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 Kirtland's Warbler Initiative 2011 Request for Qualifications

This Request for Proposals (RFP) seeks to build a partnership between NFWF and an entity in Michigan with a strong commitment to stewardship of Michigan’s natural resources and wildlife. NFWF is seeking an organization that will develop of a Friends group and create a Kirtland’s Warbler Fund (“Fund”) to support the long-term conservation of the Kirtland’s Warbler.  Prospective sponsoring organizations must have demonstrated consistent leadership and effective delivery of one or more of the following:  fundraising, bird/habitat conservation, on-the-ground habitat projects, wildlife management, mobilization and outreach, public communication, concept development and coordination with Michigan conservation agencies.  NFWF believes that the recovery of the Kirtland’s Warbler can be advanced while simultaneously boosting the capacity of the sponsoring organization.  NFWF is seeking a partner who is committed to the successful conservation of the Kirtland’s warbler, as well as the jack pine ecosystem, with a proven track record of fundraising and conservation success.

Background

Conservation of the Kirtland’s Warbler

Listed with the first birds on the original endangered species list, the Kirtland’s warbler is dependent upon young jack-pine stands and it nests almost exclusively in the northern Lower Peninsula of Michigan. Fire suppression and nest parasitism from the non-native Brown-headed Cowbird caused the Kirtland’s Warbler population to plummet - as few as 167 pairs were counted during two separate annual census counts in the 1970s and 1980s. With sound conservation practices -- including cowbird trapping and aggressive habitat management -- the population has rebounded and its range has expanded.  Current census counts are at nearly 1800 pairs and conservation professionals are identifying and implementing steps necessary to begin removing the species from the Endangered Species List.  Prior to delisting, safeguards to ensure long-term viability of the species must be in place.  One component of that long-term security is to identify an entity, such as a Friends group, to assist with conservation of the species and a Fund to help cover the costs of implementing those long-term strategies. 

NFWF’s Role

NFWF’s Kirtland’s Warbler Initiative (KWI) seeks to catalyze a new model of conservation based on a public-private partnership to secure the long-term health and stability of the Kirtland’s Warbler.  In March 2009, NFWF chose the Kirtland’s Warbler as one of its keystone, or focus, species. Despite its continued endangered status, the Kirtland’s is actually a great conservation success—its population has increased dramatically and now exceeds the goals established for recovery.  But its long-term success depends upon ongoing human intervention.  After consultation with partners, NFWF decided to pursue a unique strategy of creating a Friends group to advocate for the bird and a Fund, managed by NFWF, to provide a portion of the financial resources needed to implement a long-term conservation plan for the species.  NFWF expects to assist the “sponsoring” group identified through this RFP process primarily by awarding operating funds to the Friends group, managing the Fund, and collaborating in the strategy to sustain the Kirtland’s Warbler. 

Sponsoring Organization’s Role

NFWF will ask the sponsoring entity to start a Friends group including recruiting staff and board members; providing a legal framework for the group under its by-laws; providing for office space, materials, travel, and miscellaneous budget items; and playing a large role with fundraising, outreach efforts and other activities as deemed beneficial by both parties.  The Friends group can be an initiative or project of the sponsoring organization.  The start-up partnership is expected to last at least three years, at which time a decision will be made whether the Friends group should remain or become its own stand-alone organization.

For more information about the Program, please visit the NFWF website at www.nfwf.org/kirtlandswarbler/.

Qualifications Sought

To assist the KWI, this RFP is seeking qualified entities that have specific, demonstrated expertise in the following areas:

1.      Organizational Capacity- including, but not limited to overall size of budget, staff, board, membership, and volunteers; conservation expertise; and a history of tackling  projects of considerable size, scope, and complexity.

2.      Fundraising- including, but not limited to ability to raise funds from foundations, individuals, governments and corporations; ability to write and carry-out a fundraising plan; a history of attaining and retaining major donors.

3.      Conservation and Stewardship- including, but not limited to, designing and implementing conservation plans;  wildlife management;  forestry; contracting out for conservation services and other efforts associated with the overall objectives of the KWI.

4.      Non-Profit Start-Up- including, but not limited to, creation of a business plan detailing the future establishment of a non-profit entity, recruitment of leadership personnel and board members; development of an initial fundraising plan; and establishment of a strategic plan through the start-up phase.

5.      Agency Rapport- Experience working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the U.S.  Forest Service and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

6.      Partnership Development- including, but not limited to, experience and expertise working with other conservation organizations and/or local governments; ability to recruit and deploy volunteers; and experience in reaching out to grassroots Michiganders

7.      Michigan Roots- including, but not limited to, a scope of work that principally relates to Michigan and a concentration of resources in the northern Lower Peninsula.

8.      Communications and Public Outreach- including, but not limited to media relations; print, radio and television experience, social media and internet capacity; experience in brand development; and ability to create quality printed materials.

Process

The RFP must be submitted to NFWF by July 15, 2011 5:00 pm, EST.  During the time necessary to write the RFP questions and discussions are welcome to NFWF project lead John Curry.  If appropriate, your organization is encouraged to seek collaboration with other entities during to clarify how different components of the Kirtland’s Warbler Initiative might best be fulfilled.  Greater clarity about roles, responsibilities, participants and expected outcomes can be helpful when reviewing RFPs.

Following receipt of the RFPs, NFWF will review the proposals internally and seek advice from individuals familiar with the objectives of the KWI.  It may be necessary to follow-up with your organization to ask additional questions or clarify NFWF’s understanding of your plan.  Review of the proposals should last no longer than one week.  Staff will make a recommendation to the NFWF Board who will meet in the middle of August to process that recommendation.

An additional step in NFWF’s process is Congressional Notification, which involves a 30-day window where members of Congress are advised that NFWF is funding a project in their districts.  Following that window, grantees can be informed of NFWF’s grant decisions, in this instance it will likely be mid-September.   Finally contracting will ensue after the award notification.  That process can take several weeks.

Application Instructions

1.  Address each item in the “Application Outline” below.

2.  Limit your application to a maximum of ten (10) pages.  Also please minimize supplementary materials (NFWF will follow-up as needed).

3.  To submit an application, organizations must have an Easygrants account with NFWF.  From the login, search for Kirtland’s Warbler Initiative 2011 Funding Opportunity Cycle.

4.  Applications must be submitted no later than 5:00 pm EST on July 15, 2011.

Please send questions and inquiries to John.Curry@NFWF.org.  All questions will be responded to within 48 hours of receiving them.

Selection Criteria

1. Knowledge and track record: Applicants must demonstrate expertise and experience in those areas described in the RFP for which they have indicated interest

2. Experience in KWI region: Preference will be given to providers who have experience working in or are otherwise familiar with the Northern Lower Peninsula of Michigan.

3. Capacity and flexibility to deliver services: Providers must demonstrate that they have a degree of flexibility in how and where services are delivered, and that they have the ability to tailor content and delivery methods to meet the specific needs of the KWI.