Download a PDF of this RFA.

Pollinators are a crucial component of productive natural and agricultural ecosystems. Worldwide, insect pollination contributes over $200 billion to crop production[1]. Populations of managed and wild pollinators, however, are in decline. While research has identified several stressors that are contributing to pollinator decline, how those stressors interact with each other is an active area of research. Furthermore, beekeepers, growers and land managers need information and technology to help them modify their practices to mitigate stressors and boost pollinator health.

The Pollinator Health Fund focuses on research and technology development with direct impacts on pollinators in agricultural landscapes and applications to beekeeping, land management, and farming practices. Partnerships with businesses and nonprofit organizations are encouraged to ground projects in the social and economic realities of beekeeping, farming, and ranching.

[1] Gallai et al. 2009. Economic valuation of the vulnerability of world agriculture confronted with pollinator decline. Ecological Economics 68: 810-821.


Key Dates

Pre-Proposal Submissions Open
February 15, 2017

Pre-Proposal Submission Deadline
April 17, 2017 (11:59:59 PM Eastern Time)

Invited Applicants Notified
June 15, 2017
Full proposals open to invited applicants on this date at 12:00 PM ET

Full Proposals Deadline
August 18, 2017 at 4:59:59 PM ET
Pre-proposal submission is required. Only invited applicants may submit full proposals.

Award Announcement
November 1, 2017

Anticipated Funded Projects Start
January 2018

Geographic Focus

Pollinator Health Fund grants will be awarded to projects that significantly advance pollinator health in the United States. The portfolio of successful proposals will address pollinator issues across the country’s geographic regions and diverse cropping systems, including pollinator-dependent commodities as well as pollinator-independent commodities with impacts on pollinator health. The Fund will devote considerable resources to high-intensity agricultural areas that present major opportunities for improvement of pollinator health.

Program Priorities

Applicants to the Pollinator Health Fund must address at least one of the following four program priorities, and that connection must be explicit in the application along with metrics to measure success of the research program:

1) Understanding Multiple Interacting Stressors: No single factor is responsible for pollinator losses. Pests, pathogens, land use, agrochemicals, nutrition, interspecific interactions and climate change are just a few of the factors affecting pollinator health. The character of each of these factors and how they interact will be influenced by the biotic and abiotic environment that pollinators experience. Studies that inform management for pollinator health must take into account interacting stressors. The focal stressors for a given project should vary according to their relative importance in a region, cropping system, operation size, etc.

2) Best Management Practices and Their Application: Best management practices guide beekeepers, growers and land managers on how to improve the health of pollinators. These practices can range from integrated pest management regimens to seed mixes that provide forage for managed and native pollinators. While there are many sets of best management practices available for pollinators, very few have been scientifically vetted through applied research studies to ascertain which practices are best, under what circumstances, and with what expectation of pollinator/colony survival and productivity. Insights from experience can inform experimental management practices, but developing a mechanistic understanding through science will allow users to tune these management practices to a variety agricultural systems and operations. Studies to develop best management practices should be interdisciplinary, accounting for the biological, social and economic dimensions of efforts to improve pollinator health and engage private partners to test practices in real world situations. For habitat restoration best practices, ties to private, local, state and federal conservation incentive programs are strongly encouraged, as well as assessment of multiple benefits from restoration practices.

3) Technology Transfer: The technology that could improve the health of managed and native pollinators ranges from improved agricultural machinery to novel pest control strategies to selectively bred lines of parasite-resistant bees. Promising preliminary work has been done in the public and private sector. This priority area seeks to fund two lines of inquiry: the promising technological advances that are ready to move from the preliminary research to the at-scale field testing phase, as well as a limited number of high-risk projects that have minimal preliminary data but potential for grand impacts on pollinator health. Projects should involve industry partners with an interest in taking developed technologies to market and social and economic analyses of adoption potential for the new technology.

4) Outreach and Education: Everyone from home gardeners to commercial farmers has the opportunity to improve pollinator health through individual actions. Activities like planting pollinator gardens in urban areas, training future pollinator taxonomists, and coordinating land management activities with beekeeping schedules can impact pollinator health. This priority area seeks to promote innovative outreach and education projects that reach new demographics and communities to raise awareness around pollinator health and encourage the adoption of activities that promote pollinator health. Programs should assess efficacy of education and outreach methods to allow for recommendations for improvement.


The Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research welcomes proposals from all U.S. institutions of Higher Education, non-profit and for-profit organizations, government researchers, and domestic and international organizations.

Only one application per Principal Investigator.

This funding opportunity is for new activities only and should not be duplicative of other efforts. The proposed project can build upon existing research and activities, and applicants must clearly articulate what new elements this funding will support.

Award Information

Anticipated Project Duration: Up to 60 Months

Total Amount for this Opportunity: $5 Million

Estimated Number of Awards: TBD. Depends on the quality and budgets of successful proposals. FFAR reserves the right to negotiate all or none of the applications received for funding consideration under this opportunity.

Anticipated Award Date: January 2018

Full Proposal Application Components

Download a PDF of this RFA

1) Project Title

2) Proposed Budget

3) Budget Justification (up to 1,000-word limit)

4) Key Personnel

5) Project Personnel involved in other projects being submitted to FFAR

6) Project Summary (up to 500 words limit)

7) Project Description (up to 9,000 words) including the following sections:

  • Introduction
    1. A description of the research or outreach and education gap(s) that the proposed project seeks to fill to advance pollinator health. Projects addressing the Outreach and Education focus area should clearly articulate their target audience.
    2. A description of how the project is relevant to one or more of the four target areas outlined in FFAR’s Pollinator Health Fund RFA.
    3. A summary of the knowledge that has laid the groundwork for this project, including any relevant preliminary work or data that has informed the development of the project. The summary should include references in the Modern Language Association (MLA) citation style.
    4. A description of the potential impact the project may have in advancing pollinator health.
  • Approach
    1. A statement of goals and supporting objectives for the proposed project.
    2. A detailed account of the procedures or methodology you will use to achieve the goals and supporting objectives. The account must have enough resolution for a panel of experts to judge the merit of the project. All application information is treated as confidential. Projects applying solely under the Education and Outreach focus area are still required to “assess efficacy of education and outreach methods” and that assessment should be described in this section along with a description of the education and outreach project itself. The account should include:
      • Proposed project activities described sequentially.
      • Techniques to be used, including their feasibility and rationale.
      • If applicable, stakeholder involvement in the development of the approach.
      • A description of anticipated risks and how you will mitigate them.
      • How data will be analyzed or interpreted.
      • Expected results and information, and how it can be sued by the food and agriculture community to spur further research or directly impact pollinator health.
      • Plan to communicate results or amplify outcomes to stakeholder audiences. For projects focusing on the Education and Outreach focus area, this should describe how you will share lessons learned beyond your project.
      • A project timetable in tabular form. Minimum resolution should be annual goals and objectives, to be used to evaluate annual progress reports. If applicable, include periods beyond the grant funding to demonstrate impact and longevity of the work.


8) Project timeline and Goals and Objectives (by period – a proposal period equals twelve calendar months)

9) Data Management Plan (up to 1,500-word limit)

10) References Cited (upload; no word limit).

  • Reference information is required. If there are no references cited, a statement to that effect should be included in this section of the proposal. Each reference must include the names of all authors (in the same sequence in which they appear in the publication), the article and journal title, book title, volume number, page numbers, and year of publication. If the document is available electronically, the website address also should be identified. Applicants must be especially careful to follow accepted scholarly practices in providing citations for source materials relied upon when preparing any section of the proposal. While there is no established page limitation for the references, this section must include bibliographic citations only and must not be used to provide parenthetical information outside of the Project Description.

11) Organization Assurances

  • Research involving human subjects
  • Research involving vertebrate animals
  • Research involving Recombinant DNA
  • Research Involving National Security implications
  • Research involving hazardous materials
  • Research involving human fetal tissue
  • Research involving NEPA review

12) Attachments

  • Required Attachments
    • Budget Form: Include link to download budget template.
    • Matching Funder Pledge Form
    • Certification of Matching Funds
    • PI and Key Personnel Biosketch: Three-page limit per individual listed as PI or key personnel in the project. Include link to download Biosketch Instructions
    • Current and Pending Support Form: complete for everyone listed as PI or Key personnel on the project. Include link to download the Current and Pending Support Template.
    • Curriculum vitae or Résumé(s) of the project director, and other key personnel if applicable. A curriculum vitae or résumé is required for everyone identified as Principal Investigator and key personnel. Please combine all curriculum vitae and/or résumés into a single PDF document before uploading it as an attachment. See resume instructions.
  • Optional attachments - to support project description -this section should not be used to circumvent the page limit for the Project Description Section. <a name="review"></a>
    • Graphics, Figures, Equations, and Tables (up to 5 single-side pages) The textbox for the Project Description does not support equations, tables, graphics, and figures. Applicants may upload a PDF document with graphics, figures, tables, or a list of equations to support the research program plan.
    • Letters of Support - Applicants may provide letters of institutional, collaborator, or stakeholder support for the proposed project. Please combine all letters of support into a single PDF document before uploading as an attachment.

Application Submission Guidelines

Applications must be submitted through FFAR’s online application receipt system (https://proposalcentral.altum.com/). Only applications submitted through this portal will be considered eligible for evaluation. If you are a new user, register for an account by clicking the orange “Create One Now” button. You will receive a confirmation email to sign-in to your account. Once you log in, search through the list of institutions to see if there is an institutional profile for your organization. If there is no institutional profile, ask your Grants & Contracts Department or Office of Sponsored Programs to register your organization. Once the organization’s profile is registered and saved, the PI can select their institution and complete his/her personal profile.  To access FFAR’s open funding opportunities, click the “Grant Opportunities” button on the top right corner of your screen, then on the top left corner of the screen, pull down the “Filter by Grant Maker” button and scroll down to select FFAR. Select the opportunity you would like to apply for by clicking the “Apply Now” button. The Principal Investigator may give access to others who will carry out part of, or participate in the proposed project, in Section Three of the online application. To invite individuals to participate in a proposal, they must already have an account in the system. By submitting an application, the applicant acknowledges and accept the terms and conditions of the RFA.

Proposal Review Criteria

Full proposals are evaluated based on scored primary review criteria and unscored secondary review criteria. The bullets under each criterion may serve as a guideline to applicants when writing their proposals, and as a guideline to reviewers on what to consider when judging proposals. The bullets are illustrative and not intended to be comprehensive. Reviewers will evaluate and score each primary criterion and subsequently assign a global score that reflects an overall assessment of the application. The overall assessment will not be an average score of the individual criterions; rather, it will reflect the reviewers’ overall impression of the application. Evaluation of the scientific merit of each application is within the sole discretion of the peer reviewers and they may raise additional factors to consider that are not covered in the bullets for each criterion.


Primary Review Criteria

Reviewers use the primary review criteria to evaluate the scientific merit and potential impact of the proposed project. Concerns with any of these criteria potentially indicate a major flaw in the significance and/or design of the proposed work. Full proposal applications submitted to this opportunity will be evaluated by the following primary review criteria:


Impact and Relevance (20%)

  • Is the proposal relevant to scope of the 2017 Pollinator Health Fund RFA?
  • Does the project have the potentially to significantly impact pollinator health in the United States?
  • Does the proposed project address an important problem or need in U.S. food and agriculture systems and have potential to have a significant impact?
  • How important are the potential impacts if this project is funded and successful (societal and scientific)? Has the applicant convincingly demonstrated the short- and long-term impacts of the project?
  • If the project fails or does not yield the expected outcome, what are the potential benefits or lessons learned?


Scientific or Technical Merit (15%)

  • Does the proposal articulate a sound scientific or technical reasoning for the project? (i.e. Is the proposed project conceptually sound?)
  • Does the application provide a clear and appropriate plan for data collection and management, statistical analyses, and interpretation of results to follow, measure, and report on the project’s outcomes?


Project Strategy and Feasibility (20%)

  • Are the overall project approach, strategy, and design clearly described and supported by established theory and practice? Are the base of evidence and any necessary adaptations clearly defined and referenced?
  • Are the proposed objectives and activities feasible within the duration of the award?
  • Are possible barriers addressed and approaches for overcoming them proposed?
  • If is an education and outreach project, or has a significant education and outreach component, is the target population and culturally appropriate methods to reach the target population clearly described?
  • If it is an education and outreach project, or has a significant education and outreach component, does the applicant adequately describe how they will assess the efficacy of their education and outreach work?
  • Is the budget commensurate with the project scope and strategy, and potential to improve pollinator health?
  • Are there specific objectives and measurable goals for each year of the project?


Innovation (15%)

  • Does the proposed project suggest and explore creative, original, or potentially transformative concepts, approaches, or methodologies and clearly define the novel insights or outcomes to be gained?
  • Does the project address known gaps in pollinator health research and/or outreach and avoid duplication of effort?
  • If the project is a continuation/expansion of an existing project, does the continuation/expansion build on its initial results (baseline) and continue to demonstrate creativity, ingenuity, resourcefulness, or imagination? Does it go beyond the initial project to address what the applicant has learned or explore new partnerships, new audiences, or improvements?
  • Does the potential impact of this project’s innovation outweigh the risk of failure?


Organizational Capacity / Research Environment (10%)

  • Does the proposal demonstrate that the project personnel would have adequate resources (for example, institutional support, equipment and/or other physical resources) to conduct the proposed research or associated activities?
  • If applicable, does the described role of each collaborating organization make it clear that each organization adds value to the project and is committed to working together to implement the project?
  • Capitalizing on the organizational capacity of the institution(s) involved, are there feasible plans to sustain some or all the project or its outcomes beyond the funded timeframe of this award?
  • Where appropriate, is there evidence of collaboration and buy-in among participating programs, third-party organizations, stakeholders, and/or industry groups?


Qualifications of Project Director, and Key Personnel if applicable (5%)

  • How well qualified is the Principal Investigator(s) to conduct the proposed activities?
  • Have the appropriate key personnel been recruited to implement, evaluate, and complete the project successfully?


Dissemination and Scalability /Expansion (15%)

  • Are plans for dissemination of the project’s results and outcomes, including barriers encountered and successes achieved, clearly described?
  • Will those plans for dissemination be effective in clearly transmitting the information to the relevant stakeholder communities?
  • Does the applicant clearly describe how the project lends itself to dissemination to a broader community than the project participants? Can information from the project be adapted and applied by other communities and/or organizations to further improve pollinator health across the U.S.?
  • Does the proposal include a data and information management plan that is appropriate for the scope of work?


Secondary Review Criteria

Secondary criteria contribute to the global score assigned to the application. Concerns with these criteria potentially question the feasibility of the proposed research. Examples of secondary review criteria are, Budget, Duration of the project, Scalability and Dissemination, Protections for Human and Animal Subjects, and Previous Project Performance. Reviewers are not asked to score secondary review criteria, though they may consider these criteria when determining the overall merit of the proposal.

Award Notice Administration

Selection Notice

Following the full proposal review, the principal investigator and the authorized organization representative listed on the project will be officially notified by email whether (1) the proposal has been selected for funding pending contract negotiations, or (2) the proposal has not been selected funding. If a proposal is selected for funding, the Foundation for food and Agriculture Research reserves the right to request additional or clarifying information for any reason deemed necessary, including, but not limited to, matching funds, or other budget information. Potential grantees are free to accept or reject the Grant Agreement as offered.


Award Notice

FFAR notifies applicants of whether they are selected for funding through email. The notice does not constitute an award or obligate funding from FFAR until there is a fully executed Grant Agreement.


Grant Period(s)

Upon receipt of the Grant Agreement, the potential grantee should note the Effective Date and the Expiration Date. Grantees may only use FFAR funds on project expenditures on or after the Effective Date of the Grant. Charging expenditures to the grant prior to the effective date is strictly prohibited. Likewise, grantees may not use FFAR funds after the Expiration Date except to satisfy obligations to pay allowable project costs committed on or before that date. The expiration date is the last day of a month.


Once the Grant Agreement is fully executed, the Effective Date cannot be changed. The Expiration Date may be changed with a written approval of a no-cost extension request by FFAR. If a no-cost-extension request is approved, FFAR will issue an amendment to the Grant Agreement.


If the grantee requires additional time beyond the Grant Period and the established Expiration Date to assure adequate completion of the original scope of work within the funds already made available, the grantee may request a one-time no-cost extension of up to 6 months. The request must be submitted to FFAR at least thirty (30) days prior to the Expiration Date of the grant. The request must explain the need for the extension and include an estimate of the unobligated funds remaining and a plan for their use. This one-time extension will not be approved merely for using the unexpended funds.

Post-Award Management

Reporting Requirements

After a grant is conferred, the grantee shall provide an annual financial report to FFAR showing grant expenditures to date. The grantee shall also provide an annual progress report to FFAR showing activities being carried out under the grant, including but not limited to project accomplishments to date and grant expenditures. Within 30 days of completion of all grant activities, the grantee shall provide a final progress report. The final progress report should address the original objectives of the project as identified in the proposal, describe any changes in objectives, describe the final project accomplishments, and include a final project accounting of all grant funds.


Scientific Integrity

FFAR’s ability to pursue its mission to build unique partnerships to support innovative science addressing today’s food and agriculture challenges depends on the integrity of the science on which it relies. A fundamental purpose of FFAR is to facilitate the advancement of knowledge and the application of the science to address challenges relevant to the FFAR’s mission. All FFAR grants must be conducted with the highest standards of scientific integrity.


Grant Terms and Conditions

The Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research expects applicants to have reviewed the Grant Agreement prior to applying to ensure that the applicants are aware of the applicable terms under which the grant is offered. FFAR will only entertain potential modifications to the Grant Agreement under the most exceptional circumstances. Successful applicants are strongly encouraged to sign the Grant Agreement as presented.

Requirement To Demonstrate Matching Funds

The match share requirement is a one-to-one FFAR-to-awardee ratio. Therefore, for every dollar FFAR awards, the grantee or a third-party institution must contribute a newly dedicated, non-federal dollar towards the project costs. For example, if a proposal requests two hundred thousand dollars ($200,000) of FFAR funds, the applicant or a third-party must be able to come up with an additional two hundred thousand dollars ($200,000) to match the request, for a grand total project budget of four hundred thousand dollars ($400,000).

The applicant agrees to identify and certify matching funds annually prior to disbursement of that year’s award funds. At least fifty (50%) of the required matching funds must be a cash match, while the remainder can be in-kind match. The match share is intended to supplement, not supplant existing funding for the principal investigator (PI). The applicant will abide by FFAR’s Matching Guidelines to meet FFAR’s matching requirements. To constitute a valid match, all matching funds on a FFAR grant must be expended during the grant period.

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