Bats for the Future Fund 2020 Request for Proposals

Proposal Due Date: Thursday, November 12, 2020 by 11:59 PM Eastern Time
Applicant Webinar: Friday, October 9, 2020, 1:00-2:00 PM Eastern Time
 

OVERVIEW

The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF), in partnership with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), is soliciting proposals to slow or halt the spread of white-nose syndrome disease (WNS) in North America and promote the survival and recovery of WNS-affected bat populations and species. The Bats for the Future Fund (BFF) will award approximately $600,000 in grants. The USFWS, which leads the national response for combatting WNS, provides major funding for the BFF. Additional important funding is provided by Southern Company and Avangrid Foundation. 

The objectives of the BFF are to: 

  • Advance field treatments and management tools that provide the greatest potential to prevent exposure of bats to Pseudogymnoascus destructans (Pd), the fungal pathogen that causes WNS, and/or improve survival of bats after they have been exposed
  • Implement field treatments, management tools and conservation strategies that help WNS-affected bat populations to recover from the impacts of WNS; and,
  • Support innovative and collaborative research leading to development and deployment of treatments and management tools or strategies for WNS that will perpetuate viable populations of bats.
     

EPIDEMIOLOGICAL FOCUS

The Bats for the Future Fund will award grants to projects that develop and deploy field treatments, management tools and conservation strategies tailored to the disease situation, species and the habitat(s) in which they were intended to be used. Project objectives should vary depending on epidemiological focus of the proposed work as it relates to the status of Pd and WNS in those areas. 

In areas where Pd has not been detected and is unlikely to already be present, tools and strategies that counter the invasion and establishment of pathogenic Pd are sought to avoid or stall impacts of WNS on vulnerable bat species. On the leading edge of WNS, and/or in the vicinity of where Pd fungal pathogen has been detected and bats may be affected, projects should focus on field treatments and/or management strategies to prevent the spread of Pd, and minimize the impact of WNS. In the established or endemic area, where Pd and WNS have caused significant mortality and all hibernacula are assumed to be impacted, projects should focus on protecting potential survivors and recovering remaining bat populations.


PROGRAM PRIORITIES

The BFF will support research and management actions that address the priorities enumerated below. Competitive proposals will aim to develop, test and implement treatments and management solutions for WNS to minimize the short and long-term impacts of the disease.

Applicants are encouraged to consider cross-disciplinary and innovative approaches to solving challenges associated with deployment and management. Collaborations (e.g., across disciplines, countries, academic institutions, agencies, etc.) that leverage the best thinking and resources.

  1. Field treatments and management tools or strategies that prevent exposure of bats to Pd or improve survival from WNS.

    BFF is inviting proposals that focus on treating or managing the host, pathogen, and/or environment to limit spread and impacts of WNS. Proposed treatments may involve ecological, molecular, synthetic, biochemical, mechanical, and other strategies that reduce the impacts of WNS on bats; and/or may demonstrate new disinfection products or procedures to minimize reservoirs of Pd in the environment. Safety and feasibility at individual through ecosystem scales will be evaluated for all proposed actions.  All applications must describe the benefits, risks and costs of the proposed management solutions, incorporating non-target effects to organisms and the environment and frequency of repeating the application for the intended benefits.
     
  2. Field treatments, management tools and conservation strategies that help WNS-affected bat populations to recover from the impacts of WNS.

    BFF is inviting proposals that seek to help bat populations and species that have been impacted by WNS to stabilize and recover. 

Projects may include, but are not limited to: 

  • Genetic/genomic manipulations, or other molecular technologies, that reduce Pd’s ability to proliferate, survive, spread, and/or infect bats.
  • Development and implementation of habitat modification and enhancement strategies that result in guidance or direct action to improve survival of WNS-affected bats.
  • Biological or chemical controls, which include, but are not limited to antimicrobial or antifungal agents, antagonistic pathogens (mycoviruses), probiotics, bacteria or fungi that are capable of reducing, inhibiting or preventing the growth and/or establishment of Pd in the environment.  
  • Vaccines or other immune-modulating techniques to reduce host susceptibility to WNS.
  • Testing non-target effects, field efficacy and feasibility across varying environmental and biological settings, particularly for the specific settings proposed for implementing any of the above strategies.
  • Testing combinations of treatment agents and/or management strategies to optimize benefits under varying conditions.
     

PROJECT METRICS  

To better gauge progress on individual grants and to ensure greater consistency of project data provided by multiple grants, the BFF has a list of metrics in the Easygrants online application for applicants to choose from for reporting if successfully awarded funding. 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 below, please include it in your proposal narrative. 

Project Activity Project Metric  Additional Guidance
BMP development  BFF – BMP development - 
# BMP recommendations developed
Enter the number of BMP recommendations developed
Monitoring  BFF - Monitoring - 
# sites being monitored 
Enter the number of bat sites being monitored related to hibernacula, maternity colonies, captive colonies, treatment efficacy, or collateral effects, etc.
Research BFF - Research - # research studies completed  Enter the number of research objectives completed
Research BFF - Research - # studies used to inform management Enter the number of studies completed whose findings lead to direct management recommendations. In the notes section discuss publication goals
Survivorship BFF - Survivorship – Mortality rate  Enter the beginning mortality rate and the predicted ending mortality rate. In the Notes section describe the % decrease in mortality rate demonstrated by your study and the scale of impact (e.g. site, county, etc.).
Disease control BFF - Disease control - 
# individuals protected
Enter the number of individuals receiving treatment directly and the overall population effect (if applicable). In the notes, break out the number of individuals by species being affected/treated. Consider measurement of disease incidence and prevalence to determine success of disease control studies.
Disease control  BFF – Disease control - # of species benefiting Enter the number of species that directly benefit from your project. In the notes, provide a list of the species affected.
Disease control BFF - Disease control - # sites protected Enter the number of sites being treated. In the notes, elaborate on the number of sites treated relative to overall population effect.
Disease control BFF – Disease control - # of sites with persistent populations Enter the number of sites that have persistent bat populations. In the notes, indicate % of these sites out of the total number of sites that received treatment from your project.
Disease control BFF – Disease control - # of sites that remain uncontaminated Enter the number of sites that remain uncontaminated by Pd within your study area.
Disease control BFF – Disease control – fungal load rate Enter the beginning prevalence of Pd rate and the predicted ending prevalence of Pd rate. In the Notes section describe the % decrease in prevalence of Pd rate demonstrated by your study and the scale of impact (e.g. site, county, etc.).


ELIGIBILITY

Eligible and Ineligible Entities

  • Eligible applicants include non-profit 501(c) organizations, U.S. Federal government agencies, state government agencies, local governments, municipal governments, Tribal Governments and Organizations, research and educational institutions, and for-profit entities.
  • Ineligible applicants include unincorporated individuals. 

Ineligible Uses of Grant Funds 

  • The following types of proposals are not eligible for funding under the BFF:
    • Species composition, distribution, movement and habitat-use studies, unless directly tied to development or implementation of a management strategy
    • Monitoring studies unrelated to the development of field treatments or management tools for WNS
    • Development of WNS detection methods or tools, unless directly linked to deployment of a specified treatment
    • Outreach and education programs
  • Equipment:  Applicants are encouraged to rent equipment where possible and cost-effective or use matching funds to make those purchases.  NFWF acknowledges, however, that some projects may only be completed using NFWF funds to procure equipment. If this applies to your project, please contact the program staff listed in this RFP to discuss options.
  • 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. 
  • Proposals requesting funds below the minimum, and above the maximum allowable award amount will be considered ineligible (see exception in the next section).


FUNDING AVAILABILITY AND MATCH

Grants requests must be greater than $25,000 and should be no more than $250,000; however, higher amounts may be considered for projects presented as lasting strategies to disable or eradicate Pd on a widespread basis within the grant period of performance. Applicants contemplating requesting more than $250,000 should contact NFWF staff in advance for guidance.

Match: Applicants are encouraged to provide match valued at 50 percent of the total grant amount requested from the BFF (not the total project budget). For example, if you are requesting $100,000 from the BFF, a 50 percent match is $50,000. 

Grant Period: The start date for projects can be back-dated to November 12, 2020 in order to seek reimbursement for costs already incurred or to capture matching contributions. Projects must start within six months of award and be completed within two and no more than three years after notification of grant award.  Notification of award is projected to be mid-February 2020.


EVALUATION CRITERIA

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 criteria below. During the review period, NFWF staff may contact applicants with specific questions regarding the proposed scope of work and/or budget.

Project Goals, Priorities and Objectives – Project contributes to the goals and objectives defined by the BFF and has specific, performance metrics to evaluate project success. Project addresses one or more of the priorities outlined in the BFF 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 to achieve performance metrics. 

Cost-Effectiveness – Project includes a cost-effective budget that balances performance risk and efficient use of funds.  Cost-effectiveness evaluation may include, but is not limited to, an assessment of either or both direct and indirect costs in the proposed budget. The federal government has determined that a de minimis 10% indirect rate is an acceptable minimum for organizations without a NICRA, as such NFWF reserves the right to scrutinize ALL proposals with indirect rates above 10% for cost-effectiveness.  

Complementarity – Project builds on previous research efforts to positively affect treatment or management strategies and conservation of bats and management of WNS.  

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.

Transferability – Project has potential and a plan to transfer project results to real-world bat conservation and/or to be scaled-up (including providing cost estimates associated with scaling up) and integrated into government programs and policies.  Project includes a plan to communicate information about the project to appropriate audiences. 

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. Matching contributions will be evaluated by comparing total funding request from BFF and the dollar value of the matching contributions 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 50 percent match ratio will be more competitive.


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.

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.

Regulatory Compliance Requirements – Projects selected for an award will likely include test materials that are subject to regulation by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act, pesticides), U.S. Health and Human Services, U.S. Food and Drug Administration (Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, drugs) or the U.S. Department of Agriculture Center for Veterinary Biologics (Virus, Serum and Toxin Act, vaccines).  Proposals must demonstrate that the Principal Investigator understands the regulation of their test material and a present a plan for meeting regulatory requirements.  Some information concerning some regulatory authorities can be found in the publication A Decision Support Tool for Determining Federal Regulatory Authority over Products for Vertebrate Animals.

Projects selected also will 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.  Follow the link to download the compliance evaluation templates that must be completed and submitted to FWS if your project is selected to receive a grant. These completed templates will be used by FWS to determine compliance with the above acts. 

As applicable, successful applicants may be required to comply with additional Federal, state or local requirements and obtain all necessary permits and clearances.

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 and permission to work on land managed by public or private landowners or managers.  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. Applicants will be required to provide specific information about study sites, species used, sample sizes, and other criteria needed to comply with regulations. NFWF encourages applicants to contact relevant authorities in advance of completing a proposal to ensure the support of proposed work. 

Animal Care - Principal Investigators will be expected to maintain compliance with the Animal 
Welfare Act and its regulations with satisfactory review and approval of animal activities in research protocols by a USDA-registered and/or PHS-assured Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee. Use of animal subjects must be appropriate for the current state of knowledge.  Applicants must provide a clear description of how study animals will be selected and what their final disposition will be. Applicants must justify the need to use terminal sampling if that is the expected outcome. 

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 the Program page of the NFWF website for the most current dates and information: Bats for the Future Fund 

  Applicant Webinar October 9, 2020, 1:00pm-2:00pm Eastern
  Full Proposal Due Date  November 12, 2020, 11:59pm Eastern
  Review Period   December - January
  Awards Announced Mid-February 2021


HOW TO APPLY

All application materials must be submitted online through NFWF’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.
  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.


APPLICATION ASSISTANCE 

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: 

John Wright, Manager, Northeastern Region
(202) 595-2478
john.wright@nfwf.org

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 you are applying to and a description of the issue.