Request for Proposals: RCP Innovation Grant Program

4751531667_dcf6a6a869_bThe Jessie B. Cox Trust Charitable Trust Fund announces the final round of grants to increase the capacity of Regional Conservation Partnerships (RCP) in New England.

Grants will focus on helping RCPs move from maturing to fully conserving.  These essential steps include developing and/or implementing conservation priority plans, strategic action plans, landowner outreach projects in the focal areas, and capital campaigns.

Innovation Fund Deadline: Wednesday, March 1, 2017. Guidelines are available at www.jbcoxtrust.org.

Insights from the proposal review process

Many of the projects funded through the RCP Innovation Grant Program in this final round will develop new tools or practices that can advance conservation and have the potential to spread.  The true test of an innovation fund is the degree to which it supports the development of a big idea – a way of seeing better, a way of working better, and a means for making sense of complex problems.  A big idea should be concrete, express a useful theory, and suggest an immediate and practical application or set of next steps.

The following examples of projects are illustrative of some of the challenges that RCP’s are taking on with funding from the Cox Trust.

Public engagement.  Rally public and private support for conservation through trail corridors; Involve outdoor recreation and sports enthusiasts in conservation through mapping; Increase engagement of new organizational allies to support land conservation.

Conservation finance.  Develop a campaign for municipal funding through town conservation bonds.

Landowner outreach.  Improve landowner outreach with improved data systems.

Donor development.  Attract younger conservation donors with new strategies and tools.

Conservation Planning.  Support conservation planning that crosses state borders;  Help all transportation agencies in New England incorporate wildlife connectivity in their transportation planning and road maintenance.

Proposals that were not funded often addressed very important conservation challenges, but did not explain how a particular project would significantly address RCP development goals or challenges.  RCP’s  that were explicit about how a project would lead to the “next level” of organizational capacity tended to score higher in the initial rankings.

The grant program also supports very practical organizational development projects.  While launching the first joint capital campaign of an RCP is not an innovation, it is a type of a collective initiative that helps an RCP move from maturing to conserving.

The review process also highlighted a core dilemma of supporting organizational capacity building – it takes some capacity to build capacity.  RCP’s that were able to invest the time to reflect on organizational challenges and outline strategic priorities for moving forward as a coalition had a much easier time making a case for funding a particular project.

You have an advantage if you call us before you submit a proposal.  The review process is very competitive, but we want to give everyone the best opportunity to submit a strong proposal.  If you have any questions about the application process, contact Prentice Zinn at 617-391-3091.

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