Five Star & Urban Waters Restoration Program 2015 Request for Proposals

Full Proposal Due Date: Tuesday, February 3, 2015 by 11:59 PM Eastern Time


The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF), the National Association of Counties, 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), FedEx, Southern Company, Bank of America and PG&E are pleased to solicit applications for the 2015 Five Star/Urban Waters Restoration Program. NFWF anticipates that approximately $2,100,000 in combined total funding will be available for this round of grants.

The Five Star & Urban Waters Restoration Grant 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, riparian, forest and coastal habitat restoration, urban wildlife conservation, stormwater management as well as outreach, education and stewardship. Projects should focus on water quality, watersheds and the habitats they support. NFWF may use a mix of public and private funding sources to support any grant made through this program.

NFWF is pleased to partner with the Corporation for National and Community Service to offer support from AmeriCorps VISTA to achieve project outcomes that enhance anti-poverty efforts. If you are interested in this partnership, please see the Addendum to this document.


 Competitive proposals should address each of the five bolded priorities:
  • On-the-Ground Restoration and Planning
    • Projects that restore and/or create wetlands, coastal or riparian areas that address key species and habitats and connect directly to established watershed and conservation plans 
    • Projects that improve water quality of urban watersheds through riparian restoration, forest restoration and community tree canopy enhancements
    • Projects that design and implement green infrastructure to manage stormwater or address water scarcity including best management practices like increasing tree canopy, bio swales, permeable pavers, bio retention, green roofs, downspout disconnection, installation of native vegetation and other proven practices for water quality, habitats and species
    • Projects that create schoolyard habitat and engage residents in restoration at significant sites used by the community such as schools, parks, birding trails and other public areas
    • Projects that collect and analyze local waterway samples that could be used to determine the effectiveness of current restoration and green infrastructure efforts and to effectively target future planning and decision making
    • Projects that implement strategies to prevent and reduce the amount of trash entering rivers and other aquatic ecosystems
  • Partnerships
    • Projects must involve five or more partners (public and private entities) including the applicant
    • Projects that directly engage a diverse group of community partners to achieve ecological and specific educational outcomes including partnerships among upstream and downstream communities
    • Projects that demonstrate a link to - and advance existing- local planning and development for resilient communities and/or propose to foster new collaborations to coordinate a diverse stakeholder partnership that develops new plans
    • Priority consideration will be given to projects with a demonstrated ability or articulated strategy to work with specifically identified underserved and/or economically distressed communities.
  •  Environmental Outreach, Education & Training
    • Projects must integrate meaningful outreach, education and training into the proposed on-the-ground activities that advance local watershed and conservation goals.
    • Projects that establish or advance a citizen science or water quality monitoring program that involves community members and/or addresses community issues and priorities. Eligible activities include water quality and/or habitat surveys, bird surveys, monitoring efforts that involve the collection, assessment, analysis and using communication of water quality data (existing or new) to identify areas of concern 
    • Projects that provide job training, placement and performance evaluation for green infrastructure installation, operation and maintenance
    • Projects that design or develop strategies to prevent trash entering rivers and other aquatic ecosystems
  •  Measurable Results
    • Projects must result in specific, measurable ecological, educational and community benefits
    • Projects which identify measurable activities and metrics which clearly link to watershed and community outcomes  
    • Projects that document a high level of community engagement to support support fish and wildlife habitat, urban forestry and water quality-related activities across diverse audiences which improve understanding of how fish and wildlife conservation, clean water and healthy forests contribute to community well-being
  • Sustainability 
    • Projects must include a plan for maintenance and care of the project beyond the grant period.
    • Projects that reflect a commitment to community strength and long term capacity to remain engaged as partners
    • Projects that directly connect outcomes to community benefits of watershed restoration such as clean water, public health benefits, local economic development and jobs
    • Projects that connect stormwater management in urban communities in order to advance local climate resiliency efforts, including improved water quality outcomes and/or revitalized local economies


Geographic focus depends on funding available from the funding partners. Grants for this program are available nationwide, but additional funding is available for the geographic priorities listed in the Funding Availability section of this RFP.


  •  Eligible and Ineligible Entities
    • Eligible applicants include non-profit 501(c) organizations,  state government agencies, local governments, municipal governments, Indian tribes and educational institutions
    • Ineligible applicants include: unincorporated individuals, businesses, international organizations and U.S. Federal government agencies
  • 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.


Approximately $2,100,000 is available nationwide for projects meeting program priorities. There is one round of full proposals annually for this program. Awards range from $20,000* to $50,000 with an average size of $30,000 and 40-50 grants awarded per year. Grants should span one to two years in length with a start date in July 2015. Applications requesting more than $30,000 should propose projects longer than one year.

A detailed list of funders is provided to identify areas of the country where additional funds are available and to provide information on any funder-specific recommendations that applicants should include in proposals. There is one application submitted to NFWF for all applicable sources of funding.

*The minimum request amount in the Southern Company service area is $15,000.

Environmental Protection Agency Five Star Restoration Training Program
Funding Available:
Approximately $180,000 is available nationwide from EPA to fund projects meeting the Five Star program elements. These funds are available nationwide, in any size community.
Environmental Protection Agency and US Forest Service Urban Waters Program:
Funding Available:
Approximately $600,000 is available from US Forest Service and EPA, through the Urban Waters Federal Partnership, to improve urban water quality, restore riparian habitat and urban forests and increase public access in developed watersheds throughout the United States. Funds are available nationwide for urban areas.
US Fish and Wildlife Service Urban Programs
Funding Available:

Approximately $360,000 is available from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to fund projects that engage urban neighbors and foster a sense of stewardship where there are Fish and Wildlife Service lands or offices nearby (within approximately 25+/- miles). Priority areas could also include locations where there are existing Urban Wildlife Refuge Partnerships or with established Urban Bird Treaty Cities with the Fish and Wildlife Service. Proposals should articulate tangible ways the Fish and Wildlife Service can become an asset to the 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.

Urban Wildlife Refuge Partnerships engage communities in conservation on easily-accessible lands that the Service does not own. They involve residents in place-based outdoor experiences that foster connections with fish, wildlife and their habitats. Proposals should address the Urban Wildlife Refuge Partnership priorities (partnerships, measurable results, sustainability) and demonstrate how the project will meet at least one of the Standards of Excellence for Urban Wildlife Refuges and Partnerships (located at 

Urban Bird Treaty projects should have an emphasis on enhancing urban habitats for birds, engaging citizens in bird conservation and connecting diverse and youth audiences to birds and bird conservation as well as an activity that contributes to the Fish and Wildlife Service's 2016 centennial recognition celebration of the signing of the first Migratory Bird Treaty (1916). Proposals should address three or more of the Urban Bird Treaty goals (see:

FedEx EarthSmart Outreach:
Funding Available:
Approximately $415,000 is available from FedEx’s EarthSmart Outreach program to support urban conservation and restoration. All proposals in these areas must propose a volunteer event for up to 100 local FedEx employees in the project narrative to be considered for funding under this funding source.
Geographic Priorities:
FedEx funds will support projects in any of the following metropolitan areas:
Boston, MA
Los Angeles, CA
San Francisco/Oakland, CA
Chicago, IL
Memphis, TN
Seattle, WA
Dallas/Ft. Worth, TX
Washington, DC
Northern NJ/New York, NY
Indianapolis, IN
Pittsburgh, PA
Miami, FL
Colorado Springs, CO Philadelphia, PA Harrison, AR
Phoenix, AZ Cleveland, OH Atlanta, GA
Portland, OR Lakeland, FL New Berlin, WI
Akron/Uniontown, OH
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.
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.  
Bank of America
Funding Available:
Approximately $195,000 is available from Bank of America to support community-based restoration and stewardship projects within the selected geographic priorities. All proposals in these areas must propose a volunteer event for up to 100 local Bank of America employees in the project narrative to be considered for funding under this funding source.
Geographic Priorities:
Bank of America will support high quality projects in the following metropolitan areas:
​Washington, DC Boston, MA​
​San Francisco, CA Philadelphia, PA
​Seattle, WA
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. 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:
Santa Clara
Contra Costa San Joaquin


The ratio of matching contributions offered is one criterion considered during the review process, and projects that exceed the minimum 1:1 match ratio will be more competitive. Matching contributions typically must be non-federal in nature, may include 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. The cost of recent land acquisition or easement may also qualify as match for a project involving work at the acquired site. In addition, if they would not be paid with requested grant funding, indirect costs may be applied as match by an applicant with a federally approved indirect rate (more information about using indirect costs as match can be found here).

To be eligible, matching contributions typically must be:

  • Not paid by the Federal government under another Federal award
  • Verifiable from the grantee’s records
  • Not included as contributions for any other award
  • Necessary and reasonable for accomplishment of project or program objectives
  • Allowable costs based on the program and funding source guidelines
  • Committed directly to the project and used within the period of performance


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.
Required Criteria:
Program Goals and Priorities Proposed project contributes to the Five Star and Urban Waters Program’s overall habitat, water quality and species conservation goals and has specific, quantifiable performance metrics to evaluate project success. Project addresses the program priorities outlined in the Request for Proposals.
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. Project advances local community development and planning and demonstrates a link to existing local plans and development, including watershed plans.
Partnership An appropriate and diverse partnership of five or more organizations exists to implement the project, leverages additional contributions and sustains the project after the life of the grant.
Budget Costs are allowable, reasonable and budgeted in accordance with NFWF’s Detailed Budget Instructions cost categories. Federally-funded projects must be in compliance with OMB Cost Allowability Circulars as applicable ( Salaries and benefits for this program should not exceed 50% of the grant request. Please specify grant funds spent on implementation vs. non-implementation in the budget.
Funding Need – Project establishes a clear need for the funds being requested, and demonstrates that activities would not move forward absent funding. Project identifies demographic characteristics of underserved or environmental justice communities benefiting from the project.
Monitoring Project includes a plan for monitoring progress during and after the proposed project period to track project success and adaptively address new challenges and opportunities as they arise.
Long-term Sustainability Project will be maintained to ensure benefits are achieved and sustained beyond the life of the grant. This should include how future funding will be secured to implement necessary long-term monitoring and maintenance activities.
Conservation or Watershed Plan and Context The project advances an existing climate resilience planning, an existing watershed or conservation plan or strategy. This should include a link between the proposed project to the plans, what entity is in charge of implementing the plan and how the project outcomes will coordinate results with that entity if not already a project partner.
Other Criteria:
Transferability Project has potential and plan to transfer lessons learned to other communities and/or to be integrated into government programs and policies.
Communication Strategy – Project includes a detailed plan to communicate information about the project to appropriate audiences.
Past Success Applicant has a proven track record in implementing conservation and education practices with specific, measurable results.

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

b. 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: Administrative, Cost Allowability and Audit requirements as applicable to the applicant.

c. Quality Assurance: If a project involves significant monitoring, data collection or data use, grantees will be asked to prepare and submit quality assurance documentation (  Applicants should budget time and resources to complete this task to coordinate with state or EPA staff in development of the QAPP.

d. 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.  Where projects involve work in the waters of the United States, NFWF strongly encourages applicants to conduct a permit pre-application meeting with the Army Corps of Engineers prior to submitting their proposal.  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


Dates of activities are subject to change.  Please check the Program page of the NFWF website for the most current dates and information (Five Star and Urban Waters program website).
Applicant webinar (Click here to register)  November 18, 2014, 2pm, Eastern Time
Full Proposal Due Date                               February 3, 2015, 11:59pm, Eastern Time
Review Period                                            February to June 2015
Awards Announced                                    July 2015


All application materials must be submitted online through National Fish and Wildlife Foundation’s Easygrants system.

  1. Go to 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.


A PDF version of this RFP can be downloaded at the Five Star and Urban Waters program website.
A Tip Sheet is available for quick reference while you are working through your application. This document can be downloaded at the Five Star and Urban Waters program website. 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:
Sarah McIntosh (All Geographies)
Coordinator, Community-Based Conservation
Lindsay Vacek (Southern Company Service Area only)
Coordinator, Eastern Partnership Office
(202) 595-2433
Carrie Clingan
Manager, Community-Based Conservation
For issues or assistance with our online Easygrants system, please contact:
Easygrants 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 to which you are applying and a description of the issue.

RFP Addendum: AmeriCorps VISTA Opportunity 

About AmeriCorps VISTA

AmeriCorps VISTA is the national service program designed specifically to fight poverty. VISTA supports efforts to alleviate poverty by encouraging individuals from all walks of life to engage in a year of full-time service with a sponsoring organization to create or expand programs designed to bring individuals and communities out of poverty.

VISTA provides a small living allowance and certain benefits for members. Sponsoring organizations absorb the costs related to project supervision and logistical support. Investment by the sponsoring organization and the community is fundamental to the VISTA program, as the VISTA resource is short-term.

Process for New Partnerships 

NFWF and the Five Star and Urban Waters partners are pleased to offer this opportunity for organizations applying for the Five Star and Urban Waters grant program to submit an additional upload for consideration for an AmeriCorps VISTA project sponsorship.

VISTA resources can be used to create or expand anti-poverty efforts as determined locally, and can be very effective at addressing anti-poverty issues in the community to enhance the Five Star and Urban Waters Restoration outcomes.  Since the demand for VISTA resources far exceeds the supply, organizations that propose to address compelling anti-poverty needs will have a greater chance of receiving VISTA resources. Examples of anti-poverty efforts that VISTA resources could be used for include:

  • Efforts to prevent low income residents from losing affordable housing due to increased property values.
  • Efforts to connect low-income community members to anticipated increased employment opportunities.
  • Efforts to connect at-risk youth in mentoring and skills development through the creation or expansion of Civilian Conservation Corps or other youth development models.

Applicants who also propose the use local match to support VISTA cost share will increase their chances of receiving VISTA resources. Note that this additional local match for VISTA would be separate from the local match identified for the Five Star and Urban Waters grant.

Applications are considered separately for Five Star and Urban Waters funding and for VISTA project sponsorship. Applications from organizations interested in this opportunity will be reviewed by AmeriCorps VISTA staff in addition to consideration and review by NFWF and the Five Star and Urban Waters program.

Application Submission through the Five Star and Urban Waters Program

If your organization is interested in applying for a VISTA project, complete and submit the AmeriCorps VISTA template upload in Easygrants in the Uploads section of your Five Star and Urban Waters proposal.

Selection Criteria

Reviewers will use the following criteria to determine if the organization is eligible to pursue AmeriCorps VISTA resources. Your AmeriCorps VISTA template upload must include all of the elements listed below.  Eligible applicants will then be able to use the information in preparing the AmeriCorps VISTA on-line concept paper.

Please note:  VISTA resources cannot be guaranteed based on the information provided in the upload, but priority will be given to the most compelling proposals.

Interested organizations:
  • Must be a public sector organization or a private organization designated as nonprofit by the IRS.
  • Must have resources available for VISTAs to perform their tasks, i.e., work space, consumable supplies, telephone, on-the-job transportation reimbursement; and be able to provide emergency cash advances to VISTAs when needed.
  • Must have the capacity and commitment to recruit, orient, train, supervise, and otherwise support recruited VISTA members in appropriate capacity-building roles.
  • Must have an understanding of the concept of, and be committed to, the mission of VISTA.
  • Must engage the beneficiaries of service in developing the proposed project.
  • Must involve the beneficiary community to achieve project sustainability.
  • Must sign a Memorandum of Agreement with CNCS that outlines the legal responsibilities of both parties.
Project Application (as directed in the AmeriCorps VISTA template upload) must:
  • Address the needs of low-income communities and otherwise comply with the provisions of the Domestic Volunteer Services Act Of 1973, (DVSA) as amended (42 U.S.C. 4951 et seq.) applicable to VISTA and all applicable published regulations, guidelines, and CNCS policies.
  • Show how the project will lead to building organizational and/or community capacity to continue the efforts of the antipoverty project once VISTA resources are withdrawn.
  • Describe in measurable terms the anticipated self-sufficiency results at the conclusion of the project, including results to the sustainability of the project activities.
  • Clearly state how VISTAs will be trained, supervised, and supported to ensure the achievement of program goals and objectives.
  • Demonstrate that VISTA and community resources are sufficient to achieve project goals.
  • Indicate involvement of beneficiaries (as an advisory group) in project development and implementation throughout the life of the project
  • Demonstrate the management and technical capability of the organization to implement the project successfully.
  • Request an appropriate number of VISTA members to achieve the project goals; the skills and qualifications described in the application must be appropriate for the assignment(s).
  • Demonstrate the organization has the capacity and commitment to recruit, orient, train, supervise, and otherwise support recruited VISTA members in appropriate capacity-building roles.

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