How to Apply / Current Opportunities / 2020 RFP Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

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Application Guidelines (10)

No.  All applications must be submitted via the online portal at: https://jrsbiodiversity.org/how-to-apply/current-opportunities/2020rfpapply/,

No! We do not require supporting letters from your institution or partners or documentation such as past publications, plans, terms of subcontracts, photos and maps, CVs, or letters of collaboration.  These may be requested at future stages but we do not consider them now and will not include any such documents in our first stages of review.  Please do not send supporting documents.

Yes, it is possible that the Project Director is from a partner organization. We back our Project Director’s 100% and we give them the authority to adapt and change budgets and plans. Make a good case in your proposal why it is best to have the Project Director come from a partner organization. If the application progresses, you could expect some questions about how authority is structured. E.g., what if the Project Director wants to move more funds out of the lead organization and to her/his organization? Does the Project Director have both the responsibility and the authority to succeed if they are based at the partner organization?

No. Project Directors and grantees do not need to be African.  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.  Most of our projects do involve U.S. and European collaborators. We 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 that are 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 look at the flow of funds to see how funding reflects statements about partnerships and roles.  We ensure that primary authority and responsibility lie with the grant recipient.

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 their home 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 and future potential.

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 without the permission of the primary grant applicant.

Yes!  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 to see that if technical expertise resides out of Africa, that capacity development and knowledge transfer is a key component and outcome within the course of the project. We believe that investment in Africa is more likely to support capacity development in Africa than investment elsewhere.

No. We can’t extend the deadline due to the timeline for other review stages.  If you have a gap in the proposal that would be closed with additional time, just note that explicitly and then reviewers can consider if that gap were closed, would it change the standing of the proposal. Before our final stage of the internal review, applicants are offered the chance to revise applications in response to feedback and questions and that gives a chance to fill in gaps in information or plans. Again, we will not extend the deadline.

We have no preference, please design your projects for success. Like many donors, we want the most impact for our dollar. An excellent site-specific project that yields transferable technology, skills, success, and lessons may have a greater impact over the long-term than a national scale project.  Any regional project proposal would need to cite how it compares to 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 most regional efforts.  However, we know that international NGOs might have regional organizations that can be effective at transferring technology and methods among country-based programs. JRS might be a catalytic funder for a regional effort if there is good evidence of regional interest or future donor interest. Our advice is always that you should, propose what will be most successful since you are the experts in your domains and your countries.

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. We often fund Ph.D. and Master’s programs within our grant projects.

General Scope (6)

Yes.  There are many possible mechanisms to obscure or protect data related to exploited and endangered species.  Just include your plans and rationale for doing so in the Data Access section of the application.

Category: General Scope

Yes.  We focus our investment ofthe technical projects in Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania, South Africa, Botswana, and Malawi.  However, if a project includes another African country and there is a strong rationale for its inclusion, we will consider that project.  A Capacity Development project may also include trainees to countries other than our focal countries. One successful approach that we’ve seen in applications is to propose additional countries and their added cost and benefit to the proposal. Then, we can help you decide on the pros and cons of additional countries.

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 and that is common in our projects. Multi-country projects may include countries outside of our focal 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.  If projects are centered in one of our focal countries they may have collaborators and some work in other African countries. Please write to JRS if you have questions about the geographic scope of your work.

Yes, we welcome projects for capacity development in biodiversity informatics in 2020.  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 data and 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.  JRS is not likely to fund projects that develop capacity solely in other areas of conservation, taxonomy, or ecology. We do not fund capacity development for beekeeping, environmental restoration, or livelihoods development.

Category: General Scope

We have no preference, please design your projects for success. Like many donors, we want the most impact for our dollar. An excellent site-specific project that yields transferable technology, skills, success, and lessons may have a greater impact over the long-term than a national scale project.  Any regional project proposal would need to cite how it compares to 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 most regional efforts.  However, we know that international NGOs might have regional organizations that can be effective at transferring technology and methods among country-based programs. JRS might be a catalytic funder for a regional effort if there is good evidence of regional interest or future donor interest. Our advice is always that you should, propose what will be most successful since you are the experts in your domains and your countries.

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.  Please see What We Do Not Fund. We appreciate that grass-roots participation, community stewardship of biodiversity, and sustainable livelihoods are key to conservation but these are not within our scope.  Our narrow focus is Biodiversity Informatics. We provide financial support for the information technologies that support biodiversity conservation such as data collection, database development, mobile applications, websites, field data collection and related capacity development activities. Activities we do not fund include:

  • Tree nurseries and planting for reforestation;
  • Tree nurseries and planting of fruit trees and herbal trees;
  • Agricultural product processing facilities;
  • Carwashes, youth sports clubs, sports training, and sports teams;
  • Fish hatcheries, lake and river stocking, and aquaculture projects; and
  • Beekeeping, honey business development, and honey certification.

Freshwater Scope (2)

The scope is sub-Saharan Africa and comparisons to OECD countries would be very valuable context and comparison in both Special Studies. Given our focus and networks on Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Botswana, Malawi, and South Africa, we strongly advise including some or all of those countries in the Special Studies.  We are open to suggestions regarding the scope and would look for a geographic rationale to be part of any good project design.

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. For example, that 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.

Pollinators Scope (3)

The scope is sub-Saharan Africa and comparisons to OECD countries would be very valuable context and comparison in both Special Studies. Given our focus and networks on Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Botswana, Malawi, and South Africa, we strongly advise including some or all of those countries in the Special Studies.  We are open to suggestions regarding the scope and would look for a geographic rationale to be part of any good project design.

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.  Please see What We Do Not Fund. We appreciate that grass-roots participation, community stewardship of biodiversity, and sustainable livelihoods are key to conservation but these are not within our scope.  Our narrow focus is Biodiversity Informatics. We provide financial support for the information technologies that support biodiversity conservation such as data collection, database development, mobile applications, websites, field data collection and related capacity development activities. Activities we do not fund include:

  • Tree nurseries and planting for reforestation;
  • Tree nurseries and planting of fruit trees and herbal trees;
  • Agricultural product processing facilities;
  • Carwashes, youth sports clubs, sports training, and sports teams;
  • Fish hatcheries, lake and river stocking, and aquaculture projects; and
  • Beekeeping, honey business development, and honey certification.

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. For example, that 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 (4)

Yes.  We focus our investment ofthe technical projects in Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania, South Africa, Botswana, and Malawi.  However, if a project includes another African country and there is a strong rationale for its inclusion, we will consider that project.  A Capacity Development project may also include trainees to countries other than our focal countries. One successful approach that we’ve seen in applications is to propose additional countries and their added cost and benefit to the proposal. Then, we can help you decide on the pros and cons of additional countries.

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 and that is common in our projects. Multi-country projects may include countries outside of our focal 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.  If projects are centered in one of our focal countries they may have collaborators and some work in other African countries. Please write to JRS if you have questions about the geographic scope of your work.

We have no preference, please design your projects for success. Like many donors, we want the most impact for our dollar. An excellent site-specific project that yields transferable technology, skills, success, and lessons may have a greater impact over the long-term than a national scale project.  Any regional project proposal would need to cite how it compares to 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 most regional efforts.  However, we know that international NGOs might have regional organizations that can be effective at transferring technology and methods among country-based programs. JRS might be a catalytic funder for a regional effort if there is good evidence of regional interest or future donor interest. Our advice is always that you should, propose what will be most successful since you are the experts in your domains and your countries.

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

  1. Have an exceptional potential impact on accessible biodiversity data and knowledge;
  2. Have an exceptional potential impact on the use of biodiversity data and knowledge for conservation and sustainability development; or
  3. Have an exceptional potential impact on 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 seven focal countries to send a short project description for our 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 a reach that overlaps the seven focal countries mentioned above. The two Special Studies described in the 2020 Request for Proposals do no have geographic limits but should include some or all of our seven focal countries.

To invest outside of our focal countries, we look for some extraordinary quality. That quality could be new organizational forms of partnerships, policy, and institutional mandates. That could be a technology that radically lowers the time, cost, and expertise for biodiversity data capture and creation. That quality could be exceptional co-funding, policy support, and local leadership. That could be a new technological platform for data sharing and visualization. That quality could be an extraordinary scientific contribution or conservation impact. That quality could be other donors investing in major assessments and JRS plays the role of funding information technology and informatics.  In any of those cases, we would also ask if the exceptional aspect is something that can be transferred and applied elsewhere in Africa.

Special Studies (1)

The scope is sub-Saharan Africa and comparisons to OECD countries would be very valuable context and comparison in both Special Studies. Given our focus and networks on Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Botswana, Malawi, and South Africa, we strongly advise including some or all of those countries in the Special Studies.  We are open to suggestions regarding the scope and would look for a geographic rationale to be part of any good project design.

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