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 Long Island Sound Futures Fund 2014 Request for Proposals

Online applications due: Thursday, May 22, 2014 (11:59pm)

LONG ISLAND SOUND – AN ESTUARY OF NATIONAL SIGNIFICANCE

Long Island Sound (the Sound) is one of the largest urban estuaries in the United States. More than 23 million people live within 50 miles of its shores, and more than 1,200 species of invertebrates, 170 species of fish, and hundreds of species of migratory birds depend on its habitats.  The Sound is one of only ten U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-designated Large Aquatic Ecosystems targeted for protection. The Sound and upland natural areas supply multiple ecosystem services (flood control, coastal resiliency, groundwater recharge, wildlife habitat, air quality), provide considerable recreation and tourism services, and directly contribute to local and national economic growth.  The estimated value to the local economy of the clean-water related services alone in 2014 dollars is $8.91 billion annually. 

A PARTNERSHIP TO RESTORE AND PROTECT THE SOUND

The Long Island Sound Study (LISS), managed by the EPA in concert with the states of Connecticut and New York, is a partnership of federal, state, and local agencies, universities, national and local environmental groups, businesses, and community groups dedicated to protecting and restoring the health and living resources of the Sound. The LISS partnership is committed to the implementation of the Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan for Long Island Sound (CCMP) that serves as the blue print for actions needed to conserve the Sound.

LONG ISLAND SOUND FUTURES FUND

The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF), in partnership with EPA and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) invites your submission of a proposal to the Long Island Sound Futures Fund (LISFF) in 2014 to help accelerate the restoration and protection of Long Island Sound through support of on-the-ground implementation projects that address the specific commitments and recommendations of the CCMP.

Since 2005, the LISFF grant program has invested $11.7 million in 285 projects in communities surrounding the Sound.  The projects in both Connecticut and New York have opened up 137.6 river miles for fish passage, and restored or protected more than 1,000 acres of critical fish and wildlife habitat and open space. This habitat includes lakes, underwater grasses, woodlands, meadows, wetlands, beaches, dunes and river and park frontage. The LISFF has also built the capacity of organizations and institutions to support the conservation of the Sound and has funded important educational programs that are helping to connect the public and communities of practice to it.  With grantee match of $24 million, the Long Island Sound Futures Fund has generated a total of almost $36 million for locally-based conservation in both states since its inception.

The LISFF partners anticipate awarding approximately $1 million in grants through this solicitation, although the final total amount available for award is dependent upon the availability of federal and non-federal funds.

LISFF CONSERVATION GOALS AND OBJECTIVES

LISFF aims over the next 5 years (2015-2020) to achieve outcomes that contribute directly to the goals of the CCMP and reflect the anticipated level of investment from the grant program. Examples include:

Restore and protect habitat and living resources

  • Restore 75 miles of riverine riparian corridors, 300 acres of maritime coastal forest and restore or protect 500 acres of representative coastal (tidal and non-tidal) wetlands.  
  • Restore 100 river miles of fish passage for anadromous and diadromous fish species.  In addition to miles of stream opened, success will be measured by river herring run counts and the presence of associated species such as American eel or Shad. 

Achieve water quality improvements

  • Store, infiltrate and treat one million gallons and 500,000 pounds of nonpoint source pollution.  Success will be measured by reductions in pollutant types (gallons of nitrogen, pounds of floatables) or remediation of use impairments in waterbodies. 

Educate and involve the public by investing in communities of practice to build capacity and increase the impact of restoration and protection

  • Provide support for projects of and/or assistance to two communities of practice (CoPs) (i.e., geographic, urban, youth, environmental justice (EJ), resource or issue-based etc.).[1]   Success will be measured by the capacity of CoPs to scale up restoration and protection activities and accelerate or expand the number and/or type of conservation practices or projects.

 [1] Communities of Practice are groups of practitioners who have common interest in a subject or area, collaborate over an extended period of time and share ideas and strategies, determining solutions, and building innovations. 

CONSERVATION PRIORITIES

The LISFF will invest in the following list of conservation priorities and associated project types in order to contribute directly to implementing the goals of the CCMP.

Urban Waters.  Assist communities, especially under-served and distressed communities, to access, improve, and benefit from their urban waters and the surrounding land.  Proposals that help achieve the objectives of the EPA Urban Waters Initiative.

Improve Water Quality.  Improve water quality  by: 1) implementing on-the-ground projects that use green infrastructure and other conservation best management practices (BMPs) i.e., stormwater BMPs, etc. to reduce sources of nitrogen, turf fertilizer applications and other pollutants into ground and surface waters; 2) accelerate the systematic integration and adoption of green infrastructure and other conservation practices into budgets, programs, permits, workflows, and program delivery systems by municipal and inter-municipal governments; and 3) monitoring water quality of the Sound or its embayments.  All proposed water quality monitoring programs must be related to an impaired waterbody as designated under the Clean Water Act, Section 305(b) in Connecticut and New York. These projects are also required to develop a Quality Assurance Project Plan (QAPP) that must be submitted to and approved by EPA.

Restore and Protect Habitat and Living Resources.  Restore and protect habitat and important fish and wildlife species of Long Island Sound and its rivers and streams.  Projects should focus on one or more of the 12 priority habitat types identified in the LISS Habitat Restoration Initiative as degraded or under threat from future development and pollution; and/or on one or more of the LISS Stewardship Initiative  areas designated by the LISS to conserve natural resources, increase public access to the Sound, and protect important habitats.  When preparing a habitat restoration proposal please review the Habitat Restoration Grant Guidelines 2013 for information about elements of a complete habitat restoration proposal.

Educate or Involve the Public.  Increase knowledge of and appreciation for the Sound and its natural resources; and increase knowledge of and engagement in addressing threats to the health and living resources of the Sound.  There are two categories of education grants: 1) Large Grants ranging from $20,000-$35,000 for projects with more significant scale and scope; and 2) Small Grants ranging from $3,000 to $10,000 for smaller-scale projects involving a limited number of activities, duration, and/or locations.  For example, a small grant might include support for an annual environmental festival focused on the Sound, a boat tour of the Sound or its estuaries, a beach cleanup on a Sound beach, or a National Estuaries Day celebration.  All education projects should involve hands-on, on-the-ground activities specifically related to protection or restoration of the health and living resources of the Sound.  For example, an education project should include activities that involve the public or students in restoration of a priority habitat within the Long Island Sound coastal boundary, or a project that informs or engages a targeted constituency in a new behavior or environmental activity, etc.  If a project involves resources or geography associated with the Sound, all education or outreach activities must explicitly address their relationship to restoration and protection of the health and living resources of Long Island Sound. Curricula development projects are not being solicited under this RFP. 

Environmental Outputs and Outcomes

All projects must demonstrate how project activities will: 1) achieve measureable environmental output(s) during the life of the LISFF grant; and 2) contribute to environmental outcome(s) i.e., mid-and long-term measureable results achieved after completion of the grant. Follow the link to examples of Logic Models illustrating  the expected relationship between project activities, outputs, and outcomes for an example water quality, habitat restoration and education/species conservation projects.

TYPES OF GRANTS

Implementation Grants - Ranging from $20,000 to $150,000 awarded to support projects that result in quantifiable pollutant reductions, or lead to measureable gains in restoration or stewardship of habitat, or conservation or stewardship of species.

  • Planning and Water Quality Monitoring Grants.  Ranging from $20,000 to $60,000 awarded primarily to support planning and design activities that set the stage for on-the-ground implementation of habitat restoration or water quality projects that result in quantifiable pollutant reductions, or lead to measureable gains in restoration or stewardship of habitat, or conservation or stewardship of species. 
  • Education Grants.  Large grants will range from $20,000 to $35,000 for projects with more significant scale and scope.  Small grants will range from $3,000 to $10,000 awarded to smaller-scale hands-on, visible projects involving a limited number of activities and/or locations to make the public aware of the Sound and to build connection with and stewardship of it in communities.  

GRANT GUIDELINES

Project Performance Period - Projects must start within six months and be completed within 12-15 months after notification of grant award.

Eligible Applicants - Non-profit 501(c) organizations; state, tribal, and local governments; and academic or educational institutions.  For-profit entities are not eligible for grants under this RFP, but may partner with eligible applicants.

Geographic Boundary - Habitat restoration or stewardship projects must fall within the coastal area boundary established by the LISS as shown in the LISS Coastal Boundary Map.  Nonpoint source or stormwater management, education, and fish passage projects may be in any portion of the Long Island Sound and its watersheds within the states of Connecticut and New York, but must demonstrate a quantifiable and measurable impact on improving Long Island Sound or its ecosystem.

Indirect Costs - See NFWF Indirect Rate Cost Policy for grantee applicability.

Good Standing -  All applicants with active grants from NFWF must be in good standing in terms of reporting requirements, expenditure of funds, and QAPPs (if required).

Compliance with Applicable Federal Regulations - When the funding source or any funding entity (i.e. a secondary funding source) is a federal agency and/or any portion of the project provided is paid with federal funds, the LISFF grant recipient must comply with certain applicable federal regulations.

Ineligible:

  • Requests for funds outside of the range of minimum or maximum funding allowable under each type of grant.  Such requests receive an automatic decline.
  • Incomplete applications and proposals in formats other than the formal LISFF application.
  • Projects that have received funding from the LISFF for three consecutive years.
  • Applications from individuals, federal agencies or for-profit entities. Submitting more than three proposals per organization.   For example, you may submit two large grant proposals and one small grant proposal for a total of three. Universities are excluded from this limit if multiple departments or investigators are submitting proposals. However, no more than one proposal will be accepted from any individual principal investigator.   Please note that while your organization may submit multiple proposals, it is unlikely that all proposals will be funded given the competition for funding.

Further categories ineligible for funding:

o   Stand-alone public access such as creation of boat launches, fishing piers, public viewing areas, waterfront trails, walkways or fencing.

o   Stand-alone signage projects.

o   Research projects. Those interested in funding for research should consider the LISS Research Grant Program.

o   Development of academic/educational curriculum.

o   Budget items secondary to the project’s central objective such as cash prizes, kayaks, laptops, and GPS units.

o   Marketing efforts that serve to generally promote the applicant organization and its initiatives.

o   Funding for lunches or snacks, T-shirts and promotional items.

o   Neither grant funds nor matching contributions may be used to support political advocacy, lobbying or litigation.

o   Supporting 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.

o   Use of EPA funds to directly or indirectly support the placement of fill, pilings, or platforms in open waters, near shore waters, or wetlands to create artificial islands or serve as infrastructure for commercial development or new land for purposes other than habitat restoration.

MATCH

 Applicants must contribute non-Federal matching funds and in-kind services valued at a minimum of 25 percent of total project costs.  Match should be calculated as a percentage of the total project costs, where the grant request plus the match equals the total project costs.   Preference will be given to proposals that have matching contributions valued at 50 percent of total project costs or greater (i.e., 1:1 ratio) as described in the section of the RFP “Standards for Evaluation.”  Applicants are encouraged to show federal partner contributions as well, although these contributions may not count toward the minimum match. 

DATA COLLECTION

 All work performed or funded by the LISFF that involves the collection or use of environmental data must have an approved United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Quality Assurance Project Plan (QAPP).  An approved QAPP documents the planning, implementation, and assessment procedures for a particular project, as well as any specific quality assurance and quality control activities.  If data collected will inform management by a public agency or is part of research by a principal investigator, a QAPP will be required.  The need for a QAPP is also triggered by activities of regional importance, involving highly visible projects with data collection intended to impact regional policy decisions, and involving applied research or innovation of new environmental technologies.   Projects conducting basic planning, modeling, or preliminary data gathering activities may often follow less formal modified QAPP requirements or activity-specific customization.  Where data collected will not be used externally, such as with a classroom based water monitoring exercise to train students about data collection methods, a QAPP would not be required.  Where data collection has been funded by the LISFF, grant recipients must have an approved QAPP before any funds may be disbursed towards that aspect of a project.  If you have questions about whether you require a QAPP follow the link to information on QAPP or contact Lynn.Dwyer@nfwf.org.

STANDARDS FOR EVALUATION

A proposal will be reviewed, evaluated and scored using a scale, one (1) lowest to five (5) highest, based upon the extent to which it meets the following criteria:

  • Environmental Results. The project aligns with LISFF conservation priorities and associated project types; and will likely result in sustainable improvements in protection or restoration of the health and living resources of Long Island Sound.

  • Work Plan. The project is technically sound and feasible, and the proposal sets forth a clear, logical, and achievable work plan within the designated time frame.

  • Budget. The budget is cost-effective, reasonable, and may leverage other partner contributions.
  • Qualifications.  The applicant, organization, and partner experience is relevant to delivery of the project.
  • Dissemination. There is a plan to communicate information about the project to appropriate audiences.
  • Level of Match.  Contribution of match beyond the required 25% of the total project budget.   Applicant’s will receive one (1) additional point for match 26%-50% > the total LISFF funds requested; and one (1) additional points for match 51% to 100% > the total LISFF funds requested.

HOW TO APPLY

1.     Go to http://www.nfwf.org/easygrants to register in our Easygrants online system. (If you already are a registered user, use your existing login.) Enter your applicant information.

2.     Select a “Funding Opportunity” from the list of options. Select “Long Island Sound Futures Fund 2014.” 

3.     Follow the instructions in Easygrants to complete your application. Once you get started, you may save your application in progress and return another time to complete and submit it.

4.     Refer to the Long Island Sound Futures Fund Tip Sheet, LISFF 2014 NFWF Summary and Detailed Budget Instructions, and LISFF 2014 NFWF Required Financial Documents and FAQ for reference while you are working through your application. These documents may be downloaded from Long Island Sound Futures Fund.

5.     For Easygrants technical support please contact our helpdesk at Easygrants@nfwf.org or call 202-595-2497. Please include your name, login ID, e-mail address, phone number, and a description of the issue. Helpdesk hours are 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM EST, Monday through Friday.

APPLICANT TRAINING WEBINARS

Big Changes in the RFP and application!  Get Updated By Registering for One of the Three Webinars!  April 23, 2014, April 24, 2014, or April 28, 2014

IMPORTANT DATES

  • April 23, 2014, 10:30am-12:00pm                       Applicant webinars
  • April 24, 2014, 2:30pm-4:00pm
  • April 28, 2014, 10:30am-12:00pm
  • May 22, 2014 (11:59pm)                                      All proposals due
  • Mid to late October 2014                                      Awards announced*

*Please do not contact NFWF regarding the status of your proposal until after the announcement date.  Applicants will receive email notification of the funding decision.

QUESTIONS

Contact Lynn Dwyer at Lynn.Dwyer@nfwf.org or John Wright John.Wright@nfwf.org