2016 Coral Reef Conservation Fund Request for Proposals

Applicant Overview webinar: February 2, 2016 at 2:00 PM Eastern Time [Register here]

Pre-Proposal Due Date: March 8, 2016 by 11:59 PM Eastern Time

Full Proposal Due Date (by invitation only): May 16, 2016 by 11:59 PM Eastern Time


The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) will award grants to address negative impacts to coral reefs and improve coral reef management effectiveness. Grants will be awarded to reduce land-based sources of pollution, advance coral reef fisheries management, support recovery of Endangered Species Act-listed coral species and improve watershed management planning.

The Coral Reef Conservation Fund is a partnership with the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Coral Reef Conservation Program (CRCP) and works to assist the agency in implementing the CRCP Goals & Objectives for 2010-2015 (still in effect) for domestic coral reefs and the CRCP International Strategy for international coral reefs; both documents can be found here. The Coral Reef Conservation Fund expects to have approximately $500,000 available for funding.


Domestic U.S. Jurisdictions: Tropical coral reefs in Florida, U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI), Puerto Rico, Hawaii, American Samoa, Guam, and Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI). Of particular interest are watersheds and associated coral reefs that have been designated as priorities by the U.S. Coral Reef Task Force (noted with a single asterisk) and NOAA’s Habitat Focus Areas (noted with double asterisk).

Jurisdiction Watershed ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ Jurisdiction Watershed
Puerto Rico ​ ​ Guanica* Hawaii Ka'anapali-Kahekili, Maui* (Honokowai & Wahikuli watersheds)
Culebra and Northeast Reserves** Pelekane Bay/ Puako-Anaeho-omalu Bay, Hawaii** (South Kohala watershed)
Cabo Rojo American Samoa Faga’alu*
Florida Boynton Inlet Vatia
USVI​ ​ Coral Bay, St John
Fish Bay, St John Piti-Asan
East End Marine Park Watersheds, St. Croix CNMI Laolao Bay, Saipan
East End Reserve, St. Thomas Talakhaya, Rota
Garapan, Saipan

International: Priority will be given to activities in Micronesia, Samoa and the Southwest Pacific, the Coral Triangle region, and the Wider Caribbean; however, all international tropical coral reef locations are eligible. Click for a map.


The most competitive applications under this funding opportunity will directly implement projects in the following priority proposal categories. Projects outside of these proposal categories or that indirectly influence these topics are still eligible for funding provided they strongly support the specific goals and objectives of NOAA’s Coral Reef Conservation Program (CRCP) and NFWF as outlined via the Internet links within each focus area.

Projects that incorporate social science elements should use the SocMon methodology in order to fulfill goals.  More information and copies of appropriate regional SocMon Guidelines can be found here.

Pelagic fisheries management is not a priority for funding.

Projects in Domestic U.S. Coral Reef Jurisdictions

1. Reduce land-based pollution inputs to coral reefs in domestic priority watersheds

Projects under this category will focus on implementing high priority actions identified in watershed management plans for priority watersheds that will directly reduce inputs of sediments and/or nutrients, such as nitrogen and phosphorus to coral reefs. Links to these watershed management plans can be found in the table in the Geographic Focus section. Projects should incorporate specific performance metrics to track the effectiveness of project activities in reducing the identified threat to nearshore coral reef ecosystems and estimate the percentage reduction of the threat that will be addressed by the project. Areas of interest include, but are not limited to:

  • Activities that engage local private industry, community groups, and individuals in stewardship of the watershed such as streambank stabilization, rain garden construction, promoting the use of native planting materials, installing BMPs for reducing sediment flow to reefs, and water conservation or grey water re-use efforts to reduce polluted runoff.

2. Improve sustainable coral fisheries management

Projects under this category will improve the sustainable management of key reef fish stocks (e.g., herbivores, apex predators) through improved fishery management capacity, compliance with coral reef fisheries regulations, and/or innovative technologies. Areas of interest include but are not limited to:

  • Collection of essential life history (e.g., age and growth, reproductive characteristics, mortality rates) and ecological information (e.g., trophic interactions, habitat requirements) for key coral reef fish taxa that may be incorporated into fisheries models and/or other reef fish management efforts at state and territorial resource management agencies and/or Federal Regional Fishery Management Council levels;
  • Efforts to better understand the relationship between herbivorous fish biomass and coral reef condition;
  • Efforts to assess community compliance with and acceptance of MPAs or other fishery management approaches;
  • Efforts to increase public awareness and understanding of MPA and fisheries regulations, development and support of ‘community watch’ programs, or measurement of fishing effort for coral reef dependent species; or
  • Efforts to support the implementation of community based fisheries co-management, such as the Community Based Fisheries Subsistence Area rules in Hawaii.

3. Support recovery of Endangered Species Act-listed coral species

Projects under this category will support the recovery of 22 coral species listed as threatened under the US Endangered Species Act (ESA), of which fifteen species occur in U.S. waters of the Indo-Pacific and seven in U.S. waters of the Caribbean. An overview of geographic locations of these species can be found here. More technical information about the 22 ESA listed corals can be found here. Project activities may include but are not limited to:

  • Filling critical information gaps about ESA-listed coral species locations, habitats, depth ranges, and field identification methods for 15 newly listed coral species in the U.S. Indo-Pacific. Priority will be given to activities focusing on domestic priority watershed jurisdictions in Guam, CNMI, and American Samoa listed here; or
  • Building resilience for these species in the face of global ocean changes.

4. Enhance watershed management planning for priority coral reefs and associated watersheds

Projects submitted for funding under this category should focus on establishing robust watershed management plans that foster the ability to measure and evaluate successful investment in priority watersheds.  Specifically, funding will be provided to expand current planning efforts to focus on elements 2-4 and 8-9 of the EPA watershed management planning handbook.   Project activities may include but are not limited to:

  • Establishing measurable goals and threat reduction targets for threats identified in the plan;
  • Identifying key questions for evaluating the success of implementation projects and developing a monitoring strategy that will answer these questions throughout the life of the watershed management plan; or
  • Establishing specific baseline information needed to establish or measure progress towards established goals or threat reduction targets. Direct monitoring activities are not a priority for this competition.

Projects should build on priorities that have already been identified in the watershed management planning process and bolster strategic planning for investment and evaluation. Projects submitted under this category should involve working with local organizations that are developing the watershed management plans in these priority watersheds. A list of eligible watersheds without management plans that meet EPA criteria include:

Jurisdiction Watershed ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ Jurisdiction Watershed
Puerto Rico Guanica American Samoa Vatia
Florida Boynton Inlet Guam Manell-Geus
USVI Coral Bay, St John Piti-Asan
Fish Bay, St John CNMI ​ ​ Laolao Bay, Saipan
Hawaii Pelekane Bay/ Puako-Anaeho-omalu Bay, Hawaii (South Kohala watershed) Talakhaya, Rota
Garapan, Saipan


Projects in International Coral Reef Systems

1. Apply lessons from coral reef management training programs through implementation of small-scale pilot projects

Applicants seeking funding under this category should focus on implementing and institutionalizing the skills, methods and practices that participants gained as a result of their attendance in capacity-building programs sponsored by NOAA and/or its partners in Micronesia, the Coral Triangle, Samoa and the SW Pacific, and the Caribbean on the following topics within the last five years. Priority training themes include but are not limited to:

  • Reef Resilience, Climate Variability and Climate Adaptation;
  • MPA Enforcement and Compliance;
  • Ecosystem Approaches to Fisheries Management (EAFM), including efforts to combat illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing; or
  • Socioeconomic Monitoring/SEM-Pasifika

Applicants seeking funding under this category must have attended, instructed or helped organize one of the trainings. Proposed activities must take place at international sites. Proposal narratives must identify the name, date and location of the training, the person from the organization (or partner organization if operating as the fiscal agent) who attended, and the elements of the training that will be implemented or tested through the project. 

2. Increase management capacity in priority international regions
Applicants seeking funding under this category should address specific capacity gaps that have been identified as part of a regional planning process and prioritized for action. Guidance for high priority topics can be found in geographic-specific resources outlined below:

  • In the Caribbean, projects submitted for funding under this category must address a specific and discrete ‘gap’ in management capacity at one or more of the 27 MPA locations that participated in the “Management Capacity Assessment of Selected Coral Reef Marine Protected Areas in the Caribbean”.  See the listing of eligible MPA locations here.  Applicants under this proposal category must work with the MPA’s managing authority to address the specific management capacity gaps identified in the assessment and indicate the extent to which the capacity gap would be mitigated if the proposal was funded. 
  • In Micronesia, projects submitted for funding in this category must address a specific management capacity gap identified in the following sections of the PIMPAC strategic plan: Adaptive Management; Socio-Economic Monitoring; and Behavior Change.
  • In the Coral Triangle region, projects must support the regional priority actions and activities of the CTI-CFF Regional Plan of Action. Particular emphasis will be on projects that address locally managed marine areas and ecosystem approach to fisheries management (EAFM).


Eligible and Ineligible Entities

  • Eligible applicants include all persons, organizations, and non-U.S. Federal agencies, including parties within and outside of the United States.
  • Ineligible applicants include U.S. Federal agencies.

NOAA CRCP staff are available and encouraged to provide general information on programmatic goals and objectives, ongoing coral reef conservation programs/activities, and regional funding priorities; however, NOAA employees are not permitted to assist in the preparation of applications or write letters of support for any application. If NOAA employees will collaborate with a project, they may provide a statement verifying that they are collaborating with the project applicant, confirming the degree and nature of the collaboration, and acknowledging the utility of the proposed work. NOAA employee activities, including travel and salaries, are not allowable costs.

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.


 The Coral Conservation Fund offers one grant cycle per year and available funding is expected to be approximately $500,000. Average grant awards will range from $30,000 - $75,000.  Projects should be 12-24 months in duration. Matching funds from non- U.S. Federal sources are required at a 1:1 ratio for all proposed projects.


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.

Goals and Priorities  Project contributes to the Program’s overall habitat and species conservation goals as outlined in the referenced documents, and has specific, quantifiable performance metrics to evaluate project success. Project addresses one or more of the program priorities outlined in the Request for Proposal.

Technical Merit– Project is technically sound and feasible, and the proposal sets forth a clear, logical and achievable work plan and timeline. Project engages appropriate technical experts throughout project planning, design and implementation to ensure activities are technically-sound and feasible.

Partnership An appropriate partnership exists to implement the project and allow for uptake by the appropriate management authority if applicable.  The project is supported by a strong local partnership that leverages additional funds and will sustain it after the life of the grant.

Additional Criteria Used in Evaluation of the Full Proposal:

Monitoring – Project includes a plan for monitoring progress toward the biological and socioeconomic goals stated in the proposal (i.e. change in habitat/species population number, % behavior change, lbs. sediment reduced, % of predation).  Monitoring should occur before, during and after the proposed project activities to track project success and adaptively address new challenges and opportunities as they arise.

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).

Local Impact and Broader Transferability – Project advances an existing conservation plan or strategy with clear steps for uptake and integration by local management authority (if applicable) and/or has potential and plan to transfer lessons learned to other communities.  Preference will be given to applicants that can demonstrate how their data will contribute to the broader conservation community through regional/global/species databases if applicable.

Long-term Sustainability – Project will be maintained to ensure benefits are achieved and sustained over time. This should include how future funding will be secured to implement necessary long-term monitoring and maintenance activities and how this project fits into longer-term investment strategies if applicable.

Communication– Project includes a detailed and targeted communication plan to specific audiences and cites the appropriate qualifications/expertise in the project implementation team.


General: Applicants will be required to indicate the status of all permits required to comply with federal, state or local requirements.

Federal Funding Requirements: Projects selected to receive Federal funding may be subject to requirements under the National Environmental Policy Act, Endangered Species Act, and National Historic Preservation Act.  Documentation of compliance with these regulations must be approved 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.  Federally-funded projects must operate in compliance with the OMB Uniform Guidance as applicable to the applicant.

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. 


Dates of activities are subject to change. Please check the Program page of the NFWF website for the most current dates and information (Coral Reef Program).

Applicant Webinar ​February 2, 2016 at 2:00 PM Eastern Time
Pre-Proposal Due Date ​March 8, 2016 by 11:59 PM Eastern Time
Invitations for Full Proposals Sent ​Week of April 12, 2016
​Full Proposal Due Date ​May 16, 2016 by 11:59 PM Eastern Time
Awards Announced ​November 2016


All application materials must be submitted online through National Fish and Wildlife

Foundation’s Easygrants system.

1.  Go to www.nfwf.org/easygrants 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 as application has been started, it may be saved and returned to at a later time for completion and submission.


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 (http://www.nfwf.org/whatwedo/grants/applicants/Pages/home.aspx).

For more information or questions about this RFP, please contact:

Jennie Dean, jennie.dean@nfwf.org

Michelle Pico, michelle.pico@nfwf.org 

For issues or assistance with our online Easygrants system, please contact:

Easygrants Helpdesk
Email: Easygrants@nfwf.org
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.