New York State Conservation Partnership Grant Program

Land Trust Alliance

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Grant amount: Up to US $100,000

Next anticipated deadline: Oct 21, 2020 2:00pm PDT (Letter of inquiry)

Later anticipated deadlines: Dec 16, 2020 2:00pm PST (Full proposal)

Applicant type: Nonprofit College / University

Funding uses: Training / Capacity Building, Capital Project, Project / Program

Location of project: New York

Location of residency: New York

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Note: Letters of Inquiry are ONLY required for requests in the "Professional Development (Staffing) Grants" category.

The New York State Conservation Partnership Program (NYSCPP) is an innovative public-private partnership between the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and the Alliance’s New York Program. This program offers competitive matching grants to qualified New York land trusts to advance land conservation, economic development, farmland protection, community conservation and recreation and tourism.

Over the past 15 years, the Conservation Partnership Program has awarded 858 grants totaling $17.2 million to over 80 land trusts in New York (link is external). This funding, provided by New York State’s Environmental Protection Fund, has leveraged more than $19 million in local matching funds, helping land trusts conserve tens of thousands of acres of farmland, wildlife habitat, recreational areas and urban open spaces.

New York State Conservation Partnership Program Grants

The Land Trust Alliance (Alliance), with support from Governor Andrew Cuomo, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), and the New York State Legislature is pleased to announce a 16th round of competitive land trust grants through the New York State Conservation Partnership Program (NYSCPP). This innovative public-private partnership is funded through the state Environmental Protection Fund (EPF) and administered by the Alliance, in coordination with the DEC.

Grant Categories

Conservation Partnership Program Grants are available in five categories as described below. Land trusts may apply for more than one Conservation Partnership Program Grant (including more than one grant in the same category). Land trusts can receive no more than $100,000 in total grant funding per grant cycle.

Capacity & Excellence Grants

Capacity & Excellence Grants of up to $50,000 are available to develop land trust programs and build organizational capacity to increase impact and sustainability as nonprofit conservation organizations. Funding in this category is also intended to support land trust efforts to implement best business practices, develop and enhance community programs and services, and prepare for national accreditation or accreditation renewal. All applications in this category should refer specifically to Land Trust Standards and Practices.

A 25% match is required; up to 50% of which may be in-kind.

Professional Development (Staffing) Grants

Professional Development Grants of up to $100,000 are available for land trusts looking to professionalize and strengthen programs and services by adding permanent staff. These highly competitive grants are intended to support the creation and/or expansion of position(s) deemed necessary for the organization to significantly enhance its land conservation, stewardship, community outreach, education, research, fundraising and/or administrative capabilities. Professional Development Grants may be used for permanent full-time, part-time or seasonal employment. Contractors and term (non-permanent) positions are not eligible for this funding. Grant-funded positions are expected to be sustained by the land trust beyond the grant period.

A 25% cash match commitment is required.

Land trusts interested in a Professional Development Grant must first submit a Letter of Interest (preproposal) by the "letter of inquiry" deadline above. 

Final applications are by invitation only. Applicants invited to submit a final proposal will be notified by midNovember.

Conservation Catalyst Grants

Conservation Catalyst Grants of up to $75,000 are available to support collaborative projects that “catalyze” new partnerships and community-supported conservation, stewardship, and outreach initiatives. Projects should advance publically supported open space priorities such as those identified in the New York State Open Space Conservation Plan and/or other local, regional, or statewide land protection plans.

The Alliance encourages proposals that will expand and support land trust engagement in regional conservation partnerships, community conservation, serving new constituencies by creating partnerships with other nonprofits, climate smart initiatives, and planning efforts targeting the most important and resilient resources and landscapes.

Conservation Catalyst projects must have clearly defined outcomes and deliverables and should involve a measure of innovation for the land trust, engage multiple partners and stakeholders, and directly advance the land trust's mission, strategic goals, and programs. Demonstrated partner support and readiness to participate (if applicable) are essential for successful applications.

A 25% match is required; up to 50% of which may be in-kind. .

Stewardship & Resource Management Grants

Stewardship & Resource Management Grants of up to $50,000 are available for land trusts looking to make substantial capital investments in public access improvements and on the ground stewardship of conserved properties. Funding cannot be used for stewardship endowments; however, project-related contributions to stewardship funds or endowments may be counted as match.

Applicants are encouraged to utilize Stewardship & Resource Management Grants for investments that result in durable, on the ground impacts. For example, proposals to develop universal public access trails and facilities, add amenities such as parking and outdoor gathering areas, or otherwise improve the visitor experience are encouraged.

Habitat improvement and restoration, water quality projects, projects to enhance forest health and soil quality, and other non-recurring stewardship and resource management implementation projects are also encouraged. We are especially interested in actions that can enable conserved lands to sequester and store more carbon, attract new audiences, protect drinking water, and/or provide resilient habitat for wildlife and species of special concern and greatest conservation need.

A 25% match is required; up to 50% of which may be in-kind. 

Transaction Grants

Transaction Grants of up to $50,000 are available for new conservation easement and fee-acquisition projects that result in strategic, permanent protection of environmentally significant lands in New York.

Projects that create, enhance and promote access for outdoor recreation for all New Yorkers and appropriate use by the general public are encouraged. Projects should advance publically supported open space priorities such as those identified in the New York State Open Space Conservation Plan and/or other local, regional, or statewide land protection plans. The Alliance encourages projects identified in strategic conservation plans targeting climate-resilient resources and landscapes.

Transaction grant funds may not be used for land or easement acquisition costs. Such project related investments should be highlighted in the narrative.

Grant funds are intended to cover indirect transaction costs including, but not limited to: project-related staff and/or contractor expenses, legal fees, surveys, baseline documentation, land trust appraisals, stewardship/management plans, and design and installation of public access improvements associated with the purchase, bargain-sale or donation of a conservation easement or fee property.

A 25% cash match commitment is required. In accordance with best practices, at least 50% of the cash match commitment must be allocated to a designated stewardship fund, legal defense fund, or other board-designated reserve or endowment.

Important: Preference will be given to transactions that have closed in 2018 or are under contract to close in early 2019. If awarded, Transaction Grant funds will not be released until the conservation transaction is closed, recorded and documented (e.g. executed purchase agreement, conservation easement, or fee conveyance) to the satisfaction of the Alliance. Transactions not expected to close in 2018 or early 2019 are best suited for a future grant cycle.

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  • Grant funding through the Conservation Partnership Program is available to qualified land conservation organizations working in New York State that meet the following criteria:
    • Applicant is a tax-exempt organization under Section 501 (c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code (link is external).
    • Applicant’s mission is dedicated to land conservation and/or stewardship of conserved lands, and has formally adopted the 2017 Land Trust Standards and Practices.
    • Applicant's service area and/or project site is located within the State of New York.
      • These funds are intended for projects, programs and activities within the State of New York.
  • Note: Applicants do not need to be members of the Land Trust Alliance to apply for or receive grant funding.
    • However, non-member land trusts are encouraged to learn more about the benefits of land trust membership.
    • While accreditation is also not a prerequisite, accreditation status (including applicant’s demonstrated intention to prepare for accreditation) is an important factor in the grant evaluation process.
  • Grant funding may only be used for eligible project expenses.
    • Eligible use of grant funds includes project related consultants and contractors, project-related staff, and other direct project-related expenses.
  • A minimum 25% match is required for all Conservation Partnership Program Grants. 


    •  Grant funding may not be used for general operating support, fees for Alliance trainings and events, accreditation fees, insurance premiums, land or easement acquisition costs, property taxes or other state/local/federal taxes, endowments or reserve funds, or major capital expenditures such as buildings and heavy equipment.