Northern Great Plains Grasslands Initiative

Request for Early Action Proposals 2014

Pre-proposal Due Date: none (abstract, contact information, and request amount are due by January 15)

Full proposal Due Date: February 14, 2014 11:59PM Eastern time


The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) is requesting proposals to establish a 10-year (2023) grassland bird conservation goal for the Northern Great Plains (NGP), identify priority restoration/conservation sites, and design a monitoring program to report on progress. These early action proposals will guide the Foundations greater efforts to restore, protect, and enhance grassland resources in the NGP. NFWF’s grant-making program in the Northern Great Plains will assist partners to design and implement outcome-based, sustainable grassland conservation projects in high biodiversity areas. Activities will contribute towards a program goal of developing a network of large-scale grasslands that are managed to sustain functional native plant and animal communities and healthy human communities.


The geographic focus of this funding opportunity is the NGP geography of Montana, South Dakota, Wyoming, Nebraska, North Dakota and the Canadian Provinces of Saskatchewan and Alberta. Focal areas include north-central Montana, western South Dakota and northeastern Wyoming, the Nebraska Sandhills, and the Missouri Couteau.


The most competitive projects will address one of more of the following priorities:

  • Help NFWF and partners establish a 10-year (2023) grassland bird conservation goal(s) for each of the priority areas and the NGP as a whole. Managing for one or a few species across large landscapes may ultimately lead to reduced conditions for non-target species. To address this issue, a multispecies goal needs to be formulated to ensure habitat availability for the full range of grassland birds.  Awarded projects will provide an important basis for the development of an initiative business plan and for future NFWF grantmaking in the region (for examples of NFWF’s business plans, please see our website).  Conservation goals should be established assuming additional funding for grassland-bird conservation work at 3 levels: $5M, $10M, and $15M over the next 10 years.  Outputs will include the development of a grassland bird conservation index and/or 2-4 focal species that will be used to measure conservation progress across the northern great plains and a 2013 baseline and 10-year conservation goals for the focal species or index (For examples of NFWF’s species scorecards, please see Attachment A).
  • Designing a regional monitoring program to report on progress; this program should present a plan for using existing resources (annual bird surveys) and justify the need for additional field monitoring to report on species outcomes as defined above.
  • Identifying a geographically-explicit set of high priority projects that involve willing partners and can together ‘move the needle’ towards conservation outcomes for focal grassland-nesting bird species.
  • Studies to enhance grassland bird habitat through best management practices in high priority landscapes will also be considered.

In May 2014, a second RFP will be released to solicit a broader range of projects.  Under this RFP, NFWF will make grants within priority geographies to projects that will decrease the rate of fragmentation or conversion of habitat, increase habitat quality, and restore or enhance populations of focal species. Focal species populations include grassland-nesting birds, black-footed ferret, swift fox, pronghorn, bison, and waterfowl.


Competitive proposals will include the following information that should be summarized in an abstract sent to the program director (contact information below) and detailed in the full proposal:

  • Project Type, Location: Describe the type of project you are proposing: eg. Establishing focal species goals and designing monitoring program, developing comprehensive list of conservation opportunities to advance species goals, conducting pilot studies to understand grassland bird response to best management practices, and/or conducting outreach to private landowners to design a landscape-scale approach to managing for grassland bird productivity.
  • Activities: Elaborate on the primary activities that will be conducted through the proposed grant. Explain how these activities address the threats, opportunities and conservation outcome(s) for the species. Describe how these activities relate to established plans (management, conservation, recovery, etc.) and conservation needs. Discuss how this project either initiates or fits into larger efforts in the NGP, if applicable.
  • Methodology: Describe how each activity will be implemented and the anticipated timeline.
  • Dissemination: Describe the outreach strategy and educational values of the project. Specifically state how you will disseminate information on the project before, during, and after the proposed activities.
  • Potential Partners: Describe any potential partner organizations (if applicable), especially those entities that already have ongoing efforts in the NGP or prairie pothole joint venture areas.
  • Maps: Include two maps - one that shows the overall location of the project within the NGP geography and a second project specific map.
  • Matching Funds are not required; however, priority will be given to those proposals that have matching funds.  These sources can include cash, in-kind donations, and/or volunteer labor.

If your project includes implementation activities that include habitat enhancement or restoration, please also address the following:

  • Long-Term Conservation Outcome(s): Discuss the quantifiable/measurable long-term outcome(s) for the project that will be achieved, including what the project hopes to achieve within the NGP geography.
  • Evaluation/Monitoring: Describe the strategy for monitoring and evaluating project results, including specifics on how success will be defined and measured.  Please note any challenges or limitations you anticipate in interpreting anticipated results.  Describe the monitoring plan, including those activities that will take place after completion of this grant. If possible, identify how post-grant monitoring will be funded. If this project is a continuation or expansion of an existing project, describe the status and results/outcomes achieved to date.


The amount available for early action proposals is dependent on how comprehensive the projects will be and whether or not they include funding for implementation but will not be more than $300,000. Requests for planning projects related to establishing outcomes, a monitoring framework, and identifying a suite of priority investments should be limited to 1 year and up to $50,000. More comprehensive projects that include on-the-ground field work for monitoring, validation of best management practices, and/or habitat manipulation may request funding for 2.5 years of work and up to $100,000 per year but the conservation goals and key areas for investment must be identified in year 1.


Government agencies, non-profit organizations, and educational institutions are eligible for funding.

Ineligible Uses of Funds: No part the grant funds or the non-federal match may be used to:

  • Support litigation expenses or lobbying activities
  • Cover permanent federal employee salary expenses
  • Supplement shortfalls in government agency budgets
  • Support basic planning, outreach, or education projects without an "on-the-ground" component

All proposals involving funding requests for the acquisition of interests in real property must comply with NFWF’s guidance on real property acquisitions.

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

  • The organization has a federally-approved indirect rate;
  • The organization submits documentation* of their federally-approved rate with their application;
  • The indirect costs line item in the project budget does not exceed 10% of the total direct costs requested from the Foundation (even when the federally-approved rate is greater).

*Documentation includes the Indirect Cost Negotiation Agreement (NICRA) or the notification from a Cognizant Agency to an organization formalizing the approval of a final or provisional indirect cost rate. See the full indirect cost policy on the Foundation’s website here.

Additional information on funding policies, including financial documents required from application can be found on the Foundation’s website here.


  • Project abstracts, contact information, and proposed request amount are due via e-mail to Program Director on January 15, 2014
  • Full Proposals, by invitation, are due on February 14, 2014
  • Awards will be announced by March 30, 2014

Invited full proposals must be submitted online through National Fish and Wildlife Foundation’s Easygrants system. Hard-copy applications will not be considered for funding. If your abstract is invited to move forward as a full proposal, a proposal task will be opened for you in our system and you will be notified via e-mail by January 22nd. To submit a full proposal, please follow the following steps:

1. Go to to register in our Easygrants online system. (If you already are a registered user, use your existing login.) Enter your applicant information. (For assistance with Easygrants, contact us using the information below.)

2. On your Easygrants homepage, click the “Apply for Funding” button and select the Northern Great Plains funding opportunity. Then click “Continue”.

3. Follow the instructions in Easygrants to complete your proposal. Applications may be saved and completed at a later time, up until the application deadline. It is imperative for Easygrants users to disable their browser’s pop-up blocker prior to beginning the application process. The following link contains access to other useful information for applicants.


For more information or questions about the RFP itself, please contact:

Carly Vynne, PhD
Director, Wildlife & Habitat Conservation
(202) 595-2464

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

Eliza Braendel
Coordinator, Conservation Programs
(202) 857-0166


Early Successional Forest Scorecard

Seabirds Scorecard