RCP Innovation Grant Program

RCP Innovation Grant Program

Photo by Jack HeddonBackground

Although RCPs may vary in size and approach, research suggests that there are basic, key steps that virtually all successful RCPs take as they move from inception to conservation – or along the spectrum from “Emerging” to “Maturing” to “Conserving” RCPs.

See 10 Steps to Effective and Enduring Collaborative Conservation: An Overview for Regional Conservation Partnerships, including the description of the three RCP stages of growth.

The biggest constraint to moving quickly along this spectrum of growth and achieving robust, meaningful conservation at the scale of large landscapes is the capacity of the RCP to achieve key collaborative activities such as conservation planning, strategic action planning, landowner outreach, and capital campaign planning and implementation. The RCP Catalyst Grant Program will provide capacity-building grants to catalyze the transition of as many RCPs as possible from Maturing or early Conserving RCPs into high performing Conserving RCPs. This Program will support the RCPs own efforts to develop the necessary organizational capacity and expertise to move quickly and strategically into active conservation of ecologically significant lands, and to build durable organizations that conserve these lands at a greater pace and scale over time.

Thirteen of the 39 New England RCPs are actively conserving land and have developed highly innovative strategies for engaging multiple stakeholders to identify, prioritize, and conserve ecologically significant lands.  Success begets success: many of the Conserving RCPs report that small amounts of early funding were leveraged for major RCP momentum and additional private and public conservation monies. Some RCPs have documented increasing the pace of conservation in their areas by 20 percent or more.


The RCP Innovation Grant Program will help RCPs address basic organizational challenges that limit their ability to grow as effective collaboratives or to achieve significant conservation gains.  Grants will focus on helping RCPs achieve the steps specifically identified as particularly important to advancing along the RCP continuum from “Maturing” to fully “Conserving.” These key steps include developing and/or implementing conservation priority plans, strategic action plans, landowner outreach projects in the focal areas, and capital campaigns.

The RCP Innovation Grant Program will provide grants of up to $20,000 to increase the capacity of eligible RCPs to achieve effective and enduring conservation of ecologically significant lands.

Grantees may re-apply to the program during the three-year Program period.


Please read the Eligibility requirements carefully here and the Program Criteria below before applying.

Program Criteria:

1.  Activities and products that will result in specific progress of “Maturing” and “Conserving” RCPs towards successful conservation of ecologically significant lands, such as development of:

  • conservation priority plan/map with focal areas;
  • strategic action plan;
  • landowner database and landowner outreach program for priority focal areas;
  • major fundraising proposal (e.g., Forest Legacy); and/or major coordinated or collaborative capital campaign for land acquisition that includes a compelling case statement, internal and external feasibility analysis, and donor outreach plan.

2. Other innovative activities identified by the RCP that have a strong rationale for why and how they will tangibly catalyze the growth and capacity of the RCP and lead to conservation of ecologically significant lands.

3. Maturing or Conserving RCP applications – with rare exceptions.  Please review the information on RCP Stages of Growth.  As a general rule, RCPs should have a clear mission, vision and goals statement, a track record of regular meetings, a host or lead partner organization, and a list of active and diverse partner organizations before applying for an RCP Innovation grant.  A basic website is also viewed favorably.  Emerging RCPs in most cases will find suitable resources and mentoring through participation in the RCP Network as they work toward the Maturing stage. The Cox Trust will consider applications from Emerging RCPs only if they can make a compelling case for why they should be considered and how they propose to move expeditiously towards conservation.

 The RCP Innovation Grant Program will also value:

4. RCPs that have developed a robust collaborative structure and strong commitment to achieving ambitious conservation in both the short- and long-term.

5. RCPs (Maturing and Conserving) that have marshalled social, political, and or financial capital that contributed to their current success.

6. RCPs that demonstrate commitment and ability to follow through on project goals and how their proposed project will build momentum for significant conservation in the RCP region over time.


How to Apply

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