Technical Capacity Grants Program 2017 Request for Proposals

​Proposal Due Date:   Tuesday, September 12, 2017 by 11:59 EDT 


Through the 2017 Technical Capacity Grants Program, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF), in partnership with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the federal-state Chesapeake Bay Program partnership, is soliciting applications from approved NFWF Technical Assistance Providers (“eligible applicants”) for the provision of technical services to local governments, nonprofit organizations, and conservation districts (“eligible beneficiaries”) for projects that enhance local capacity to more efficiently and effectively restore the habitats and water quality of the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries. 

Eligible beneficiaries interested in receiving technical capacity assistance through this program are encouraged to consult NFWF’s current list of eligible applicants which lists the expertise, geographic service area, and contact information for approved NFWF Technical Assistance Providers. Applications may only be submitted by eligible applicants and must list and document the support, via a signed letter of support, of at least one eligible beneficiary. NFWF will award approximately $1 million in grants to eligible applicants on behalf of eligible beneficiaries through the 2017 Technical Capacity Grants Program across a range of program priority areas, including agricultural conservation, habitat restoration, community stewardship, and stormwater management. 

Funding for the CBSF Technical Capacity Grants Program is provided by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency through the Chesapeake Bay Program Office. 

​Definition ​Roles and Responsibilities




​Approved NFWF Technical Assistance Providers (available here​)
  • ​Provide project-related technical services directly to beneficiaries
  • Submit project applications to Easygrants on behalf of beneficiary organizations 
  • Manage associated grant awards, including financial and programmatic reporting





​​Non-profit 501(c) organizations, local governments (including soil and water conservation districts), municipal governments, and Indian tribes
  • ​Receive project-related technical services from applicants
  • Identify technical capacity needs consistent with RFP priorities
  • Consult list of Approved NFWF Technical Assistance Providers (available here) to develop project application
  • No application or grants management responsibilities



To be eligible for funding, all projects must occur wholly within the Chesapeake Bay watershed.  Priority consideration will be provided to projects located within NFWF’s Targeted Rivers and Watersheds identified by NFWF as having especially significant opportunities for shared water quality improvement, habitat restoration, and species recovery outcomes.


The goal of the Chesapeake Bay Stewardship Fund (CBSF) is to protect and restore local waters that contribute to the overall health of the Chesapeake Bay, and to accelerate adoption of the most cost effective and sustainable approaches to reduce nutrient and sediment pollution to the Chesapeake Bay.

Through the annual Innovative Nutrient and Sediment Reduction Grants (INSR) and Small Watershed Grants (SWG) programs, CBSF funds efforts that measurably reduce nutrient and sediment pollution, improve important habitats, and increase citizen stewardship through implementation of on-the-ground restoration actions.

Through the Technical Capacity Grants Program detailed below, CBSF will provide grants directly to eligible applicants acting on behalf of eligible beneficiaries for delivery of technical services that enhance the capacity of local partners to implement high-impact and cost-effective on-the-ground restoration efforts.

Funded projects should not include significant on-the-ground restoration actions but instead enhance the technical capacity of beneficiaries to implement more effective restoration through existing programs and/or future funding and project opportunities, including future INSR and SWG grant opportunities, through planning, prioritization, design, etc.  Entities interested in applying for INSR or SWG funding in 2018 and beyond should consider the Technical Capacity Grants Program as an opportunity to better develop project ideas and enhance the technical merits and competitive status of later INSR and SWG applications.

Competitive proposals for all program priority areas of the CBSF Technical Capacity Grants Program will achieve one or more of the following broad programmatic priorities:

  • Support local engagement in the development of Phase III Watershed Implementation Plans through the design of watershed restoration projects and development of watershed plans and associated restoration programs.
  • Build the technical capacity of local governments, conservation districts, and small watershed organizations and nonprofit partners to deliver water quality and stewardship implementation projects through education, training, and associated skills development.
  • Catalyze increased and more targeted local investment of restoration and protection project funding through watershed assessment and action planning, technical design, and restoration project prioritization efforts.
  • Support the establishment or enhancement of long-term restoration program delivery and implementation strategies through program design and review, financing and delivery strategies, scoping and establishment of multi-party institutional structures, organizational assessment and enhancement, and novel targeting approaches for outreach, restoration siting, etc.

Special consideration will be provided to proposals that address one or more of the broad programmatic priorities identified above as specifically related to: 

  • Research and development of regional institutional structures to accelerate restoration actions and enhance efficiency of restoration program delivery that engage water quality and restoration professionals, public agencies, academic institutions, nongovernmental organizations, and/or the private sector to coordinate regional delivery of on-the-ground water quality improvement and habitat restoration programs. Examples include establishment of regional government authorities for the delivery of stormwater program funding and management at a multi-municipality scale, coalitions of conservation districts and/or watershed organizations for the delivery of technical assistance and coordinated implementation for priority agricultural conservation practices at a multi-county scale, and watershed-based partnerships for stream, wetland, and floodplain restoration.  Activities may include: organizational assessment and network development; development of shared staffing and equipment agreements; funding of shared planning, prioritization, and decision making efforts; and integration of programs, planning, and funding via development of organizational mergers, Memoranda of Understanding, new governance models, etc. Projects must clearly demonstrate plans for sustaining new regional coordination and program delivery mechanisms beyond the requested grant term, including clear plans for self-financing, governance, etc.
Interested applicants or beneficiaries unsure of which application period best suits their proposed project are strongly encouraged to contact NFWF staff for further guidance.


To better gauge progress on individual grants and to ensure greater consistency of project data provided by multiple grants, the Technical Capacity Grants Program has a list of metrics in Easygrants for grantees to choose from for 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 Alyssa Hildt at to discuss acceptable alternatives.

​Project Activity ​Recommended Metric ​Additional Guidance
​BMP implementation for stormwater runoff ​Volume of stormwater prevented Enter the volune (in gallons of stormwater prevented from entering water body
​Habitat Management ​ ​Acres with BMPs to reduce nutrient or sediment loads Enter the number of acres with Best Management Practices (BMPs)
​Acres under improved management Enter the number of acres with enhanced nutrient management

​Planning, Outreach, Monitoring

​ ​ ​
​Number of BMP recommendations developed Enter the number of Best Management Practice (BMP) recommendations developed
​Number of management or governance plan activities implemented Enter the number of management plan activities being implemented
​Number of research studies used to inform management Enter the number of studies completed whose findings are used to adopt management/inform management decisions
​Number of tools developed by decision-makers Enter the number of tools developed that are used by decision-makers
​Capacity, Outreach, Incentives ​ ​ ​ ​ ​Number of full-time equivalents with sufficient training Enter the number of staff or full-time equivalents with sufficient training and skills engaged in conservation activities
​Number of people demonstrating a minimum level of behavior change Enter the number of individuals demonstrating a minimum level of behavior change
​Number of people targeted by outreach, training, or technical assistance activities Enter the number of people targeted by outreach, training, or technical assistance activities
​Number of workshops, webinars, meetings Enter the number of workshops, webinars, and meetings held to address project activity
​Number of people reached Enter the number of people reached by outreah, training, or technical assistance activities
​Planning, Research, Monitoring ​ ​Number of management plans into which BMPs were incorporated Enter the number of management plans into which Best Management Practices (BMPs) were incorporated
​Number of research studies completed Enter the number of research studies completed



  • Eligible and Ineligible Entities
    • Eligible applicants include only those entities approved by NFWF as Technical Assistance Providers for the purposes of the Chesapeake Bay Stewardship Fund.  A list of NFWF-approved providers is available here.  Entities interested in registering as an approved Technical Assistance Provider for this RFP must submit appropriate registration documents no later than five days prior to the beginning the of the next open application period for any given cycle. Interested parties can contact Alyssa Hildt at for further details.
    • Eligible beneficiaries include non-profit 501(c) organizations, local governments (including soil and water conservation districts), municipal governments, and Indian tribes.  Proposals must formally list and document support of the beneficiary for the proposed project.

    • Ineligible beneficiaries include U.S. Federal government agencies, state government agencies, educational institutions, businesses, unincorporated individuals, and international organizations.

  • 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. Grant funds also may be used to develop or inform the development of cost-effective programs to implement MS4 permit requirements.


The Chesapeake Bay Stewardship Fund will award a total of approximately $1 million in grants through the Technical Capacity Grants Program in 2017. NFWF plans to award approximately 25 grants through the Technical Capacity Grants Program. Total funding for awards made under each application cycle will be determined based on the quality and quantity applications received each cycle.  Grants through this program will not exceed $50,000 and must be completed within 12 months following finalization of the grant agreement.  There is no match requirement for the Technical Capacity Grants Program.  However, projects are encouraged to provide non-federal cash or in-kind match (for example, as documentation of support from the eligible beneficiary).


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.

​Priority and Overall Context – Project clearly achieves a programmatic priority and demonstrates a connection to a local or regional watershed initiative or plan, including, as appropriate, the state’s Phase II or III Watershed Implementation Plan (WIP).  Projects that address specified gaps identified in WIP implementation will receive priority consideration. 

​Commitment to Implementation – Clear evidence that guidance, plans, designs, etc. resulting from the project will be translated into future improvements to local water quality and habitats and/or accelerated nutrient and sediment reductions to the Chesapeake Bay.  

​Demonstrated Need – Project clearly addresses a lack of capacity, technical expertise, financial resources, etc. for beneficiaries in implementing projects and programs to improve to local water quality and habitats and/or accelerate nutrient and sediment reductions to the Chesapeake Bay. Projects should establish a clear need for the funds being requested and demonstrate that activities would not move forward absent funding. 

​Partnership and Community Engagement – Project engages diverse local community members, leaders, community-based organizations, and other relevant partners to ensure the long-term sustainability of the project, integration into local programs and policies, and community acceptance of proposed restoration actions. Non-traditional partners or communities are enlisted to broaden the sustained impact from the project. Projects successfully demonstrate how prior efforts in the project area or region have informed and shaped proposed approach.  Proposals may document match from partners as an indicator of partnership and unique letters of support indicating the partners’ role in and contribution to the project. 

​Transferability and Dissemination Plans – Project includes clear plans to actively transfer and disseminate project-related information to appropriate audiences and relevant stakeholders within the Chesapeake Bay watershed through multiple communications mechanisms, with the goal of expanding adoption of successful approaches and integration into government programs and policies (e.g., state and federal cost share, MS4 program delivery, etc.).  

Technical Merit, Work Plan, and Budget – Project is technically sound, feasible, cost-effective, 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. Applicants are encouraged to provide documentation of technical assistance either received or committed to by appropriate state and federal agencies, academics and consultants. 


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.  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. 

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 Chesapeake Bay Technical Capacity Grants Program​ page for the most current dates and information.  

Easygrants Open for Proposal Submission
​Monday, July 31, 2017
Applicant/Beneficiary Webinar (register)
​Tuesday, August 8, 10:00am
​Proposal Due Date
​Tuesday, September 12, 2017
Review Period
​Late September 2017
Awards Announced (anticipated)
​Late October 2017


Applications may only be submitted by eligible applicants (see Eligibility section for more details). 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 as application has been started, it may be saved and returned to at a later time for completion and submission.


For eligible beneficiaries interested in receiving technical capacity assistance through this program, please consult NFWF’s list of eligible applicants here which lists the expertise, geographic service area, and contact information for approved NFWF Technical Assistance Providers. 

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, which 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: 

​Jake Reilly
(202) 857-0166.

Elizabeth Nellums
(202) 857-0166.

Alyssa Hildt 
(202) 857-0166.

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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