Seining in a Stream with Partners. Credit: Brian Jonkers / USFWS


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National Fish and Wildlife Foundation

A Foundation for Conservation

The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation is a key U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service partner

The nonprofit National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) was established by Congress in 1984 to support the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) mission to conserve fish, wildlife and plant species. (See Since then, NFWF and FWS have worked together to foster innovative partnerships with corporations, foundations, other federal agencies and non-profit organizations to generate new resources for conservation.

From 1986 to 2012, NFWF leveraged $190 million in FWS-appropriated funds into more than $770 million to support nearly 4,460 grants to 1,825 conservation partners in all 50 states, the U.S. territories and in targeted international locations.

In FY2012, NFWF awarded $6.8 million in FWS directly appropriated funds and $750,000 through other agreements, which is being leveraged by our partners into $68 million to support 155 projects benefiting our nation’s fish and wildlife resources. The FWS funds support targeted conservation efforts focusing on at-risk species, habitat enhancement and community-based stewardship.

The partnership seeks to increase populations of targeted species by supporting the restoration of landscape-level habitats. Several areas of focus include southwest grasslands, northern Rockies migratory corridors, sea turtles, native trout, longleaf pine, early successional forests, and the Great Lakes watershed.

NFWF manages a competitive challenge grant program for high-priority conservation projects with a statutory non-Federal matching requirement of 1:1 for all federally appropriated dollars it awards; it has averaged 3:1 in recent years. This appropriation does not support NFWF’s administrative expenses, and all of the monies are targeted to on-the-ground conservation. The NFWF challenge grant model calls for multiple collaborators for each grant, which maximizes coordination, efficiency and leverage.

Projects funded through the partnership are associated with specific initiatives that were developed with the Service and other Federal and non-Federal experts.  Each initiative has detailed outcomes, and all projects are evaluated on their ability to achieve established long-term conservation targets. By building outcome-based partnerships among conservation organizations, government, businesses, private organizations and individuals, NFWF stimulates new support for on-the-ground conservation – an important niche in conservation funding.

What NFWF is:

  • An independent 501(c)(3) chartered by Congress in 1984
  • One of the nation’s largest non-profit funders for wildlife conservation
  • Governed by a 30-member Board of Directors approved by the Secretary of Interior (includes the U. S. Fish & Wildlife Service Director and NOAA Administrator)
  • An organization that has no membership; NFWF does not support advocacy or litigation
  • Transparent and accountable to Congress, federal agencies, and the public

What NFWF does:

  • Protects, restores and enhances our nation's fish, wildlife, plants and habitats
  • Engineers creative solutions to address conservation challenges
  • Creates common ground between public and private sectors
  • Provides grants to conservation organizations and agencies to implement science-based conservation plans
  • Leverages public funding with private contributions (average 3:1) to achieve shared conservation outcomes
  • Develops and implements conservation programs with public and private partners including Walmart, Southern Company, Wells Fargo, FedEx and International Paper, as well as more than a dozen other federal agencies

How NFWF works with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service:

In collaboration with FWS, NFWF funds selected programs to benefit species in need. These initiatives include:

American Oystercatcher. Credit: USFWSBird Conservation
American Oystercatcher, Attwater’s Prairie Chicken, Early Successional Forest, Hawaiian Forest Birds, Kirtland’s Warbler, Seabirds, Short Grass Prairie, Southeastern Grasslands

Apach trout. Credit: Craig Springer / USFWsFreshwater Fish Conservation
Apache Trout, Upper and Lower Klamath Basin, Eastern Brook Trout, Russian River Coho, Upper Colorado Native Fishes, Lahontan Cutthroat Trout, Southeast Native Bass, Pacific Salmon

Bog turtle. Credit: USFWSWildlife and Habitat Conservation
Bog Turtle, Great Migrations and Crucial Corridors (Path of the Pronghorn, Lynx Lifeline, Wolverine of the High Divide), New England Cottontail, Sierra Nevada Meadow Restoration, Sky Islands Grassland

A tropical Pacific coral reef at Palmyra Atoll National Wildlife Refuge in the Pacific abounds with fish. Ocean warming and acidification, tied to climate change, are taking a toll on coral reefs. Credit: Jim Maragos / USFWSMarine and Coastal Conservation
Coral Reef Conservation, River Herring, Sea Turtle Conservation, Chesapeake Bay Stewardship Fund

NFWF and the Service work together on conservation priorities through grant programs in which the Service is a partner. Visit our NFWF-Service grant programs for more information.