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Crystal Cove Conservancy

 #5 Crystal Cove
 Newport Coast, CA 92657
[P] (949) 376-6200 x 200
[F] (949) 376-0919
[email protected]
Kate Wheeler
 Printable 1 Page Summary
 Printable Profile
Organization DBA Crystal Cove Conservancy
Former Names Crystal Cove Alliance (2016)
Alliance to Rescue Crystal Cove (2003)
Organization received a competitive grant from the community foundation in the past five years Yes
Employer Identification Number 33-0878633 00000


Mission StatementMORE »

Crystal Cove Conservancy is the nonprofit public benefit partner to Crystal Cove State Park focusing on preservation, education, and conservation initiatives that will cultivate our planet’s next generation of environmental stewards ensuring that Crystal Cove, and places like it, live on for generations.

Mission Statement

Crystal Cove Conservancy is the nonprofit public benefit partner to Crystal Cove State Park focusing on preservation, education, and conservation initiatives that will cultivate our planet’s next generation of environmental stewards ensuring that Crystal Cove, and places like it, live on for generations.

FinancialsMORE »

Fiscal Year 2020
Projected Expenses $1,890,118.00
Projected Revenue $1,894,537.00

ProgramsMORE »

  • STEM Educational Program
  • Conservation
  • Art in the Park

Revenue vs. Expense ($000s)

Expense Breakdown 2018 (%)

Expense Breakdown 2017 (%)

Expense Breakdown 2016 (%)

For more details regarding the organization's financial information, select the financial tab and review available comments.


Mission Statement

Crystal Cove Conservancy is the nonprofit public benefit partner to Crystal Cove State Park focusing on preservation, education, and conservation initiatives that will cultivate our planet’s next generation of environmental stewards ensuring that Crystal Cove, and places like it, live on for generations.

Background Statement

Crystal Cove Conservancy is a nonprofit public benefit organization dedicated to leveraging the unique cultural, historical, and natural resources of a restored and protected Crystal Cove State Park as an outdoor classroom to cultivate our planet’s next generation of environmental stewards.

The Conservancy works in partnership with California State Parks to provide stewardship support for Crystal Cove’s nearly 2,800 acres of public lands including: The Crystal Cove Historic District and beach cottages, a National Register of Historic Places site; 2,400 acres of pristine wilderness habitat and the unspoiled Moro Canyon watershed, a National Natural Landmark site; over three miles of rocky beach coastline and intertidal habitat; 400 acres of coastal bluff habitat; and special underwater and offshore areas including the Crystal Cove State Marine Conservation Area MPA. By being a stewardship partner for this Southern California jewel, The Conservancy has been uniquely positioned to develop a nationally-recognized STEM education program that uses authentic field science and monitoring to immerse students and community members in the practice of conservation and open space management. 

Through the strength of the cooperative partnership with California State Parks and the social enterprise model it employs, The Conservancy aspires to promote and generate ongoing community support and sustainable earned revenue streams to provide educational programs and conservation initiatives for Crystal Cove State Park. Providing historic beach experiences for visitors while cultivating the environmental advocates of the future, ensures that Crystal Cove, and places like it, live on for countless future generations.

Impact Statement

1. During the 2018-2019 school year, more than 5,800 school-age children participated in The Conservancy's education programs, with 71% from the most under-served Title 1 schools in the region.  Our K-12 education programs include the Marine Protected Area (MPA) Citizen Science Cruises, the Coastal Field Science Program based at the Berns Environmental Study Loop in Moro Canyon, and The Conservancy's Coastal Dynamics program.

2. Each year, Crystal Cove Conservancy funds and manages cottage and park maintenance, enhancements and improvements in the Crystal Cove State Park Historic District. Many of these enhancements go well beyond cottage maintenance to support interpretative programs, education, operations and maintenance throughout the Historic District and adjacent related facilities while maintaining the integrity of the park and its habitats.

Current Year Goals:

1. Continue to grow our STEM education programs each year, creating more authentic science learning opportunities for local youth and teachers.

2. Build the relevance of Crystal Cove State Park for traditionally underserved communities by creating a connection to the coast and outdoor places in underserved and at-risk young people.

3. Support the conservation efforts of Crystal Cove State Park and other local agencies that manage 40,000 contiguous acres of open space in Orange County.


Needs Statement

1.  Capital funding. The Conservancy has launched a campaign to restore the 17 unrestored cottages on Crystal Cove's North Beach, completing the restoration of the Historic District and providing new educational opportunities for students. The estimated cost of the project to maintain the integrity of the historic structures and protect the surrounding natural environment is approximately $38M.
2.  Scholarship funding. Crystal Cove Conservancy provides scholarship funding for underserved schools to enable their participation in The Conservancy's educational programs. Additional sources of scholarship funding are a high-priority need.  An additional $100,000 is required to meet current demand.
3.  Capacity building.  The expansion of The Conservancy's programs requires an expansion of the communications function within the organization in order to develop its presence more fully in the community and expand its capacity to raise funds for its work. $50,000

CEO Statement

Rooted in the notion that Crystal Cove State Park is an ideal outdoor classroom for cultivating young environmentalists, Crystal Cove Conservancy is dedicated to protecting this rare piece of California’s history and inspiring students and the public to care for it. The Conservancy conducts innovative educational programs that expose students and visitors to the benefits of science and environmental literacy while supporting the preservation of miles of precious California coastline, stewarding thousands of acres of native habitat, and spearheading efforts to restore and preserve the historic beach cottages.

The completion of the final phase of cottage restoration, the remaining 17 unrestored cottages on the North Beach, will double the available overnight rental pool creating a significant increase in unrestricted revenue that can be used to support education and conservation initiatives for underserved students for decades to come. Once all cottages have been restored, the ongoing maintenance of this historic site will be 100% self-sustaining and will not require any additional funding from California State Parks.

Kate Wheeler
President & CEO 

Board Chair Statement


Other Ways to Donate/Volunteer


Geographic Area Served

Central Orange County
West Orange County
South Orange County
North Orange County

Crystal Cove Conservancy's participants come from the 5 counties surrounding Crystal Cove State Park: Orange, San Diego, Los Angeles, Riverside, San Bernardino, with the overwhelming majority from Orange county.  In addition, we get a small number of national and international visitors to Crystal Cove State Park and the Historic District.

Organization Categories

  1. Education - Elementary & Secondary Schools
  2. Environment - Natural Resources Conservation & Protection
  3. Arts,Culture & Humanities - Historical Societies & Historic Preservation



STEM Educational Program


Crystal Cove Conservancy’s STEM education programs use citizen science to immerse K-12 students in real conservation questions at Crystal Cove State Park. As students collect data for ongoing research projects designed in partnership with local scientists, they become inspired as environmental stewards and gain 21stcentury skills.

The Conservancy's STEM education programs take place on the water in the Crystal Cove State Marine Conservation Area, in Crystal Cove’s backcountry, where students grow STEM skills through experiential learning in monitoring ecosystem health and assessing environmental restoration strategies, and on the beach learning about coastal engineering strategies for preserving the beach. Standards-aligned lesson plans help teachers link field experiences back to the classroom, involving students in the entire scientific process. In 2016 alone, over 3,500 students in grades 5-12 were introduced to STEM disciplines through The Conservancy’s hands-on programs.


Budget  $368,309.00
Category  Environment, General/Other Environmental Education
Population Served Families K-12 (5-19 years) Poor,Economically Disadvantaged,Indigent
Program Short-Term Success 

1. During the last school year, 2,600 middle and high school students participated in the Marine Protected Area Citizen Science Cruise, which engages students in monitoring Crystal Cove State Park’s underwater park by collecting data on the kelp forest ecosystem.

2. This past school year, over 1,100 fifth grade, seventh grade, and high school students have taken part in citizen science programs based out of the Berns Environmental Study Loop in Moro Canyon, helping UC Irvine scientists and State Park natural resource managers better understand how to restore Crystal Cove’s backcountry..

3. Over 250 community members and families have also participated in free family citizen science programs, contributing to the conservation of Crystal Cove State Park.

4. Each year, 40,000 additional visitors take part in other educational and interpretive experiences at Crystal Cove, such as State Park docent interpretive programs, open houses in the Park & Marine Research Facility, and public exhibits showcasing science in the Park.

Program Long-Term Success 

1. Students gain knowledge and experience that will help them on the way to becoming scientifically literate adults.

2. Teachers receive support to help them meet their classroom curriculum goals by providing their students with authentic field experiences that engage them in science and engineering practices.

3. Visitors gain a greater understanding, appreciation, and sense of stewardship for Crystal Cove State Park.

4. Increases the relevancy of Crystal Cove State Park in the lives of visitors and community members.

5. Expands and renews interest in the Park as a valuable repository of Orange County’s natural, cultural, recreational, and historic legacy.

Program Success Monitored By 

Crystal Cove Conservancy is committed to refining and implementing an effective and efficient formative and summative evaluation program for its education programs. Since 2016, The Conservancy has been using a series of metrics that focus on both student and program impacts. Performance data is collected via student and teacher surveys, interviews, pre- and post-program tests, and onsite observations. At the programmatic level, Crystal Cove Conservancy measures how often the data that is collected by students is accessed in scientific databases, as well as the number of students, schools, school districts, and Title 1 schools that engage in our programs. The Conservancy works with the University of California, Irvine (UCI) School of Education to further refine and implement our evaluation plan and the UCI School of Education conducts in-depth analysis of systems learning.

Examples of Program Success 

Crystal Cove Conservancy’s K-12 science programs immerse students in real-world research, helping them to better understand the science of conservation and how and why a scientist conducts research. One student provided the following comment in a thank you letter after actively using equipment and collecting data during the Marine Protected Area Citizen Science Cruise. “Being a part of this experience has been great. I learned a lot in a small amount of time. It was also great having the hands-on experience. It gave me a better understanding on how tools are used and why we have them. Now I see how we get our information.”


As the stewardship partner of Crystal Cove State Park, Crystal Cove Conservancy helps to protect all of Crystal Cove’s nearly 2,800 acres of public lands, including 2,400 acres of pristine wilderness habitat in the unspoiled Moro Canyon watershed; over three miles of rocky beach coastline and intertidal habitat; 400 acres of coastal bluff habitat; and special underwater and offshore areas including the Crystal Cove State Marine Conservation Area. Unique among coastal Orange County, Crystal Cove’s natural habitat and coastline remind visitors of what California used to be.

The Conservancy is devoted to creating a sustainable future for Crystal Cove, and support Crystal Cove State Park’s broader conservation efforts by facilitating strategic partnerships, which help Park managers more efficiently and effectively accomplish conservation goals, and by partnering and funding initiatives that support park priority conservation work. The Conservancy also works to engage local community members in conservation and open space management through its citizen science programs, which immerse trained volunteers, K-12 students, and the public in monitoring the health of Crystal Cove State Park.

Budget  $69,885.00
Category  Environment, General/Other Land Conservation
Population Served Families K-12 (5-19 years)
Program Short-Term Success 

1. Crystal Cove Conservancy has supported the development of new working agreements between Crystal Cove State Park and local conservation partners, such as UC Irvine and Irvine Ranch Conservancy.

2. Over 3,500 students and public volunteers participate annually in The Conservancy’s citizen science conservation programs, contributing over 100 days of data to accessible online databases that can help inform resource management decisions.

3. Crystal Cove Conservancy is also an active member in the Orange County Marine Protected Area Council, which is a collaborative effort to preserve and protect Orange County’s marine protected areas.

Program Long-Term Success 

1. Create a fully restored and sustainable Crystal Cove State Park, which will be preserved and protected for generations to come.

2. Help to connect Park managers with partners that will help them more efficiently and effectively manage the conservation of Crystal Cove’s terrestrial and marine ecosystems.

3. Immerse students and the public in becoming good stewards of the environment as they help to monitor Crystal Cove’s ecosystems through citizen science projects.

Program Success Monitored By 

Crystal Cove Conservancy works with Crystal Cove State Park and other partners to identify specific goals for each conservation project, such as number of acres restored, an increase in percent cover of native species, or an increase in observed indicator species. Goals and objectives are often identified early on in the planning process through the development of a logic model. The Conservancy also tracks the number of data “days” contributed to each citizen science project, and works with collaborating scientists to develop and implement plans to ensure data quality.

The Conservancy is also currently supporting Crystal Cove State Park and Irvine Ranch Conservancy as they begin development of a new resource management plan for Crystal Cove State Park, which will result in identifying long-term conservation goals and priorities for Crystal Cove’s natural resource management program.

Examples of Program Success 

In 2017, Crystal Cove Conservancy launched a new butterfly monitoring program, which employs trained volunteers to count and identify butterflies on two transects within Crystal Cove State Park. This project, which was adapted and translated from protocols being employed by Irvine Ranch Conservancy and OC Parks, extends monitoring that had previously been conducted in Orange County’s inland canyons to the coast. The Conservancy is also partnering with Crystal Cove State Park and UC Irvine to develop and fund a citizen science monitoring program for the “Bowl,” a disturbed site in the center of Moro Canyon.

Art in the Park

Crystal Cove Conservancy’s Art in the Park program celebrates and cultivates Crystal Cove’s rich, century-long year tradition of plein air painting, filmmaking, music, and art. From the popular Historic Films on the Beach series and plein air art classes offered each summer to the juried artist program run through The Conservancy’s Interpretive Store, we work to preserve this rare piece of California’s history through our interpretive art programming.

The Conservancy’s growing art programs include The Great Plein Air Art Experience, a day-long workshop offered each summer for new aspiring artists, featuring local artists as teachers; The Family Plein Air Art Exploration, a half-day class that introduces children, parents, and grandparents to painting outdoors; the Historic Films on the Beach series; weekly sea-wrapping offered to the public; a juried artist program through the Interpretive Store; and several plein air art exhibitions and shows held throughout the year. In April 2017, The Conservancy also collaborated with Crystal Cove State Park’s interpretive staff to host the Art in the Park Celebration, now an annual event that celebrates art at Crystal Cove.

Budget  $30,000.00
Category  Arts, Culture & Humanities, General/Other Visual Arts
Population Served Adults Families K-12 (5-19 years)
Program Short-Term Success 

1. An established juried artist program of 30 local artists, who continue Crystal Cove’s long tradition of plein air art at Crystal Cove through painting outdoors, selling their work in The Conservancy’s Interpretive Store, teaching classes, and participating in art shows.

2. The 2017 launch of the Art in the Park Celebration, an annual outdoor art festival that will celebrate music, painting, storytelling, and other art at Crystal Cove.

Program Long-Term Success 

1. Inspire and cultivate the next generation of environmentalists by helping visitors connect to Crystal Cove through painting, music, and other arts.

2. Celebrate Crystal Cove as a valuable repository and cultivator of Orange County’s natural, cultural, recreational, and historic legacy.

Program Success Monitored By 

The Conservancy’s Education department uses surveys and informal interviews to evaluate painting classes and workshops. For other art programming, The Conservancy uses appropriate evaluation methods such as surveys, interviews, sales, and visitor observations.

Examples of Program Success 

The Conservancy’s Great Plein Air Art Experience has become a popular favorite with locals and visitors alike. One aspiring artist has been participating for years, and does her best to take part in nearly everyone workshop:

“At my first experience, I arrived having never stood before an easel nor placed a dab of paint on canvas,” she said. “I had no art experience at all. Due to the exquisite design of the program and the kind, nurturing instructor, I left with a new set of skills and a greater appreciation of painters and their work. Over the years as I have continued to attend, I have watched many others enjoy a similar experience. Mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, groups of friends have all attended and loved it. And, of course, there is the setting. Standing in that beautiful Cove is enough to make any day there a joy.”


CEO/Executive Director Ms. Kate Wheeler
CEO Term Start Aug 2019
CEO Email [email protected]
CEO Experience

Kate has worked in the nonprofit sector since 1994, primarily focused on helping organizations achieve their programmatic missions through fund development, community engagement and strategic planning for national and international organizations. She holds a Master’s degree in Nonprofit Leadership from the University of San Diego and has taught at both USD and National University’s Sanford Institute of Philanthropy.

Former CEOs and Terms

Name Start End
Harry Helling Jan 2009 Nov 2015
Alix Dunn -- --

Senior Staff

Name Title Experience/Biography
Ms. Kajsa James Director of Developement --
Ms. Sara Ludovise Director of Education --


Award Awarding Organization Year
Governors Award for Historic Preservation State of California 2007


Affiliation Year
-- --

External Assessments and Accreditations

External Assessment or Accreditation Year
-- --


Crystal Cove Conservancy works in close collaboration with the following partners:

California State Parks
Crystal Cove Beach Cottages

University of California, Irvine

Pelican Hill Resort/Irvine Company

Newport Landing Sportfishing


Staff Information

Number of Full Time Staff 13
Number of Part Time Staff 11
Number of Volunteers 83
Number of Contract Staff 0
Staff Retention Rate % 54%
Staff Professional Development Yes

Staff Demographics

Ethnicity African American/Black: 0
Asian American/Pacific Islander: 1
Caucasian: 22
Hispanic/Latino: 1
Native American/American Indian: 0
Other: --
Other (if specified): --
Gender Female: 18
Male: 6
Not Specified --

Plans & Policies

Organization has Fundraising Plan? Yes
Organization has Strategic Plan? Yes
Years Strategic Plan Considers N/A
Management Succession Plan Yes
Organization Policies And Procedures Yes
Business Continuity of Operations Plan Yes

Risk Management Provisions

Nondiscrimination Policy Yes
Whistle Blower Policy Yes
Document Destruction Policy Yes
Directors and Officers Insurance Policy Yes

Reporting and Evaluations

Management Reports to Board? Yes
CEO Formal Evaluation and Frequency Yes Annually
Senior Management Formal Evaluation and Frequency Yes Annually
Non Management Formal Evaluation and Frequency Yes Annually

Government Licenses

Food Service Operation

CEO Comments


Foundation Comments



Board Chair Jeffrey Cole
Board Chair Company Affiliation Cushman & Wakefield
Board Chair Term Apr 2018 - Apr 2020
Board Co-Chair Teddie Ray
Board Co-Chair Company Affiliation Community Activist and Philanthropist
Board Co-Chair Term Apr 2018 - Apr 2019

Board Members

Name Company Affiliations Status
Dr. Lori Bassman Retired Voting
Al Bennett Dean of Biological Sciences, University of CA, Irvine Voting
Nathan Chiaverini -- --
Jeffrey Cole -- --
Laura Davick -- --
Diana Lu Evans Capital Group Voting
Michael Gottfredson -- Voting
Ralph Grippo President, Irvine Company Resort Properties Voting
Gavin Herbert -- --
Doug Le Bon -- Voting
Michael A. O'Connell -- Voting
Stephanie Quesada -- Voting
Teddie Ray -- Voting
Gerald F. Scheck C.P.A. Paddock Jones Morse, Inc. Voting
Eric Smyth -- Voting
Richard Swinney -- Voting

Constituent Board Members

Name Company Affiliations Status
-- -- --

Youth Board Members

Name Company Affiliations Status
-- -- --

Additional Board Members and Affiliations

Name Company Affiliations Status
-- -- --

Board Demographics

Ethnicity African American/Black: 0
Asian American/Pacific Islander: 1
Caucasian: 14
Hispanic/Latino: 1
Native American/American Indian: 0
Other: 0
Other (if specified): 0
Gender Female: 5
Male: 11
Not Specified 0

Board Information

Board Term Lengths 1
Board Term Limits 6
Board Meeting Attendance % 85%
Written Board Selection Criteria Yes
Written Conflict Of Interest Policy Yes
Percentage of Monetary Contributions 100%
Percentage of In-Kind Contributions 20%
Board Orientation Yes

CEO Comments

After its founding in 1999, Crystal Cove Conservancy's Board during the first dozen years was structured primarily for governance. The success of The Conservancy’s impact on the community has led to an expanded footprint that encompasses conservation and education programs in the whole of Crystal Cove State Park, along with restoration plans for the remaining 17 cottages on the north beach.  Over the last few years, the board has been focused on increasing its capacity for long-term fundraising as well as communications, education and conservation. This has been the focus of the Board’s annual strategic planning sessions. Recruitment for new board members that fulfill these capacity requirements is currently in full-swing. 

Foundation Comments


Standing Committees

  • Audit
  • Board Governance
  • Capital Campaign
  • Communications / Promotion / Publicity / Public Relations
  • Development / Fund Development / Fund Raising / Grant Writing / Major Gifts
  • Education
  • Executive
  • Finance
  • Nominating


Revenue vs. Expense ($000s)

Expense Breakdown 2018 (%)

Expense Breakdown 2017 (%)

Expense Breakdown 2016 (%)

Prior Three Years Total Revenue and Expense Totals

Fiscal Year 2018 2017 2016
Total Revenue $1,321,116 $1,075,950 $1,625,398
Total Expenses $2,251,833 $1,157,782 $2,237,117

Prior Three Years Revenue Sources

Revenue By Revenue Source
Fiscal Year 2018 2017 2016
Foundation and
Corporation Contributions
$182,797 $383,573 $519,492
Government Contributions $20,000 $7,170 $0
    Federal -- -- --
    State -- -- --
    Local -- -- --
    Unspecified $20,000 $7,170 $0
Individual Contributions -- -- --
Indirect Public Support -- -- $0
Earned Revenue $118,795 $101,997 $0
Investment Income, Net of Losses $89,709 $38,022 $52,123
Membership Dues $107,532 $103,475 $0
Special Events $489,538 $240,907 $126,359
Revenue In-Kind $272,745 $109,448 $179,000
Other $40,000 $91,358 $1,031,021

Prior Three Years Expense Allocations

Expense By Type
Fiscal Year 2018 2017 2016
Program Expense $1,591,151 $400,457 $1,725,072
Administration Expense $295,946 $321,704 $286,446
Fundraising Expense $364,736 $435,621 $225,599
Payments to Affiliates -- -- $0
Total Revenue/Total Expenses 0.59 0.93 0.73
Program Expense/Total Expenses 71% 35% 77%
Fundraising Expense/Contributed Revenue 53% 69% 35%

Prior Three Years Assets and Liabilities

Assets and Liabilities
Fiscal Year 2018 2017 2016
Total Assets $9,539,921 $10,250,017 $10,065,948
Current Assets $6,178,754 $7,447,694 $6,649,213
Long-Term Liabilities -- $225,447 $147,705
Current Liabilities $482,333 $36,265 $48,419
Total Net Assets $9,057,588 $9,988,305 $9,869,824

Short Term Solvency

Fiscal Year 2018 2017 2016
Current Ratio: Current Assets/Current Liabilities 12.81 205.37 137.33

Long Term Solvency

Fiscal Year 2018 2017 2016
Long-term Liabilities/Total Assets 0% 2% 1%
Endowment Value $633,040.00
Spending Policy N/A
Percentage(If selected) 4%
Are you currently in a Capital Campaign? Yes
Capital Campaign Purpose Complete the final restoration of 17 remaining cottages in Crystal Cove's Historic District and make them available to public for overnight stays at affordable prices.
Campaign Goal $38,000,000.00
Capital Campaign Dates Jan 2018 - Dec 2023
Capital Campaign Raised-to-Date Amount $21,900,000.00
Capital Campaign Anticipated in Next 5 Years? Yes

CEO Comments

Crystal Cove Conservancy has a for-profit subsidiary called Crystal Cove Management Company (d.b.a. Crystal Cove Beach Cottages). The financials that are attached are prepared as consolidated statements as required by the IRS. Crystal Cove Beach Cottages manages the overnight cottage rentals and maintenance and improvements in the Historic District.   

Foundation Comments

Summary financial data is per the form 990s and consultation with the organization. Foundation/corporate and individual contributions are combined under Foundation and Corporation Contributions. 


Other Documents

Historic District Map (2017)

Crystal Cove Education Programs (2019)

No Other Documents currently available.