Orange County Coastkeeper named as 2024 California Nonprofit of the Year by Senator Min

Orange County Coastkeeper (Coastkeeper) announced it has been selected as the 2024 California Nonprofit of the Year by State Senator Dave Min (D-Irvine). In partnership with the State Legislature and California Association of Nonprofits, Coastkeeper is one of more than 100 nonprofit organizations that will be honored for their outstanding contributions to the communities they serve. Coastkeeper safeguards Orange County’s waters and coastline through innovative programs in education, advocacy, restoration, research and enforcement. In its 25-year history, Coastkeeper has enacted sustainable water policies, restored native marine species, educated more than 50,000 students, and brought more than 100 industrial facilities into Clean Water Act compliance.

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Photos courtesy of the Office of State Senator Dave Min

State Senator Dave Min presents a plaque to Ellen Brown, co-founder and associate director at Coastkeeper

“I founded Orange County Coastkeeper 25 years ago because I believe everyone has the right to swimmable, drinkable, fishable water,” said Garry Brown, founder and president of Orange County Coastkeeper. “We’re honored that Senator Min has chosen us as a 2024 Nonprofit of the Year. This incredible milestone will inspire our team to fight that much harder to defend Orange County’s waters moving forward.”

Over the past four years, Senator Min and Coastkeeper have teamed up on various legislative endeavors and events, united by their shared commitment to protecting Orange County’s waters and coastline.

“Coastkeeper’s decades-long track record of preserving our waters and coastline truly exemplifies the spirit of environmental stewardship,” said Senator Dave Min. “From pushing to end offshore drilling in California to educating over 50,000 students about conservation and environmental advocacy, their tireless efforts to protect our natural resources for future generations are nothing short of remarkable. I’m so proud to name Orange County Coastkeeper as our 2024 Nonprofit of the Year for the 37th Senate District. Together, we’ll keep working to protect Orange County and ensure a sustainable future for all.”

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Orange County Coastkeeper during a restoration at Upper Newport Bay

Locally, one of Coastkeeper’s most successful programs ever was their successful restoration of native eelgrass and Olympia oysters in Upper Newport Bay. Together, native oysters and eelgrass can improve water quality, stabilize eroding shores, and provide a habitat that encourages biodiversity. After years of research, permitting and fundraising, the project started in 2016 and has been successful ever since.

“Nonprofit organizations touch the lives of millions of Californians in ways that can often go unrecognized. From the childcare program to the soccer team, from the art class to the health clinic, and from the community organizer to the animal shelter – nonprofits improve the lives of all Californians and make our communities stronger,” said Geoff Green, CEO of the California Association of Nonprofits (CalNonprofits), a partner for this initiative. “Nonprofits are also a key economic driver in our state, accounting for one in 14 jobs. It’s important to recognize all they do.”

The Californian Nonprofit of the Year initiative provides the opportunity for each California state legislator to recognize a nonprofit organization doing outstanding work in their district. The program culminated with a celebratory luncheon at the Capitol on California Nonprofits Day, which fell on June 5 this year. Coastkeeper’s co-founder and associate director, Ellen Brown, and Senator Min were both in attendance.

The program is sponsored by CalNonprofits in partnership with the State Senate and Assembly. CalNonprofits, the leading policy voice for California’s nonprofit sector, focuses on advocacy, education and research to build a more powerful and politically engaged nonprofit network across the state.


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