NFWF Announces Release of America the Beautiful Challenge 2023 Request for Proposals
The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) today announced the release of the 2023 Request for Proposals (RFP) for the America the Beautiful Challenge program (ATBC). The program, which was launched in 2022, is dedicated to funding landscape-scale conservation and restoration projects that implement existing conservation plans across the nation.
ATBC grant pre-proposals are due April 20, 2023, and the full RFP can be found here. Awards are expected to be announced in November 2023.
“Nature is essential to the health, well-being and prosperity of every family and every community in America,” said Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland. “Through the America the Beautiful Challenge, we are catalyzing investments from President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to pursue locally led, collaborative and inclusive approaches to conservation to advance climate resilience, create jobs, strengthen our economy, and ensure that everyone has access to nature, now and for future generations.”
“The America the Beautiful Challenge offers an opportunity to expand and strengthen our work with partners to support locally led conservation efforts,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “USDA is proud to support the second year of the challenge to broaden the reach of our programming to benefit communities across the country.”
ATBC is a partnership between NFWF and the Department of the Interior through the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Department of Agriculture through the U.S. Forest Service and the Natural Resources Conservation Service, the Department of Defense, and Native Americans in Philanthropy. In its first year, the program awarded 55 grants totaling $91 million, leveraging an additional $50 million in grantee match for a total conservation investment of $141 million. The 2022 grants and summaries can be found here.
“The America the Beautiful Challenge created a one-stop shop to help communities access funding for conservation and restoration initiatives,” said White House Council on Environmental Quality Chair Brenda Mallory. “This collaborative effort has and will continue to advance locally-led projects aligned with the President’s ambitious America the Beautiful initiative, conserving our lands and waters while also expanding access to the outdoors across the country.”
“In 2022, applications to the America the Beautiful Challenge far surpassed expectations and resulted in an extraordinary inaugural grant slate,” said Jeff Trandahl, executive director and CEO of NFWF. “NFWF is grateful for the continued commitment of states, Tribal Nations, territories, and the conservation community to deliver voluntary nature-based solutions to restore habitat, enhance resilience, and connect people with nature.”
“The America the Beautiful Challenge serves as a valuable opportunity for the Department of Defense (DOD) to work collaboratively across the federal government to conserve natural habitats outside installations and ranges, strengthen climate resilience, and protect critical mission priorities,” said Brendan Owens, Assistant Secretary of Defense, Energy, Installations and Environment. “Through the America the Beautiful Challenge, DOD can support the implementation of large-scale, multi-state conservation activities that have direct ties to the Military Departments’ testing and training operations. DOD is also proud to partner with the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) through the Sentinel Landscapes Partnership. This year’s America the Beautiful Challenge will prioritize projects that advance goals and initiatives across sentinel landscapes, which are each anchored by a military installation and serve as areas of strategic importance for DOD, USDA, and DOI.”
“If we are to address the biodiversity and climate crisis, Tribes need to be in a leadership role,” said Erik Stegman, CEO, Native Americans in Philanthropy. “We’re proud to continue our partnership with NFWF in removing barriers to this critical funding, and ensuring equitable funding to Tribal conservation projects.”
In 2023, ATBC has additional funding available as the program expects to award up to $116 million in grants. In addition to the increase in overall funding, the RFP also includes the following changes from 2022:
- Inclusion of a pre-proposal process, which will allow applicants to submit their projects using a simplified application, primarily centered on a 2–3-page narrative.
- Five distinct grant categories, including an individual grant category for funding from the Department of Defense and the Forest Service respectively.
- The Forest Service will fund a wider variety of forest management activities, beyond only invasive species management, fish passage, and water quality projects.
- Planning projects have an increased cap of $2 million and can be up to 3 years.
NFWF expects to award at least ten percent of ATBC funding to Tribal and Native Nations and three percent to U.S. territories. Competitive grants will conserve, restore and connect habitats for wildlife while improving community resilience and access to nature. Proposals are reviewed by a public-private committee of partners and technical experts, and funding decisions are based on the extent to which they meet the criteria listed in the RFP.
Additional information about the program can be found here.