2017 Bats for the Future Fund Request for Proposals

 Proposal Due Date:  Thursday, May 18, 2017 by 11:59 PM Eastern Time

OVERVIEW

The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF), in partnership with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and the U.S. Forest Service (USFS), is soliciting proposals to test or deploy White-Nose Syndrome (WNS) treatments and management tools that lead to solutions to combat WNS and the fungal pathogen Pseudogymnoascus destructans (Pd), as the causal agent.  The program seeks to promote the survival of bats in North America. 
 
The Bats for the Future Fund (BFF) will award up to approximately $1 million in grants.  The USFWS, which leads the national response for combatting WNS, is providing seed funding for the BFF.  Additional important funding is provided by the USFS and Shell Oil Company.  The grant program will also annually match federal funds with other sources of public and private dollars to fight the epizootic disease that is devastating bat populations across the continent. 
 
The goals of the BFF are to:
  • Prevent (or slow) the spread of WNS in North America
  • Promote survival and recovery of (WNS-affected) bats through effective management solutions (treatment and management tools).
The objectives of the BFF are to:
  • Advance management tools and treatments that minimize WNS-induced declines in bat populations by funding actions to identify, test, and deploy solutions that provide the greatest potential to improve survival and recovery of affected populations, or prevent exposure of bats to Pd.
  • Fund innovative research leading to management solutions for WNS that will perpetuate long-term, stable, and viable populations of bats. 

EPIDEMIOLOGICAL FOCUS

BFF grants will be awarded preferentially for projects that focus on treating or managing WNS at the leading edge of its march across North America, but does not preclude work in other areas that advance BFF goals and objectives as stated in this RFP.   
 
Applicants should review Defeating White-Nose Syndrome: A Vision for the Future (2015) from the interagency White-nose Syndrome Steering Committee that outlines a strategic vision to defeat the disease and describes a regional strategy with disease management options varying by geographic location.

PROGRAM PRIORITIES

The BFF will support research that develops or advances, tests, and deploys one or more tools or other activities that address the stated priorities below.  Proposals that focus on treating or managing the host, pathogen, and/or environment to reduce spread and impacts of WNS will be considered.  The topics that follow each category listed below do not represent a comprehensive list of what may be funded, rather they are examples of the types of activities for which we see a need.  Safety and feasibility at individual through ecosystem scales will be evaluated for all proposed actions.  All applications must describe the benefits and risks of the proposed management solutions, including non-target effects to organisms and the environment.
 
Category 1: WNS Treatment and Management Strategy Grants will support management tools and treatments that provide the greatest potential to improve survival and recovery of affected populations or prevent or limit the exposure of bat populations to the disease.
  • Biological or chemical controls, which include, but are not limited to antimicrobial or antifungal agents, antagonistic pathogens (mycoviruses, partitiviruses), probiotics, bacteria or fungi that are capable of reducing, inhibiting or preventing the growth and/or establishment of Pd.  Please note that management tools that are in preliminary stages of development are likely to be a better fit for Category 2 below.  
  • Vaccines or other immune-modulating techniques to reduce host susceptibility to WNS.
  • Genetic/genomic manipulations, or other molecular technologies, that reduce Pd’s ability to proliferate, survive, spread, and/or infect bats.
  • Development of scalable delivery systems and implementation, and/or advancement of registration of management solutions to reduce impacts of WNS on bat populations.
  • Habitat modification or amelioration strategies with likelihood to improve survival of WNS-affected bats.
  • Testing field efficacy and feasibility across varying environmental and biological settings or using treatment agents and/or management strategies in combination or under varying conditions.
  • Evaluation of non-target or collateral effects, or environmental impact of effective management solutions on hibernacula-associated organisms.
Category 2: WNS Innovation Grants will support the development of treatments and tools with the potential to produce management solutions for WNS that will perpetuate long-term, stable, and viable populations of bats or prevent spread of the disease.  Innovative projects should present novel ideas to improve survival of WNS-affected bats or promote recovery of affected populations.  Proposals submitted to Category 2 may be exploratory in nature in order to produce critical information about the potential efficacy and application of these tools.  Competitive proposals will aim to develop management solutions for WNS with revolutionary tools and techniques to minimize short and long-term impacts of the disease. Proposed innovations may be focused on host, pathogens, and/or environment.  Please note that management solutions that are already in advanced stages of development are likely to be a better fit for Category 1 above.  
 
Innovative proposals to develop treatment options that reach affected bats in different ways than those previously described will be considered.  Examples include, but are not limited to: tools that are effective with minimal or no access to hibernating bats; treatments, or habitat manipulations that are delivered in seasons other than winter; and/or strategies that have long-term or permanent effects on virulence of Pd. Proposed treatments may involve ecological, molecular, synthetic, mechanical, and other strategies that reduce the impacts of WNS on bats and/or demonstrate new disinfection products or procedures to minimize reservoirs of Pd in hibernacula. Proposals to develop proof of concept for such treatment and management strategies within a year will be considered, and can be part of a staged study design.  Laboratory studies to test safety, efficacy, and feasibility of innovative solutions for managing or preventing spread of WNS are also eligible.

PROJECT METRICS 

To better gauge progress on individual grants and to ensure greater consistency of project data provided by multiple grants, the BFF has a list of metrics in the Easygrants online application for applicants to choose from for reporting if successfully awarded funding. We ask that applicants select only the most relevant metrics from this list for their project (all possible program metrics are shown in the table below).  If you do not believe an applicable metric has been provided below, please include it in your proposal narrative.

 
Project Activity
Project Metric
Additional Guidance
Volunteer participation
BFF – Volunteer participation - # volunteers participating
Enter the number of  volunteers participating in projects
BMP development
BFF – BMP development -
# BMP recommendations developed
Enter the number of BMP recommendations developed
BMP development
BFF – BMP development -
# mgmt plans with BMPs
Enter the number of management plans into which BMPs were incorporated
Management or governance planning
BFF – Management or governance planning - # plans developed
Enter the number of plans developed that had input from multiple stakeholders
Tool development for decision-making
BFF - Tool development for decision-making - # tools developed
Enter the number of management tools developed or tested, and state if the tools are at a habitat or landscape level
Monitoring
BFF - Monitoring -
# streams/sites being monitored
Enter the number of bat sites being monitored related to hibernacula, maternity colonies, captive colonies, treatment efficacy, or collateral effects, etc
Research
BFF - Research - # research studies completed
Enter the number of research studies completed
Research
BFF - Research - # studies used to inform mgmt
Enter the number of studies completed whose findings lead to direct management recommendations. In the notes section discuss publication goals
Population
BFF - Population - # sites occupied by species
Identify the number of sites occupied by infected and treated (recovering) populations of bats
Survivorship
BFF - Survivorship - Mortality rate
Describe the % decrease in mortality rate demonstrated by your study. Please indicate the baseline (project start) and scale (per site).
Disease control 
BFF - Disease control  -
# individuals protected
Enter the number of individuals protected from disease – including individuals and species that received a treatment directly and the overall population effect (if applicable). In the notes section, break out the number of individuals by species being affected/treated. Consider measurement of disease incidence and prevalence to determine success of disease control studies.
Disease control 
BFF - Disease control  -
# sites protected
In the notes section, elaborate on the number of sites treated relative to overall population effect.
 

ELIGIBILITY

Eligible and Ineligible Entities
  • Eligible applicants include non-profit organizations, federal government agencies, state government agencies, local governments, municipal governments, tribal entities, research and educational institutions, and for-profit entities.
  • Ineligible applicants include unincorporated individuals.
Ineligible Uses of Grant Funds
  • NFWF funds and matching contributions may not be used to support political advocacy, fundraising, lobbying, litigation, terrorist activities or Foreign Corrupt Practices Act violations.
  • NFWF funds may not be used to support ongoing efforts to comply with legal requirements, including permit conditions, mitigation and settlement agreements. However, grant funds may be used to support projects that enhance or improve upon existing baseline compliance efforts.
  • Proposals requesting funds below the minimum, and above the maximum allowable award amount. 
  • Outreach and education programs. 

FUNDING AVAILABILITY AND MATCH

Up to $1 million is expected to be available for projects in 2017. The BFF Fund has two categories of grants.  Grants will range from $50,000 to $500,000.
 
Match: Matching funds are not required, but are highly valued to increase effectiveness of BFF treatment investments.  For this reason, applicants are strongly encouraged to provide match valued at 100% of the total BFF grant request. For example, if you are asking BFF for $100,000, a 100% match is $100,000. Preference will be given to proposals which have matching contributions valued at 50% or greater of the total grant amount requested from the BFF Fund.
 
Matching contributions may include federal and nonfederal cash, in-kind contributions of staff and volunteer time, work performed, materials and services donated, or other tangible contributions to the project objectives and outcomes. Eligible indirect costs (that would not be paid with requested grant funding) may be applied as match.  Please review the NFWF Indirect Cost Policy for Applicants for specific information about using indirect costs as match.
 
Grant Period:  The start date for Category 1 and 2 projects can be back-dated to May 19, 2017 in order to seek reimbursement for costs already incurred or to capture matching contributions. Category 1 projects must start within six months and be completed within three years after notification of grant award.  Category 2 projects must start within six months and be completed within two years after notification of grant award.  Notification of award is projected to be September 2017.

EVALUATION CRITERIA

All proposals will be screened for relevance, accuracy, completeness and compliance with NFWF and funding source policies. Proposals will then be evaluated based on the extent to which they meet the following criteria:
 
Project Goals, Priorities and Objectives – Project contributes to the goals and objectives defined by the BFF including treatment, disease control and prevention, management, and bat conservation; and has specific, performance metrics to evaluate project success. Project addresses one or more of the priority categories outlined in the BFF Request for Proposal.  Category 2 WNS Innovation Grant proposals will also be evaluated based upon Potential Impact – project has the potential to result in a treatment or other management approach to provide a tool with a mechanisms or application that is not currently under investigation.
Technical Merit – Project is technically sound and feasible and the proposal sets forth a clear, logical and achievable work plan and timeline to achieve performance metrics.
Complementarity – Project builds on previous research efforts to positively affect treatment or management strategies and conservation of bats and management of WNS. 
 
Budget – Costs are allowable, reasonable and budgeted in accordance with NFWF’s Budget Instructions cost categories.  Federally-funded projects must be in compliance with OMB Uniform Guidance as applicable (OMB Uniform Guidance).
 
Qualifications The applicant, organization, and partner experience is relevant to delivery of the project, and/or entity has a proven track record of success in implementing conservation projects with specific measurable results.

Transferability – Project has potential and a plan to transfer project results to real-world bat conservation and/or to be scaled-up (including providing cost estimates associated with scaling up) and integrated into government programs and policies.
 
Communication – Project includes a plan to communicate information about the project to appropriate audiences including, but not limited to peer reviewed and professional publications and meetings.
 
Match Matching contributions will be evaluated by comparing total funding request and the dollar value (in-kind or cash) of the funds being provided by the applicant.  Matching funds will be rated as follows:
Funding Match
Ranking Score
>75%
Excellent
51% to 75%
Good
0 to 50%
Satisfactory
 

OTHER

Procurement – If the applicant chooses to specifically identify proposed Contractor(s) for Services, an award by NFWF to the applicant does not necessarily constitute NFWF’s express written authorization for the applicant to procure such specific services noncompetitively.  When procuring goods and services, NFWF recipients must follow documented procurement procedures which reflect applicable laws and regulations. 
 
Publicity and Acknowledgement of Support – Award recipients will be required to grant NFWF the right and authority to publicize the project and NFWF’s financial support for the grant in press releases, publications and other public communications.  Recipients may also be asked by NFWF to provide high-resolution (minimum 300 dpi) photographs depicting the project.
 
Receiving Award Funds – Award payments are primarily reimbursable.  Projects may request funds for reimbursement at any time after completing a signed agreement with NFWF.  A request of an advance of funds must be due to an imminent need of expenditure and must detail how the funds will be used and provide justification and a timeline for expected disbursement of these funds.
 
Regulatory Compliance Requirements Projects selected for an award will likely include test materials that are subject to regulation by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act, pesticides), U.S. Health and Human Services, U.S. Food and Drug Administration (Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, drugs) or the U.S. Department of Agriculture Center for Veterinary Biologics (Virus, Serum and Toxin Act, vaccines).  Proposals must demonstrate that the Principal Investigator understands the regulation of their test material and a present a plan for meeting regulatory requirements.  Assistance determining regulatory authority can be found in the draft publication A Decision Support Tool for Determining Federal Regulatory Authority over Products for Vertebrate Animals.
 
In addition, proposals must demonstrate a knowledge of and a plan for complying with the following Federal Acts: National Environmental Policy Act, Endangered Species Act (state and federal), and the National Historic Preservation Act.  All regulatory requirements must be met prior to initiating activities that disturb or alter habitat or other features of the project site(s).  Applicants should budget time and resources to obtain the needed approvals.  As may be applicable, successful applicants may be required to comply with additional Federal, state or local requirements and obtain all necessary permits and clearances.  Applicants will also be asked to document permission from relevant landowners to conduct the proposed project.
                                                            
Permits – Successful applicants will be required to provide sufficient documentation that the project expects to receive or has received all necessary permits and clearances to comply with any Federal, state or local requirements.  In some cases, if a permit pre-application meeting has not been completed, NFWF may require successful applicants to complete such a meeting prior to grant award.   Applicants will be required to provide specific information about study sites, species used, sample sizes, and other criteria needed to comply with regulations. NFWF encourages applicants to contact relevant authority(ies) in advance of completing a proposal to ensure the support of proposed work.
 
Animal Care - Principal Investigators will be expected to maintain compliance with the Animal Welfare Act with satisfactory review and approval of animal activities in research protocols by an established Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee.
 
Federal Funding – Federally-funded projects must operate in compliance with the OMB Uniform Guidance as applicable to the applicant.  The availability of federal funds estimated in this solicitation is contingent upon the federal appropriations process. Funding decisions will be made based on level of funding and timing of when it is received by NFWF.

TIMELINE

Dates of activities are subject to change.  Please check the Program page of the NFWF website for the most current dates and information: Bats for the Future Fund.
  • Applicant Webinar                             Wed, April 26, 2017,  1pm – 2:30pm Eastern
  • Full Proposal Due Date                       May 18, 2017, 11:59pm Eastern
  • Review Period                                      May - July 2017
  • Awards Announced                             September 2017

HOW TO APPLY

All application materials must be submitted online through NFWF’s Easygrants system.
  1. Go to easygrants.nfwf.org to register in our Easygrants online system.  New users to the system will be prompted to register before starting the application (if you already are a registered user, use your existing login).  Enter your applicant information. 
  2. Once on your homepage, click the “Apply for Funding” button and select this RFP’s “Funding Opportunity” from the list of options.
  3. Follow the instructions in Easygrants to complete your application.  Once an application has been started, it may be saved and returned to at a later time for completion and submission.

APPLICATION ASSISTANCE

A PDF version of this RFP can be downloaded here.
                                                                                                                 
A Tip Sheet is available for quick reference while you are working through your application. This document can be downloaded here.  Additional information to support the application process can be accessed on the NFWF website’s “Applicant Information” page.
 
For more information or questions about this RFP, please contact:
Candace Leong, Program Coordinator
202-595-2413
 
For issues or assistance with our online Easygrants system, please contact:
Easyg
rants Helpdesk
Voicemail:  202-595-2497
Hours:  9:00 am to 5:00 pm ET, Monday–Friday.
Include:  your name, proposal ID #, e-mail address, phone number, program you are applying to and a description of the issue.