Susan M Weschler/shutterstock

Susan M Weschler/shutterstock

We’ve been covering a lot of collaborative funding efforts lately that prioritize concerns like poverty, equity, civic participation, and other social issues. But the environment is another area where funders often band together to have more impact, and a good local example of that is the Long Island Sound Funders Collaborative.

Held at the Long Island Community Foundation, the collaborative recently awarded its very first round of grants to 10 local nonprofits. These grants totaled $316,000 and went to organizations that are dedicated to protecting the heath and resources of the Long Island Sound.

There are currently 12 funders that are part of this collaborative and chipping in to expand conservation grantmaking focused on the Sound. These include the Community Foundation of Eastern Connecticut, Fairfield County’s Community Foundation, Jeniam Foundation, Long Island Community Foundation, McCance Foundation, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, Lily Auchincloss Foundation, New York, Community Bank Foundation, New York Community Trust, Pamela and Richard Rubinstein Foundation, Rauch Foundation, and Westchester Community Foundation.

These funders started coming together in 2018 with a shared goal of supporting projects that align with the 2015 Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan, which outlined funding strategies for water quality, natural resource, and coastal zone management. Themes of grantmaking interests include clean water and watersheds, thriving habitats with abundant wildlife, sustainable and resilient communities that understand and appreciate the Sound, and inclusive management that is accountable and innovative.

In this inaugural round of grants, the Long Island Sound Funders Collaborative awarded grants ranging from $9,000 to $60,000. The top grantees were the Connecticut Fund for the Environment/Save the Sound, which is using its grant to advance the use of database and data visualization tools to better manage and educate people about the Sound, and Chesapeake Commons, which is using its grant for similar purposes to address pollution in the Sound.

Harnessing the power of technology to tackle environmental issues was a major theme in this first round of grantmaking with other new grantees as well. Additional themes touched on include native plants, equipment needs, infrastructure improvements, and public access. Something else that this funders’ collaborative is very interested in is supporting capacity-building efforts to strengthen the nonprofits that are working to protect the Sound.

This year, the RFP was announced in January, and then proposals were due on March 15. We are expecting a similar time frame to be announced for 2020 Long Island Sound Stewardship Fund grants as well. However, the availability of funds is contingent upon the quality of proposals received and how well those proposals align with the collaborative’s priorities.

To help local environmental groups prepare for next year, review the 2019 RFP and the boundary map for geographic eligibility. Around the start of the new year, check back on the Long Island Community Foundation website to access and download the proposal cover, application instructions, narrative, and expense budget forms. The Long Island Sound Stewardship Fund is just one of hundreds of funds held at this community foundation, which has made nearly $180 million in grants since 1978.

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