Healthy Watersheds Consortium Grant Program

US Endowment for Forestry & Communities, Inc.

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Grant amount: Up to US $300,000

Anticipated deadline: Feb 4, 2020 5:00pm PST

Applicant type: Indigenous Group Government Entity For-Profit Business Nonprofit

Funding uses: Applied Project / Program, Research

Location of project: United States, American Samoa, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico Show all

Location of residency: United States, American Samoa, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico Show all

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About this funder:



Healthy Watersheds Consortium

A partnership of the U.S. Endowment, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service


Up to $1.2 million is available for the 2019 grant round. Funding is provided by the EPA, NRCS, and the Endowment. Healthy Watersheds Consortium Grant Program awards may be federal or non-federal funds, or a combination of both. A review committee will make final project recommendations and the awards will commence in spring 2019.

Competition for funds is stiff. Through three previous grant cycles, 319 proposals were received and 47 funded (<15%). In 2019, priority will be given to proposals that maximize measureable outcomes for watershed protection (e.g., acres protected, progress toward protection goals, degree of watershed function protected, etc.).

Program Goal

The goal of the Healthy Watersheds Consortium Grant Program is to accelerate strategic protection of healthy, freshwater ecosystems and their watersheds. The primary focus for applicants should be protection and stewardship of land in the watershed, not restoration of degraded habitats or projects with a strictly water quality improvement outcome. This goal will be achieved by:

  • Developing funding mechanisms, plans, policies, or strategies to implement large-scale watershed or source water protection or green infrastructure objectives;
  • Building the sustainable organizational infrastructure, social support, and long-term funding commitments necessary to implement large-scale protection of healthy watersheds; and
  • Supporting innovative or catalytic projects that may accelerate funding for or implementation of watershed protection efforts, or broadly advance this field of practice.

Awards will be considered in the following three categories. These categories are not rigid; they merely reflect our approach to watershed protection.

1) Watershed Action Projects are specific projects that fulfill components of an established plan or guiding document, such as leveraging funding to protect a particular property. These projects will typically leverage a Healthy Watersheds Consortium award many times for maximum results and should be part of a broader watershed strategy developed at the HUC 8 scale or larger.

Applicants may seek additional funding for new projects in the same watershed in future award cycles ($50,000 - $250,000 award size).

2) Building Watershed Protection Capacity awards grow the organizational capacity needed for large-scale, long-term healthy watershed protection. Applicants must identify existing or proposed funding or strategies to be tapped with increased capacity for project implementation.

How will increased capacity allow your organization to secure the funding or implement a strategy needed to accelerate long-term watershed protection? (maximum $150,000/year).

3) Advancing the State of Practice —Awards for new or experimental technologies, methods, financing strategies, or approaches to incentivize watershed protection which can be scaled to a broader level. Training projects that relate to gathering or exchanging information to advance the state of practice are eligible. Proposals must include a plan for scaling projects and disseminating information to relevant users and must include a demonstrated need from end users, via letters of support ($50,000 - $200,000 award size).

Quality Assurance Protection Plan (QAPP)

All work involving the collection or use of environmental data, by or on behalf of EPA, is to be done with an approved QAPP. This applies to the Endowment’s subrecipients for the Healthy Watersheds Consortium Grant Program.

A QAPP describes the activities of an environmental data operations project involved with the acquisition of environmental information, whether generated from direct measurements activities, collected from other sources, or compiled from computerized databases and information systems.

The QAPP documents the results of a project’s technical planning process, providing in one place a clear, concise, and complete plan for the environmental data operation and its quality objectives and identifying key project personnel. EPA has specific requirements about what must be included in the QAPP, depending on the type of data to be collected, and how the QAPP must be organized. 

If you request funding for a project that requires data collection you will need to participate in the Endowment QAPP.

You can learn more about this opportunity by visiting the funder's website.


  • Eligible Projects: The Healthy Watersheds Consortium Grant Program was conceived by EPA to protect healthy, aquatic ecosystems and their watersheds.
  • Funding will be considered for projects that:
    • Achieve large-scale, measureable outcomes (acres protected, etc.);
    • Mobilize, expand, and strengthen collaborations to achieve watershed protection;
    • Tap into new or existing funding sources for highly leveraged outcomes;
    • Develop mechanisms for securing financing necessary to implement protection projects;
    • Involve multiple watersheds that are adjacent or clustered in a single geography;
    • Implement protection-related activities in existing watershed, source water, or similar plans;
    • Develop and/or implement large-scale green infrastructure projects;
    • Protect drinking water sources and watersheds;
    • Create/expand organizational/social infrastructure to accelerate healthy watershed protection;
    • Create sustainable landowner incentives for watershed protection;
    • Develop sustainable land-use planning that protects healthy watersheds;
    • Demonstrate or quantify the economic benefits of healthy watersheds;
    • Demonstrate the human health (drinking water, fishable/swimmable water), recreation, and other benefits of healthy watersheds;
    • Communicate the value of healthy watersheds to key constituencies to enhance protection;
    • Develop watershed protection plans and the funding needed to implement those plans;
    • Develop a community of learning for watershed protection groups to share information; and
    • Protect watershed lands associated with designated or proposed Wild and Scenic Rivers
  • Geographic Eligibility
    • Work must be in the 50 United States, Tribal Lands, the District of Columbia, and U.S. Territories.
  • Eligible Applicants
    • Not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organizations, for-profit companies, tribes, intertribal consortia, interstates, state, and local government agencies including water utilities and wastewater facilities, and colleges and universities are eligible for funding.
      • Public/private partnerships are particularly desirable.
  • Matching Fund Requirements
    • Applicants should provide at least 25% of the total project cost, which may include cash donations or inkind contributions from third-parties and allowable costs incurred by the applicant during the project.
    • The Endowment may decrease the matching requirement to as low as 10% if the applicant can demonstrate in writing that financial circumstances are constrained to such an extent that fulfilling the matching funds’ requirement would impose undue hardship


  • Ineligible Projects
    • Awards may not be directly used for land acquisition, conservation easements, or habitat restoration, unless as smaller components of Advancing the State of Practice projects with clear, scalable applications.
      • Awards may be used to secure other sources of funding for direct land acquisition or to develop programs that lead to land protection and stewardship.
    • The following types of projects are not competitive for funding
      • Dam removal to facilitate fish passage;
      • The restoration of highly degraded lands
      • Land stewardship projects that are short-term or unsustainable;
      • Invasive, exotic species removal/control projects that are unsustainable;
      • The amelioration of point source pollution sources;
      • Water quality improvement projects that do not include a land conservation component;
      • Urban activities that don’t accelerate watershed protection;
      • Plans or capacity building without a clear link to potential funding for implementation;
      • Research without a clear link to measurable protection;
      • Education or communication programs without a clear link to measurable protection;
  • Funding Restrictions
    • Awards may not be used for lobbying, fundraising, political advocacy, or litigation.
  • Unincorporated individuals and federal agencies are not eligible.