OSI Catalyst Grants

Photo Credit: Jerry Monkman

Open Space Institute Catalyst Program

Physical-and-Biological-Diversity Chart Mark-Anderson NERL

OSI’s Catalyst Program advances the practical application of climate and watershed science for land protection through grants and technical assistance. The grants enable land trusts to integrate science into conservation planning and outreach.

Catalyst Grants generally range from $5,000 to $35,000. Not-for profit conservation, land planning or educational organizations with
a demonstrated track record of past success are eligible to apply
for funding. While public agencies are not eligible to apply, OSI encourages proposals that include partnerships with public entities.

Resilient Landscapes Initiative Catalyst Grants

Resilient Landscapes Initiative Catalyst grants further the use of climate science to ensure a resilient future. These grants provide support for integrating this science to inform future protection efforts. OSI gives preference to projects that incorporate resilience data into land conservation plans; inform priorities of public and private funders; or advance our understanding of new ways to integrate resilience science into land protection.

While the Catalyst Program supports the application of all relevant climate science, OSI recommends that organizations consider using the terrestrial resilience science as developed by The Nature Conservancy, which is well-suited to permanent land protection.

View the TNC science and reports on their website. For a list of Catalyst Grants funded to date, download a PDF of the projects here. (Check your download folder)

Catalyst 2.0 – What’s Next in Protecting Resilient Lands

Over the past three years, OSI’s Catalyst Program has made $150,000 in grants to assist 35 land conservation organizations in the Northeast to protect lands that will remain resilient as the climate changes. Grantees have used these funds to develop a dozen climate-responsive statewide or regional strategic plans across six states. In tandem, OSI has helped to translate climate science for land protection in 30 presentations reaching 1,400 practitioners across the eastern United States.

In 2016, OSI will broaden and deepen assistance to land trusts through two new partnerships with organizations that have experience in educating and supporting land trusts: the Land Trust Alliance (LTA) and Conservation Trust for North Carolina (CTNC).

These partnerships will provide more intensive coaching and mentoring to a select group of growing land trusts, assisting them in mastering the knowledge and tools for developing climate-responsive conservation plans, implementing land protection on the ground, and building the networks needed to sustain this work.

Complementing these partnerships, in May OSI plans to release Conserving Nature in a Changing Climate: A Guide for Land Trusts in the Northeast, a how-to guide for applying climate science to land protection.

The document is being produced through a science delivery grant from the North Atlantic Landscape Conservation Collaborative (NALCC) to translate science for field use. It will be available through the LTA “Conservation in a Changing Climate” website as well as the NALCC and OSI websites.

Delaware River Watershed Catalyst Grants

The Delaware River Watershed Initiative (DRWI) aims to ensure that watersheds can provide high quality and sufficient water quantity for healthy ecosystems and human communities. As part of the DRWI, in addition to providing capital grants to protect important watershed lands, OSI awards grants for conservation and open space planning to further water resource protection by state, county and municipal governments. Successful applicants will work with local and regional government agencies to integrate water quality into strategic planning such as Open Space Plans, ordinances or other mechanisms for protection. While the projects may have broader purposes, OSI funds should be used for the portion of a planning project that informs permanent protection of water resources.

OSI awards DRWI catalyst grants ranging from $10,000 to $35,000 to eligible not-for-profit conservation and educational organizations (i.e. 501(c)(3)). While public agencies are not eligible to apply for funding, OSI encourages proposals that include partnerships with public sector entities. Please note that projects need not be confined to the DRWI clusters but can be located anywhere in the Delaware River Basin.

For a recent example, view the case study featuring Land Conservancy of New Jersey’s successful completion of a water resource protection strategy as part of Sussex County’s 2016 Open Space Plan with funding from the Catalyst Planning Fund.

Applications for catalyst grants will be accepted between December 15, 2016 and March 1, 2017. You can access the RFP here. You can apply online here.

To be notified about future grant rounds please sign up here.

The William Penn Foundation has provided generous support for the Delaware River Watershed Initiative Catalyst Program.

In New England

Beginning in the spring of 2016, OSI will team up with LTA to offer small and mid-sized land trusts a suite of in-person training and technical assistance:

  • Two workshops will be held in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont to introduce as many as 30 land trusts to climate resilience science and climate-responsive conservation planning, including self-assessments and real-world case studies
  • Two land trusts will receive 30-40 hours of one-on-one assistance sessions with a “circuit rider” over the course of one year (recipients will be selected on a competitive basis)
  • Remote “learning circles” will be offered for all interested land trusts, providing mutual support in developing resilience planning strategies


In the Southeast

OSI is partnering with CTNC, one of the leading state land trusts in the South, to make available $90,000 in Catalyst grants for climate-related conservation planning projects throughout North Carolina, along with technical assistance and communication support.  Grants are available through the generous support of the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation, Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, and others.

  • CTNC and OSI jointly released a Request for Proposals (RFP) in late February, 2016. The RFP seeks projects from North Carolina land trusts and their partners that integrate climate science into conservation plans. Applications will be due in April  and reviewed jointly by CTNC and OSI, with grants to be announced in late spring.
  • CTNC will support grantees in communication and peer learning with a sequential program of webinars and customized mapping assistance to prepare them for effectively using and interpreting the resilience data in their landscapes in North Carolina.
  • OSI released an RFP for Catalyst progress across the Southeast in the spring of 2015. This request is currently closed, although we anticipate funding additional projects beyond North Carolina in the Fall of 2016.


Catalyst Program
Abigail Weinberg

GIS Assistance
Neil Jordan


















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