Our Story

The Friends Model

Friends is passionate about our parks, and works to ensure that all local State Parks are open and accessible

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.

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

Friends of Santa Cruz State Parks is the #1 contributor of funds to State Parks among all 86 nonprofit cooperating associations, according to the California State Parks Cooperating Associations Program 2012 Statistical Summary.

Check out The Friends Model Infographic or see our Parks Updates from the past four 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.

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