WCS Climate Adaptation Fund

Wildlife Conservation Society

Grant amount: US $50,000 - US $250,000

Anticipated deadline: Apr 6, 2019 2:00pm PDT (Pre proposal)

Applicant type: Nonprofit

Funding uses: Education / Outreach, Applied Project / Program

Location of project: United States, American Samoa, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico Expand all

Location of residency: United States

View website    Save Need help writing this grant?


Program Overview

With funding managed by the Wildlife Conservation Society, the WCS Climate Adaptation Fund will provide up to $2.5 million in competitive grants. Grants will be one to two years in length. Grants will be one to two years in length. Awards will be made to non-profit conservation organizations for applied, on-the-ground projects focused on implementing priority conservation actions in order to adapt to climate change at a landscape scale.

The Fund is expanding its focus and inviting applications for wildlife adaptation projects based in and around urban environments in addition to the adaptation projects we will continue to support in less developed landscapes.

Funding Priorities

The Climate Adaptation Fund seeks projects focused on achieving biodiversity conservation outcomes in the face of a changing climate. The program seeks to support actions that anticipate and respond to potential climate change impacts and maximize long-term conservation success. To achieve these ends, the program prioritizes projects that manage for dynamic ecological processes, landscape functionality, and species assemblages, rather than those aimed at maintaining historical conditions or individual species. Applicants must specify the sources of science and analyses that provide the basis for their adaptation project, and articulate how that climate adaptation science informs the proposed conservation goals and actions. The program also prioritizes projects that use strategic communications activities to scale up and amplify their conservation impact.

The Climate Adaptation Fund is focused on a narrow range of wildlife conservation projects that are conducting applied, on-the-ground management for climate change adaptation, and that are able to achieve tangible outcomes over a two-year time frame. We acknowledge that there are other types of important adaptation projects underway for wildlife and ecosystems, including research and planning efforts, but we emphasize that this grant program aims to fill a specific niche, as described below and in the Applicant Guidance Document.

The WCS Climate Adaptation Fund will support projects that demonstrate land and water management techniques to assist wildlife adaptation to climate change, for example:

  • Projects that demonstrate applied management responses for wildlife adaptation in terrestrial, freshwater, or estuarine systems, including efforts to enhance resilience of climate-impacted habitats or facilitate their transition to a different yet functional ecological state.
  • Projects to enhance or sustain the adaptive capacity of ecosystems, landscape functionality, and critical biological processes in the face of climate change.
  • Projects that restore and sustain core habitat or create connectivity for fish and wildlife in order to achieve explicit climate adaptation goals.
  • Pilot projects to exhibit successful on-the-ground actions for climate adaptation that can be replicated across a landscape.
  • Projects that implement innovative or novel conservation activities in response to existing or expected climate-driven changes.
  • Projects that mitigate pressures on wildlife and ecosystems caused by current or potential human responses to the impacts of climate change.

New category: Joint mitigation and adaptation (JMA) projects.

While all of the projects supported by the Climate Adaptation Fund need to be designed to achieve adaptation outcomes, some of the available funding this year will be directed to adaptation projects that accomplish climate mitigation i.e. are JMA projects. WCS intends to support adaptation projects with joint mitigation outcomes. We encourage the development of more mitigation strategies that offer co-benefits to wildlife, ecosystems, and people. For example, a desirable JMA project could be a watershed restoration that simultaneously facilitates forward thinking habitat conservation, increases carbon uptake, and provides benefits to human communities. Adaptation proposals are not required to conduct JMA approaches. However, WCS views JMA work as another pathway to help wildlife and ecosystems adapt while providing emissions reductions through carbon gains.

Prioritizing communications that amplify adaptation outcomes

We look for amplification efforts from projects in all landscapes (rural, wildland, urban) to target specific stakeholders who can replicate or provide support for adaptation work. Projects from urban landscapes however, have a unique opportunity to engage large and diverse constituencies that are new to adaptation through awareness raising. To support these efforts, we allow each applicant to budget up to $25,000 of the organization’s grant request for communications. In addition, we will allow all or part of that $25,000 to be passed through to a partner organization that specializes in strategic outreach and communications activities.

Encouraging Geographic Diversity

WCS encourages applications from geographic regions that are not well represented in our portfolio of funded projects. Under-represented regions include: the Mississippi River Basin, the Gulf Coast, Alaska, Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands, the Pacific Islands, the Southeastern and South-Central US, and New England. Geographic location will not outweigh the importance of a competitive application and project plan informed by strong climate science with a high potential to facilitate wildlife and ecosystem adaptation to climate change.

Encouraging Innovation and Novelty

Innovative projects may include those that are implementing adaptation approaches that to-date have mainly been discussed in concept, or that rely on emerging science and technologies. Novel projects may include activities that are new to the region where they are being applied. We extend the Fund’s definition of novelty to projects that address climate adaptation challenges and actions that add diversity to the Fund’s portfolio of funded projects. Learn more about projects supported by the Climate Adaptation Fund here.

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


  • This program provides grants to U.S.-based non-profit conservation organizations with approved IRS 501(c)(3) status.
  • Grants can be awarded for projects only within the 50 U.S. states and U.S. territories.
  • Public agencies, tribal governments and universities may partner on proposals submitted by an eligible non- profit conservation organization or work as paid contractors on funded projects.
    • We encourage and expect that many project proposals will emerge from collaborations between the applicant organization and any number of partners from academia, public agencies, and other non-profit organizations.


  • The program prioritizes projects that manage for dynamic ecological processes, landscape functionality, and species assemblages, rather than those aimed at maintaining historical conditions or individual species.
  • The program also prioritizes projects that will use strategic communications activities to scale up their conservation impact.
  • We encourage and expect that many project proposals will emerge from collaborations between the applicant organization and any number of partners from academia, public agencies, and other non-profit organizations


  • The WCS Climate Adaptation Fund is unable to make grants to:
    • for-profit corporations, 
    • individuals,
    • universities,
    • public agencies,
    • municipalities, or
    • other types of government entities.
  • The WCS Climate Adaptation Fund is unable to support the following types of activities:
    • land acquisition and conservation easements (both capital and non-capital costs),
    • building construction,
    • offshore marine conservation,
    • political lobbying,
    • organizational capacity building (e.g., fundraising costs, staff training, etc.),
    • captive breeding,
    • zoo exhibits,
    • direct cash payments to private individuals,
    • lethal eradication of wildlife,
    • carbon offset project design, or
    • tool development.
  • Proposals that are primarily focused on conducting scientific research, data collection or planning will not be considered.

About this funder:

View past grantees & full 990 summary