Photo of a child with face bent close to monarch butterfly on pink flowers.
Connecting people with nature is a major focus of the America the Beautiful Challenge grant program. Photo by Ryan Hagerty, USFWS.

As you may have already seen, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) has released its request for pre-proposals for the 2023 America the Beautiful Challenge (ATBC). This year, NFWF has added a pre-proposal stage (with a 3-page limit for the project narrative). Pre-proposals are due on Thursday April 20, 2023.

According to the RFP, “The ATBC vision is to streamline grant funding opportunities for new voluntary conservation and restoration projects around the United States. This RFP consolidates funding from multiple federal agencies and the private sector to enable applicants to conceive and develop large-scale, locally led projects that address shared funder priorities spanning public and private lands. In year two of the ATBC approximately $116 million will be awarded in nationwide funding to conserve, connect and restore the lands, waters, and wildlife upon which we all depend.”

The 2023 RFP focuses on five project themes:

  • Conserving and restoring rivers, coasts, wetlands and watersheds
  • Conserving and restoring forests, grasslands and important ecosystems that serve as carbon sinks
  • Connecting and reconnecting wildlife corridors, large landscapes, watersheds, and seascapes
  • Improving ecosystem and community resilience to flooding, drought, and other climate-related threats
  • Expanding access to the outdoors, particularly in underserved communities

Are you thinking of applying? The ATBC has a national scope and provides several funding pathways ranging from grants focused on implementation, planning, Sentinel Landscapes, National Forests, and private forests, rangeland, and farmland. State agencies, U.S. territories, and Tribes are eligible to apply for all five grant categories, while nonprofit organizations, local governments, municipal governments, and educational institutions can apply in three of them. This year, in response to feedback from states, NFWF has opened the door to multi-state and multi-applicant proposals where different organizations can apply for the same project! This makes it easier for different states or partners to work together on a proposal without one organization having to shoulder the full administrative burden or pass money to collaborators, which can be a challenge.

Your Southeast Blueprint user support staff would love to help you tell a compelling story about how your project would contribute to a regional goal and vision. We can also help facilitate conversations about collaborative and cross-state proposals and help identify trans-boundary priorities and projects. Last year, the user support team assisted with 13 America the Beautiful Challenge Proposals (3 of which got funded). We can analyze data, make maps, and write narratives that help meet the priorities of the RFP. With our inclusive and data-driven approach to developing and facilitating implementation of the Blueprint, SECAS is working to advance many principles of America the Beautiful around collaborative conservation, using science as a guide, and supporting locally led voluntary conservation efforts.

Would you like to look at:

  • How your project area scores in the Southeast Conservation Blueprint?
  • How your proposed actions would contribute to regional connectivity and help create wildlife corridors that link terrestrial, freshwater, and marine ecosystems?
  • What potential project areas would be most resilient to sea-level rise and other impacts of climate change?
  • How your project would advance the SECAS Goal of a 10% or greater improvement in ecosystem health, function, and connectivity by 2060?
  • Where new outdoor recreation opportunities would most benefit socially vulnerable communities?
  • Where grassland, forest, and riparian restoration projects would produce the biggest natural and cultural resource co-benefits?

User support can help by contributing to your pre-proposal, writing a letter of support, or just brainstorming creative ways to connect local actions to regional impacts. You can find our contact information on the SECAS staff page.

Here are the upcoming key dates and deadlines. The applicant webinar was held earlier this month, but you can still book an appointment to get feedback on your proposal from last year or discuss a 2023 project idea.

  • Pre-Proposal Due Date: Thursday, April 20, 2023 by 11:59 PM ET
  • Review Period: April-May 2023
  • Full Proposal Due Date: Thursday, July 20, 2023 by 11:59 ET
  • Review Period: July-November 2023
  • Awards Announced: November 2023

Of course, if you’d prefer to wait to see if you’re invited to submit a full proposal before reaching out, that’s fine, too! You know where to find us.