National Fish and Wildlife Foundation: National Coastal Resilience Fund 2022 Request for Proposals
On March 21, 2022, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) announced the 2022 National Coastal Resilience Fund (NCRF) Request for Proposals (RFP). The NFWF will provide approximately $140 million in grants to protect communities from current and future coastal threats and improve habitats for fish and wildlife species. Natural habitats, such as coastal wetlands, marshes, and dunes can protect communities from the impacts of sea-level rise, new flood patterns, and more frequent and intense storms. As such, NFWF seeks to fund projects that use natural resource restoration to enhance coastal resilience and wildlife habitats.
Eligible applicants include nonprofit organizations, governmental agencies, educational institutions, and commercial organizations. Pre-proposals are due Thursday, April 21, 2022, by 11:59 P.M. ET and final proposals are due Thursday, June 30, 2022, by 11:59 P.M. ET. The NCRF is a public-private partnership between NFWF, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Occidental, Shell USA, Inc., TransRE, the U.S. Department of Defense, and the Bezos Earth Fund.
The NCRF requires that projects demonstrate a dual benefit to both coastal communities and habitats. In evaluating projects for the NCRF, NFWF will favorably consider projects that have regional benefits or operate on a regional scale. The primary program priorities are the following:
- Nature-Based Solutions: Projects must focus on identifying or creating natural, nature-based, or hybrid solutions.
- Community Resilience Benefit: Projects must clearly benefit communities by reducing current or future threats from coastal hazards.
- Fish and Wildlife Benefit: Projects must improve habitats for fish and wildlife species and specifically identify anticipated benefits.
Further priority will be given to projects that achieve the following:
- Community Impact and Engagement: Projects that benefit historically underserved communities and incorporate community input.
- Innovation, Transferability, and Sustainability: Projects that design innovative and sustainable solutions to improve coastal community resilience. NFWF also seeks proposals that take an approach that can be scaled for broader impact.
To receive NFWF funding, projects that satisfy the program priorities above must also fall in one of four categories in the NFWF’s “project pipeline.”
- Community Capacity Building and Planning
- Site Assessment and Preliminary Design
- Final Design and Permitting
- Restoration Implementation
While projects may have some crossover between categories, NFWF strongly discourages applicants from submitting proposals under multiple pipeline categories. For every category other than the Community Capacity Building and Planning, proposals should outline how the project addresses specific community threats and how previous work makes the proposed project ready for funding under the particular pipeline category.
Community Capacity Building and Planning
This project category is intended for coastal communities in the early phases of understanding and identifying their resilience needs. Projects under this category should focus on efforts that, when implemented, will achieve the community goals of increasing resilience and improving the habitats for fish and wildlife. Among other activities, this category can include building local expertise, providing training, gathering community input, and supporting planning initiatives.
At a minimum, these projects should prepare communities to begin site assessment and design for specific strategies. In addition, NFWF highlights the importance of community engagement at this early stage of resilience planning. Projects should integrate community input and encourage collaboration across sectors and with a diverse group of stakeholders. Proposals should clearly explain how different partners will be involved in the planning process. NFWF identifies projects designed to inform local, state, regional, territorial, and/or tribal decisionmaking as being more competitive.
Site Assessment and Preliminary Design
To ensure successful implementation, many coastal resilience projects will require preliminary design and feasibility assessments. Projects under this category should identify sites where more work is needed and the projects for achieving resilience goals and benefiting fish and wildlife. Some eligible activities under this category include evaluating potential project sites, continuing and expanding stakeholder participation, assessing the risk reduction benefits of different project alternatives, gathering baseline data, and conducting cost-benefit analyses.
To illustrate what has led to the proposed project, applicants should identify the relevant resilience plans from existing governments and nonprofits for the project area and prioritization tools. At the end of the grant period, these projects must be prepared to move on to final design and permitting.
Final Design and Permitting
Under this category, project applicants can request funding for the final design and permitting of on-the-ground projects. In addition to other steps to make projects “restoration-ready,” funding can be used to advance preliminary designs to final designs, prepare cost estimates, or begin permitting processes.
Funding for these projects is contingent on a project’s completion within three years of the start of the grant. By the end of the grant period, projects are not expected to achieve immediate environmental outcomes or obtain permits. However, project applicants should demonstrate how the project will meet community resilience goals and a readiness to move on to the next phase for restoration.
Under this category, applicants can request funds to construct a restoration project.
Project applicants should identify how their project has already been prioritized in planning processes that address coastal resilience, outline completed design plans for implementation, and demonstrate readiness to secure permits and other approvals. Proposals should explain how the project will build resilience, mitigate the impacts of coastal hazards, and benefit fish and wildlife. Eligible projects include ecosystem restoration projects and the construction of nature-based solutions that measurably improve community resilience and conservation.
In their proposals, applicants must include the month and year in which a project’s initial and final design was or will be completed. These projects should also be able to be completed within three years of the start of the grant and must include an additional year of post-construction monitoring to assess the project.
NFWF will prioritize projects that have secured all necessary permitting and approvals. Larger, more comprehensive projects are likely to be more competitive. Proposed “pilot” projects will also be considered and should identify the need for the project and the efforts to increase its transferability.
Eligible applicants include nonprofit 501(c) organizations, state and territorial government agencies, local governments, municipal governments, tribal governments and organizations, educational institutions, and commercial organizations. Ineligible applicants include federal agencies or federal employees, foreign organizations, foreign public entities, and unincorporated individuals.
In pursuit of its mission to improve resilience for coastal communities, the NCRF requires projects to be located within the coastal areas of the U.S. coastal states; the NCRF defines the eligible project area as coastal Hydrologic Unit Code (HUC) 8 watersheds that drain to the sea and adjacent low-lying HUC 8 watersheds.
Within HUC 8 watersheds, NFWF is prioritizing projects located in Resilience Hubs. Resilience Hubs are areas where natural resource restoration will have the greatest impact on community resilience. Although projects do not need to be located in these Resilience Hubs to be eligible for NCRF grants, the Resilience Hub serves as a useful assessment tool for applicants to consider locations where they can maximize community and environmental benefits.
Funding Availability and Match
- Average Awards: NFWF expects that the average award for Restoration Implementation projects will range from $1 to 10 million. For other projects, NFWF anticipates that the average awards will range from $100,000 to $1,000,000. Proposals for larger-scale, more comprehensive projects capable of having a greater impact will be the most competitive.
- Non-Federal Match: Although matching dollars can demonstrate broad support for a project, NFWF does not include a specific partner-match requirement. However, the ratio of matching contributions offered to grant funding requested is a criterion for consideration.
- Federal Leverage: In the match section of their applications, applicants are asked to describe federal partner contributions to demonstrate the number of resources and stakeholders contributing to the project.
NFWF will examine submitted proposals for relevance, accuracy, competence, and compliance with its funding policies. Projects will also be evaluated according to the following categories:
- Prioritized in Existing Plans: The project has been prioritized through an existing planning process or identified as needed to address coastal resilience on the state, tribal, regional, or local level. The project complements other regional conservation priorities.
- Technical Merit: The project is technically correct and feasible, consults the appropriate technical experts, and includes an achievable timeline.
- Community Impact and Engagement: The project prioritizes community feedback and engages with non-traditional partners. The project identifies how stakeholders have been included in the formulation of the project and how community engagement will be monitored and measured.
- Partnership: In addition to community and nonprofit organizations, the project has strong partnerships with federal, state, and local agencies. These partnerships should be with those capable of developing plans and leveraging additional funds.
- Cost-Effectiveness: The project should include a cost-effective budget that balances risk and the efficient use of funds.
- Transferability and Communication: The project outlines how to transfer lessons learned to other communities or to the federal government. To do so, the project includes a plan for communicating key information to stakeholders and other important audiences.
- Long-Term Sustainability: The project considers the future conditions of sites and adapts the plan to those conditions. The proposal includes how future funding will be acquired to implement long-term monitoring and maintenance.
- Past Success: The project team has a proven track record of success in implementing complicated projects with measurable outcomes.
- Innovation: The project applies innovative solutions for habitat restoration and community resilience.
- Scale or Comprehensiveness: The project is large enough to reduce risks from coastal hazards. Larger, more comprehensive projects will be more competitive. However, smaller projects can also be competitive if they increase the transferability of the approach across coastal areas.
To assess project progress and collect consistent project data, NFWF requires that applicants report on specific metrics that relate to their project and enable them to be measured. From lists of metrics created by NFWF, applicants should select 1–2 metrics from the relevant project category section and 1–2 metrics from the Community Benefit and Outreach section. Applicants selected to submit a full proposal for Restoration Implementation projects will be required to submit specific ecological monitoring and protocols into their projects.
Important Application Dates
- Pre-proposal Due Date: Thursday, April 21, 2022, by 11:59 P.M. ET.
- Full Proposal Invitations: End of May 2022.
- Full Proposal Webinar: Tuesday, June 7, 2022, at 3:00 P.M. ET.
- Full Proposal (Invite Only) Due Date: Thursday, June 30, 2022, by 11:59 P.M. ET.
- Awards Announced: Late November 2022.
Publication Date: March 21, 2022
- Biodiversity and ecosystems
- Land management and conservation
- Land use and built environment
- Frontline Communities
- Water infrastructure
- Water resources