2021 Request for Proposals

January 4, 2021

APPLY FOR A CORNELL LAND TRUST GRANT

Please fill out an online application
Application for $5K and $25K Grants
Application for Land Acquisition Grant

The 2021 land trust grant program will fund up to sixteen grants via three tracks:

Capacity and Partnership Projects:
4-6 grants of $5,000 each

Management and Restoration Projects:
7 grants of $25,000 each

California Land Acquisition Grants:
1-3 grants of up to $50,000 each


Applications are due March 1, 2021 with funds dispersed at the end of May 2021.

This is an annual grant cycle. The next RFP for the small grant program will be announced in January 2022 with proposals due in March 2022.

The grant selection committee’s decisions will be based on the following considerations, summarized below as primary evaluation criteria that are general and secondary evaluation criteria specific to the grant category. Information about grant expectations and awards can be found here.

Primary Evaluation Criteria

  • Applicant organizations must reside within U.S.
  • Project must accomplish or contribute to bird conservation on private lands through activities such as (but not limited to) strategic planning, outreach, habitat management, stewardship, bird monitoring, eBird use, capacity building, and land or easement acquisition.
  • Strong proposals for the $5K and $25K grants will include more than one of the above activities (note: these two tracks do not fund land or easement acquisition).
  • Project partners should be engaged through the proposed work.
  • Project must articulate clear project objectives, detailed plan of activities, and expected conservation outcomes with associated measures of success.
  • Proposed objectives and activities should be accomplished within the stated grant period.
  • Co-funding is not required, but strong applications will be supplemented by in-kind or partner contributions, matching dollars, or other resources that will leverage the impact of the proposed work.
  • Project budget must include allowable expenses, such as indirect costs no greater than 10%, a budget justification, and project funds clearly delineated if included within a larger budget.
  • Applicant should demonstrate sufficient organizational capacity and commitment to complete, and sustain if applicable, the proposed grant-funded activities.
  • Past awardee projects will be considered, but project must build on the initially funded project and must demonstrate a high level of competence, accountability and due diligence, including satisfactory completion of previous award.
  • Applicants can apply for any of the grant tracks and are welcome to submit or be a partner on more than one proposal for different projects. Expect only one request for which you are a lead applicant will be funded if selected.

Secondary Evaluation Criteria

Capacity and Partnership Grants

  • Projects must build land trust capacity by teaching or demonstrating how birds can enhance strategic planning and mission fulfillment of land trusts (e.g. using eBird as a conservation planning tool), and/or facilitate mutually beneficial collaborations and partnerships with the bird conservation community.
  • Requested grant funding should not exceed $5,000.
  • Priority will be given to the formation of new, regional or state based land trust collaboratives with multiple partners.
  • See Example Activities page for ideas of activities that we would consider funding under this grant track.

Management and Restoration Grants – March Conservation Fund

  • Organization should either be an accredited land trust or be working with an accredited land trust as a partner. Ideally the lead applicant should be the accredited land trust.
  • Projects should actively manage, restore, and/or steward land in a way that enhances habitat and promotes bird conservation, with special emphasis on priority species or those identified in State Wildlife Action Plans.
  • Requested grant funding should not exceed $25,000.
  • Preference will be given to land trusts with previous management experience.
  • See Example Activities page for ideas of activities that we would consider funding under this grant track.

California Land Acquisition Grants – Bissonette & Hemphill Habitat Preservation Program

  • Organization must be an accredited land trust to apply.
  • Land trust’s service area or part of service area must reside within the state of California.
  • Requested grant funding should not exceed $50,000.
  • Awarded funds will support the purchase of land or conservation easements in California that have closed in 2020 or will close in 2021.
  • Funds will support direct acquisition costs of the above only. Transaction fees, taxes, assessments, counsel, staff transaction costs, stewardship endowments, stewardship operations and other related costs are not eligible.
  • In 2021, preference will be given to applications for land and easement acquisitions in Southern California, although all applications from California will be considered.
  • Applicant must clearly demonstrate the land’s importance to birds and/or bird conservation.
  • Strong proposals may demonstrate that protecting the property will conserve environmentally significant land and resources important to a large number of bird species, birds that are state or federally listed as endangered or threatened, or species of conservation concern identified in the California State Wildlife Action Plan.
  • Strong proposals may demonstrate that the property serves as a connector to important habitat in the larger landscape or protects land within an assemblage of other protected lands.
  • The proposed land acquisition must be protected in perpetuity and easement must be permanent.
  • Applicant’s mission should be dedicated to land conservation and/or stewardship of conserved lands, and must demonstrate sufficient organizational capacity and commitment to managing conserved fee lands and monitoring conservation easements.
  • Applicant is not required to be the long-term owner, but must clearly demonstrate that the proposed long-term owner has a commitment to stewarding the property.

If you have questions, please contact:
Sara Barker, Cornell Land Trust Bird Conservation Initiative Program Leader, sb65@cornell.edu

Many thanks to our generous donors!

March Conservation Fund and California Community Foundation logos