Long Island Sound Futures Fund 2018 Request for Proposals

Full Proposal Due Date: Thursday, May 10, 2018 by 11:59 PM Eastern Time

OVERVIEW

The Long Island Sound Futures Fund (Futures Fund) is soliciting proposals to secure clean water and healthy watersheds, restore thriving habitats and abundant wildlife, and engage the public in creating sustainable and resilient communities around the Long Island Sound Watershed.  Approximately $2 million is expected to be available for projects in 2018.  The Futures Fund grant program is administered by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) in collaboration with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Long Island Sound Study (LISS), and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

GEOGRAPHIC FOCUS

All projects must demonstrate a quantifiable and measurable impact on improving Long Island Sound.

Habitat restoration projects must fall within the coastal boundary established by the LISS, as indicated by the red outline on the Interactive LISS Coastal Boundary Map.  This boundary includes coastal portions of New York (NY) that drain to Long Island Sound (portions of Westchester, Nassau and Suffolk Counties, and portions of Queens, the Bronx and Manhattan in New York City) and the coast of Connecticut (CT).  

Water quality, education and fish passage projects may be in any portion of Long Island Sound watershed within the states of CT and NY as shown on the Interactive LISS National Estuary Program Map.

Water quality nitrogen removal projects may occur anywhere in the Long Island Sound watershed within CT, NY, Massachusetts (MA), New Hampshire (NH), and Vermont (VT) as shown on the Interactive LISS Boundary Map.

 
Figure 1: LISS Study Area Boundary Map for CT, MA, NH, NY, VT

PROGRAM PRIORITIES

The most competitive proposals will: 1) address one or more of three “Themes” and associated “Implementation Actions” (IAs) from the 2015 Long Island Sound Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan (CCMP); and 2) contribute directly to implementing CCMP IAs as described below.  Please note that not all the IAs found in the three CCMP Themes are priorities addressed by Futures Fund grants.  

Clean Waters and Healthy Watersheds – improve water quality by delivering projects that reduce nutrient loading, Combined Sewer Overflows, stormwater runoff, and nonpoint source loading into Long Island Sound including: 

  • Promote and implement green infrastructure that reduces polluted runoff from entering waterways i.e., rain gardens, permeable pavement, detention basins, bioswales, rainwater harvesting, green streets etc.
  • Promote and implement conservation activities that reduce pollution at its source including:
    • develop and implement alternatives to current decentralized on-site wastewater treatment systems; 
    •  implement alternatives to current chemical and nitrogen-intensive residential and commercial turf and landscaping  fertilizer and pesticide applications; and
    • deliver fertilizer reduction and/or soil health practices in agriculture, implement actions to support trash-free waters etc.  
  • Identify opportunities to further nitrogen removal, including: low-cost retrofits at wastewater treatment facilities in any of the states listed (CT, MA, NH, NY, VT), expansion of point and nonpoint source nutrient trading programs, and nonpoint source pollution control projects. 
  • Help develop and implement locally-driven watershed plans to mitigate eutrophication-related impairments.  The plans should consider the relative importance of nitrogen from centralized and individual on-site wastewater treatment, agriculture, turf fertilizer and atmospheric deposition sources.  For more information go to the Handbook for Developing Watershed Plans, and review local and regional nitrogen action plans.  
  • Identify, and monitor local pollution sources in embayments, harbors, and near-shore areas. Water quality monitoring must: 1) be related to the nature of the local impairment  as designated under the Clean Water Act, Section 305(b) in Connecticut and New York; 2) demonstrate how the data collected will be used to address local use impairments i.e., reduce annual beach-day closures,  reduce the amount of acreage restricted or closed for shellfishing,  help local governments detect illicit discharges etc.; 3) describe how the project will manage data so it is accessible to citizens and public resource managers; and 4) describe other sources of funds to sustain project activities and environmental results.

Thriving Habitats and Abundant Wildlife – restore coastal habitats to maintain resiliency and function; and foster diverse, balanced and abundant populations of fish, birds and wildlife including:

  • Restore one or more of the Important Coastal Habitat Types targeted for restoration by the LISS.  Restore one or more of those habitats to enhance biodiversity and increase populations of species representative of system health such as coastal birds and fish.
  • Enhance the resiliency of coastal habitat by: 1) removing barriers to the natural resources of these habitats to migrate inland; and 2) replacing armored shorelines or stabilizing shorelines with living shorelines to mitigate shoreline erosion while sustaining habitat that can adapt to sea level rise.
  • Create fish passage or reduce barriers to fish passage in order to: increase access to high quality habitat for Long Island Sound diadromous and freshwater fish such as alewife, blueback herring, brook trout, American eel and American shad; and/or increase aquatic connectivity (measured by river miles reconnected). Priority will be given to proposals that include monitoring strategies to support and/or establish long-term spawning run counts. 
  • Restore habitat connectivity to increase biodiversity, habitat migration, and migratory pathways that promote species dispersal (measured by contiguous acres of restored coastal habitat).
  • Reduce the impact of invasive species through targeted management and eradication programs supported by ongoing invasive species management operating together to prevent re-invasion or the introduction of new invasive, exotic species.

Other resource​s and information:

Educating to Engage Sustainable and Resilient Communities – increase the knowledge and engagement of the public in the protection and restoration of Long Island Sound including projects that will:

  • Involve the public in the cleanup and ecological restoration or protection of the health and living resources of the Sound.
  • Provide natural landscaping guidance to communities and homeowners to encourage the use of alternatives to chemical and nutrient-intensive landscaping.
  • Increase appreciation and understanding of the Sound for underprivileged and non-traditional audiences in urban areas.  The definition of an “Urban Area” may be found at the U.S. Census Bureau.
  • Increase Long Island Sound environmental and conservation-related instruction in classrooms.
  • Offer festivals, celebrations and events in natural resource-based, science education locations (i.e., aquariums, museums) to develop awareness about and encourage appreciation and use of the Sound.
  • Develop education and awareness by engaging comprehensive social marketing1 campaigns  targeting specific stakeholders with projects or programs to achieve measureable environmental improvements in the Sound.
  • Promote environmentally sustainable recreational activities along the Sound.

All public engagement and education projects must provide hands-on activities for target audiences; and must be specifically related to and integrate into their delivery concepts and activities focused upon protection and restoration of the health and living resources of the Sound. 

1Social marketing seeks to develop and integrate marketing concepts with other approaches to influence behaviors that benefit individuals and communities for the greater social good. Social marketing is different than social media which involves the suite of online communications channels dedicated to community-based input, interaction, content-sharing and collaboration i.e., Facebook, Twitter, blogs, Instagram, Pinterest etc.​

PROJECT METRICS

To better gauge progress on individual grants and to ensure greater consistency of project data provided by multiple grants, the Futures Fund has a list of metrics in Easygrants to choose from for reporting if you are provided a grant. We ask that applicants select only the most relevant metrics from this list for their project (all possible program metrics are shown in the table below).  If you do not believe an applicable metric has been provided, please contact Jessica Lillquist to discuss acceptable alternatives.

Project Activity​​​​ ​ Recommended Metric  Additional Guidance
​Educate the public or stakeholders with the intent of increasing  knowledge about protection and restoration of Long Island Sound ​Capacity, Outreach, Incentives- Outreach/ Education/ Technical Assistance- # people with knowle​dge ​ Provide # and type of participant.  In notes, Describe expected results, % increase in awareness or knowledge,  from the outreach and education.

​Educate the public or stakeholders with the intent of increasing knowledge about protection and restoration of Long Island Sound​

​Capacity, Outreach, Incentives- Outreach/ Education/ Technical Assistance- # people targeted ​ Enter # of people and community targeted i.e., farmers. students, municipal officials etc.​
Educate government entities about the Long Island Sound
​Capacity, Outreach, Incentives- Outreach/ Education/ Technical Assistance- # gov't entities participating ​Enter # and specific government entities targeted i.e., Town of Brookhaven, Town of Greenwich, Suffolk County etc.
​Volunteer engagement in hands-on activities ​Capacity, Outreach, Incentives-  # volunteers participating ​Provide # and describe nature of volunteer engagement.
​Interpretive signage describing project purpose and its relationship to restoration and protection of the health and living resources of Long Island Sound ​Capacity, Outreach, Incentives- Outreach/ Education/ Technical Assistance- # of educational signs installed ​ Enter # and content of the signs.
Social media and websites developed and employed to educate about project purpose and its relationship to restoration and protection of the health and living resources of the Sound
​Capacity, Outreach, Incentives- Outreach/ Education/ Technical Assistance- # websites, social media tools ​Enter # websites, Facebook, Twitter, blogs etc.​
​Trainings, events, and meetings developed and delivered to educate about project purpose and its relationship to restoration and protection of the health and living resources of Long Island Sound ​Capacity, Outreach, Incentives- Outreach/ Education/ Technical Assistance- # workshops, webinars, meetings ​ Enter #, type and purpose of events.
​Best management practice (BMP) to reduce marine debris and floatable pollution (i.e., community cleanup day, bring your own bag programs, litter traps etc.) ​Habitat Management- BMP implementation for stormwater runoff-lbs. of floatables reduced  ​Enter lbs. of floatable debris prevented from entering the LIS and tributaries.
​Best management practice to treat or reduce polluted stormwater runoff ​Habitat Management- BMP implementation for stormwater runoff- Volume (gal.) stormwater prevented ​Enter volume (gal.) treated or reduced and source of stormwater e.g., parking lot, rooftop, street etc.
​Best management practice for nutrient/sediment reduction ​Habitat Management- BMP implementation for nutrient or sediment reduction -  Lbs. of nitrogen prevented from entering system annually ​Enter the amount (lbs.) of nitrogen prevented from entering the system annually, In notes, please describe the method used to calculate reduction.
​Best management practice for nutrient/sediment reduction ​Habitat Management- BMP implementation for nutrient or sediment reduction - Lbs. of sediment prevented from entering system annually ​Enter the amount (lbs.) of sediment prevented from entering the system annually.  In notes, please describe the method used to calculate reduction.​
​Remove impervious asphalt ​Habitat Management- Green Infrastructure- Sq. ft. impervious surface removed ​ Enter sq. ft. of impervious surface removed.
​Install green infrastructure BMPs i.e., bioretention basin, rain garden, bioswale etc.  ​Habitat Management- Green Infrastructure- Sq. ft. of bioretention installed ​Enter the square footage of bioretention BMP installed. Provide # and specific type of green infrastructure to be installed.
​Install fish passage to restore aquatic habitat connectivity ​Habitat Restoration- Fish passage improvements- # fish passage barriers rectified ​Enter the # passage barriers rectified. In notes section, describe fish species affected.
​Barrier removal to restore aquatic connectivity ​ Habitat Restoration- Fish passage improvements- Miles of stream opened ​Enter the # of miles of stream opened. Provide type of fish and the number river miles reconnected and restored for fish passage in the Notes section.
​Restoring coastal habitat.  For more information about specific habitat types go to Important Coastal Habitat Types ​ (Categories include: coastal and island forests; freshwater wetlands; coastal grasslands; tidal wetlands; shellfish reefs, submerged aquatic vegetation (i.e., eelgrass etc.); beaches and dunes; cliffs and bluffs; intertidal flats; estuarine embayments). ​Habitat Restoration- Land/wetland restoration- Acres restored ​ Provide # of acres and type of habitat restored. If different types of habitat are to be restored within the same project provide # acres for each habitat type. Also provide the number of contiguous acres of restored coastal habitat that would result from the project.
​Removing invasive plant species ​Habitat Restoration- Removal of invasives- Acres restored ​Provide # acres and type of invasive removed
​Planning to produce permit and construction-ready designs ​ Habitat Restoration- Planning/design/permitting- Acres restored ​ Provide # (acres) and type of habitat to be addressed in planning.  If different types of habitat to be addressed in planning, then provide # acres and list each individual type.
​Creating a land use plan ​Planning, Research, Monitoring- Land Use Planning- Acres under a land use plan ​ Enter # of acres and type of acreage (residential, commercial, agricultural, open space)
​Creating management or governance plan ​ Planning, Research, Monitoring- Management or Governance Planning- # plans developed ​Provide # of plans developed 
​Monitoring programs developed and implemented ​Planning, Research, Monitoring- Monitoring- # monitoring programs ​Enter # monitoring programs established or underway. Describe type of monitoring to occur i.e., parameters, species​
  
ELIGIBILITY

Eligible and Ineligible Entities

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

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. 
  • Requests for operational and program-related support for the same project for more than three consecutive years.  
  • 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 proposals. 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.
  • Alternatives analysis and/or feasibility assessments to inform the development of potential projects.
  • Stand-alone public access projects such as creation of boat launches, fishing piers, public viewing areas, waterfront trails, walkways, and/or fencing.
  • Stand-alone signage projects.
  • Research projects. Those interested in funding for research should consider the LISS Research Grant Program.
  • Development of new educational curriculum.
  • Marketing efforts that serve to generally promote the applicant organization and its initiatives.
  • Funding for lunches or snacks, t-shirts and promotional items (i.e. key chains, coffee mugs, pens etc.).
  • Proposals requesting funds below the minimum and above the maximum allowable award amount in the grant categories.

FUNDING AVAILABILITY AND MATCH

Approximately $2 million is expected to be available for projects in 2018.  The Futures Fund has four categories of grants:

  • Implementation Grants: Ranging in value from $20,000 to $250,000 awarded to support on-the-ground projects that result in quantifiable pollutant reductions or lead to measureable gains in habitat restored. 
  • Design/Planning Grants: Ranging in value from $20,000 to $100,000 awarded primarily to support design activities that set the stage for on-the-ground implementation of water quality or habitat restoration projects that result in quantifiable pollutant reductions or lead to measureable gains in habitat restored;  planning associated with locally-driven watershed plans to mitigate eutrophication-related impairments: and planning associated with  development of an in-depth social marketing campaign.  Alternatives analysis and/or feasibility assessments to inform the development of potential projects are not eligible for funding.  
  • Water Quality Monitoring Grants: Ranging in value from $20,000 to $100,000 for water quality monitoring of local embayments and harbors.
  • Education and Public Participation Large Grants: Ranging in value from $20,000 to $45,000 awarded to hands-on, visible public participation and education projects of more significant scale and scope.  
  • Education and Public Participation Small Grants: Ranging in value from $3,000 to $10,000 awarded to hands-on, visible public participation and education projects involving a limited number of activities and/or locations.

Grant Period:  Projects must start within six months and be completed within 12-15 months after notification of grant award.  Notification of award is projected to be October 2018.  Project start dates cannot be before October 1, 2018.

Match Requirements: The ratio of matching contributions offered is considered during the review process, and applicants must contribute non-federal matching cash funds and/or in-kind services valued at a minimum of 50 percent of the total grant amount requested from the Futures Fund (not your total project budget).  For example, if you are requesting $100,000 from Futures Fund, the required match is $50,000. Preference will be given to projects that exceed the minimum 50 percent requirement, as described in the “Evaluation Criteria” section of this RFP.

Matching contributions 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.  

Eligible indirect costs (that would not be paid with requested grant funding) may be applied as match.  Please review the NFWF: 1) Indirect Cost Policy for Applicants for specific information about requesting indirect costs; and 2) for information about using indirect costs as match, review “Frequently Asked Questions.” 

EVALUATION CRITERIA

All proposals will be screened for relevance, accuracy, completeness and compliance with NFWF and funding source policies, and this RFP.  Proposals will then be evaluated based on the extent to which they meet the following criteria:

  • Program Goals and Priorities - Project addresses one or more of the of the three “Themes” and associated “Implementation Actions” (IAs) from the 2015 Long Island Sound Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan and one or more of the program priorities outlined in the Request for Proposal. (Please note that not all the IAs found in the three CCMP Themes are priorities addressed by Futures Fund grants.)   The project has specific, quantifiable performance metrics to evaluate project success.  
  • Technical Merit - The 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.
  • Budget - Costs are allowable, reasonable and budgeted in accordance with NFWF’s Budget Instructions cost categories. Federally-funded projects which include grants funded by Futures Fund must be in compliance with OMB Uniform Guidance as applicable.
  • Qualifications - The applicant, organization, and partner experience is relevant to delivery of the project, and/or entity has a proven track record of success in implementing conservation projects with specific measurable results. 
  • Communication – Project includes a detailed plan to communicate information about the project to appropriate audiences.
  • Match – Matching contributions will be evaluated by comparing total funding request to the Futures Fund and the dollar value (in-kind or cash) of the match being provided by the applicant. The ratio of matching funds offered is one criterion considered during the review process, and projects that meet or exceed a 1:1 match ratio will be more competitive.
  • Sustainability – Project will be maintained to ensure environmental results are achieved and sustained over time. This should include how other sources of funds will be secured to sustain project activities and environmental results.

OTHER  

Budget – Costs are allowable, reasonable and budgeted in accordance with NFWF’s Budget Instructions cost categories.  Federally-funded projects must be in compliance with OMB Uniform Guidance as applicable.

Matching Contributions – Matching contributions consist of cash, contributed goods and services, volunteer hours, and/or property raised and spent for the project during the period of performance. Larger match ratios are encouraged and will be more competitive during application review.

Procurement – If the applicant chooses to specifically identify proposed Contractor(s) for Services, an award by NFWF to the applicant does not constitute NFWF’s express written authorization for the applicant to procure such specific services noncompetitively.  When procuring goods and services, NFWF recipients must follow documented procurement procedures which reflect applicable laws and regulations.  

Publicity and Acknowledgement of Support – Award recipients will be required to grant NFWF the right and authority to publicize the project and NFWF’s financial support for the grant in press releases, publications and other public communications.  Recipients may also be asked by NFWF to provide high-resolution (minimum 300 dpi) photographs depicting the project.

Receiving Award Funds – Award payments are primarily reimbursable.  Projects may request funds for reimbursement at any time after completing a signed agreement with NFWF.  A request of an advance of funds must be due to an imminent need of expenditure and must detail how the funds will be used and provide justification and a timeline for expected disbursement of these funds.

Compliance Requirements – Projects selected may be subject to requirements under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), Endangered Species Act (state and federal), 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.  Applicants should budget time and resources to complete this task.  As may be applicable, successful applicants may be required to comply with additional Federal, state or local requirements and obtain all necessary permits and clearances.

Quality Assurance –   If a project involves monitoring, data collection or data use, grantees will be asked to prepare and submit quality assurance documentation.  No data collection or use may begin until a Quality Assurance Project Plan (QAPP) is approved.  Follow the link for Quality Assurance Project Plan Guidance; and the link to QAPP Checklist Guidance.  Applicants should budget time and resources to complete this task.  The QAPP review turnaround time is 30 days. Please be aware that the 30 day turnaround time is not the QAPP approval time-frame but the turnaround time for the first quality assurance review.   Plan to submit QAPPs 2-3 months in advance of monitoring, data collection and use to allow for comments and revisions before final QAPP approval.   Examples of the types of data collection or use which requires a QAPP: new data, existing data (a new use for data collected for a different purpose, whether by the same or different groups), water monitoring, model use, model development, volunteer/citizen science monitoring etc.  Please contact Jessica Lillquist if you have any questions about whether your project would require a Quality Assurance Project Plan.  

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.

Federal Funding –The availability of federal funds estimated in this solicitation is contingent upon the federal appropriations process. Funding decisions will be made based on level of funding and timing of when it is received by NFWF. 

TIMELINE

Dates of activities are subject to change.  Please check NFWF's Long Island Sound Futures Fund​ webpage for the most current dates and information. 

Applicant Webinar​​
​ 3/29/2018,​ 2:00-3:30pm ET (Register​)
Applicant Workshop,
​Brattleboro, VT
​4/2/2018, 10:00 – 11:30am (Register​)
Applicant Workshop,
Springfield, MA
​4/2/2018, 2:30 – 4:00pm (Register)
​Full Proposal Due Date
​5/10/2018 by 11:59 PM ET
​Review Period
​Summer 2018
Grant Notification
​October 2018
​Public Award Announcement
​October 2018
Grant contracting
​Commences October 2018
 
HOW TO APPLY

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

  1. Go to easygrants.nfwf.org 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 – “LIS Futures Fund 2018”.
  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 here.

A Tip Sheet is available for quick reference while you are working through your application. This document can be downloaded here.  

Additional information to support the application process can be accessed on NFWF's Applicant Information webpage.

For more information or questions about this RFP, please contact: 

Jessica Lillquist – Coordinator, Long Island Sound
National Fish and Wildlife Foundation
Jessica.Lillquist@nfwf.org
202-857-0166

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

Easygrants Helpdesk
Email:  Easygrants@nfwf.org
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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