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Frequently Asked Questions

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Application Deadline: Friday, March 9, 2018, 11:59 PM Pacific Time.

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Application Guidelines

No. Project Directors and grantees do not need to be Africa.  However… JRS aims to support the development of capacity for biodiversity data and information systems in Africa for conservation and sustainable development.  We believe that doing so requires that skills, responsibility, and authority must ultimately reside in Africa, for Africa, by Africans.  We will look carefully at project designs to see how African institutions and individuals play significant roles from the onset of the project.  Our experience is that projects fully-centered outside of Africa that promise transfer of know-how to African institutions in the final phases of the project, rarely establish sustainable efforts. We also look at the flow of funds.  We look to see – in any of our projects – that the flow of funds appears to reflect statements about partnerships and roles.  We also ensure that primary authority and responsibility lies with the grant recipient so that as the project meets challenges and opportunities, funds can be reallocated as needed for greatest impact.

There are no specific requirements. We look for evidence that the project leader has the necessary skills for project management and technical management. We also consider whether the individual has a position in the grantee institution that permits them the time and authority to conduct the project.  Many of our project directors hold Ph.D.s and we also have several projects where the Project Director completed their Ph.D. during the project.  We aim to be flexible and look at a person’s record of success.

Yes! Please write if you wish to have feedback on a past proposal to JRS.  Be sure that the request comes from the original project director or team as we do not share information about proposals with out the permission of the primary grant application.

Yes!  We clarified the Requirements to read: “The grant applicants are (1) African or (2) that African principals and African institutions play major and long-term roles in project implementation and sustainability, and as recipients of funds.” If, for example, the lead institution is from the Americas or Europe, we will closely examine the plans and flows of funds to look for significant African roles.  We may also look that if technical expertise resides out of Africa, that capacity development and knowledge transfer is a key component and outcome.

We have no preference, design projects for success. Like any donor, we want the most impact for our dollar. An excellent site-specific project that yields transferable technology, skills, success and lessons may have greater impact over the long-term than regional scale projects.  Any regional project proposal would need to cite how it compares to any other regional biodiversity informatics projects that have (or have not) resulted in a strong residual national or local capacity. JRS might be at our best when we invest in capacity at the individual or network level.  We don’t have the staff, resources and on-the-ground presence to add significant value to regional efforts.  Our advice is always that you should, propose what will be most successful since you are the experts in your domains and your countries.  We have no principle of equitable funding across countries – just the pursuit of results.

No, we don’t grant to individuals. JRS only makes grants to organizations. Please see the first section on our Grantmaking page for ‘The Basics’ of what we support and do not support. We do examine whether the project director and key project staff are employees of the applying organization and whether they have stable salary support for the duration of the project. We aim to invest in long-term capacity in biodiversity informatics in sub-Saharan Africa at both the level of individual training and organizational development. Individuals may find training opportunities through JRS grantees and announcements on our website and we often fund Ph.D. and Master’s programs within our grant projects. [Q: 13 Jan 2017 – A: 13 Jan 2017]

Yes and Yes. We understand that organizations have different units and might apply as a lead applicant in some proposals and apply as a partner in another organization’s proposals. We encourage applications. Leaders within an organization should not debate or second guess which application is more appropriate for JRS – let us decide!  JRS funds on a project-basis rather than by institutions and the proposals are judged independently.  We also approve grants as a ‘portfolio’ and we may choose grants that complement each other from different organizations or even ones that take different approaches to the same problem. All to say, it does not hurt in any way to submit multiple proposals and it would help show the strength of the institution.  We offer one caveat – it is helpful to acknowledge that there are other applications from your organization or that you and your partners are involved in multiple projects as this shows there is good communication within the institution and among partners.   Competitive proposals that don’t acknowledge each other may create a perception among reviewers that there is not communication or collaboration within the institution or partnership.  Please do not mention partner individuals or organizations without consulting them as they may also be involved in other proposals to JRS.

General Scope

No. However, we are looking for a strong rationale for why you propose to work in specific areas.  We would look for a good rationale. For example in pollinators, is it an important conservation area, a diverse landscape, a landscape representative of agriculture, a landscape proposed for development, an area of good access, etc.… The specific reason isn’t as important as the team has a strong purpose and a strong hypothesis of what makes the information relevant and valuable to information users now and in the future.

Category: General Scope

Yes, we welcome projects for capacity development in biodiversity informatics in 2018.  These projects would not be as strictly geographically limited as our other projects. However, we look for capacity development aimed at the root competencies for creating, managing, and promoting biodiversity information systems, such as the subjects you might see in the Biodiversity Informatics Training Curriculum.  Our strategy is “demand-driven” and we would look for strong roles of African institutions and evidence that the capacity serves local needs.

Category: General Scope

We have no preference, design projects for success. Like any donor, we want the most impact for our dollar. An excellent site-specific project that yields transferable technology, skills, success and lessons may have greater impact over the long-term than regional scale projects.  Any regional project proposal would need to cite how it compares to any other regional biodiversity informatics projects that have (or have not) resulted in a strong residual national or local capacity. JRS might be at our best when we invest in capacity at the individual or network level.  We don’t have the staff, resources and on-the-ground presence to add significant value to regional efforts.  Our advice is always that you should, propose what will be most successful since you are the experts in your domains and your countries.  We have no principle of equitable funding across countries – just the pursuit of results.

Freshwater Scope

Yes, we fund primary data collection. We need to understand how that data supports the users’ needs and fosters the development of the related biodiversity information system.  We often fund primary data collection when it fits within a full concept such as the new data collection helps to develop capacity in the full pathway from the field to data access and use, or develops some particularly valuable data sets, or answers a conservation science or ecological question. It is just a matter of balance between resources spent on data collection and resources spent on data access. Whereas there are other funders that support data collection, we are the only funder focused on biodiversity-related information technology and its use.

Yes.  Estuaries are in scope but they might be less in the bulls-eye of the target than a pure freshwater system project. Our choice of freshwater systems is to find intersections of conservation and human needs where there is a high demand for biodiversity information systems.  That demand for information, in turn, sustains the capacity for biodiversity information systems that is our goal. A project focused on estuaries would need to demonstrate partnership between data users and data providers and development of capacity.  A focus on species or technical platforms or partners that are applicable to purely freshwater ecosystems would make the project of greater interest than one with a focus on the marine end of the estuary. [Q: 23 Jan, A: 23 Jan]

Pollinators Scope

Yes!  We are open to species beyond insect species.  We would look for a strong rationale of why the information will be valuable and how might use the information and for what purpose.

Absolutely. The RFP is not limited to Lepidotpera and applicants can make the case for any pollinators species – insects, birds, mammals, etc.. We mention butterflies and bees for their ‘charismatic’ nature or well-understood connection to agriculture.  Yes, we would include Sphingidae (hawk moths), Noctuidae (owlet moths), Erebidae (erebid moths), Geometridae (geometer moths), Tortricidae (leafroller moths), Pyralidae (snout/grass moths), Hesperiidae (skippers) and Papilionoidea (common butterflies). Please note our current grants in Pollinators that could relate to this work.

No.  We are sorry that we do not support direct development activities such as bee-keeping, tree-planting, agricultural training, women’s livelihood development, participatory environmental planning, education and other direct development interventions.  We recognize that grass-roots participation, community stewardship of biodiversity, and sustainable livelihoods are key to conservation.  Our narrow focus is financial support for the information technologies that support conservation such as data collection, database development, mobile applications, websites, and related capacity development activities.

Yes, we fund primary data collection. We need to understand how that data supports the users’ needs and fosters the development of the related biodiversity information system.  We often fund primary data collection when it fits within a full concept such as the new data collection helps to develop capacity in the full pathway from the field to data access and use, or develops some particularly valuable data sets, or answers a conservation science or ecological question. It is just a matter of balance between resources spent on data collection and resources spent on data access. Whereas there are other funders that support data collection, we are the only funder focused on biodiversity-related information technology and its use.

Geographic Scope

Yes.  We will prefer projects centered in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Malawi, Botswana, and South Africa.  Some work and partners or collaborators may be based in other countries.  Projects that focus primarily on Capacity Development for biodiversity informatics may be broader in scope or based in other countries, providing there is reach into or participation from our focal countries.

Please see the Where We Work page on JRS’ website.   We are funding technical projects this year in East Africa in Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda and in Southern Africa in Botswana, Malawi, and South Africa.  We will consider technical projects in freshwater or pollinator biodiversity outside of these eight countries that:

  1. Have exceptional potential impact upon accessible biodiversity data and knowledge;
  2. Have exceptional potential impact upon the use of biodiversity data and knowledge for conservation and sustainability development; or
  3. Have exceptional potential impact for the development of methods, tools, platforms, or software that can be transferred and applied to other contexts.

We encourage applicants from outside of the above eight focal countries to send a short project description for review.

We will fund biodiversity informatics Capacity Development projects in other countries, particularly if they welcome participants from outside of the host country or that have reach that overlaps the eight focal countries mentioned above.

Planning Grants

Please use the same online application form and adapt it as best as possible for the planning grant. Please see other FAQs in this section.  We fund planning efforts based on the potential value of the ultimate project being planned.  A planning grant should make the case for the ultimate outputs and outcomes and clearly define what questions, uncertainties, and risks are being addressed by the planning phase.

Category: Planning Grants

Planning grants are used when there is too much uncertainty or too many unknowns to produce a strong project plan in a proposal.  A planning grant should pursue specific questions and unknowns, perhaps be guided by a decision tree, and even lead to a go/no-go decisions on specific elements.  If you are exploring a risky idea, the planning phase might result in your decision not to pursue the idea.  If your project just needs a start-up phase for planning but you know your aims and partners, you might be best to just include that start-up phase within your project proposal. The planning proposal should define the critical questions and unknowns and show how the proposed activities close those gaps.

We fund planning grants that have some concept and description of the end result AND if that end product is within our strategy and our financial means.  There should be strong hypotheses about the end product and its cost. For example, we would not fund a planning effort to design a $10,000,000 regional project since we couldn’t fund that implementation phase.

Finally, we encourage all our planning efforts to develop a mindset that the final product is a project plan and not a grant proposal.  Most planning grants are first drafted with too much time and effort in convening and workshops and not enough time and money spent on planning. A grant proposal is a way to sell a project plan to JRS, but the strength of the proposal is rooted in the strength of the underlying project plan.

Category: Planning Grants

A planning grant may be  your best approach if there are critical gaps in areas that the JRS Biodiversity Foundation has identified as critically important. For example, you may need a planning grant if (1) you do not know who your partners will be, (2) you do not have a partnership with the end-users of the data or knowledge tool, (3) you do not yet know what hardware and software technology you might employ, or (4) this is your first project in pollinator or freshwater biodiversity.  Even in a technical implementation project, you may schedule for a “ramp up” period for planning and formal partnership agreements. [Q: Jan 25, A: Jan 25]

Category: Planning Grants

Yes. Please use the same online form for your planning grant idea.  Some of the questions may not quite fit the planning grant, but do your best.  For example, the question on data access may not apply to a planning grant but you might comment on whether the project you are planning will promote open access to data. We fund planning grants when there are critical uncertainties and steps to accomplish to decide whether and how to implement the full project. The vision of the full project must be specific enough and compelling enough to support the planning.

Category: Planning Grants

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