ConocoPhillips SPIRIT of Conservation Program 2018 Request for Proposals

OVERVIEW 

The ConocoPhillips SPIRIT of Conservation program is inviting applications for competitive grant funding to be awarded through the 2018 funding cycle. The purpose of this funding is to improve habitat quality and landscape connectivity in ways that facilitate migrations of avian and terrestrial species, with an emphasis on working lands within focal geographies. The program will award grants to help reduce barriers to migration, restore priority habitats, and improve conservation practices on working lands. The program is a partnership among ConocoPhillips, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Approximately $910,000 is expected to be available for grant awards in 2018. 

GEOGRAPHIC FOCUS

Projects must occur in one or more of the eligible states listed below. Projects located within program focal areas will be more competitive – see below for the map of program focal areas.

Eligible States: Alaska, Colorado, Louisiana, Montana, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, and Wyoming.

2018 RFP Map of Eligible States 
 

PROGRAM PRIORITIES 

From small grassland birds, to large ungulates, to delicate butterflies, long-distance movements of migratory species represent a vital and irreplaceable flow of energy and nutrients among ecosystems across the globe. To complete their annual life cycles, migratory populations require a series of different seasonal habitats, for breeding, foraging and thermoregulation, as well as landscape linkages that allow travel between them. Fragmentation and degradation of these habitats can impede animal movements and negatively impact wildlife populations, highlighting the need to implement strategic conservation at a landscape scale.

With geographic focal areas that span major migratory routes in Alaska and along the north–south axis of the central United States, including the Gulf Coast, the ConocoPhillips SPIRIT of Conservation program focuses on improving habitat quality and connectivity to facilitate the annual needs of these many species. Within landscapes heavily dominated by working grasslands, sagelands, and wetlands, the program places a high priority on partnering with ranchers, farmers, and other private and public land managers to help improve landscape connectivity and habitat quality across a mosaic of habitat types and land ownership patterns. Program funding will primarily support the following strategies.

​Remove or modify migration barriers: remove or modify fences and other impediments to facilitate wildlife passage; construct or improve wildlife passage structures; implement innovative wildlife habitat connectivity techniques

Restore grasslands, sagelands and wetlands: conduct restoration activities to expand or improve patch size and connectivity; remove/modify structures or remove encroaching woody vegetation that negatively impact grassland-nesting birds; restore wetland hydroperiods more beneficial to resident and migrating wildlife

Protect key habitats along migratory routes: Support fee title acquisitions or conservation easements for parcels with priority migration bottlenecks, other important habitat linkage/connectivity functions, or important breeding, wintering or stopover sites 

Provide technical assistance on working lands: Help working land managers/producers develop management plans, implement conservation practices, and enroll in Farm Bill programs to improve working lands function and enhance migration pathways across an array of land ownership

PROJECT METRICS 

To better gauge progress on individual grants and to ensure greater consistency of project data provided by multiple grants, the SPIRIT of Conservation 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 
​Improved management practices ​Acres under improved management ​Any practice that improves grassland or habitat function (grazing management, changed behaviors, infrastructure development to facilitate managed grazing, etc.)
​BMP implementation for fencing improvements ​# of miles of corridor reconnected ​Enter the number of miles of migration corridor reconnected
​BMP implementation for fencing improvements – pronghorn/deer ​Miles of fencing improved ​Enter miles of fence removal or modification completed for improved pronghorn or deer passage (raising the bottom wire, drop fence, etc., report specific practice in the notes section)
​BMP implementation for fencing improvements – sage grouse ​Miles of fencing improved ​Enter miles of fence removed or improved for greater sage-grouse to minimize collision (fence markers, fladry/flagging, etc., report practice in the notes section)
​BMP development - # BMP recommendations developed ​# BMP recommendations developed ​Enter the number of Best Management Practice (BMP) recommendations developed for private landowners through technical assistance
​Outreach, Education, Technical Assistance ​# people reached ​# private landowners reached by outreach, training, or technical assistance activities
​Conservation easements ​# acres protected under easement ​Enter the number of acres protected under long term easement (permanent or >30 yrs.)
​Land Acquisition ​# Acres acquired in fee ​Enter the total number of acres acquired in fee title​

ELIGIBILITY

Eligible and Ineligible Entities

  • Eligible applicants include non-profit 501(c)(3) organizations, 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. 

FUNDING AVAILABILITY AND MATCH

The ConocoPhillips SPIRIT of Conservation program will award approximately $910,000 in grant awards in 2018. 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 three 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 grant and not to any other matching program(s); and
  • spent/applied within the period of performance

EVALUATION CRITERIA

All proposals will be screened for relevance, accuracy, completeness and compliance with NFWF and funding source policies. A panel of ConocoPhillips, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service reviewers will evaluate proposals based on the extent to which they meet the criteria. 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.
  • Scalability/Transferability – Project has the potential and a plan to scale or 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. 

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 (OMB Uniform Guidance​).
  • 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 and matching fund contributions from a diversity of partners 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, 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 (www.epa.gov/quality).  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.

TIMELINE 

Dates of activities are subject to change. Please check the ConocoPhillips SPIRIT of Conservation program page for the most current dates and information.

​​Full Proposal Due Date:
​August 23, 2018, 11:59 PM Eastern 
​Review Period:
​August 24 – October 30, 2018
Awards Announced:
​Mid-November, 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. Please disable the pop-up blocker on your internet browser prior to beginning the application process.
  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 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: 

Eric Forward
Eric.Forward@nfwf.org
612-564-7285

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.​

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