WCS Climate Adaptation Fund Grant

Wildlife Conservation Society

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Predicted Deadline
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Predicted deadline: Apr 22, 2021 2:00pm PDT (Pre proposal)

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

Fields of work: Climate Change Resilience Environmental Conservation Ecology Wildlife Management Ichthyology (Fish)

Applicant type: Nonprofit

Funding uses: Education / Outreach, Project / Program

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

Location of residency: United States

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About this funder:



The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) is pleased to announce a new round of grantmaking through its  Climate Adaptation Fund, a program that supports projects that implement effective interventions for wildlife and ecosystem adaptation to climate change. The Climate Adaptation Fund is made possible through the generous support of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.

New this year: National organizations that have received a total of $1.5 million or more in Climate Adaptation Fund grants over the past 10 years are only eligible to apply if their proposal meets additional requirements below. See the FAQs section for more detail.

What We Fund 

One to two-year projects that implement science-driven, on-the-ground actions that assist wildlife and ecosystems to adapt to climate change at a landscape scale. 

Project proposals must: 

  • Focus on the functionality of ecosystems, rather than conserving individual species. 
  • Be designed for long-term conservation impact. 
  • Create the potential for impact at a landscape scale. 
  • Use strategic, targeted communications activities to amplify adaptation outcomes. 
  • Be designed with climate adaptation for wildlife and ecosystems as a core goal or outcome of the work. 
  • Propose conservation goals and actions that are grounded in the best available science. 
  • Conduct on-the-ground implementation, not research, planning or tool development.
Funding Priorities

The Climate Adaptation Fund supports applied, on-the-ground projects focused on achieving wildlife and ecosystem conservation outcomes in the face of a changing climate. Projects must propose actions that anticipate and respond to potential or observed climate change impacts to maximize long-term conservation success. The Fund supports projects that manage for outcomes that sustain dynamic ecological processes, landscape functionality, and species assemblages, as opposed to single-species or historical conditions that may not be possible in an altered climate. 

Applicants must reference the scientific research, analyses, and other sources that provide the basis for their adaptation project, and articulate how that climate science informs the proposed conservation goals and actions. The program also requires projects that use strategic communications activities to amplify their conservation and adaptation impact.

Minimum requirements on which projects are scored:
  • Designed with climate adaptation as a core goal or outcome of the work.
  • Proposes conservation goals and actions that are grounded in the best available science.
  • Conducts on-the-ground implementation, not research or planning.
  • Focuses on the functionality of ecosystems, rather than conserving individual species.
  • Designed for long-term conservation impact.
  • Creates the potential for impact at a landscape scale.
  • Uses strategic, targeted communications activities to amplify adaptation outcomes.

A portion of our annual awards are allocated to urban projects and projects that achieve joint adaptation and mitigation outcomes.

We strongly recommend that all applicants review the Applicant Guidance Document for detailed information on programmatic priorities and guidelines for writing a competitive proposal.

Proposed projects are expected to have completed all of the planning necessary for implementation and must be shovel-ready. Implementation work must begin, at the latest, in Quarter 2 of the second year, to be considered.

The Fund supports implementation work taking place in marine environments ONLY if there is a direct benefit to terrestrial species, terrestrial ecosystems, or marine species that also rely on terrestrial habitat (e.g., species that use terrestrial haul-out sites or nesting locations). 

We do permit the use of funds to support assisted migration projects. However, please note that we expect all applicants to articulate a clear and compelling rationale for why they have chosen to implement their proposed adaptation actions, and discuss how they plan on limiting any potential risks from particularly novel, innovative, or less-well-tested adaptation approaches, including assisted migration.  

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


  • Who Is Eligible
    • U.S.-based non-profit conservation organizations with approved IRS 501(c)(3) status. U.S.-based non-profit conservation
      • organizations without an approved IRS 501(c)(3) status may apply through a 501(c)(3) organization as a fiscal sponsor.
    • Organizations proposing adaptation projects within the 50 U.S. states and territories.
    • Organizations proposing adaptation projects in terrestrial, inland aquatic, or coastal aquatic systems.
  • 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 proposals to emerge from collaborations between the applicant organization and any number of partners from academia, public agencies, and other non-profit organizations.


  • WCS will not fund:
    • Projects that only focus on mitigation outcomes and do not include adaptation efforts.
    • Carbon mitigation work conducted at the expense of wildlife and ecosystem adaptation outcomes, or primarily for the sake of mitigation.
    • The development of carbon calculation tools.
    • Projects that use grant money directly for:
      • carbon offset project design or verification efforts;
      • creating or trading offsets;
      • monetizing mitigation benefits or other ecosystem services during the grant period; or
      • proving additionality to receive payments.
  • 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.
      • However, we encourage and expect that many projects will be implemented in collaborative partnership between the leading non-profit organization and a diverse array of natural resource practitioners.
  • Restrictions on Use of Funds: 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,
    • 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,
    • tool development, or
    • stand-alone monitoring efforts.
  • Proposals that are primarily focused on conducting scientific research, data collection, or planning will not be considered.


This page was last reviewed October 01, 2020 and last updated April 23, 2020