At a Glance
Proposal Application Overview
Applications deadline will be announced in August.
Since 2002, more than $46.5 million in grants.
Grants have supported 422 projects in more than 35 countries.
Partners have contributed an additional $178.5 million.
More than 3.25 million acres of habitat affected.
The Fiscal Year 2013 Budget for this program has yet to be appropriated. Therefore, we cannot guarantee that there will be funding for the upcoming funding cycle. We will fund as many proposals as possible with the funding we receive in our final appropriation.
Important changes to the NMBCA program in 2013
Proposals must be submitted to grants.gov no later than 29 November 2012. Here is how to apply.
Additionally, a copy of the proposal should be emailed directly to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (FWS) Division of Bird Habitat Conservation (DBHC), which manages the NMBCA grants program and administers all grants, at email@example.com.
All organizations applying for a grant must follow the instructions given here. In addition, they should review the following grant administration standards before writing a proposal to understand their commitments, should they receive an award. By accepting an award you agree to comply with these standards.
Important: Read these instructions carefully before submitting a proposal and use the format provided on this page, (see the “Application Template” link in the “Quick Links” column at the right of this page). Proposals that do not follow the instructions may be determined to be ineligible for funding. Before contacting us with questions, please read the FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)! They provide suggestions that may improve the competitiveness of your proposal and will help you plan your project.
2013 Proposal Application Instructions
How is the Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Act program organized?
There are two programs that you can apply to under the NMBCA. One is the core (traditional) program benefitting any eligible Neotropical migratory bird and the second is a pilot program designed to focus resources to a specific set of Neotropical migratory bird species. Proposals not selected under the pilot program are automatically considered for funding under the core program. The subsections in these instructions apply to the core program, the pilot program, or both.
The pilot program focuses a portion of available NMBCA funding in support of projects having the highest potential to leverage resources and interest into "initiatives" that contribute significantly to the conservation of select, high-priority species within the next 5-10 years. We seek to fund on-the-ground conservation projects that will directly improve the population status of these species. We will also consider research, monitoring or assessment projects for a broader set of species that significantly contribute to filling information gaps that currently inhibit implementation of the most effective conservation actions. The goal of this pilot program is to invest in projects that can demonstrate a measurable biological improvement in the population or increase our knowledge and understanding of the factors limiting populations of these species.
Which species does the pilot program target?
Species targeted by the pilot program are of high conservation priority, have a completed conservation plan for at least part of their range, and are expected to respond in measurable ways to the proposed activities within 5 to 10 years. On-the-ground conservation projects proposing to directly improve population status must focus upon one or more of the following:
Bicknell's Thrush (Catharus bicknelli)
Research, monitoring or assessment projects submitted under the pilot program must focus on a Bird of Conservation Concern, a Watchlist species, or a species listed under the Endangered Species Act (see the eligible species marked here).
You should apply to the pilot program if: 1) your proposed project seeks to conserve one or more of the pilot program’s 13 primary target species, 2) you can explain how project activities will contribute to conservation needs outlined in existing conservation plans for these species, and 3) you can demonstrate the desired improvement in the species' conservation status in some measurable way (for example, increase population of X species by Y% in 10 years). Alternatively, you should apply if you are proposing research, monitoring, or assessment activities that will significantly and measurably advance our understanding of information gaps that critically limit more effective conservation of Birds of Conservation Concern, Watchlist species or species listed under the Endangered Species Act (see the marked birds on this list). For example, you may propose to investigate at what stage in the annual cycle of a Bird of Conservation Concern appears to be most limiting to its annual survival and explain how the information gained in the study will improve conservation decision-making.
Project activities for conservation, research, monitoring or assessment can occur anywhere in the range of these species, although we strongly encourage the development of projects addressing key limiting factors on non-breeding grounds where financial resources for conservation of these species are less available.
What information must be included in a pilot program proposal?
Proposals must clearly address the most important factors limiting growth or stability in populations of targeted species. Proposals should show clear cause-and-effect linkages between the proposed short-term (1-2 year) objectives and activities and identified long-term goals for improved population status. Applicants should:
1. Define the desired status of the population to be achieved in the long term over the next 5 to 10 years. If possible, this goal should be linked to measurable biological outcomes that have been identified in a species conservation plan. However, local or regional measurable biological objectives or other indicators established by the applicants may also be appropriate if desired population goals are not clearly identified in the plans. Examples of long-term goals might be to:
2. Explain in your proposal what actions will be taken in the short term (1-2 years of your proposal) to help achieve your desired long-term status goal. These project objectives should be specific, measurable, practical and results-oriented. It is likely that the desired long-term goal may only be achievable through multiple projects over 5-10 years. For example, in your 1-2 year project you might protect and restore a percentage of breeding or wintering habitat that contributes to a longer term habitat goal in your project area. Ideally, you would have data showing the numbers of birds you expect to benefit from the conserved habitat.
3. Describe how you will evaluate your success in achieving the short-term project objectives (1-2 years) and how you will assess progress towards the desired population status improvement over the longer term (5-10 years). This is where well defined and measurable biological outcomes are needed. For example, if you propose to protect and improve winter habitat for species X, you might describe how you will measure changes in winter survival resulting from project activities. Other examples of desired short-term measurable impacts could be increases in protected or restored habitat and the number of individual birds this stands to benefit, quantifiable reductions in threats to a species at some local or regional scale, or documented increases in local abundance or reproductive success. Demonstration of long-term improvements in population status should relate more directly to measures of abundance at scales most relevant to overall populations, and evaluation may involve increased reliance on regional or national data sources and programs. You are advised to adequately budget for your evaluation costs to measure your short-term objectives, and, if applicable, to gather data to track your long-term goal, which may include gathering baseline measurements and annual measurements thereafter.
4. For research, monitoring, or assessment projects, you must explain how your project will help to identify the key limiting factors for a species. For example, it might be suspected that the quality of available wintering habitat is limiting a bird population, but your research project intends to confirm or deny this hypothesis. If you are working to measurably advance understanding of a critical limiting factor for a population, you should identify the plan or body of work that identified the limiting factor.
What comprises a competitive pilot project?
Competitive conservation projects under the pilot program must be able to demonstrate compelling need, link project activities to measurable biological outcomes (or threat reductions) and describe the significance of these outcomes in the context of long-term conservation objectives for the targeted species. Following the Open Standards for the Practice of Conservation may help you to develop a competitive pilot program project. We encourage you to learn about the Open Standards (in English; in Spanish). Pilot projects involving research, monitoring or assessment must demonstrate one or more compelling information needs, emphasize the critical conservation decisions that depend on this information, and describe how information gained through the project will actively drive decisions that lead to significant improvements in the conservation status of targeted species.
How will pilot program proposals be evaluated?
The selection criteria used for the core program will be a central evaluation component to pilot program proposals. However, the following additional criteria will assist reviewers in evaluating the impact of the on-the-ground conservation pilot program proposals:
Evaluation of research, monitoring or assessment proposals to the pilot program will focus on:
All eligible proposals submitted to the pilot program will compete against each other first; all non-selected pilot program proposals will be eligible to then compete in the core program.
Where can I find conservation planning information for species targeted for pilot program conservation projects?
Here are some useful links for each species:
Bicknell's Thrush (Catharus bicknelli)
How will you know I am submitting to the pilot program?
Proposals to the pilot program must clearly indicate this on their cover page by stating “Submitted to the 2013 pilot program” immediately after the project title (click here for additional guidance). Proposals submitted to this program may request up to $200,000. Outside of the above, all other aspects of a pilot program proposal are the same as those of the core program and you should follow the guidance below.
The following sections apply to both the core (traditional) program and the pilot program described above.
What is a Neotropical migratory bird?
For the purposes of the NMBCA, a Neotropical migratory bird is one that breeds in the continental United States or Canada and spends the boreal winter in Mexico, Central America, the Caribbean, or South America. Birds from all taxa are included, so that proposals may benefit land birds, waterbirds, shorebirds, waterfowl, raptors, and others. Click here for a list of these birds. NOTE:Non-migratory subpopulations of a species that is listed as an eligible Neotropical migratory bird are a lower conservation priority for the program.
Who may apply?
Where may a project be located?
Project activities may be carried out in the USA, in Canada, or in any country or territory in Latin America and the Caribbean.
Should projects with activities in the USA coordinate with a Joint Venture?
For projects with activities in the USA, we strongly encourage applicants to contact the Migratory Bird Joint Venture (JV) where the project activities are planned. Proposals with activities that are coordinated with a JV will be more competitive. Check the JV Map and Directory to find the JV appropriate for your project area.
What kinds of projects are eligible?
Because NMBCA funds are limited, please note that:
What activities are ineligible?
We cannot pay salaries or travel expenses for permanent, full-time US Federal employees. We will not fund or accept as match any activity that would circumvent the laws or regulations of either the USA or the country in which the activity would occur. Any activities that do not comply with the applicable NMBCA Grant Administration Guidelines are ineligible. In addition, the following categories are ineligible for grant funding or matching contributions:
If ineligible activities are part of your proposal, we may reduce the match and grant requested accordingly if the change is less than 5% of the total proposal cost, in which case your proposal will remain eligible. Should you be funded you would need to provide a revised Summary, Budget Table, and Budget Narrative that reflect the reduced grant amount. If the ineligible activities are more than 5%, your proposal is ineligible.
Can project funds be used for environmental mitigation?
While eligible, a proposal for such work would be considered a lower priority. NMBCA is interested in funding new conservation work that results in a net gain for conservation.
Who chooses the proposals to be funded?
After an eligibility review, a panel of experts reviews the eligible project proposals and makes recommendations for funding to the FWS Director, who selects the projects for funding. The USFWS may solicit advice from qualified experts during the technical review of your proposal. We also may contact past and proposed partners about the costs included in your proposal.
What are the selection criteria for both core and pilot program proposals?
The basic criteria are the same. They are listed here.
Will prior performance influence future selection?
Yes, during the selection phase, reviewers will take into consideration an applicant’s prior performance in past and current projects with the US Fish and Wildlife Service. On-time submission of all required reports and documentation is an important performance component.
Are there special rules for land acquisition (fee simple or easement purchase) outside of the USA?
If your project will acquire land (all property rights in fee title) or partial property rights (easements or similar arrangements) outside the USA with Federal (U.S.) funds, the title holder (owner) or easement holder must be an in-country organization and you must clearly state this in your proposal by identifying the future title holder. You will also need to provide proof (e.g., correspondence in the form of an email or letter) with your proposal that you have communicated your intention to acquire land during this project to the appropriate government agency in the country. (The correspondence must reference your NMBCA proposal). As soon as an acquisition is completed, you will need to submit copies of legal and other documentation (settlement statements, appraisals, deeds, maps, and GIS shape files) showing that all acquisitions were completed within the project period. As soon as possible, you will need to submit similar documentation for land acquisitions provided as match, even if the match was donated and the acquisition occurred before the beginning of the project period.
What is the duration of a grant?
The funding period may be one or two years. A grant project period starts on the date on which the grant is awarded, which typically occurs about 3 months after the selected projects are announced. The announcement is expected to occur no later than International Migratory Bird Day, in early May.
What are the match requirements?
Federal funds (i.e., funds from the USA government) requested under the Act must be matched 3:1 by non-Federal funds. That is, for every NMBCA grant dollar, a minimum of three non-Federal dollars are required. Match contributions must not have been used (or be used) to match another project funded by the Federal government of the USA, under any assistance program! For example, if you included the purchase of a particular tract of land or a vehicle as match in a previous phase that was funded in part through NMBCA, you may not include the purchase cost of this tract or vehicle again. All match contributions must be committed in Partner contribution statements (also called “match confirmation letters”) from the contributing partner or from the applicant.
Please note that -
“Cash” in this context means the recipient's cash outlay (including the outlay of money contributed to the recipient by third parties) to be expended after the date the proposal is submitted and during the project period. (Note that equipment depreciation and volunteer labor are not considered cash.) Contributions that have been expended up to two years prior to the date the proposal is submitted may be considered in-kind contributions; however, contributions made after the proposal is submitted are preferred. Contributions made more than two years before proposal submission are not eligible as match.
Match contributions must be directly related to the proposed project and the types of activities eligible under the Act and occur within the proposed project area. The importance to Neotropical migratory bird conservation of the activities funded with match must be clearly explained in the proposal, budget table and budget justification. It is important to note that proposal reviewers consider match-funded activities to be an integral part of the project. All project activities should result in tangible, “on-the-ground” accomplishments. For instance, unused financing or product sales, or other unused funds are not acceptable forms of match.
Our reporting and documentation requirements apply to all match funded activities. For example, if you propose to provide a 1,000-acre easement as in-kind match (for activities outside the USA) you will need to send us copies of all required property documentation (deed, settlement statement, appraisal, map, GIS shape file).
To confirm match contributions, we require that the applicant include, with the proposal, letters verifying each partner’s (including the applicant) committed dollar amount. We prefer to see a statement from each partner listed in the proposal. If a particular partner cannot commit to the funds by the proposal submission date, we will accept a letter from the applicant committing to that uncommitted partner’s match contribution; however, the applicant then incurs the obligation to provide this match if the partner cannot. A proposal with letters from multiple partners committing funds will be more competitive.
If you want to show support from non-funding sources, do not send letters, but instead include a description in the proposal. For example: "To illustrate the overwhelming support for this proposal, we have 37 letters on file from landowners and municipal and national representatives.”
Partner contribution statements must comply with the following:
We will only accept properly formatted Partner contribution statements as verification of partner match. Submitting partner letters that do not include answers to the following questions will have an adverse effect on your proposal.
The maximum request per proposal is US$200,000. The average award has been around US$100,000. Requests under US$15,000 are discouraged; please contact us if you are planning such a proposal. Requests at or near $200,000 will likely receive additional scrutiny during review to make sure the investment is fully justified and reasonable.
In what languages may I submit proposals?
You may submit your proposal in English, Spanish, or Portuguese. Applicants should use the language in which they can best describe their project; a badly translated proposal in English will not have better chances than the same, but well-written proposal in Spanish. However, all proposals must have an English summary of your objectives and of all the grant- and match-funded activities.
For Fiscal Year 2013 funding, project proposals must be submitted to grants.gov no later than November 29, 2012. There is only one submission opportunity per year. We strongly encourage applicants to submit their proposals well in advance of this deadline to ensure the on-time arrival of their proposals and to avoid unforeseen complications with the new submission process through Grants.gov. Proposals received after the deadline will not be eligible.
Is there a suggested proposal format?
Yes. The document format link named “Application Template” under “Quick Links” to the right of this Web page, “NMBCA PROPOSAL FORMAT”, will facilitate the proposal review.
Partner contribution statements do not count towards your proposal length and should be submitted electronically either included at the end of your proposal PDF file or as separate document, labeled with the proposal title and the partner name. [Note for applicants located in the USA: you must also submit the forms called “SF 424” and either “SF 424B” or “SF 424D” in Grants.gov. These forms do not count towards the page limit.] If you attach any other additional pages or appendices, your proposal is ineligible!
Where do I send the proposal?
You must submit your proposal through grants.gov. In addition, we strongly recommend that you submit a copy of your proposal and matching contribution letters as an electronic mail attachment to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please put your proposal title into the subject line of your email message. Receipt of your proposal will be acknowledged by email. Please ensure that at least one functional and correctly spelled email address is listed on the first page of your proposal. If we have any questions regarding your proposal, we will send them to that email address.
How do I know that my proposal was received in Grants.gov?
The grants.gov website will send you an email message acknowledging receipt of your proposal.
Whom do I contact for further information
Contact information is available on the Contacts page.
OMB Control No. 1018‐0100