Request for Proposals

Supporting Natural Climate Solutions in the Pacific Northwest

​The Paul G. Allen Family Foundation is launching a new initiative that will invest up to $5 million in support of rigorous, place-based, and inclusive Natural Climate Solutions (NCS) projects in the Pacific Northwest (PNW).

The objective of the initiative is to deploy rigorous, place-based NCS projects in the PNW to accelerate climate change mitigation, while also providing biodiversity and human well-being co-benefits. The foundation is particularly interested in projects that are community-driven and done in partnership through collaborations between Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities (IPLCs), non-profit organizations, academic groups, and independent research labs or professional societies.

We recognize IPs as the original stewards of the land, and encourage projects that are led by, or done in direct partnership with tribes, first nations, villages, state recognized tribes, tribal colleges and universities, and tribal non-profits in the PNW. We also look forward to projects done in partnership with local communities, who are non-indigenous communities with historical linkages to places and the natural environment.

The primary project site must be in the Pacific Northwest, which for our RFP includes Oregon, Washington, Idaho, British Columbia, and Alaska. If the work covers a broad natural region that crosses jurisdictions (e.g., a project covering Northern California and Oregon, or IPLC traditional territories), we ask that it take place primarily in our RFP’s target region. In these circumstances we will take a case-by-case approach in evaluating fit.

Definitions: NCS and IPLC

Natural climate solutions (NCS) are nature-based solutions that can provide up to 37% of the cost-effective global CO2 mitigation needed through 2030 to stabilize warming to below 2°C. In the United States, NCS have the potential to mitigate up to 21% of net annual emissions. The PNW is home to significant NCS potential – for example, improved fire management alone in the Cascades is estimated to provide 2.5 Tg CO2e year−1. In Washington state, an analysis of 11 NCS pathways found NCS could account for 4-9% of the State’s net zero goal. To be effective climate change solutions, NCS must be 1) nature-based, 2) sustainable, 3) climate-additional, 4) measurable, and 5) equitable to be effective. 

We use the IPBES’s definition of IPLCs. Specifically, IPLC "is a term used internationally by representatives, organizations, and conventions to refer to individuals and communities who are, on the one hand, self-identified as indigenous and, on the other hand, are members of local communities that maintain inter-generational connection to place and nature through livelihood, cultural identity and worldviews, institutions and ecological knowledge.” Here, local communities are “non-indigenous communities with historical linkages to places and livelihoods characterized by long-term relationships with the natural environment, often over generations.” As such, local communities encompass socially cohesive groups that have ties to a specific geography.

NCS Pathways

What are NCS pathways? NCS pathways are deliberate human actions that protect, restore, and improve management of ecosystems to mitigate climate change. The below table provides some of the more well-established natural climate solution (NCS) pathways, their definition, and some examples of what it means in practice. There are several candidate NCS pathways, but there may be insufficient evidence (i.e., there is still high uncertainty) that these pathways provide climate change mitigation services. 

Eligibility and Criteria

  • Projects must specify the proposed NCS pathway(s) and must aim to adhere to normative principles for rigorous NCS projects.

  • Projects must have a plan to report baseline and endline CO2 estimates for place-based projects. Reporting may also use carbon dioxide equivalent units.

  • Projects must be in Oregon, Washington, Idaho, British Columbia, and/or Alaska.

  • If relevant, projects should articulate and measure any relevant human well-being and biodiversity co-benefits.

  • In order to be eligible to receive funding from the foundation, the primary organization be a tax-exempt 501(c)(3), U.S. organizations; Units of state or local government; State colleges or universities; Canadian non-profit organizations registered with the Canada Revenue Agency; state or federally recognized tribal communities or tribes, as well as tribal colleges and universities, and non-profits. This includes First Nations in Canada. Prior to any award of funding, organizations must review and agree to the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation Grantee Code of Conduct.

  • Projects up to 3 years in duration will be considered. The project period should be appropriate for the proposed work.

  • Applications are now closed

Webinar

There is webinar recording available to learn about the application process, requirements, and criteria, more information on natural climate solutions, and answers to applicant questions. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Eligibility

Who is eligible to apply for this RFP?

  • Organizations eligible to receive funding from the foundation include:

  • Nonprofit, tax-exempt 501(c)(3), U.S. organizations;

  • Units of state or local government;

  • State colleges or universities;

  • Canadian non-profit organizations registered with the Canada Revenue Agency; or

  • State and or federally recognized tribal communities or tribes, as well as tribal colleges and universities, and non-profits. This includes First Nations in Canada.

We encourage proposals that are led by, or done in direct partnership with, Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities (IPLCs). 

Prior to any award of funding, organizations must review and agree to the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation Grantee Code of Conduct.  

Are newly registered NGOs eligible to apply for this call for the proposals?
Yes, however, the organization must meet the requirements outlined above and demonstrate its ability to accomplish the proposed project objectives.

Are organizations allowed to submit multiple Letters of Interest (LOIs) and proposals?
Organizations may submit multiple LOIs and be a collaborating partner of multiple LOIs; however, we ask that principal investigators be a primary lead on one LOI and proposal.

Can tribes sponsor or collaborate on grants without being primary applicants? 
Yes, tribal entities can sponsor or collaborate in grants without being primary applicants. They may also be primary applicants. 

Can organizations based outside the Pacific Northwest apply or be partners in LOIs and proposals?
Yes, as long as the project itself is located in the Pacific Northwest any eligible organization may apply. Projects where the Pacific Northwest is not the primary geography are ineligible, such as a global project where one site is situated in the Pacific Northwest.

Can projects include advocacy for public policy?
Yes, however, the foundation cannot support any activities that attempt to influence legislation or influence the outcome of any election, as further defined under Internal Revenue Code section 4945.

Will projects that focus on bolstering state policy-enabling conditions be eligible under this RFP?  
For those interested specifically in advancing enabling conditions for broader policy advances, we generally advise these projects also incorporate place-based organizations or communities so any work has local impacts during the grant. Again, work that may relate to general policymaking is eligible excluding lobbying or influencing specific legislation/elections. 

Will projects with commercialization potential be supported? 
Yes. Projects with commercialization potential are evaluated based on their climate mitigation potential and alignment with NCS principles. 

Will capital costs be eligible under this RFP? 
For public charities, we generally allow capital costs on a case-by-case basis. Applicants should justify and align these costs with the project's climate change mitigation goal(s). 

Will projects with proposed duration longer than three years be eligible? Will projects that are already underway be eligible? 
Projects with durations beyond the funding period are eligible, but must have clear, measurable climate change mitigation outcomes within a three-year funding window. Projects that are underway are also eligible. We ask that the proposal articulate how funds from the initiative will add (or be catalytic) to the existing project. 

How important is it that the proposed project have a place-based focus? 
Place-based projects that offer scalable and replicable models are highly valued. For example, a project that focuses on advancing evidence on the mitigation potential of an understudied NCS pathway may want to include a local partner or activity that includes engaging local partners to inform implementation, design projects, etc. 

Are formal partnership confirmations (e.g., letters of support) required for the initiative? 
Formal partnership confirmations are not required for LOIs but are strongly encouraged for full proposals. 

Can the proposal include activities like forest management plans and capacity building? 
Yes, we are open to considering diverse activities if they are critical for the project's implementation and climate change mitigation outcomes. 

Are land purchases allowed under this initiative? 
Land purchase(s) may be included if directly contributing to the project's climate mitigation outcomes. 

Can a project include workforce development as a human well-being co-benefit? 
We encourage applicants to consider a wide variety of human well-being co-benefits. Any co-benefits, whether they are biodiversity or human well-being co-benefits, are relevant as long as they are tied to NCS implementation and ongoing activities. For example, workforce development can be included as an outcome in a project if it is a co-benefit from the NCS project. NCS must demonstrate that they will provide climate change mitigation services, and any benefits from the implementation of an NCS project would count as a co-benefit. We encourage applicants to utilize existing human well-being frameworks, such as the one used in McKinnon et al. (2016) as a frame of reference. 

Is an ongoing project eligible? 
Ongoing projects are eligible for funding if they have clear, measurable goals within the grant period, and the proposal articulates how support from the foundation adds to the existing project. 

How specific do proposals need to be in demonstrating they will lead to climate change mitigation in their reporting? 
Projects should outline how the proposed NCS project will lead to climate change mitigation in CO2 equivalent units, whether this is through avoided emissions or sequestration. Proposals should outline a plan or identify a project partner who will provide these estimates at the beginning and end of the grant.  

Will projects support the inclusion of traditional ecological knowledge as outcomes? 
Yes. Projects may include traditional ecological knowledge as valuable outcomes that can be incorporated into project measurements and methodologies. 

Will projects with greater climate mitigation potential be prioritized? 
Not necessarily; climate change mitigation is central to NCS projects; however, we are excited to see a diversity of project ideas, as we recognize that many organizations are developing innovative partnerships, science, and methods to accelerate NCS in the region. We will consider many factors in our evaluation of proposals. 

Will organizations that are eager to work with IPLCs but currently do not have relationships be considered if the project proposes to build such relationships? 
Yes. We encourage applicants to use the RFP as a catalyst to build relationships with IPLCs. These may include state or federally recognized tribal communities or tribes, and tribal colleges, universities, and non-profits in the US, First Nations (bands) in Canada, and local communities that include non-indigenous communities that have historical linkages to a place (e.g., farmer groups, etc.). 

What is the expected timescale for climate change mitigation from the NCS project? 
An important component of rigorous NCS projects is that these projects are durable – that is, projects must deliver measurable, additional, and net positive climate benefits over the three year implementation window. Proposals may wish to briefly articulate how the proposed NCS project is durable in the NCS principles questions that are part of the full proposal.
 
Our organization does not have the technical capacity to report on CO2 equivalent units, is this a strict requirement? 
We encourage applicants to use the RFP as a catalyst to form partnerships with academic, non-profit, or similar institutions that can provide this expertise. Such partnerships can be included in the project budget.  
 

Project Criteria

Can project sites be outside the Pacific Northwest?
The primary project site must be in the Pacific Northwest, which for our RFP includes Oregon, Washington, Idaho, British Columbia, and Alaska. If the work covers a broad natural region that crosses jurisdictions (e.g., a project covering Northern California and Oregon, or IPLC traditional territories), we ask that it take place primarily in our RFP’s target region. In these circumstances we will take a case-by-case approach in evaluating fit.

Is there a preferred size of project?
We are open to whatever scale the applicant feels is most appropriate.

Is there a typical grant amount?
We are considering funding up to 5 projects and have allocated $5 million to the RFP program.

Are specific types of projects prioritized?
We are excited to learn about any type of project that meets the requirements outlined in the RFP. We have elements we are particularly interested in, such as projects led by, or directly partner with IPLCs, but the Foundation will consider all projects that meet the RFP requirements. We provide project examples in our RFP, but applicants are encouraged to not be limited by these examples. Projects may be research projects supporting the creation and implementation of place-based natural climate solutions (NCS) projects, they may focus on directly implementing NCS projects to advance mitigation goals while documenting what works and does not work, they may focus on utilizing technologies to accelerate adoption and implementation of NCS projects, etc. In short, we are excited to see a diversity of projects that meet RFP criteria. 

Are projects whose primary aim is to conduct research eligible? 

The proposed project would be relevant if:

  • The proposed research could be framed as the restoration, projection, or improved management of the ecosystem (please see this table for a summary of existing NCS pathways where there is sufficient evidence for climate change mitigation); and

  • If there is a clear, proximate link between the proposed research and on-the-ground implementation of restoration, protection, and improved management activities (per 1 above). The link between the research and implementation should go beyond being relevant and informing a stakeholder, by having strong/tangible ties to those that will be adopting the information to inform actions. 

Is there a preference for NCS project types?
We are excited to support rigorous – or high integrity – NCS projects (as outlined in the table below) rather than any specific type of NCS project (e.g., agroforestry, peatland restoration, etc.). As a result, we are open to NCS projects that are in forests, peatlands, grasslands, wetlands, etc. if the project is intentionally designed to adhere to the five normative principles for rigorous NCS projects (table below). To learn more about the NCS pathways, please see this document for definitions and examples. 

We expect applicants to work with IPLCs, especially for place-based projects that rely on the broad-scale adoption of NCS practices by communities and households. We also encourage collaborative partnerships if the proposed project is multifaceted and would benefit from a diverse network of partners, and each partner’s role should be clearly defined.  

Five principles for credible natural climate solutions (further details here

Principles 

Definition  

Nature-based  

  • NCS result from the human stewardship of ecosystems.  

  • NCS do not move ecosystems further from their unmodified structure, composition, or function.  

Sustainable  

  • NCS sustain biodiversity.  

  • NCS sustain food production.  

  • NCS sustain fiber and wood production.  

  • NCS sustain climate adaptation services.  

Climate-additional  

  • NCS provide additional climate mitigation that would not have happened without human intervention.  

  • NCS are not used to compensate for readily abatable emissions  

Measurable  

  • NCS climate mitigation is quantified in terms of their cumulative effects on radiative forcing.  

  • NCS accounting adheres to the convention of conservativeness (i.e., new potential mitigation is considered only when sufficient evidence exists to support its inclusion; kelp farming and whales for mitigation lack robust evidence).  

  • Measured climate benefit of NCS must be greater than the uncertainty associated with this measurement.  

  • NCS accounting avoids double-counting.  

Equitable  

  • NCS project implementation respect human rights  

  • NCS project implementation respects Indigenous self-determination  

Process and Funding

What is the timeline for the RFP?
The RFP consists of an LOI stage and a proposal stage. The deadline for LOIs will be April 12, 2024 at 11:59pm PST. The foundation will assess LOIs based on their eligibility and relevance to the RFP criteria and preferences on a rolling basis. LOIs that are selected will be asked to submit a full proposal by May 15, 2024 at 11:59pm PST. Full proposals will be evaluated by a panel of independent external experts, which the foundation team will then use as a basis for recommendations for funding and a determination of funding awards.

Why is there an LOI and a proposal phase?
The LOI is meant to be a quick way to share your project idea with us to see if it meets our RFP criteria. Prospective grantees that, upon review, do meet our criteria will then be asked to submit a full proposal, where more information about a project can be provided.

Is there a specific budget template that is required for the LOI?
No.

Is there a limit on indirect costs?
In general, we do not cover indirect costs.

Can projects last less than three years?
Yes, however, we encourage applicants to consider how to maximize outcomes and impacts in the three-year time period covered by the RFP.

When will funding be awarded?
We anticipate initial payments to be distributed in Q3 2024.

Is co-funding required?
While co-funding is not a requirement, we strongly encourage applicants to identify sources of co-funding for the proposed project that can be secured if we award funding for the project.

Can funding be allocated to multiple organizations?
No, we ask that applicants have a lead organization that will be responsible for disbursing funds to partner organizations.

Can applicants submit to this initiative and the NSF-Paul G. Allen Family Foundation’s Partnership to Advance Conservation Science and Practice (PACSP)?
Yes, these are two different funding initiatives. Applicants may apply for multiple grant streams if each proposal addresses different project facets and meets specific initiative criteria. They may also submit similar proposals to each; double funding will not occur.

Can monitoring and evaluation costs be included in the budget?
Yes, if monitoring and evaluation are core components of the project’s objectives, please include appropriate costs in the budget.

How do I submit an LOI, and, if invited, a full proposal? 
We ask applicants to use our grantee portal, Fluxx, to submit LOIs and, if invited, the full proposal. Please use the following steps to access the grantee portal: 

  1. Follow the submission portal link

  1. Register by filling out the contact information requested. Note: your email will become your username to log in and an email will be sent to this address to verify your account.  

  2. You will receive an email from “The Paul G. Allen Family Foundation” to verify your account. 

  3. Click the verification link within the email.  

  1. Set your password and log in. 

Applicants will then be able to log into the Fluxx submission portal and submit their LOIs, and, if invited, a full proposal. A submission portal user guide can be found here. Further questions about the submission portal should be sent to fluxxhelp@pgafamilyfoundation.org

Will you provide reviewer comments on the LOI or proposal? 
No. We do not provide feedback on LOIs or proposals.