Our Impact: Environmental Conservation (Awareness & Public Benefit)


$10,000 or $25,000

Application Deadline

March 23, 2020

Overview & Focus Area Update | Program Impact & Goals | Grantmaking | Eligibility | Evaluation Criteria | Information Sessions | Frequently Asked Questions | Important Dates |

Overview & Focus Area Update

In 2019, Triangle Community Foundation conducted an evaluation of the Environmental Conservation focus area and learned a few important things. First, we need to clarify our goals for the Environmental Conservation program so we can focus our funding and help make a measurable impact on pressing environmental issues in the Triangle. Second, this focus area has not invested in climate change, even though that is one of the most critical issues identified by the grantees, environmental organizations, and local environmental experts we surveyed. Third, we should develop a more streamlined application and reporting process that will decrease duplication of effort for nonprofits and allow for more systematic data collection to measure our collective impact.

We are excited about addressing all these issues but don’t want to delay a grant cycle while we research and plan. So, we’re reopening the Environmental Conservation grant program with some modest changes while the program is in transition.

Program Impact & Goals

Through the Environmental Conservation 2020-2021 grant cycle, we will begin integrating climate change into our program goals as we continue to support work that conserves our natural resources now and for future generations.

There is a growing consensus that climate change poses a threat to the environment and the people and assets in communities across the globe. Locally, the Triangle is experiencing an increasing number of climate-related threats, which are expected to get worse in the future. In the Triangle, these climate-related trends include: more extreme precipitation that cause more frequent flooding; increasing temperatures; increasing drought conditions; and, population growth which leads to more development and demand for resources. [1]

Conservation plays an important role in mitigating future effects of climate change. Across the globe, attention is being paid to nature-based solutions, “actions that work with and enhance nature so as to help people adapt to change and disasters”.[2] These solutions can range from protecting natural areas (conservation) to planting new ecosystems to make cities greener. For example, studies have shown land conservation can help reduce the effects of climate change by reducing carbon emissions and storing more carbon in the landscape. [3] Other studies suggest that, at scale, nature-based solutions can provide around one-third of the of the climate mitigation needed to stabilize warming to less than 2 degrees Celsius.[4] Additionally, investing in activities that build or strengthen a community’s ability to prevent, respond to, and recover from climate stressors makes for stronger, more resilient communities in the face of a changing climate.

We’re excited to begin funding work that will help conserve the Triangle’s land and natural resources and make our communities more resilient as climate-related events impact our region.


The Environmental Conservation 2020-2021 grant cycle will continue to include the Awareness and Public Benefit programs. The Land Transaction grant program will continue to operate on a rolling deadline through a separate application process, which will open back up in July 2020.

The goals and funding tactics for each program are outlined below. Please note that these goals are all focused on the Triangle region of North Carolina and should benefit communities within that geographic scope.

Awareness: Increase awareness of conservation and/or nature-based climate solutions

  • Fund education and communications around conservation and/or climate issues
  • Fund local advocacy efforts related to conservation and/or climate issues

Public benefit: Increase the use of land for community benefit and/or climate resilience

  • Fund efforts that increase public land use for recreation, local agriculture, community conservation, education or similar activities that are consistent with land conservation and sustainability values
  • Fund projects that address flooding, extreme heat, water shortage[5], or other issues that represent a climate-related threat, through nature-based strategies

We acknowledge that by integrating climate and resilience issues into this program, we are broadening the universe of potential applicant projects. However, this program is looking for projects that sit at the intersection of environmental conservation and climate change and that impact people and communities in the Triangle, particularly those who are most vulnerable to the effects of our changing climate. Climate-related projects that are unrelated to nature-based solutions or outside the geographic scope of the Triangle will likely not be competitive. See the FAQ for some additional guidance on what kinds of projects we’re looking for.

Awareness and Public Benefit grants will continue to be one year in duration and support projects that address the goals outlined above. Organizations may apply at either the $10,000 or $25,000 funding level. There is no minimum match required; however, applicants will be asked to share any additional funding that is requested or committed to the project.

We know that certain communities that have endured chronic stressors such as poverty and racial segregation are more vulnerable to impacts of climate change. So, preference will be given to projects that benefit communities who reflect “populations of concern” including communities of color, low-income groups, people with limited English proficiency (LEP), and immigrant groups.[6]

Past grantees may re-apply for continued support of a previously funded project. In their evaluation, reviewers will consider evidence of impact through interim and prior final reports.

The Foundation understands that delivering projects involves broader organizational capacity. Therefore, we have included an “overhead” line item in the project budget, allowing 20% of the direct project costs requested from Triangle Community Foundation to cover “indirect costs” (e.g. % of management or fundraising salaries, rent/utilities, etc.).


  • The Foundation invites 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations based in Chatham, Durham, Orange and Wake counties to apply. Religious congregations, governmental agencies, and organizations operating under fiscal sponsorship of a tax-exempt nonprofit are eligible to apply when collaborating with a 501(c)(3) that meets all other criteria.
  • Organizations must meet the Foundation’s non-discrimination policy.
  • One application per organization, per grant program (Awareness, Public Benefit, Land Transaction), will be considered.

Evaluation Criteria

Foundation staff work with volunteer advisory committee members to review proposals and reach grantmaking decisions. In reviewing grant proposals, the Foundation will use the following evaluation criteria. See the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) for more details.

  1. Alignment with program goals
    1. Increase awareness of conservation and/or nature-based climate solutions
    2. Increase use of land for community benefit and/or climate resilience
  2. Organization’s ability to carry out the proposal
  3. Organization’s financial health
  4. Commitment to equity and community engagement

Information Sessions

Two information sessions were offered, one online and one in person. The online webinar was recorded and can be accessed here.

Frequently Asked Questions

We have compiled frequently asked questions that we have received about this program. We will update this as we have more conversations with nonprofit organizations. If you have a question not outlined here, please reach out directly to program staff at the contact information below.

Important Dates

Call for proposals opens                     Thursday, January 30, 2020
Application Deadline                            Monday, March 16, 2020, at 11:45 pm
Site Visits                                                April – May 2020
Grantees Announced                           June 2020
Grant Period                                          July 1, 2020 – June 30, 2021
Final Grant Report                                August 15, 2021

Please reach out to us if you have questions PRIOR to the deadline!