Network for Landscape Conservation: Landscape Conservation Catalyst Fund
The Landscape Conservation Catalyst Fund aims to accelerate the pace and effective practice of place-based, collaborative landscape conservation across the United States. The Fund specifically seeks to build critical capacity and forward momentum in landscape conservation partnerships by supporting the key building block activities and collaborative processes that move partnerships forward.
The lynchpin of landscape conservation is collaboration across sectors, geographies, and cultures—processes that bring people together in long-term partnerships to build trust, find common ground, and move forward together to achieve shared conservation vision and action. This approach takes considerable time, and the importance of investing in this collaborative process should not be under-valued—by participants, funders, or policymakers. As noted in a 2011 Stanford Social Innovation Review article, “Coordination takes time, and none of the participating organizations has any to spare. The expectation that collaboration can occur without a supporting infrastructure is one of the most frequent reasons why it fails.” Other analyses have identified dedicated staffing for coordinating partnerships as closely correlated with both success and, importantly, the overall speed at which a partnership achieves tangible conservation goals.
Unfortunately, funding for coordinating partnerships and advancing key steps to partnership success is scarce. The purpose of the Catalyst Fund is to address this central need directly, and to achieve the following objectives:
- Catalyze the rapidly growing collaborative landscape conservation movement as a priority strategy to sustain America’s natural and cultural heritage and future
- Encourage a more broad-based and inclusive landscape conservation movement, including through a focus on Indigenous communities and perspectives
- Support and strengthen specific place-based partnerships, building long-term capacity and “social capital” on behalf of our imperiled landscapes and the myriad ecosystem services they provide
- Advance best practices and innovation in the field
The Catalyst Fund’s primary focus is on aiding partnerships in the building stage—where participants have already demonstrated a commitment to (and preliminary forward momentum in) developing and implementing a shared conservation vision and goals. In other words, participants have built the preliminary relationships and established the foundation of trust necessary for working together and moving forward. The building stage is often the stage at which the volunteer time of the participants is no longer enough to sustain and build the partnership, and when funding to advance the collaborative process and specific building block activities will land on fertile ground, solidifying group momentum and accelerating forward progress. See the solicitation for specific details around the stages of partnership growth.
Applicants may apply for:
- Funding to support a priority activity(s) to advance specific objectives
- Funding to support capacity building more broadly, including the collaborative process and multiple “steps to success”
A portion of the Catalyst Fund will be dedicated to Indigenous-led partnerships that serve Indigenous communities working on landscape conservation. Indigenous collaboratives are often rich with qualities that embody and enhance landscape conservation—including a multigenerational approach, the use of traditional knowledge, the integration of other important societal issues (health, jobs, education, etc.), and a value system that prioritizes symbiotic health between the landscape and its inhabitants.
Note: Refer to the website for solicitations for general funding and for funding dedicated to Indigenous partnerships that give more specific details around stages of partnership growth and permissible use of grant funds.
Amount: A total of $335,000 is available to make grants that range from $10,000-$25,000 for a duration of one or two years. Applicants must demonstrate a funding match of at least 1:1. Up to 50 percent of the 1:1 minimum match requirement may be made through in-kind support by the applicant and other partnership organizations. At least 50 percent must be made through direct funding commitment—from the applicant; partnership organizations; local, state, and federal agency grants; and/or other philanthropic sources.
Note: Matching Funds are not required for the Indigenous Communities, but proposals will be viewed favorably if they demonstrate 1) in-kind support from partners (time, meeting space, other); 2) additional funding from other sources; and/or 3) a strategy for leveraging a Catalyst Fund grant to attract new funding to the partnership over time.
Eligibility: U.S. based nonprofit organizations with approved IRS 501(c)(3) status. A landscape conservation partnership can apply directly if it is a non-profit organization with approved IRS 501(c)(3) status. However, as many partnerships are informal collaboratives, it is anticipated that in many cases eligible applicants will apply on behalf of a partnership because they are the fiscal sponsor organization of the partnership; the recognized lead convener of the partnership; or a recognized partner organization within the partnership. Other involved partners (e.g., tribal governments, public agencies, academic institutions, for-profit entities, and other nonprofit organizations) may work on funded grant activities as paid contractors.
The Indigenous Community solicitation will support Indigenous-led partnerships focused on the long-term health of their ecological and/or cultural landscapes to apply for funding to the Catalyst Fund. This can include a partnership that is wholly on sovereign tribal lands; that includes adjoining lands due to the boundaries of an ecological landscape or other cultural/societal considerations; and/or that focuses on advancing and conserving indigenous/aboriginal interests, territories, and rights across a specific landscape. Grants can be awarded only in the 50 U.S. states, and only to non-profit organizations with approved IRS 501(c)(3) status.
Applicants must apply on behalf of a landscape conservation partnership as defined, for purposes of this RFP, as:
- Place-based: The partnership has a geographically explicit area of focus that is sufficiently large in scale to encompass a diversity of landowner types, conservation issues, jurisdictions, and stakeholder interests. Landscape conservation partnerships can occur in all types and mixes of landscapes, including urban, suburban, rural, working, wild, and combinations thereof.
- Focused on a Shared, Long-term Vision: The partnership has articulated a long-term vision for the health and vitality of the defined landscape, encompassing people and nature.
- Collaboratively Governed: Although one organization may play a lead convening/coordination role, a formal or informal governance structure or decision-making policy fosters collaborative leadership and participatory engagement of the partners.
- Inclusive: The partnership approach emphasizes inclusive outreach and dialogue with various stakeholders on the landscape, informed by multiple interests and perspectives.
- Informed: The partnership is committed to building the shared foundation of knowledge necessary to achieve its goals; this can include utilization of ecological, cultural, traditional, and social information.
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