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Five Star and Urban Waters Restoration Grant Program

Grants to USA, Puerto Rico, and Virgin Islands Nonprofits,
Agencies, and IHEs to Protect Natural Resources

Agency Type:

Foundation / Corporation

Funding Source:

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National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF)

Deadline Date:

01/31/18 11:59 PM ET


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Grants ranging from $20,000 to $50,000 to USA, Puerto Rico, and US Virgin Islands nonprofit organizations, government agencies, tribes, and educational institutions to build community capacity to protect natural resources. This program seeks to support a range of local partnerships working to enhance water quality, watersheds, and the species and habitats they support.

Projects include a variety of ecological improvements along with targeted community outreach, education and stewardship. Ecological improvements may include one or more of the following: wetland, riparian, forest and coastal habitat restoration; wildlife conservation, community tree canopy enhancement, water quality monitoring and stormwater management. Projects should also increase access to the benefits of nature, reduce the impact of environmental hazards and engage local communities, particularly underserved communities, in project planning, outreach and implementation.

This program expects that applicants will represent a mixture of urban and rural communities. NFWF may use a mix of public and private funding sources to support any grant made through this program.

Program Priorites:

Proposals should address at least one bullet under each of the five following priorities.

On-the-Ground Restoration:

Must restore and/or create wetlands, coastal or riparian areas.

​-Address key species and habitats and link directly to established watershed and conservation plans
​-Manage stormwater, address water scarcity and protect drinking water by designing and/or implementing green infrastructure best management practices which demonstrate the linkage between restoration and stormwater management and the quality, quantity and safety of local water and waterways
-Collect and analyze local waterway samples that could be used to determine the effectiveness of current stream/wetland restoration and green infrastructure efforts and inform future planning and decision-making
-Develop/implement trash and litter prevention programs designed to keep urban waterways and riverfronts clean

Environmental Outreach, Education & Training:

Must integrate meaningful outreach, education and/or 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
-Engage communities in restoration at public areas – such as schools, parks, birding trails and more – for public health and recreation
-Establish or advance a citizen science or water quality monitoring program that involves community members and/or addresses community water quality priorities
-Improve citizen understanding of damaging trash and litter impacts in local waterways that affect community health and local economies

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 watershed or conservation plans and/or propose to foster and coordinate a diverse stakeholder partnership that develops and/or implements new plans

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, water quality-related recreational activities and improve understanding across diverse audiences of how fish and wildlife conservation, clean water and healthy forests contribute to community wellbeing


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
-Address any priority and/or at-risk species, habitats or conservation actions identified in State Wildlife Action Plans or other recovery or conservation plans
-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 and sustainability plans

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. EPA 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. EPA and U.S.F.S. Urban Forestry:

Approximately $450,000 is available from U.S. Forest Service and EPA, through the Urban Waters Federal Partnership, to improve urban water quality, restore riparian habitat and urban forests, increase public access to urban waterways and make linkages to municipal stormwater programs 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 in which Urban Waters Federal Partnership designated location and/or designated source water protection area the project will be located. Please refer to these links to identify those areas:

U.S. FWS Urban Programs

Funding Available: Approximately $230,000 is available from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) to fund projects that engage urban neighbors and foster a sense of stewardship where there are Service lands or offices nearby (within approximately 25+/- miles). These funds come from the National Wildlife Refuge System to engage communities in conservation on easily-accessible lands that the Service does not own. Proposals should demonstrate how the project will meet at least one of the Urban Standards of Excellence (located at

​$180,000 of these funds comes from the National Wildlife Refuge System FWS Urban Wildlife Refuge Partnerships to engage communities in conservation on easily-accessible lands that the Service does not own. Proposals should demonstrate how the project will meet at least one of the Urban Standards of Excellence for Urban Wildlife Refuges and Partnerships.

$50,000 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, reducing urban hazards to birds such as through bird-safe building programs while engaging people, especially diverse and youth audiences, in bird conservation, recreation and citizen science activities. Projects supported with this funding do not have to be located in an existing Urban Bird Treaty city but eligible grantee/partners must agree to work toward designation if funded.

Southern Company Five Star Restoration Program:

Funding Available: Approximately $300,000 is available from Southern Company and its affiliates to support on-the-ground wetland, riparian, in-stream or coastal habitat conservation and restoration projects in key areas served by its subsidiaries. Priority given to projects that address at-risk species and habitats and 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.

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)
-Illinois Will, Kendall, DuPage and Kane
-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.)
-Nevada Clark County
-Oklahoma Grant County


Funding Available: Approximately $412,500 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.

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
​-Portland, OR
-​Lakeland, FL ​
-New Berlin, WI
​-Akron/Uniontown, OH ​ ​

Additional Private Foundation Support:

Funding Available: Approximately $420,000 is available from private foundation funding to support 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 including tribal communities and the sustained protection of wild animal species and their habitats.

This funding will support high quality projects in the following states: Alaska, Idaho, Washington, Montana, North Dakota, Wisconsin, and Minnesota.

GrantWatch ID#:

GrantWatch ID#: 167420

Estimated Total Program Funding:


Number of Grants:

40 - 50 grants are awarded per year.

Estimated Size of Grant:

Awards range from $20,000 to $50,000 with an average size of $30,000.

Term of Contract:

Grants should span 12 to 18 months in length with a start date in July 2018. Applications requesting more than $30,000 should propose projects longer than twelve months.

Additional Eligibility Criteria:

Eligible and Ineligible Entities:
-​Eligible applicants include nonprofit 501(c) organizations, local governments, municipal governments, Indian tribes and educational institutions
-Ineligible applicants include: unincorporated individuals, businesses, international organizations​, state government agencies 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.

Pre-Application Information:

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 and 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 are highly encouraged to contact NFWF for assistance in determining what qualifies as in-kind or any other matching contributions.

In addition, if not 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

-Full Proposal Due Date: January 31, 2018, 11:59 PM, Eastern Time
​-Review Period: February to June 2018
​-Awards Announced: July 2018​

2018 Request for Proposals:

Webinar Recording:

Budget Instructions:

Federally-funded projects must be in compliance with OMB Uniform Guidance as applicable:

Contact Information:

Before starting your grant application, please review the funding source's website listed below for updates/changes/addendums/conferences/LOIs.

Apply Online:

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

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.

1133 Fifteenth St., N.W., Suite 1000
Washington, DC 20005
T 202-857-0166 | F 202-857-0162

URL for Full Text (RFP):

Geographic Focus:

USA: Alabama;   Alaska;   Arizona;   Arkansas;   California;   Colorado;   Connecticut;   Delaware;   Florida;   Georgia;   Hawaii;   Idaho;   Illinois;   Indiana;   Iowa;   Kansas;   Kentucky;   Louisiana;   Maine;   Maryland;   Massachusetts;   Michigan;   Minnesota;   Mississippi;   Missouri;   Montana;   Nebraska;   Nevada;   New Hampshire;   New Jersey;   New Mexico;   New York City;   New York;   North Carolina;   North Dakota;   Ohio;   Oklahoma;   Oregon;   Pennsylvania;   Rhode Island;   South Carolina;   South Dakota;   Tennessee;   Texas;   Utah;   Vermont;   Virginia;   Washington, DC;   Washington;   West Virginia;   Wisconsin;   Wyoming

USA Territories: Puerto Rico (USA)   Virgin Islands (USA)