? What makes a successful applicant?

Please reference the Apply page on the PACE program website for full eligibility requirements and prioritization factors.

We are looking for community-oriented leaders active in frontline communities who demonstrate lived experience, an understanding of their community’s barriers and priorities, and an ability to form cross-sector partnerships for change. Community leadership and organizing activities might include: (1) Coordinating residents to get involved in decision-making processes; (2) Bringing together different segments of the community around a common goal; (3) Mobilizing community members to address shared issues facing their neighborhood; and/or (4) Advocating for and facilitating community-driven solutions.

A successful applicant will be able to clearly articulate how participating in the PACE program will benefit their organization and community in achieving their vision for climate equity.

What level of experience are you looking for amongst applicants? Do you only want cohort participants who are leading organizations or do you also want participants who have technical skills who can help build capacity in program design, evaluation, facilitation, strategy planning?

Please reference the prioritization factors on the Apply page of the PACE website to review the experience that we seek among cohort participants. There is no minimum requirement for years of experience, but our aim is that all cohort participants have some level of experience working on action-oriented initiatives to address community priorities.

Cohort participants do not need to lead organizations, but should have experience as a community leader. Existing skills in program design, evaluation, facilitation, and strategy planning are not prerequisites but may be helpful in activating the program’s train-the-facilitator approach and peer learning objectives.

Can I nominate a community leader? How about if I am applying myself; can I still also nominate someone else?

Yes. You can fill out a nomination form in English here and/or one in Spanish here. All applicants will be asked if they would like to include nominations to complement their application, but nominations are not a requirement to apply.

Please encourage any local community leaders to apply to be a part of the PACE program before the Dec. 3rd deadline.

Is there a limit to how many letters of support can accompany an application?

There is no limit to the number of “nominations” that can be submitted in support of an application.

Are monolingual Spanish speakers eligible to apply? Does the participant need to be fluent in Spanish?

The application is open to monolingual English or Spanish speakers. Fluency in Spanish is not required. Applicant selection will be competitive and the PACE program will give priority consideration to candidates who exhibit one or more of the following:

  • Direct experience working and/or living in frontline communities
  • Demonstrated experience working across sectors or issue areas
  • Established networks and interest and availability to facilitate trainings for local network partners
  • Multilingual and actively working with communities where English is not the primary language spoken

Is there an age requirement? Are students and interns eligible to apply?

For legal reasons, participants must be at least 18 years of age. Students and interns are eligible to apply if they are working and/or living in frontline communities and have led projects, events, groups, and organizations with a focus on elevating resident-driven efforts, and their prospects of continuing to work within that community are high. We seek leaders who have a deep commitment to the community they serve and want to build skills and access more resources for their communities. Community leadership and organizing activities might include: (1) Coordinating residents to get involved in decision-making processes; (2) Bringing together different segments of the community around a common goal; (3) Mobilizing community members to address shared issues facing their neighborhood; and/or (4) Advocating for and facilitating community-driven solutions.

Can undocumented community members participate?

We do not collect information about immigration status for participation in the training and TA program. However, we are still getting clarity on the eligibility requirements for participant support funds from our federal funder. We will update this webpage ASAP once we know.

What is the difference between CBO and nonprofit? If our organization identifies as a community-based nonprofit, which should I pick on the application?

We define community-based organizations (CBOs) as organizations serving and/or representing one or more specific local communities (as opposed to a broader region or issue area). CBOs may be a nonprofit or may have a fiscal sponsor. We suggest community-based nonprofits select “CBO” on their application.

I work with several organizations. Is it best to pick one for the purposes of this application? Would it make sense to pick one that works in a specific geographic area?

For the purpose of this application, we would recommend selecting one organization. It would be helpful to pick one that works in a specific geographic area since the PACE program curriculum will include creating a Community Needs Assessment for your specific community.

Also, there are opportunities to speak about your network affiliations in the application, and we would encourage you to share more about the other organizations you are working with in that section.

Will applications from those serving in communities that do not fall into the ‘Disadvantaged’ category still be considered?

Yes, as this program is seeking regional diversity. However, applicants serving “disadvantaged” or “low-income” designated communities will be prioritized, as well as communities that meet the definition for under-resourced and vulnerable communities.

I do not have any experience working on climate/environmental projects. Am I still eligible?

Prior environmental expertise is not required, but applicants should have demonstrated experience as a community leader, plans to continue working in their community, and interest and commitment to working on climate-related projects.

Will the $8,000 for participant support be provided in one disbursement? What documentation will be needed to receive payment? Would the funding be awarded to the individual or to the affiliated organization that I am applying with?

The participant support will be provided over the course of participation in the program. An MOU outlining requirements, such as participation in program sessions, will be required. At time of selection we will determine the best way to structure the agreement with the participant. Check back on this webpage for more updates on the disbursement and eligibility for participant support.

What is the PACE program definition of community? Can someone represent more than one community/region? Does a community need to be geographically based, limited to a specific area of those identified in the colored maps: Disadvantaged Communities (DACs) or low-income? Or, for example, can the community we lead be a “community of people or institutions that exist Statewide, in every community, including those mapped DACs or low-income areas ? And if so, how would they define that in the application – can they state “all”?

In the application, we ask you to define the community that you serve, realizing that it could be a subset of people that live or work in a certain location, and/or could be a geography that spans small or large distances. The PACE program is intended for community leaders that serve a clearly defined geographic area due to the nature of the community needs assessments that cohort participants will be completing. If someone works with multiple geographic communities within a region, or across multiple regions, that community leader could still be eligible to apply. In that case, they would select multiple regions in their application.

Cohort Selection Process

How many groups will be selected? Can more than one person apply from the same organization? Will you consider more than one organization within the same city/region? Do you recommend putting together a team across organizations to apply together?

This pilot program will consist of a cohort of 20 members. We seek multiple participants from regions throughout the state, but we are not able to accept group applications at this time. It is possible that multiple applicants may be selected from one city/region as each application will be individually scored; however, we are also seeking regional diversity for the cohort overall.

Will being a state-funded non-profit organization be a conflict of interest?

No. Community leaders from non-profit organizations are invited to apply regardless of their current funding stream, as long as those community leaders can articulate how their work and the community(ies) they serve would benefit from the PACE program.

How do you propose to ensure that Tribal and Native perspectives are included?

The PACE program team practices cultural humility and is seeking to co-create learning experiences that center participants’ needs and draws from their expertise. Our team includes individuals with experience working with Tribal governments and Native-led organizations. We have also enlisted the help of various promotional partners with strong Tribal/Native networks to help us recruit representatives from Tribal/Native communities throughout the State. We hope to foster a program that emphasizes peer-to-peer networking and curriculum learning that includes Tribal/Native perspectives.

What are the primary reasons for limiting to 20 participants?

The cohort size limit of 20 is to ensure that the program team has the capacity to provide tailored guidance and mentorship to each participant Additionally, this cohort size will allow each participant to receive support of up to $8,000 for their participation.

Will PACE use CalEnviroScreen criteria (SB 535) to determine eligibility as Frontline Communities? Severely disadvantaged communities in rural areas are highly marginalized and underserved, but we are not overpopulated, so we rank low in terms of priority according to CalEnviroScreen.

The application references this map, which shows CalEnviroScreen (pollution burdened) disadvantaged communities in blue. It also shows AB 1550 low-income communities in pink, many of which are in more rural areas. In the application, there is an opportunity to describe the community(ies) you serve and how they meet the definition of a frontline community. The PACE program also uses the SB 1072 definition of under-resourced communities, and the ICARP program’s definition of vulnerable communities to determine eligibility as frontline communities.

If I/my organization does not get selected, could we still participate in the program (without the $8,000 participant support)?

Unfortunately, only the 20 selected participants will be able to participate in our highly interactive workshops. However, we will publicly share PACE program resources for anyone to use through an online Resource Library.


I would like to learn more about the program but could not join your informational webinar on Nov. 16. Will a recording be available?

A recording of the webinar can be found on the PACE program website here. Those interested can also subscribe to the PACE email list here to receive updates on the program.

What types of opportunities are there for State agencies and local government staff to participate in the program, and at what level?

Part of the PACE program will include connecting cohort participants with contacts at key State agencies through networking activities and direct connections facilitated by the PACE program team. Partnerships with local government staff are a critical part of the PACE program’s theory of change. Assistance, support, and/or co-creation are all roles that local government staff could play to help advance community-led projects.

Is this program seeking to use PACE (Property Assessed Clean Energy) loans to facilitate this program?

This program is fully funded through a contract from the Strategic Growth Council and supplemented by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. It is not associated in any way with the State’s Property Assessed Clean Energy Loans.

Due to the high interest is there a possibility that there will be another cycle for PACE?

There is a possibility that there will be another cycle of the PACE program, although there is no funding currently identified to continue the program. This program is a pilot to inform the California Strategic Growth Council’s efforts on capacity building and technical assistance in communities across the State.


We encourage you to reach out! The PACE program team is available to answer questions about the program at

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