Five Star & Urban Waters Restoration Program 2014 Request for Proposals

Applications must be submitted online by 11:59pm EST, Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014.


The Five Star/Urban Waters Restoration Program seeks to develop community capacity to sustain local natural resources for future generations by providing modest financial assistance to diverse local partnerships for wetland, forest, riparian and coastal habitat restoration, stormwater management, outreach and stewardship with a particular focus on water quality, watersheds and the habitats they support

The National Association of Counties, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF), and the Wildlife Habitat Council (WHC), in cooperation with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), USDA Forest Service (USFS), the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), Southern Company, FedEx and PG&E, are pleased to solicit applications for the 2014 Five Star/Urban Waters Restoration Program. In 2014, NFWF anticipates that approximately $1,800,000 in combined total Five Star/Urban Waters funding will be available.

Each funder in this Request for Proposals has specific requirements for projects supported by their program. NFWF will match up every application to all funding sources applicable to that project’s activities, location and project type.

Please read each section carefully to ensure that your project will fit with one or more possible sources of funding. All projects must include diverse community partners, have an environmental conservation and stewardship focus and articulate measurable outcomes.

NFWF may use a mix of public and private funding sources to support any grant made through this program. There is only one application through the NFWF Easygrants system. Applications can be accessed at


I. EPA Five Star Program

Funding Available:

Approximately $186,000 is available from EPA to fund projects meeting the Five Star program elements. These funds are available nationwide, in any size community. For more information, please visit EPA’s Five Star website.

Project Elements:

Competitive criteria for this funding include:

  • On-the-Ground Restoration:  Projects must include on-the-ground wetland, riparian, in-stream and/or coastal habitat restoration.

  • Environmental Outreach, Education & Training:  Projects should integrate meaningful education and training into the restoration project either through community outreach, participation and/or integration with K-12 environmental curriculum.

  • Measurable Results:  Projects must result in measurable ecological, educational and community benefits.

  • Partnerships: Projects should engage a diverse group of community partners (public and private entities) to achieve ecological and educational outcomes.


II. Southern Company Five Star Restoration Program

Funding Available:

Approximately $300,000 is available from Southern Company and its operating companies (Alabama Power, Georgia Power, Gulf Power, and Mississippi Power) to support conservation and restoration projects in the Southern Company service area.

Project Elements:

  • On-the-Ground Restoration: Projects must include on-the-ground wetland, riparian, in stream and/or coastal habitat restoration.

  • Outdoor Conservation Outreach: Projects should actively engage the community – particularly youth – by integrating into the restoration effort meaningful outdoor conservation education and training (e.g., through hands-on experiences and/or integration with K-12 environmental curriculum) to build awareness of the importance and promote stewardship of local water resources.

  • Measurable Results: Projects must provide measurable and meaningful ecological, educational and community benefits.

  • Partnerships: Projects should engage a diverse group of community partners (including public and private entities) to achieve ecological and outdoor conservation education outcomes.

Geographic Priorities:

  • Alabama (excluding Lauderdale, Colbert, Lawrence, Limestone, Madison, Marshall, Morgan, Jackson and DeKalb Counties)

  • Florida Panhandle (west of the Apalachicola River)

  • Georgia (excluding Union, Fannin and Towns Counties)

  • Mississippi (including the following counties, north to south: Leake, Neshoba, Kemper, Scott, Newton, Lauderdale, Smith, Jasper, Clarke, Jefferson Davis, Covington, Jones, Wayne, Marion, Lamar, Forrest, Perry, Greene, George, Stone, Pearl River, Hancock, Harrison, and Jackson.)

 Click here to view a map of the Southern Company Service Area.  


III. EPA and USFS Urban Waters Program:

Funding Available:

Approximately $600,000 is available from USFS and EPA, through the Urban Waters Federal Partnership, to improve urban water quality, increase public access and restore riparian habitat and urban forests in developed watersheds throughout the United States. More information on the Urban Waters Federal Partnership is available at 

Projects with an environmental justice focus or which benefit underserved and economically distressed communities in urban areas will have funding priority for Urban Waters federal funding.

Project Elements:

Urban Waters projects should engage a diverse group of community partners (public and private entities) to achieve ecological and educational outcomes. Projects funded by this source should address one or more of the project elements listed below.

  • Urban Forest Restoration:  Focus projects on improving water quality of urban watersheds through forest restoration, riparian restoration, and community tree canopy enhancements to benefit urban waterways and/or improve stormwater infiltration.

  • Education and Training:  Develop educational programs to provide training to schools, businesses, community groups and homeowners on how to implement tree plantings with purposeful design, rain gardens or designed riparian restorations or other programs to reduce water pollution and stormwater flow or to promote low-impact design (LID) and/or green infrastructure practices including sustainable forestry practices.

  • Stormwater management: Design projects intended to control rain water though green infrastructure tools such as tree canopy, permeable pavement, green street designs, bioswales, planter boxes and green roofs, to reduce stormwater flow, controlling flooding and slowing run-off into surface water.

  • Communities and Water Quality Data: Establish or advance a water quality monitoring program that serve to involve community members and/or address community issues and priorities. Eligible activities may include water quality surveys, investigations and/or monitoring efforts that involve the collection, assessment, analysis, and /or communication of existing or new water quality data. Collection of new water quality data should be done under an approved quality assurance project plan (QAPP), with a focus in areas where the urban water body is used for subsistence fishing, drinking water sources, or human contact. The data collected should identify areas of concern/poor water quality as well as target locations for water quality restoration.

  • Promote Access to Urban Waterways: Design community-based projects that promote access to urban waterways and enhance outdoor recreation opportunities.

In addition to the overall goal of partnerships, restoration and community outreach, Urban Waters projects should focus on the neighborhood benefits of watershed restoration such as public health, local economic development and jobs, livability and community revitalization.

EPA Urban Waters funds can be used to fund projects intended to protect and restore urban waterways through activities such as public outreach, convening stakeholders, education, training, studies, surveys and designs, demonstration projects, monitoring, and development of urban water project implementation plans.

USFS Urban Waters funds can be used to implement high impact projects to restore forest fragments in urban areas, as well as forestry projects to plant and maintain trees in neighborhoods, promote riparian buffers, filter stormwater, create schoolyard habitat and engage residents at significant sites used by the community such as schools, parks, and trailways. 

Geographic Priorities:

Funds are available nationwide for urban areas.


IV. FedEx EarthSmart Outreach:

Funding Available:

Approximately $400,000 is available from FedEx’s EarthSmart Outreach program to support urban conservation and restoration.

Project Elements:

FedEx Earthsmart Outreach funds projects that support environmental conservation, restoration and stewardship and incorporate community involvement and education. All proposals in these areas must propose a volunteer event for up to 50 local FedEx employees in the project narrative to be considered for funding under this funding source.

Geographic Priorities:

FedEx funds will support high quality projects in any of the following metropolitan areas: 


Los Angeles

San Francisco/Oakland




Dallas/Ft. Worth


Washington, DC




Colorado Springs


Harrison, AR




Portland, OR

Lakeland, FL

New Berlin, WI

Akron/Uniontown, OH




V. Fish Wildlife Service Urban Refuges Partnership Program

Funding Available:

Approximately $180,000 is available from the US Fish and Wildlife Service Urban Refuge Program to fund projects meeting the Urban Refuge program elements. For more information, please visit

Project Elements:

  • Partnerships: Projects proposals should include partner organizations (public and private) with the demonstrated ability or articulated strategy to work with specifically identified urban cultures and communities. Proposals will describe how the partnership with Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) staff can help achieve common goals of connecting people with nature.

  • Measurable Benefits:  Projects should result in measurable outcomes that document greater participation in fish and wildlife related activities among diverse urban audiences and a better understanding of how fish and wildlife conservation contributes to community well-being. 

  • Sustainability:  Projects should reflect a commitment to neighborhood and community strength, and long term capacity to remain engaged as a Service partner beyond the life of the grant.

  • Community Assets: Projects will articulate tangible ways the Service can become an asset to the urban community.  Examples of asset building would include, providing technical assistance in fish and wildlife issues, providing pathways for youth employment, or community education and recreational enjoyment.

Proposals should additionally demonstrate how the project will help meet at least one of the proposed Standards of Excellence for Urban Wildlife Refuges and Partnerships, see: .

Geographic Priorities:

  • Priority areas for consideration are urban areas where there are Fish and Wildlife Service lands or offices nearby (within approximately 25+/- miles).

  • Priority areas also include those locations where there are existing urban partnerships with Fish and Wildlife Service staff.   


VI. PG&E Nature Restoration Trust

Funding Available:

Approximately $90,000 is available from PG&E to support community-based habitat restoration and stewardship projects within PG&E’s service utility district.

Project Elements:

PG&E’s Nature Restoration Trust funds projects that empower community groups, provide benefits to underserved communities, and engage with organizations that provide hands-on experiences for youth in the outdoors. All grant recipients must be willing to host one media event in coordination with NFWF and PG&E which will increase awareness of the project, facilitate partner recognition, and may serve as volunteer opportunities for PG&E employees to engage in restoration and stewardship.

Geographic Priorities:

PG&E will support high quality projects in the following California counties:


San Luis Obispo



VII. Additional Funding

Additional funding may be available for urban areas listed above through other NFWF partnerships.  


Eligible Applicants

The Five Star/Urban Waters Restoration Program is open to any entity that can receive grants. While partnerships are encouraged to include state and federal agencies as partners, those entities may not serve as the grantee unless the community partners demonstrate that the state or federal agency is best suited to coordinate the community-based project.

Grant Size

Grants will be $20,000.00 to $50,000.00 and will vary in size, duration and scale. In general, most smaller-scale, one-year projects will be in the $20,000-$30,000* range. Two-year, larger-scale urban projects will be eligible for grants up to $50,000. Only a very limited number of projects meeting the highest competitive criteria will be awarded $50,000. We anticipate the average grant award will be $25,000-$35,000.

*Southern Company may fund projects starting at $15,000.

Matching Funds

A minimum 1:1 match of cash and/or in-kind/contributed goods and services to funds requested is expected.  The ratio of matching funds offered by the applicant is one criterion considered during the review process. All potential sources of match, including cash contributions and dollar equivalent value of in-kind goods and services (including volunteer services) must be listed on the application.

Matching funds for the requested grant amount may be federal or non-federal in nature. However, Federal funds may be used as match only for non-federal sources of cash and/or in-kind contributions. Check with NFWF to confirm applicability of your matching funds sources.


To be eligible, matching contributions must be raised and dedicated specifically for the project, and be voluntary in nature (mitigation, restitution, or other permit or court-ordered settlements are ineligible).


Grant funds may not be used for political advocacy, fundraising, lobbying, terrorist activities or litigation activities or to support projects resulting from legal requirements (e.g., permit conditions, mitigation or settlement agreements). 

Grant funds may be used to support projects that enhance or improve upon existing baseline compliance efforts. Proposal must clearly distinguish required and voluntary actions.

Grant Guidelines

  • Applicants must fully address the project elements discussed above for each applicable funder.
  • Grant requests must be for $20,000* – $50,000.
  • Projects should be completed within one to two years of award.
  • For USFS urban waters funding, preference is given to projects that take place on, or directly benefit, public lands.


All applications must include at least five organizations contributing to project success through funding, technical support, workforce support, land and/or other in-kind services. Note:  Applicant is considered a partner.

Partnerships should include a variety of public and private entities, such as:

  • Youth groups: schools, youth conservation corps, Scout troops, civic and environmental clubs

  • Colleges and Universities:  academia, departments, and local cooperative extension districts

  • Resource Conservation and Development Councils and Soil and Water Conservation Districts

  • Conservation Organizations

  • Watershed Organization

  • Businesses or Corporations

  • Local citizens and community groups

  • Government agencies: State, local, federal and/or tribal governments and agencies

  • Technical and design experts:  local environmental and restoration consultants, landscape architects, environmental planners, and others that offer technical and design expertise

  • Foundations or other individual funders

Proposals requesting more than $30,000 are expected to demonstrate greater matching contributions, a larger number and diversity of project partners, more significant ecological and educational outcomes and should occur in an urban area.

Indirect Costs

Grant funds may not be used to cover indirect costs unless they meet both of the following conditions:

  1. The grantee organization has a federally-approved indirect rate; and

  2. Indirect cost requests in budget should not exceed 15% of the total grant request (even when the federally-approved rate is greater than 15%).

Note:  Projects with a budget primarily consisting of indirect costs and salaries and projects with matching funds primarily consisting of foregone indirect costs will not be as competitive.

Organizations or project sites that previously have received funding under this program are eligible to reapply; however, preference may be given to those that previously have not received support.


Highest priority will be given to projects that:

  • Connect project activities directly to watershed health by demonstrating measurable benefits to streams, rivers, coasts, wetlands and overall watershed health.

  • Provide measurable and meaningful conservation and educational outcomes.

  • Demonstrate how the effort is helping to meet ecological needs of priority species and habitats.

  • Establish or enhance a diverse partnership from the public and private sectors, and explain the role and significance of the partnership to the project’s overall success.

  • Implement or complement an established conservation or watershed management plan and verifiably demonstrate that the agency that developed the plan is a partner in, or supportive, of the project.

  • Support improvements to water quality, especially for bodies of water suited for subsistence fishing, primary body contact or drinking water.

  • Identify and expand job training and job readiness to develop community capacity for restoration.

  • Target environmental justice communities or other underserved communities and describe the characteristics of the population/project area that identifies it as an “underserved community.” Use supporting information (such as information on low-income status from objective data sources like census data or school data, fish consumption concerns, difficulties accessing waterways, recreational opportunities, failing infrastructure and difficulties accessing resources).

  • Specifically describe how education and outreach will shape and sustain behavior change of specific audience(s) to achieve water quality and/or conservation goals and how you will evaluate the impact of your efforts. 

  • Describe how lessons learned will be applied by you and your partners to broadly share with others. Proposed activities should be highly collaborative and address strategic conservation goals.

  • Present a reasonable and detailed budget (including appropriate hourly rates for the type of activities proposed).  Document how matching contributions (dollars and/or in-kind) are supplied by a broad range of public and private sources and meet or exceed the minimum 1:1 matching requirement.


The Five Star/Urban Waters Online Application will be live and accessible in Easygrants on November 5th at All applications must be submitted online through Easygrants.

If you are a new user to Easygrants, you first will need to register by clicking on “Register here” and enter your organization’s information.  Once registered, select “Five Star & Urban Waters Restoration Grant Program 2014” from the list of programs and follow the instructions. There is only one application for all funding sources in this program.

If you already are registered in Easygrants, login using your e-mail address and password and then select “Start a New Application.”

After you have started the application process, you may save your application in progress and return another time to complete and submit it.


Applications must be submitted online in Easygrants by 11:59 pm EST, Wednesday, February 5, 2014.


Thursday, December 5, 2013 (2-3:30 pm EST)   

Wednesday, February 5, 2014 (11:59 pm EST) 

  • Proposals due via Easygrants

July 2014                                                

  • Anticipated Award Announcement


There will be a webinar for applicants on Thursday, December 5th, 2:00-3:30 p.m. EST. The webinar will review the RFP and provide an overview of the program and answer questions. A recording of the webinar will be posted online for those who cannot make this date.


For other questions not addressed in the RFP, FAQ or webinar, please contact the following individuals at the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation:

Carrie Clingan (Northeast, Mid-Atlantic States)                              

 (202) 595-2471                                                      

Lindsay Vacek (Southeastern States)

 (202) 595-2433

Claire Thorp (Mid-West and Western States)

 (415) 243-3104