How NAWCA Works

In the US two different grants are available:

Standard (Grants up to $1M; two deadlines each year, in February and July)

Small (Grants up to $100k; one deadline per year in early November)

Both grants require a minimum 1:1 non-federal matching investment (in-kind or cash, from the last 2+ years or in the next 2-3 years). Grant funds can only be used for land protection (fee or easement), habitat restoration or enhancement, and directly-related expenses (e.g., appraisals). Although not required, successful proposals for Standard grants in the ACJV nearly always have at least a 2:1 match ratio. Grants with less than 2:1 match are typically not competitive. Learn more about Matching Contributions.

In the ACJV, Standard Grant projects–including grant and match acreage–typically exceed 1,000 acres but can be smaller or larger. Developing a successful Standard grant proposal is complicated and time-consuming, and typically requires a considerable amount of planning (at least several months to a year or more) and dedicated staff time.

Small Grant projects (including grant and match acreage) average about 150 acres but can be much smaller or larger. Small grant proposals are much shorter and easier to put together than are Standard grant proposals.

Who Can Apply?

Any person, agency, or organization, can be the applicant. Most successful NAWCA projects involve coordination between multiple partners who are providing match.  Grant funds can be distributed to more than one partner, but the applicant is responsible for all reporting and compliance requirements.

Role of ACJV Staff

Joint Venture staff play an important role in the NAWCA grant program by:

  • Help applicants understand the NAWCA process, criteria, and scoring
  • Provide sample proposals (contact appropriate coordinator)
  • Provide guidance and tips for developing a successful project
  • Review and improve proposals
  • Work directly with the USFWS Division of Bird Habitat Conservation (DBHC) on grant administration issues and helping to resolve problems that may arise

Mitch Hartley (CT, DE, MA, MD, ME, NH, NJ, NY, PA, RI, VA, VT)

Craig Watson (GA, FL, NC, SC,  and Puerto Rico)

How Are Proposals Evaluated?

NAWCA proposals from the ACJV area are evaluated and ranked by an ACJV committee and/or ACJV staff in terms of how they contribute to joint venture priorities and objectives. All proposals submitted are also scored and ranked by NAWCA Council staff, based largely on a set of Technical Assessment Questions.  NAWCA Council considers the scores and ranks of Council staff and joint ventures in selecting proposals for funding. Additional details on proposal ranking and scoring are available on our Grant Evaluation page.

NAWCA Proposal Timeline

NAWCA proposals often take more than a year to develop, from initial partner meetings to final proposal submission. The Office of Management and Budget estimates that it takes an average of 203 hours to complete an application for a U.S. Standard Grant, including time to review instructions, gather and maintain data, and complete and review the proposal. Plan Ahead!  Some relatively minor requirements of the proposal package (e.g., signed Partner Contribution Forms) can take longer than expected to obtain. For example, it’s not uncommon for a partner letter to require a vote by municipal officials that meet infrequently;  or a landowner may be on an extended vacation.

See our Suggested Timeline for more guidance about developing NAWCA proposal.

Additional Tools and Resources

  1. Partners interested in pursuing a NAWCA grant should read and thoroughly understand this page and our additional pages about Matching Contributions, Grant Evaluation, Suggested Timeline as well as our “Tip Sheet” for developing a successful NAWCA proposal.
  2. Online Mapper! We developed a web-based mapping tool that is valuable for project planning and proposal preparation. You enter a project location (by location name, lat/long, etc.) and see whether your project area falls within the NAWCA “Coastal Zone”. Projects in the Coastal Zone are considered separately from projects outside the coastal zone and given federal appropriations for NAWCA in recent years, projects outside the Coastal Zone typically face tougher competition than coastal projects. Our web mapper also shows whether your project is within any of the four National Priority Areas for birds, which are a main consideration of Technical Assessment Questions #3.
  3. GIS files for National and Regional Priority Bird Conservation Areas (Wetland Priority Areas and Joint Venture Focus Areas) All KMZ files available here.
  4. ACJV All Bird Focus Area GIS files and National Priority Areas for each taxa group available here.
  5. Additional links below take you to helpful pages hosted by the USFWS NAWCA Program.