National Wildlife Refuge Friends Grant Program

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National Wildlife Refuge Friends organizations play an important role in building critical community support for the National Wildlife Refuge System. The National Wildlife Refuge System's existence is credited to citizens eager to protect America's natural resources, and Refuge Friends groups continue this legacy.

There are now more than 200 Friends groups supporting National Wildlife Refuges, with about 10 new organizations created each year. Friends organizations are crucial to the collective mission of the Refuge System and accomplish approximately 20 percent of all work on National Wildlife Refuges, which is the equivalent of 648 full-time employees.

The National Wildlife Refuge Friends Group Grant Program funds projects that assist organizations in being effective co-stewards of important natural resources within the National Wildlife Refuge System. The program's goals are to assist refuge Friends organizations in developing projects, expanding and increasing their capacity and skills, meeting local refuge challenges, gaining and building community recognition and support, and building long-term relationships.

Competitive grants ($1,500 - $10,000) are provided to creative and innovative proposals that seek to increase the number and effectiveness of organizations interested in assisting the Refuge System nationwide.

Grants will be provided to support proposals within the following areas:

  • Nonprofit Capacity Building Grants - providing funds to assist starting refuge Friends organizations with formative and/or initial operational support. Funds are also provided to existing refuge Friends organizations for activities that improve and enhance an organization's ability to achieve its mission and sustain itself over time.
  • On-the-Ground Project Grants - providing funds to refuge Friends organizations seeking support for projects initiated and managed by the Friends in support of the refuge.
  • Peer-to-Peer Coaching - providing funds to refuge Friends organizations who propose to coordinate and execute a Friends peer-to-peer coaching for a minimum of four other U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) Friends organizations.

    Who is eligible to apply? Eligible applicants are Friends organizations whose primary mission is to support a refuge or a complex of refuges. Applicants must either be tax exempt under section 501(c), OR be in the process of applying for 501(c)(3) status and submit with their grant application a copy of the letter from the IRS confirming your application has been filed.

    For the most recent information, or Request for Proposals, visit

  • Author: 
    National Fish and Wildlife Foundation
    Topic Areas: 
    Target Audience: 
    Citizen and Youth Groups
    Outdoor Recreation Groups
    Religious Groups
    Geographic Location: 
    All Minnesota
    Outside Minnesota
    Library loan: 
    Is training required?: 
    Contact(s) or order information.: 

    Teal Edelen
    National Fish and Wildlife Foundation