Collaboration Toolkit

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Leverage Funding Opportunities

At this stage of collaboration, many new financial options may be available to you. For instance, you may be ready to leverage grants along with in-kind resources of your own. Your group may also devise ways of creating your own revenue streams.

Leveraging Opportunities

2014 Farm Bill
The Farm Bill is reauthorized approximately once every five years, and provides for a variety of conservation programs to protect soil and water quality. On February 7, President Obama signed the 2014 Farm Bill into law. Some examples of funding programs are highlighted below. For additional information, see Step 1 of the SWC’s Agricultural Collaboration Toolkit.
Funding Program Description Eligibility
Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) RCPP combines the authorities of four former conservation programs – the Agricultural Water Enhancement Program, the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Program, the Cooperative Conservation Partnership Initiative and the Great Lakes Basin Program. This is a ripe opportunity for collaborative partners to leverage resources with the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). Producer groups or associations, state or local governments, American Indian tribes, treatment plants, water and irrigation districts, NGOs, higher education institutions. State Conservationists determine priority resource concerns.
Agricultural Conservation Easements Program (ACEP) Provides funding to producers to purchase 1) agricultural land easements or 2) wetland reserve easements. The goal of ACEP is to prevent conversion of working agricultural lands by promoting Agricultural Land Easements; and to restore, protect, and enhance wetlands using Wetland Reserve Easements. Private landowners, Indian tribes, state and local governments and NGOs that have farmland or grassland protection programs.
Voluntary Public Access and Habitat Incentive Program Provides funding to create and expand public access programs. Can be used for rental payments or wildlife habitat planning services, to owners and managers who allow public access to their lands. Priority is to maximize accessible land area and promote wildlife habitat restoration. Only states and tribal governments are eligible to apply for VPA-HIP grants. Private forest, farm or ranch lands are then eligible for assistance under these state grants.

New in 2014!

The Healthy Watershed Grants Program The EPA Office of Wetlands, Oceans, and Watersheds (OWOW) supports the assessment, identification, and protection of intact aquatic ecosystems. Contact your EPA Regional office to learn how to apply to your Healthy Watersheds Program Coordinator.
The Chiefs’ Joint Landscape Restoration Partnership The NRCS and the USDA Forest Service funds projects focused on wildfire mitigation/risk reduction, wildlife habitat, and protection of water quality and supply. 13 priority watersheds in 12 states in 2014, expected to continue in 2015.

2014 Project Descriptions

To participate in this partnership, consult your Assistant State Conservationist for Programs in each state. Find your state’s office here.

Loan Opportunities

State Revolving Funds can help existing collaboratives implement cost-effective protections, then feed funding back to new loan allocations.

Funding Program Description Eligibility
Drinking Water State Revolving Fund Program (DW SRF)
Clean Water State Revolving Fund Program (CW SRF)
Each state maintains revolving loan funds to provide low-cost financing for water quality infrastructure projects. Certain funds are designated for drinking water infrastructure. Revolving Fund monies are loaned to communities, which subsequently repay loans in order to recycle funding back to additional programs. CW SRF funds can be used to fund water quality projects, including land conservation and agricultural practices to protect water quality from non-point sources. Contact state DW SRF representative
Contact state and Regional CW SRF programs

Working with nonprofits

Many nonprofits offer grant programs and technical assistance to groups active in source water protection. Also, view below to learn how to expand your eligibility for grant funding by adopting a nonprofit as a fiscal agent.

Nonprofit Description
National Association of Conservation Districts Conservation districts provide technical assistance, outreach, education, and links to resources for private landowners to plan and implement conservation practices to protect soil and water quality. Conservation districts are well-connected at the state and local level in 3000 counties across the nation and in US territories. Click here to learn how to work with, and leverage funding through, conservation districts.
The Trust for Public Land (TPL) Helps communities establish land trusts for conservation across the nation. Provides technical assistance to landowners and communities to identify finance mechanisms for land conservation. TPL has successfully coordinated trusts for source water protection through forest conservation in Texas, New Jersey, Connecticut, New York, North Carolina, and Florida.

LandVote: Database of measures that have passed in state or local elections to raise public funds for land conservation.

Smart Growth America Smart Growth America is committed to sustainable development and low-impact urban planning. SGA often provides groups with technical assistance in areas such as Brownfield remediation or Department of Transportation innovation. SGA also hosts a regular series of Smart Growth community workshops, a possible venue for collaborative outreach.

Special Feature: Using a Nonprofit as a Fiscal Agent

Several collaboratives have adopted a unique structural model that uses a nonprofit agent to streamline and centralize financial resources.

The Northern Forest Alliance, the Highlands Coalition, and the Eastern Forest Partnership are three natural resource collaboratives that channel financial resources through the Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC), a 501c(3) entity based in Boston, MA. The three collaboratives each vest all legal and financial responsibilities with the AMC, including hiring and payroll for staff, accounting and annual audit, legal oversight of lobbying and non-lobbying activities, and more. Advantages of this model include:

  • Collaboratives may immediately apply for grants available to nonprofits without registering as 501c(3) organizations themselves.
  • Many nonprofits are large and well established organizations with extensive staff capacities and expertise. This makes grant applications far more competitive, and streamlines logistical and financial accounting.
  • Collaboratives may enjoy special assistance from nonprofits in activities such as fundraising through the nonprofit’s professional staff and leadership.
  • Creating structural linkages with a nonprofit allows collaboratives to establish a public presence that is generally identical in external perception to a stand-alone 501c3 entity.

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