Grants Administration Standards
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North American Wetlands Conservation Council
During to the U.S. Government Shutdown access to the US Fish and Wildlife Service website was suspended. Due to the lack of access for potential grantees these last couple of weeks, we are extending our NAWCA Small Grant deadline by one week.
Applicants may submit their applications by 4pm EST on November 7, 2013.
U.S. Small Grants Deadline: October 31, 2013
The North American Wetlands Conservation Act (Act) Grants Program is a competitive grant program with a competitive and thorough application process. The Small Grants Program application process, while simpler than the Standard Grants application process still takes time and effort to prepare, so please plan accordingly and do not hesitate to contact us for assistance. If your proposal is funded, your wetlands conservation accomplishments will add to the remarkable achievements of more than 3,500 partners in more than 1,600 Act-supported projects across the continent.
Before you write your proposal, think carefully about how you will implement your project. If funded, your proposal will become the basis of your Assistance Award and you will be expected to produce all of the acres AND match described in the grant agreement. Please also keep the following basic principles in mind as you plan your project and complete your application:
- Partners must match their grant request at no less than a 1-to-1 ratio. For example, applicants requesting a $75,000 grant would also need to contribute at least $75,000 in partner funds (from nonfederal sources) towards the project.
- In general, laws and requirements that apply to activities funded with NAWCA dollars also apply to items either funded with match dollars or provided as in-kind match (i.e. real property interests). There are very few differences in grant and match for grant administration purposes.
- Each grant and match dollar, except for indirect costs, must be linked to an acre acquired, restored, and/or enhanced.
- Grantees are held accountable for both acres and match, as defined in the proposal and grant agreement. Without prior approval and agreement modification, accomplishing less than 100 percent of acres and match will result in a reduction of the award amount.
In addition, be aware of the following grant selection criteria that are specific to the Small Grants Program:
- Proposals must represent on-the-ground projects.
- More competitive proposals generally keep grant costs not directly associated with acquisition, restoration, enhancement or establishment activities (e.g. grant administration, overhead, indirect costs) below 20% of the grant request. As an exception, if your organization has an officially negotiated indirect cost rate agreement with a US federal agency, you may use your negotiated rate even when it exceeds 20%. However, having a cost that is lower than the negotiated rate may make your proposal more competitive.
- One important factor in evaluating the anticipated benefits of a project to wetlands and wildlife resources is whether or not the proposed project is part of, or complements, another project, or if it is part of a broader conservation initiative.
- If wetland-associated uplands are included in the proposed project, there should be a reasonable balance between the uplands’ acreage and that of wetlands.
Please factor in the following considerations as you plan your project and proposal application:
1. Grant and matching funds have eligibility requirements. Examples of what they may NOT be used for include:
- signage, displays, or other educational materials, programs, or equipment, even though the goal of the project may ultimately be to support wetland conservation education curricula;
- meeting or matching Federal mitigation requirements; or
- meeting match requirements of other Federal programs.
A summary list of eligible and ineligible activities can be found in Appendix A of the Small Grant Proposal Instructions. Pay close attention to the time frames during which both grant and matching funds are eligible.
Grant Funds: May only be used for project activities necessary to meet proposal objectives that occur:
- during the two-year project period (starting the date in which the grant agreement is signed); or
- during the pre-agreement period (the period after the proposal is received but before the grant agreement is signed).
Note: Project costs incurred after receipt of the proposal will not be reimbursed if the proposal is not approved for funding. In addition, project activities that occur before the receipt of the proposal are ineligible as a grant activity and will not be reimbursed with grant funds.
Matching Funds: May be used for project activities necessary to meet proposal objectives that occur:
- during the two-year project period (starting the date in which the grant agreement is signed); or
- during the pre-agreement period (the period after the proposal is received but before the grant agreement is signed); and
- no earlier than 2 years prior to the date the proposal is submitted (back to beginning of calendar year).
2. Land-acquisition projects: If funded, projects that include real property acquisition usually require applicants to assign conservation easements that cover all property acquired with grant funds and/or matching contributions, including in-kind donations, to:
- the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service;
- a state resource conservation agency;
- an established trust or conservancy; or
- otherwise provide a legal recordable document (e.g., Notice of Grant Agreement or Notice of Property Restriction) that provides protection in perpetuity to the partnership’s investments.
3. Land-acquisition documentation: It is imperative that applicants with land acquisition proposals review the requirements for real property acquisition assistance stated in the Grants Administration Standards document. Acquisitions may be made substantially less complicated if you are aware of the requirements ahead of time AND the appropriate documentation is completed in a timely fashion.
4. Small enhancement projects on private lands:Applicants of proposals selected for funding that include enhancement activities are also usually required to ensure similar investment protection as that mentioned above for land acquisition projects. This may only entail guaranteeing the results of the project for a period of at least 25 years.
5. Assurances:All partner funds must be secured at the time a project is submitted, even if this requires a guarantee by the applicant to cover such funds in the event a partner does not deliver the funds it pledged. In addition, it is essential that grant application packages include all partner documentation (e.g. partner letters), with funding amounts noted. Proposals received without partner documentation will have their match reduced accordingly.
6. Additional information: While the Small Grants Program strives for brevity and a lessening of the applicant's paper burden when dealing with administrative requirements, successful applicants may occasionally be asked to provide greater detail on certain features of their project(s). This request would arise from the Division of Bird Habitat Conservation's governmental accountability and reporting requirements, and from the need to provide for short- and long-term assessments of the success of the program.
We strongly recommend that early in the proposal development process you contact the coordinator of the Joint Venture region in which your project is located. They can provide you with guidance on developing your project and proposal. The Joint Venture Coordinators’ prioritization of Small Grants Program proposals from their geographic region is also an important element in the selection process.
A map of Joint Venture Administrative Areas can be found in Appendix F of the Proposal Instructions or at http://www.fws.gov/birdhabitat/JointVentures/Map.shtm. The Joint Venture Coordinator Contact List is located at http://www.fws.gov/birdhabitat/JointVentures/Directory.shtm
Preparing a Proposal/Instructions
Review the following files and guidelines to prepare your proposal:
1. Proposal Instructions: Provides instructions on required information and proposal format, including relevant examples. In addition, the proposal instructions describe eligible activities and costs for NAWCA projects and give links to cost principles that apply to all federal grant programs. All NAWCA proposals must comply with these cost principles. These instructions are applicable to proposals submitted through October 31, 2013.
2. Grant Administration Standards and Assistance Award: Describes the policies and procedures with which NAWCA projects must comply. It also provides an example of the one-page grant agreement for an approved project.
Submitting a Proposal
Due to the implementation of the Department of Interior Financial and Business Management System (FBMS), all proposal SF 424 and SF 424D forms must be submitted through Grants.gov. (See proposal instructions for link).
Deadline: Small Grants Program proposals (narrative proposal, SF424, and SF424D) may be submitted at any time prior to deadline, but must be received by 4pm EST on October 31, 2013 in order to be eligible for consideration.
Be sure the proposal document’s filename includes a geographic or other distinguishing feature from the project’s title. For example, the filename for the proposal “Restoring Habitat on the North Shore of Lake Superior” could be “Lake Superior.doc.”
NOTE: Both steps 1 and 2 are required!
1. Due to the implementation of the Department of Interior Financial and Business Management System (FBMS), all proposal SF 424 and SF 424D forms must be submitted through Grants.gov. (See proposal instructions for link).
Submission via Grants.gov at: http://www07.grants.gov/assets/CompletingaGrants.govApplication.html
(See proposal instructions)
- Standard Form (SF) 424 and SF424D Assurances Form: All applicants, EXCEPT the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and other Federal Agencies, are required to submit a completed Application for Federal Assistance (SF-424) AND Assurances Construction Programs (SF 424D) along with their proposal application. These forms, with instructions, can also be found at: http://apply07.grants.gov/apply/FormLinks?family=15. Additional information is available in Appendix H.
2. E-mail your FULL proposal, and other attachments as one single PDF file to: email@example.com:
- All proposals must be submitted electronically as a single PDF file [.pdf] Do not send separate files of the proposal, supporting documentation, SF-LLL form, if applicable.
- If unable to upload your SF424/SF424D form into Grants.gov, please attach as one single PDF file with full proposal.
- If possible, have the e-mail sent by the intended project officer (same person listed as the contact on the proposal cover page).
- Remember that maps and photos in your application document will increase the file size. Please make sure to note the size of your completed application file and check that your e-mail system and server are capable of sending an e-mail with an attachment of its size.
- Please keep a copy of the “sent” e-mail to ensure you can document the submission of your proposal before the deadline.
- Sending a back-up hardcopy (paper) of your proposal to the address given below is optional. If you opt to send one, please tell us so we can conserve paper by not printing extra copies unnecessarily
Submission to Joint Venture Coordinator: E-mail a copy to your Joint Venture Coordinator and proposal partners, as you deem appropriate.
Receipt Confirmation: You will receive an e-mail response from one of the Small Grants Program Coordinators within one week of the submission deadline confirming your application was received. If you do not receive a confirmation, you should contact one of the program coordinators immediately to ensure your proposal was received and is not disallowed due to a missed deadline.
Timeframe: All proposal applications are processed in the weeks following the application deadline. Barring any unforeseen scheduling delays, you can expect that final decisions regarding project selections will be made by the North American Wetlands Conservation Council at its meeting in March 2014.