The Tampa Bay Estuary Program - A Partnership for a Healthy Bay

Bay Mini-Grants

The Tampa Bay Estuary Program (TBEP) is a partnership of local governments and state and federal environmental agencies that was formed in 1990 to develop a conservation and management plan for Tampa Bay. In addition to conducting research and implementing strategies for bay restoration, TBEP also develops programs to educate citizens about ways to prevent water pollution and protect Tampa Bay.

The Bay Grants program supports community-based restoration and education projects focusing on the Tampa Bay Estuary. Empowering citizens through programs such as this helps foster an environmental ethic and promote community stewardship of the bay.

A guiding objective of Bay Grants is to mobilize as many segments of the public as possible. The Tampa Bay Estuary Program therefore encourages applicants to develop proposals in conjunction with clubs and neighborhood associations, business and trade organizations, community and environmental groups, and school districts. Projects or campaigns that have long-term applicability, and that may serve as models for addressing bay issues, will receive priority consideration.

Money Available

The Bay Mini-Grant Program is financed by annual sales of the Tampa Bay Estuary specialty license plate, also known as the "tarpon tag." The Program is seeking individual proposals for amounts not exceeding $5,000.

Grant monies are dispensed through reimbursement of expenses related to the grant project. Reimbursement can be made as often as once per month, and must be accompanied by an invoice and documentation of expenditures.

Application Deadline:

Applications for Bay Mini-Grants must be submitted by October 1 of each year. Funds will be awarded by mid-December. Projects must begin within six months and be completed within one year.

Who can apply?

Groups and organizations from Hillsborough, Manatee and Pinellas counties may apply. Funds will be dispersed through contracts. Both non-profit and for-profit organizations are eligible.

What kind of projects will be funded?

Projects must address bay problems and priority issues as identified in the Proposal Categories listed below. They should promote public involvement in solutions for bay protection and restoration. Activity must be focused in Hillsborough, Manatee or Pinellas counties. While projects by students and for students will be considered, they must include a direct means for adult or youth education, or a direct ecological benefit to the bay watershed; activities that exclusively benefit a single class will not be funded.

Proposal Categories:

  • Water Quality
    (Examples: environmental landscaping practices; "best management practices" for agriculture; innovative retention/filtering techniques)

  • Habitat Restoration and Protection
    (Examples: restoration of natural shorelines/enhancement of seawalls; projects addressing seagrasses, mangroves, coastal and freshwater wetlands, and other estuarine habitats; marine debris reduction/recycling initiatives)

  • Fish and Wildlife Conservation
    (Examples: awareness of threats to wildlife from monofilament line; protection of seagrass beds; education on fish and wildlife habitat)

  • Bay Awareness and Education
    (Examples: programs for schools, YMCA groups, Scouts or other youth organizations; programs that directly involve youth in solutions to bay problems; programs directed at disadvantaged youth)

  • Dredged Material Management or Spill Prevention
    (Examples: volunteer oil spill response teams; beneficial or innovative uses of dredged materials)

  • Invasive Species
    (Examples: Eradication of invasive plants or animals; education about harmful aquatic invasive species and how to prevent their spread)

Of special interest are projects that foster creative partnerships (projects that pair groups such as commercial/recreational fishermen, developers/environmentalists).

What won't be funded?

Proposals seeking funds for ongoing administrative support of established programs will not receive consideration. Costs not allowed include: reimbursement for costs outside the grant's scope of work, purchase of commercial software and hardware, contingency funds, depreciation, entertainment, purchase or printing of t-shirts or other clothing, fines and penalties, bad debts, interest and financial costs of borrowing, attendance at conferences and meetings, lobbying expenses.

Are matching funds required?

Matching funds are not required, but proposals showing matching fund commitment through in-kind services such as volunteer hours are encouraged.

Selection Criteria:

Proposals submitted to the Tampa Bay Estuary Program will be evaluated according to the following criteria.

Program content will be evaluated for:

  • Strength of Proposals -- Specifically, the strength of the program will be evaluated on the originality of the proposed project and the extent to which it addresses a need or provides a benefit to the bay. Another important measure of the strength of the proposal is the likelihood that the project will be successfully implemented.

  • Ability of the Applicant -- The project team must have adequate education and/or experience to carry out the program design. The team must include the necessary personnel and expertise for the project as proposed. Responsibilities and division of labor should be designated.

    For projects planned on public lands or facilities, applicants must obtain permission for access to or use of those lands or facilities. Permission for use of private property not controlled by applicant also is required.

    (Note: The strength of the program and the ability of the group are essential criteria. A low rating on either of these points will be cause for elimination of the proposal.)

  • Cost Justification -- Cost justification requires that the proposal and the budget give enough detail to show that costs are appropriate to the scope of work. Reimbursement will be based on expenses assigned to cost categories in a budget that must be approved by the Tampa Bay Estuary Program before a project begins.

  • Demonstration of How Project Will Help Tampa Bay -- The project's goal and objectives must explicitly state how the project will target bay issues that result in the restoration, enhancement, or protection of Tampa Bay.

  • Demonstration of Community Support -- Where applicable, projects must show long-term community support for implementation, maintenance and monitoring of the project. All proposals, regardless of scope, should reflect some measure of community support.

Selection Process:

A selection committee composed of members of the Tampa Bay Estuary Program's Community Advisory Committee will review each proposal. Recommendations will be forwarded to the Program's Management and Policy Boards for final approval. TBEP's Project Manager will serve as the administrator for each recipient.


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