Five Star & Urban Waters Restoration Program 2016 Request for Proposals

Full Proposal Due Date: Wednesday, February 3, 2016 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), Southern Company, Bank of America and Alcoa Foundation are pleased to solicit applications for the 2016 Five Star and Urban Waters Restoration Program. NFWF anticipates that approximately $2,450,000 in combined total funding will be available for this round of grants.

The Five Star and 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 focused on improving water quality, watersheds and the species and habitats they support. Projects include a variety of ecological improvements including: wetland, riparian, forest and coastal habitat restoration; wildlife conservation; community tree canopy enhancement; and/or water quality monitoring and stormwater management; along with targeted community outreach, education and stewardship. NFWF may use a mix of public and private funding sources to support any grant made through this program and priority will be given to projects that advance water quality goals in underserved communities.


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.


Competitive proposals should address each of the five bolded priorities.
  • On-the-Ground Restoration
    • Restore and/or create wetlands, coastal or riparian areas that address key species and habitats and link directly to established watershed and conservation plans
    • Restore, design and/or create forest habitat and/or community tree canopy leading directly to improved water quality of urban watersheds.
    • Manage stormwater or address water scarcity by designing and/or implementing green infrastructure, using 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 Design and or create habitat and/or engage residents in restoration at significant sites used by the community such as schools, parks, birding trails and other public areas
    • Collect and analyze local waterway samples that could be used to determine the effectiveness of current restoration and green infrastructure efforts and to effectively inform  future planning and decision making
    • Implement strategies to prevent and reduce the amount of trash entering rivers and other aquatic ecosystems
    • Enhance, restore, conserve, and/or improve management of land and natural resources in drinking water protection areas through green/natural infrastructure installations, outreach, education and training on watershed protection practices and their impacts on urban drinking water. Projects must demonstrate the linkage between upstream land use decisions and the quality, quantity and safety of drinking water.
  • Community Partnerships
    • Must involve five or more partners (public and private entities) including the applicant
    • Directly engage a diverse group of community partners to achieve ecological and specific educational outcomes including partnerships among upstream and downstream communities
    • Demonstrate that the project will 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
  • Environmental Outreach, Education & Training
    • Must integrate meaningful outreach, education and training into the proposed on-the-ground activities that advance local watershed and conservation goals
    • Engage the public – particularly youth – in hands-on, outdoor conservation experiences that build awareness of the importance of protecting and recovering priority species and habitats and promote stewardship
    • 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 communication of water quality data (existing or new) to identify areas of concern
    • Provide job training, placement and job performance follow-up for green infrastructure installation, operation and maintenance
    • Projects designs to lead to behavior changes related to the prevention of  trash entering rivers and other aquatic ecosystem
  • Measurable Results
    • Must result in specific, measurable ecological, educational and community benefits
    • Identify measurable activities and metrics which clearly link to watershed and community outcomes
    • Document a high level of community engagement to 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
    • Must include a plan for maintenance and care of the project beyond the grant period
    • Reflect a commitment to community strength and long-term capacity to remain engaged as partners
    • Directly connect outcomes to community benefits of watershed restoration such as clean water, public health benefits, local economic development and jobs
    • Fulfill or advance priorities identified through local planning efforts, including watershed plans, climate resilience plans and/or sustainability plans


Project Activity
Recommended Metric
Additional Guidance
Land, wetland restoration
Acres restored
Provide # and type of habitat restored. If different types of habitat to be restored, provide # acres and list each individual type. This includes wetlands, springs, saltwater marshes and beach habitat.
Removal of invasives
Acres restored
Provide # acres restored and type of invasives removed
Restoration planning/design/permitting
Acres restored
Provide # acres impacted directly by plan
Riparian restoration
Miles restored
Provide # miles riverbank planted (decimals are okay)
Land, wetland restoration
# Trees Planted                       
Identify the type of tree(s) planted, approximate age and caliper of the trees
BMP implementation for livestock fencing
Miles of fencing installed
Provide # miles fencing installed
BMP implementation for stormwater runoff
Acres with BMPs
Provide # acres implemented with best management practices. This should include the type of green infrastructure being implemented.
BMP implementation for stormwater runoff
Volume stormwater prevented
Provide volume of stormwater captured by new green infrastructure practices. This includes BMPs for stormwater management.
Improved management practices
Acres under improved management
This includes BMPs for nutrient and sediment reduction
Building institutional capacity
# FTE with sufficient training
Provide # full-time employees provided with capacity-building or training through the project
Building institutional capacity
# of organizations contributing to project goals
Provide # partner organizations
Economic benefits
# jobs sustained
Provide # jobs continued or sustained through grant project
Economic benefits
# jobs created
Provide number of individuals hired by organization or contractor directly working on project (non-volunteers)
Outreach/ Education/ Technical Assistance
# people reached
Provide # of people reached
Volunteer participation
# volunteers participating
Provide number of community members directly engaged in project. If volunteers include youth (up to age 18) or veterans, specify # youth or # veterans.
# streams/sites being monitored
Please identify the number of sites that will be monitored as part of the project.
# Maps or assessments completed
Provide the number of maps or other assessments of green infrastructure resources, tree canopies, trails and other community assets created during the project period.


  • 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.
    • Grant funds may be used to support projects that enhance or improve upon existing baseline compliance efforts.


Approximately $2,450,000 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 2016. 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.

*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. These funds are available nationwide, in any size community.
US Environmental Protection Agency and US Forest Service- Urban Forestry and Waters Program
Funding Available:
Approximately $475,000 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. Special consideration will be made for projects which directly advance priorities of the 19 Urban Waters Federal Partnership Designated Locations and/or are in designated source water protection areas. Please refer to these links to identify those 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. Proposals should address three or more of the Urban Bird Treaty goals (see: and participating cities are expected to be designated as an Urban Bird Treaty City after receiving a grant.
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 on-the-ground wetland, riparian, in-stream or coastal habitat conservation and restoration projects in the Southern Company service area.
Geographic Priorities:
Southern Company will support high quality projects in the following states:
  • 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
Denver, CO
Alcoa Foundation
Funding Available:
Approximately $30,000 is available from Alcoa Foundation to support community-based restoration and stewardship projects within the selected geographic priorities.
Geographic Priorities:
Alcoa Foundation will support high quality projects in the following metropolitan areas:
Cleveland, OH
Canton, OH
Barberton, OH
Farmington Hills, MI
Additional Private Corporate Funding:
Funding Available:
Approximately $487,000 is available from a private corporate funder to support urban conservation and restoration. All proposals in these areas must propose a volunteer event for up to 100 local employees in the project narrative to be considered for funding under this funding source.
Geographic Priorities:
These 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
Additional Private Foundation Support
Funding Available:
Approximately $425,000 is anticipated from private foundation funding to support community-based habitat restoration and stewardship projects in the seven states listed below. Grant recipients should include detailed information on the support of non-game animal species and habitat through grant activities in their proposal, specifically as these habitats related to underserved human communities and the sustained protection of wild animal species and their habitats.  A mixture of urban and rural communities is expected across the applicants for this specific funding.
Geographic Priorities:
This funding will support high quality projects in the following states:
North Dakota


The ratio of matching contributions offered is considered during the review process, and projects are required to meet or exceed a 1:1 match ratio to be competitive. Matching contributions must be non-federal in nature, may include in-kind contributions of staff and volunteer time, work performed, materials and services donated, cash 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.

Additionally, partner contributions can serve as matching contributions and grantees for this grant program commonly use a large amount of in-kind matching contributions to reach this threshold by utilizing their community partnerships to generate match. Applicants highly encouraged to contact NFWF for assistance in determine what qualifies as in-kind or any other matching contributions.

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 directly addresses each of the program priorities outlined above in this 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 Uniform Guidance as applicable (OMB Uniform Guidance).
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 drought management, watershed or conservation plan/strategy. Proposals should include a clear, direct 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.


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.

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.

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, 2015, 2pm, Eastern Time
Full Proposal Due Date                                February 3, 2016, 11:59pm, Eastern Time
Review Period                                              February to June 2016
Awards Announced                                      July 2016


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, Southern Regional 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.

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