ConocoPhillips SPIRIT of Conservation and Innovation 2017 Request for Proposals

Full Proposal Due Date: June 29, 2017 by 11:59 PM Eastern Time  


The ConocoPhillips SPIRIT of Conservation and Innovation program is inviting applications for competitive grant funding to be awarded through the 2017 funding cycle. The program will award grants for habitat restoration, water and biodiversity conservation, and innovative conservation projects. The program is a partnership among ConocoPhillips, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Approximately $1 million is expected to be available for grant awards in 2017.


Projects focused on water or biodiversity conservation within the United States and Canada must occur in one or more of the eligible states/provinces listed below. Projects located within program focal areas will be more competitive, see below for the map of program focal areas.
United States: Alaska, Colorado, Louisiana, Montana, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, and Wyoming.

Canada: Alberta and northeast British Columbia

Projects focused on water innovation are eligible throughout the U.S., Alberta, and British Columbia. Projects located in the program focal areas listed above or have direct transferability to those areas are of special interest.


In 2017, grant funding will be awarded in two categories:
  • Water Innovation
  • Species and Habitat Conservation
Funding Category 1: Water Innovation

This category will support projects that make significant advancements, through innovation, for water conservation to benefit species or their habitats. Preference will be given to projects that can quantify the benefits to species.

Funding will primarily support the following strategies.

  • Develop and/or field test new innovative water and/or species conservation tools and techniques, specifically:
    • Beneficial reuse of wastewater or produced water that benefit species or local water resources
    • Re-introduction of extirpated native aquatic species
    • Invasive aquatic species management
    • Determination of instream flow needs
    • In-stream flow restoration for habitat conservation and restoration
    • Collaboration tools that bring together water experts across multiple sectors and parties for the purpose of aquatic habitat conservation or restoration
  • Through collaboration or other methods, rapidly and/or significantly take to scale innovative tools and techniques for water conservation.
Funding Category 2: Species and Habitat Conservation

This category will support projects within the program focal areas that contribute significantly to the conservation of aquatic or terrestrial species and their habitats with a special emphasis on species of conservation concern, e.g. Species of Greatest Conservation Need as defined in State Wildlife Action Plans. Preference will be given to projects that can quantify the species or habitat benefits designed to improve populations of species of conservation concern. Please describe in your narrative any species that will significantly benefit from the project and the anticipated benefits to the species. 

Many grassland bird species are in decline due to a number of factors. Within focal areas found in grassland dominated ecosystems examples of species of interest include, but are not limited to, Baird’s sparrow, burrowing owl, Cassin’s sparrow, chestnut-collared longspur, lark bunting McCown’s longspur, and Sprague’s pipit.

Within Alaska, projects located within the focal areas and focused on identified SGCN are encouraged.

This category will also support projects within the program focal areas that contribute significantly to the restoration/conservation of water for the benefit of fish and wildlife habitat. Preference will be given to projects that can quantify the fish, wildlife, or habitat benefits/response resulting from the project. Projects that develop or implement innovative approaches within this category are also of interest.

Funding will primarily support the following strategies.
  • Increase populations of Species of Greatest Conservation Need through the
  • implementation of priority restoration strategies identified in State Wildlife Action Plans.
  • Restore in-stream flows and habitat for aquatic species.
  • Restore or enhance grassland, sage, or riparian habitat for terrestrial and/or aquatic species.
  • Engage ranchers and farmers, and the agricultural sector in developing and implementing best management practices that benefit grassland bird habitat (e.g. enrollment in Farm Bill programs)


To better gauge progress on individual grants and to ensure greater consistency of project data provided by multiple grants, the SPIRIT of Conservation and Innovation program has a list of metrics in Easygrants for applicants to choose from for future reporting. 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 Eric Forward to discuss acceptable alternatives.
Project Activity
Recommended Metric
Additional Guidance
Land Restoration
Acres Restored
In the notes section of this metric please indicate what species is benefitting and the dominant habitat type being restored
Wetland Restoration
Acres Restored
In the notes section of this metric please indicate what species is benefitting and the dominant habitat type being restored
Riparian Restoration
Miles Restored
In the notes section of this metric please indicate what species is benefitting and the dominant habitat type being restored
Improved management practices
Acres under improved management
Enter the number of acres under improved management
Restoring Hydrology
Volume of water conserved per year
Enter the volume (in gallons per year) of water conserved for conservation purposes
Development of innovative tools, techniques, methods
# tools/ techniques developed
Enter the # of innovative tools, techniques, methods developed and the purpose of the innovation
Scalability or implementation of innovative tools, techniques, methods
# tools/ techniques implemented
Enter the # of innovative tools, techniques, methods implemented, the purpose of the innovation, and the location and extent of the implementation
Outreach, Education, Technical Assistance
# people with changed behavior
Enter the # of people and/or organizations using the tools, techniques, methods developed through your project
Outreach, Education, Technical Assistance
# people reached
Enter the # of people and/or organizations to whom you disseminated the tools, techniques, methods developed through your project


Eligible and Ineligible Entities
  • Eligible applicants include non-profit 501(c) organizations (or their international equivalents); state or federal government agencies; local governments; Indian tribes; and educational institutions.
  • Ineligible applicants include:  Private for-profit firms and 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.


The ConocoPhillips SPIRIT of Conservation and Innovation program will award approximately $1 million in grant awards in 2017. Grant awards will range from $25,000 to $250,000. Past grants have typically ranged from $50,000 to $150,000. Funded projects should be completed within two years following finalization of a grant agreement.

All grant awards require a minimum 1:1 match of cash or contributed goods and services, of which at least 50% should be from non-Federal sources. The ratio of matching funds offered by the applicant is one criterion considered during the review process. Matching funds 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. The cost of recent land acquisition or easement may also qualify as match for a project involving work at the acquired site. In addition, indirect costs that would not be paid with requested grant funding 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 must be:
  • raised and dedicated specifically for the project;
  • allowable costs based on the program and funding source guidelines
  • applied only to the ConocoPhillips SPIRIT of Conservation and Innovation grant and not to any other matching program(s); and
  • spent/applied 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. A panel of ConocoPhillips, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service reviewers will use the criteria as a strong basis for project selections. However, project selections will also be based on other considerations, such as availability of funding, geographic balance, and balance among project types. In addition, selections may be based on how proposed activities would advance goals of established regional, tribal, state and federal conservation plans.
  • Program Goals and Priorities – Project contributes to the Program’s conservation priorities, and has specific, quantifiable performance metrics to evaluate project success. Project addresses one or more of the program priorities outlined in the Request for Proposal.
  • 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.
  • Partnership – An appropriate partnership exists to implement the project and will sustain it after the life of the grant.
  • Transferability – Project has the potential and a plan to transfer lessons learned to other communities or organizations.
  • Communication – Project includes a detailed plan to communicate information about the project to appropriate audiences.
  • Funding Need – Project establishes a clear need for the funds being requested, and demonstrates that activities would not move forward absent funding.
  • Conservation Plan and Context – The project advances an existing conservation plan or strategy.
  • 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 over time. This should include how future funding will be secured to implement necessary long-term monitoring and maintenance activities.
  • Past Success – Applicant has a proven track record of success in implementing conservation practices with specific and measurable results.


  • 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 (OMB Uniform Guidance).
  • Procurement – If the applicant chooses to specifically identify proposed Contractor(s) for Services, an award by NFWF to the applicant does not necessarily 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, 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.  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 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.
  • 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.


Dates of activities are subject to change. Please check the Program page of the NFWF website for the most current dates and information:

Full Proposal Due Date ​June 29, 2017, 11:59 PM Eastern 
​Review Period ​July 1 – September 23​​, 2017
​Awards Announced ​September 24 – September 30, 2017


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

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

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: 
Eric Forward 

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 you are applying to,  and a description of the issue.


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