Chesapeake Bay Land and Water Initiative Grants

Land Trust Alliance

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Grant amount: US $10,000 - US $30,000

Anticipated deadline: Nov 9, 2019 2:00pm PST (Letter of inquiry)

Applicant type: Nonprofit

Funding uses: Applied Project / Program, Education / Outreach

Location of project: Delaware, Counties in Maryland: Allegany County, Baltimore County, Caroline County, Carroll County Expand all

Location of residency: United States

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About this funder:

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The Chesapeake Bay Funders Network (CBFN) and the Land Trust Alliance (Alliance) are pleased to announce the Chesapeake Bay Land and Water Initiative (the Initiative), a new partnership between the CBFN and the Alliance to advance land conservation and stewardship that protects and restores water quality in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed. 

About the Chesapeake Land and Water Initiative

The Initiative reflects and builds upon the findings and recommendations of the 2015 Chesapeake Bay Watershed Land Trust Assessment: Accelerating Land Conservation to Protect and Improve Water Quality. The Assessment made clear that healthy water is a key conservation driver for many land trusts and a much-valued resource in the communities where they work. It called for strategic, targeted investments in high capacity organizations—land trusts, watershed groups, and other conservation partners—to accelerate permanent land conservation with a meaningful impact on water quality. 

This Land and Water Initiative supports two program areas:

  • A competitive grant program, open to diverse conservation partners (see eligibility section below), to advance the recommendations of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Land Trust Assessment to accelerate a combination of land protection and stewardship that will best impact water quality protection and improvement. 
  • A major investment in public policy, communications, and other integrated activities at the federal, state, regional, and local level that significantly expands awareness of the importance of land protection in meeting Chesapeake Bay Program goals, improves related policies for land conservation, and increases the engagement of the land conservation community in these efforts— working in close coordination with state land trust associations, watershed groups, and other partners. 

Guiding Principles

Recognizing the complexity of this work and a desire to produce on-the-ground results as soon as possible, the following principles will guide grantmaking: 

  • prioritize land conservation and stewardship activities that best protect, improve, or enhance water quality and have potential to serve as replicable models in other parts of the watershed
  • support or build collaborative, diverse partnerships among land trusts; watershed groups; purchase of development rights (PDR) programs; local, state, and federal governments; and other partners that collectively help achieve land protection and stewardship goals
  • promote new or emerging projects/ideas that reflect creative problem solving and are positioned to have greater impact with additional resources
  • create or support cross-cutting programs linking elements such as innovative science-based planning, community engagement, creative or new financing programs/policies, and/or ecosystem services
  • prioritize projects that provide the best opportunities to leverage CBFN members’ and other funders’ current investments in initial landscapes, and other financial resources, knowledge, expertise and staff capacity

Priority Projects

The most successful grant requests will demonstrate significant impact on water quality and, where possible, provide measurable, verifiable results. Successful projects will focus on, but are not limited to, the following priority project interests: 

  • science-based land conservation planning and/or implementation for water quality benefits (note: funding for due diligence costs of land protection projects is possible; however, direct acquisition funding is not available through this grantmaking program);
  • science-based planning and/or implementation to promote and incentivize stewardship activities with the greatest impact on water quality;
  • community-based conservation activities to build public support for land protection; and
  • stewardship that enhance water quality, and to increase the understanding of the value of permanent protection and stewardship for the region’s waters. 

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


  • In the first year of this program, grants will be limited to projects in these initial sub-watersheds
    • Upper Susquehanna watersheds
    • Lower Susquehanna watersheds
    • Juniata watershed
    • Upper Potomac watershed
    • Shenandoah watershed
    • Rapidan/Rappahannock watershed
    • Eastern Shore watersheds
  • This grant program is open to land trusts, watershed associations, advocacy groups, and other nongovernmental organizations operating in the above sub-watersheds.
  • Successful applicants must have a proven track record and demonstrate the commitment and capacity to achieve near-term success in one or more of the project interests described here.
    • While the Initiative is focused primarily on groups with the ability to accomplish the proposed project without additional capacity, in limited situations, organizational development may be considered to fill capacity gaps in initial landscapes.
    • Ultimately, these projects must deliver results that protect, restore, or enhance water quality.


  • The Initiative encourages partnerships between land trusts, watershed groups, local governments, and others.
    • It brings additional financial and capacity resources to accelerate good work already underway and better prioritize new conservation and stewardship for water.
    • And it works to improve the context in which land trusts operate — through policy, communications, science, and more — so that land trusts have better tools to do more for clean water.


  • Public agencies are not eligible for funding, but partnerships with local, state, and federal partners are strongly encouraged.