Five Star and Urban Waters Restoration Grant Program 2017 Request for Proposals

Full Proposal Due Date: Tuesday, January 31, 2017 by 11:59 PM Eastern Time


The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) and the Wildlife Habitat Council (WHC), in cooperation with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), USDA Forest Service (USFS), U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), FedEx, Southern Company and Alcoa Foundation are pleased to solicit applications for the 2017 Five Star and Urban Waters Restoration program. The Five Star and Urban Waters program will award approximately $2.5 million in grants nationwide.

The Five Star and Urban Waters Restoration grant program seeks to develop community capacity to sustain local natural resources for future generations by providing modest financial assistance to diverse local partnerships focused on improving water quality, watersheds and the species and habitats they support. Projects include a variety of ecological improvements including: wetland, riparian, forest and coastal habitat restoration; wildlife conservation; community tree canopy enhancement; and/or water quality monitoring and stormwater management; along with targeted community outreach, education and stewardship. NFWF may use a mix of public and private funding sources to support any grant made through this program.

Priority will be given to projects in urban, suburban and/or rural areas that advance water quality goals in environmental justice communities such as neighborhoods with high concentrations of minority and low-income populations. Projects that increase access to the benefits of nature, reduce the impact of environmental hazards and engage these communities in the project planning, outreach and implementation will have priority for funding. We expect at least 50% of the grants made under this RFP to go to projects engaging these communities.


Geographic focus depends on funding available from the funding partners. Grants for this program are available nationwide, but additional funding is available for the geographic priorities listed in the Funding Availability section of this RFP.


Competitive proposals should address each of the five bolded priorities.

  • On-the-Ground Restoration
    • Restore and/or create wetlands, coastal or riparian areas that address key species and habitats and link directly to established watershed and conservation plans
    • Restore, design and/or create forest habitat and/or community tree canopy leading directly to improved water quality of urban watersheds.
    • Manage stormwater or address water scarcity by designing and/or implementing green infrastructure, using best management practices like increasing tree canopy, bio swales, permeable pavers, bio retention, green roofs, downspout disconnection, installation of native vegetation and other proven practices for water quality, habitats and species
    • Design and/or create habitat and/or engage residents in restoration at community public areas such as schools, parks, birding trails and more
    • Collect and analyze local waterway samples that could be used to determine the effectiveness of current stream/wetland restoration and green infrastructure efforts and effectively inform future planning and decision-making
    • Develop/implement trash and litter prevention programs designed to keep urban waterways and riverfronts clean
    • Enhance, restore, conserve, and/or improve land and natural resources management in drinking water protection areas through green/natural infrastructure installations, outreach, education and training on watershed protection practices and their impacts on urban drinking water. Projects must demonstrate the linkage between upstream land-use decisions and the quality, quantity and safety of drinking water.
  • Community Partnerships
    •  Must involve five or more partners (public and private entities) including the applicant
    • Directly engage a diverse group of community partners to achieve ecological and specific educational outcomes including partnerships among upstream and downstream communities
    • Demonstrate that the project will advance existing local planning and development for resilient communities and/or propose to foster new collaborations to coordinate a diverse stakeholder partnership that develop and/or implements new plans
  • Environmental Outreach, Education & Training
    • Must integrate meaningful outreach, education and training into the proposed on-the-ground activities that advance local watershed and conservation goals
    • Engage the public – particularly youth – in hands-on, outdoor conservation experiences that build awareness of the importance of protecting and recovering priority species and habitats and promote stewardship. Priority will be given to projects engaging environmental justice communities.
    • Establish or advance a citizen science or water quality monitoring program that involves community members and/or addresses community water quality priorities. Eligible activities include water quality and/or habitat surveys, bird surveys, monitoring efforts that involve the collection, assessment, analysis and communication of water quality data (existing or new) to identify areas of concern
    • Provide job training, placement and job performance follow-up for stream/wetlands restoration, green infrastructure installation, operation and maintenance
    • Improve citizen understanding of damaging trash and litter impacts in local waterways that affect community health and local economies
  • Measurable Results
    • Must result in specific, measurable ecological, educational and community benefits
    • Identify measurable activities and metrics which clearly link to watershed and community outcomes
    • Document a high level of community engagement to support fish and wildlife habitat, urban forestry and water quality-related activities across diverse audiences which improve understanding of how fish and wildlife conservation, clean water and healthy forests contribute to community well-being
  • Sustainability
    • Must include a plan for maintenance and care of the project beyond the grant period
    • Reflect a commitment to community strength and long-term capacity to remain engaged as partners
    • Directly connect outcomes to community benefits of watershed restoration such as clean water, public health benefits, local economic development and jobs

    • Fulfill or advance priorities identified through local planning efforts, including watershed plans, climate resilience plans and/or sustainability plans


​Project Activity Recommended Metric Additional Guidance
​Land, wetland restoration ​# Acres restored ​Provide # and type of habitat restored. If different types of habitat to be restored, provide # acres and list each individual type. This includes wetlands, springs, saltwater marshes and beach habitat.
​Removal of invasives ​# Acres restored ​Provide # acres restored and type of invasives removed
​Restoration planning/design/permitting ​# Acres restored ​Provide # acres impacted directly by plan
​​Riparian restoration ​# Miles restored ​Provide # miles riverbank planted (decimals are acceptable)
​Land, wetland restoration ​# Trees Planted ​Identify the type of tree(s) planted, approximate age and caliper of the trees
​Best management practices implementation for livestock fencing​ ​# Miles of fencing installed ​Provide # miles fencing installed
​Best management practices implementation for stormwater runoff ​ ​# ​Acres with best management practices  ​ ​Provide # acres implemented with best management practices. This should include the type of green infrastructure being implemented.
​​Best Management Practices implementation for stormwater runoff  ​Volume stormwater prevented  ​Provide volume of stormwater captured by new green infrastructure practices including best management practices for stormwater management
​Improved management practices ​# ​Acres under improved management ​Provide # acres under improved management including best management practices for nutrient and sediment reduction
​Building institutional capacity ​​# Full-time employees with sufficient training ​Provide # full-time employees provided with training through the project
​Building institutional capacity​ ​​# of organizations contributing to project goals ​Provide # partner organizations
​Economic benefits​ ​​# jobs sustained ​Provide # jobs continued or sustained through grant project
​Economic benefits​ ​​# jobs created  ​​Provide number of individuals hired by organization or contractor directly working on project (non-volunteers)
​Outreach/ Education/ Technical Assistance ​# people reached ​​Provide # of people reached
​Volunteer participation​ ​​# volunteers participating ​Provide number of community members directly engaged in project. If volunteers include youth (up to age 18) or veterans, specify # youth or # veterans.
​​Monitoring ​​# streams/sites being monitored ​​Provide the number of maps or other assessments of green infrastructure resources, tree canopies, trails and other community assets created during the project period.
​Other​ ​​# Maps or assessments completed ​Provide the number of maps or other assessments of green infrastructure resources, tree canopies, trails and other community assets created during the project period.
​Other​ ​# lbs of trash or debris removed or prevented from entering waterways ​Provide lbs of trash or debris removed from waterways or other restoration sites or expected amount prevented from entering waterways and specify removal or prevention.


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


Approximately $2,500,000 is available nationwide for projects meeting program priorities. There is one round of full proposals annually for this program. Awards range from $20,000 to $50,000 with an average size of $30,000 and 40-50 grants awarded per year. Grants should span one to two years in length with a start date in July 2017. Applications requesting more than $30,000 should propose projects longer than one year.

There is one application submitted to NFWF for all sources of funding. A detailed list of funders is provided to identify areas of the country where additional funds are available and to provide information on any funder-specific recommendations that applicants should include in proposals.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Five Star Restoration Training Program

Funding Available:

Approximately $215,000 is available nationwide from EPA to fund projects. These funds are available nationwide, in any size community.

Urban Waters Federal Partnership, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Forest Service Urban Forestry

Funding Available:

Approximately $522,000 is available from US Forest Service and EPA, through the Urban Waters Federal Partnership, to improve urban water quality, restore riparian habitat and urban forests and increase public access in developed watersheds throughout the United States. Funds are available nationwide for urban areas. Special consideration will be made for projects which directly advance priorities of the 19 Urban Waters Federal Partnership Designated Locations and/or are in designated source water protection areas. Applicants for this special consideration are strongly encouraged to note in the abstract and narrative which Federal Partnership the project will be located. Please refer to these links to identify those areas:

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Urban Programs

Funding Available:

Approximately $405,000 is available from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to fund projects that engage urban neighbors and foster a sense of stewardship where there are Fish and Wildlife Service lands or offices nearby (within approximately 25+/- miles). Priority areas could also include locations where there are existing Urban Wildlife Refuge Partnerships or with established Urban Bird Treaty Cities with the Fish and Wildlife Service. Proposals should articulate tangible ways the Fish and Wildlife Service can become an asset to the community. Examples of asset building would include: providing technical assistance in fish and wildlife issues, providing pathways for youth employment or community education and recreational enjoyment.

  • $225,000 of these funds comes from the FWS Urban Wildlife Refuge Partnerships to engage communities in conservation on easily-accessible lands that the Service does not own. They involve residents in place-based outdoor experiences that foster connections with fish, wildlife and their habitats. Proposals should address the Urban Wildlife Refuge Partnership priorities (partnerships, measurable results, sustainability) and demonstrate how the project will meet at least one of the Standards of Excellence for Urban Wildlife Refuges and Partnerships (located at
  • $180,000 of these funds comes from the Urban Bird Treaty program and projects should have an emphasis on protecting, restoring and enhancing urban habitats for birds, engaging people in bird conservation and citizen science activities, hazard reduction for birds such as bird-safe building programs, and connecting diverse and youth audiences through education and outreach involving nature through birding and bird conservation. Projects supported with this funding do not have to be located in an existing Urban Bird Treaty city but grantee/partners must agree to work toward designation if funded.

Southern Company Five Star Restoration Program

Funding Available:

Approximately $360,000 is available from Southern Company and its operating companies (Alabama Power, Georgia Power, Gulf Power and Mississippi Power) to support on-the-ground wetland, riparian, in-stream or coastal habitat conservation and restoration projects in the Southern Company service area served by its four electric retail subsidiaries. Applicants should clearly describe in their proposal how the project will address any priority and/or at-risk species, habitats or conservation actions identified in their State Wildlife Action Plan (or other recovery or conservation plans), and how the entity in charge of implementing the plan is involved with the project, as applicable. A mixture of urban and rural communities is expected across the applicants for this specific funding.

Geographic Priorities:

Southern Company will support high quality projects in the following states:

  • Alabama (excluding Lauderdale, Colbert, Lawrence, Limestone, Madison, Marshall, Morgan, Jackson and DeKalb counties)
  • Florida Panhandle (west of the Apalachicola River)
  • Georgia (excluding Union, Fannin and Towns counties)
  • Mississippi (including the following counties, north to south: Leake, Neshoba, Kemper, Scott, Newton, Lauderdale, Smith, Jasper, Clarke, Jefferson Davis, Covington, Jones, Wayne, Marion, Lamar, Forrest, Perry, Greene, George, Stone, Pearl River, Hancock, Harrison and Jackson.)

Click here to view a map of the Southern Company Service Area.


Funding Available:

Approximately $412,000 is available from FedEx to support urban conservation and restoration. All proposals in these areas must propose a volunteer event for up to 100 local FedEx employees in the project narrative to be considered for funding under this funding source.

Geographic Priorities:

These funds will support projects in any of the following metropolitan areas:

Boston, MA  ​Los Angeles, CA  ​San Francisco/Oakland, CA
​Chicago, IL  Memphis, TN  ​Seattle, WA
​Dallas/Ft. Worth, TX  ​Washington, DC  ​Northern NJ/New York, NY
​Indianapolis, IN ​Pittsburgh, PA  ​Miami, FL
​Colorado Springs, CO  ​Philadelphia, PA  ​Harrison, AR
​Phoenix, AZ  ​Cleveland, OH  ​Atlanta, GA
​Atlanta, GA ​Lakeland, FL  ​New Berlin, WI
Akron/Uniontown, OH   Portland, OR
Alcoa Foundation

Funding Available:

Approximately $30,000 is available from Alcoa Foundation to support community-based restoration and stewardship projects within the selected geographic priorities.

Geographic Priorities:

Alcoa Foundation will support high quality projects in the following metropolitan areas:

​Cleveland, OH  ​Canton, OH
​Barberton, OH  Farmington Hills, MI


Additional Private Foundation Support

Funding Available:

Approximately $600,000 is available from private foundation funding to support community-based habitat restoration and stewardship projects in the seven states listed below. Grant recipients should include detailed information on the support of non-game animal species and habitat through grant activities in their proposal, specifically as these habitats related to underserved human communities and the sustained protection of wild animal species and their habitats. A mixture of urban and rural communities is expected across the applicants for this specific funding.

Geographic Priorities:

This funding will support high quality projects in the following states:

Alaska   ​Idaho  ​Washington
​Montana  ​North Dakota 
​Wisconsin Minnesota


The ratio of matching contributions offered is considered during the review process, and projects are required to meet or exceed a 1:1 match ratio to be competitive. Matching contributions must be non-federal in nature, may include in-kind contributions of staff and volunteer time, work performed, materials and services donated, cash 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.

Additionally, partner contributions can serve as matching contributions and grantees for this grant program commonly use a large amount of in-kind matching contributions to reach this threshold by utilizing their community partnerships to generate match. Applicants highly encouraged to contact NFWF for assistance in determine what qualifies as in-kind or any other matching contributions.

In addition, if they would not be paid with requested grant funding, indirect costs 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 typically must be:

  • Not paid by the Federal government under another Federal award
  • Verifiable from the grantee’s records
  • Not included as contributions for any other award
  • Necessary and reasonable for accomplishment of project or program objectives
  • Allowable costs based on the program and funding source guidelines
  • Committed directly to the project and used 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.

Required Criteria:

Program Goals and Priorities – Proposed project contributes to the Five Star and Urban Waters Program’s overall habitat, water quality and species conservation goals and has specific, quantifiable performance metrics to evaluate project success. Project directly addresses each of the program priorities outlined above in this Request for Proposals.

Partnership An appropriate partnership of five or more partners exists to implement the project and the project is supported by a strong local partnership that leverages additional funds and will sustain it after the life of the grant. Identify proposed partners, if known (including potential or contemplated subawards to third party subrecipients of the applicant), the roles they will play in implementing the project and how this project will build new or enhance existing partnerships. (Note: a project partner is any local community, non-profit organization, for profit organization tribe and/or local, state, and federal government agency that contributes to the project in a substantial way and is closely involved in the completion of the project.)

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.

Conservation or Watershed Plan and Context – The project advances an existing drought management, watershed or conservation plan/strategy. Proposals should include a clear, direct link between the proposed project to the plans, what entity is in charge of implementing the plan and how the project outcomes will coordinate results with that entity if not already a project partner.

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).

Funding Need – Project establishes a clear need for the funds being requested, and demonstrates that activities would not move forward absent funding. Project identifies demographic characteristics of underserved or environmental justice communities benefiting from the project.

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 beyond the life of the grant. This should include how future funding will be secured to implement necessary long-term monitoring and maintenance activities.


Other Criteria:

Transferability – Project has potential and plan to transfer lessons learned to other communities and/or to be integrated into government programs and policies.

Communication Strategy – Project includes a detailed plan to communicate information about the project to appropriate audiences.

Past Success – Applicant has a proven track record in implementing conservation and education practices with specific, measurable results.


General: Applicants will be required to indicate the status of all permits required to comply with federal, state or local requirements.

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 and applicable funding partners 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.
Environmental Compliance Requirements – Projects selected to receive Federal funding 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 such Federal, state or local requirements and obtain all

Federal Funding Requirements: Projects selected to receive Federal funding may be subject to requirements under the National Environmental Policy Act, Endangered Species Act, 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. Federally-funded projects must operate in compliance with the OMB Uniform Guidance as applicable to the applicant.

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 to coordinate with state or EPA staff in development of the QAPP.

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


Dates of activities are subject to change. Please check the Program page of the NFWF website for the most current dates and information (Five Star and Urban Waters program website).

Applicant webinar (Click here to register)​
 November 15, 2016, 2pm, Eastern Time
​​Full Proposal Due Date   ​January 31, 2017, 11:59pm, Eastern Time
Review Period      February to June 2017
Awards Announced  July 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 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 the NFWF website’s “Applicant Information” page.

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

Danny Bowater (All Geographies)
Coordinator, Community-Based Conservation

Lindsay Vacek (Southern Company Service Area only)
Coordinator, Southern Regional Office
(202) 595-2433

Carrie Clingan
Program Director, Community Stewardship and Youth

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 to which you are applying and a description of the issue