North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA) Grants: US Small Program

The Small Grants Program is a competitive, matching grants program that supports public-private partnerships carrying out projects in the United States that further the goals of the North American Wetlands Conservation Act. These projects must involve long-term protection, restoration, and/or enhancement of wetlands and associated uplands habitats for the benefit of all wetlands-associated migratory birds.

U.S. Small Grants Application

Advance Planning

The North American Wetlands Conservation Act (Act) Grants Program is a competitive grant program with a thorough application process. The Small Grants Program application process, while simpler than the Standard Grants application process, still takes time and effort, so please plan accordingly and do not hesitate to contact us for assistance. Before you write the proposal, think carefully about how you will implement your project.

The Basics

  • Grant request may not exceed $250,000.
  • Partners must match their grant request at no less than a 1-to-1 ratio. For example, applicants requesting a $250,000 grant would also need to contribute at least $250,000 in partner funds (from nonfederal sources) towards the project. Funds that pass through a nonfederal partner but originate from the Federal government are not eligible as match.
  • All eligible costs must be directly linked to eligible acquired, restored, or established acres that are completed DURING the project period. This means that each grant and match dollar, except for indirect costs, must be linked to an acre acquired, restored, and/or enhanced.
  • In general, laws and requirements that apply to activities funded with NAWCA dollars also apply to items either funded with match dollars or provided as in-kind match (i.e. real property interests). There are very few differences in grant and match for grant administration purposes.
  • Grantees are held accountable for both acres and match, as defined in the proposal (as revised) and grant agreement. Without prior approval, accomplishing less than 100 percent of acres or match will result in a reduction of the award amount. This means that you may have to return grant funds if, for example, you do not acquire all the acres you propose to buy, even with match dollars.
  • Proposals must be for on-the-ground projects.
  • Proposals that keep grant costs not directly associated with acquisition, restoration, enhancement or establishment activities (e.g., grant administration, overhead, indirect costs) below 20% of the grant request are generally more competitive. As an exception, if your organization has an officially negotiated indirect cost rate agreement with a US federal agency, you may use your negotiated rate even when it exceeds 20%. However, having a cost that is lower than the negotiated rate may make your proposal more competitive.

Each of these basic principles, and other equally important information, is explained more thoroughly in the documents provided below. Read and understand the Proposal Instructions, the Eligibility Criteria and Processes, and the U.S. Grant Administration Standards to help make your proposal more competitive and your project easier to manage. If your proposal is funded, it will become the basis of your Assistance Award.

  1. A summary list of eligible and ineligible activities can be found in Eligibility Criteria & ProcessesPay close attention to the time frames during which both grant and matching funds are eligible.
  2. Land-Acquisition Projects

    If funded, projects that include real property acquisition must provide a legal recordable document (e.g., Notice of Grant Agreement or Notice of Property Restriction) that provides protection in perpetuity to the partnership’s investments.
  3. Land-Acquisition Documentation

    It is imperative that applicants with land acquisition proposals review the requirements for real property acquisition assistance stated in the Grant Administration Standards document. You will have to submit all the required documentation at specified times.
  4. Small Enhancement and Restoration Projects On Private Lands

    Applicants of proposals selected for funding that include enhancement and restoration activities are required to guarantee the results of the project for a period of at least 25 years, unless a shorter period is justified.

Before Getting Started

We strongly recommend that early in the proposal development process you contact the coordinator of the Joint Venture region in which your project is located. They can provide you with guidance on developing your project and proposal. Such guidance will improve proposal quality, and allows the Joint Venture Coordinators to understand your project. The Joint Venture Coordinators' prioritization of Small Grants Program proposals from their geographic region is an important element in the selection process.

A map of Joint Venture Administrative Areas can be found in Appendix F of the Proposal Instructions.

Get Started

Preparing a Proposal and Instructions

Review the following files and guidelines to prepare your proposal:

  • Proposal Instructions

    Provides instructions on required information and proposal format, including relevant examples. In addition, the proposal instructions describe eligible activities and costs for NAWCA projects and give links to cost principles that apply to all federal grant programs. All NAWCA proposals must comply with these cost principles.
  • Eligibility Criteria & Processes

    Describes eligible activities and costs for U.S. NAWCA projects. All U.S. NAWCA and Small Grants proposals must comply with these cost principles.
  • Word Proposal Outline

    Provides “fill-in-the-blank” proposal outlines.
  • Table Template

    Provides “fill-in-the-blank” proposal tables.
  • Grant Administration Standards and Assistance Award: Describes the policies and procedures with which NAWCA projects must comply. It also provides an example of the one-page grant agreement for an approved project.

Submitting a Proposal

As required in proposal instructions:

Step 1 - Review Proposal Instructions

Proposal Instructions

Step 2 - All Proposals Must Be Submitted Through Grant Solutions


View GrantSolutions Instructions

Step 3 - Submission to Joint Venture Coordinator

E-mail a copy of the final narrative proposal to your Joint Venture Coordinator and proposal partners, as you deem appropriate.

Receipt Confirmation

You will receive an e-mail confirming receipt within one week of the submission deadline. If you do not receive a confirmation, you should contact one of the Small Grants Program Coordinators immediately. Late proposals will not be accepted.


All proposal applications are processed in the weeks following the application deadline. Final decisions regarding project selections will be made by the North American Wetlands Conservation Council at its meeting in February.


For general program information, please contact: Rodecia McKnight or Anya Rushing.

Library Collections

Two green, red, brown, black & white male wood ducks glide across a reflective water
North American Wetlands Conservation Act, Section 10. REPORT TO CONGRESS: The Secretary shall report to the appropriate Committees on the implementation of this Act. The report shall include: (1) a biennial assessment of: (A) the estimated number of acres of wetlands and habitat for waterfowl and...