2023 Grant Program

Open Space Institute and the Land Trust Alliance are pleased to announce the 2023 Land and Climate Grant Program. The program aims to support and build the capacity of land trusts and other groups that conserve and steward land to integrate climate change into land protection and management decisions. 

The program will support the development of climate-informed land conservation, stewardship, policy, or communications plans that address one or more of the following issues: habitat resilience, carbon mitigation, renewable energy siting or community adaptation to climate impacts such as stronger storms, flooding, drought, fire or extreme heat.

Projects should achieve one or more of the following deliverables:

  • Incorporate climate science into new or existing strategic conservation plans that target land protection for climate adaptation or mitigation.

  • Incorporate climate science into land stewardship or management plans to address adaptation or mitigation strategies.

  • Develop a comprehensive climate communication strategy that promotes the adaptation and mitigation goals of the organization and its conservation or stewardship plans

  • Develop a plan, decision matrix or policies to guide organizational engagement with renewable energy siting on conservation lands and/or in service areas.

The program encourages proposals that address the inequitable burdens of climate change and environmental racism on Black, Indigenous and People of Color and low-income communities.

See grant and technical support awardees in the 2022 grant round

This program is made possible through support from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, Jane’s Trust Foundation, the J.M. Kaplan Fund, The Volgenau Foundation, the William Penn Foundation, the Merck Family Fund and several generous individual donors.

2023 funding available

Through the program, Land Trust Alliance and Open Space Institute will award $300,000 to support projects or provide technical support to qualified applicants in the 2023 grant round.

Planning Grants

Applicants can apply for grants of between $5,000 - $15,000 through a common application process. Depending on geography and focus of the proposal, requests will be reviewed and administered by either the Land Trust Alliance or the Open Space Institute. See details below for differences in eligibility, geography and focus for the two organizations. Applicants that meet eligibility criteria will automatically be considered for both pools of funding. Planning grants may be awarded to land trusts, not-for-profit organizations, and state or federally recognized Tribes.

Land Trust Technical Support

One-on-one technical support is available to assist land trusts in developing climate-informed land conservation or communications plans. The technical support awards are separate from the planning grants, and qualified applicants may apply for both a grant and technical support, grant only, or technical support only. Applying for technical support will not have a positive or negative impact on planning grant award decisions. Consultant capacity, available funding, and project and organizational needs will be considered when evaluating requests for technical support. Please note that technical support is only available to Alliance member land trusts and affiliate State Land Trust Associations.

Find detailed information on Technical Support offerings, including Frequently Asked Questions


  • Projects must begin in 2023 and be completed within 12 months. Please carefully consider if the project is ready and your organization has the capacity to complete the work within this timeframe.

  • The grants may be used to cover costs associated with the development of strategic conservation plans or land management plans as described above and/or to develop internal policies, procedures, and communications in support of this work. Eligible costs include, but are not limited to staff time, travel, graphic design, printing, mailing, indirect costs (up to 15%) and project consultants.

    • General operating support

    • Research that is not directly related to the conservation planning or management project described in the application

    • Land acquisition and restoration capital costs

    • Political lobbying

    • Development of carbon offset projects.*

    *The Alliance’s Carbon Offset Pilot Program provides a separate opportunity for qualified land trusts to apply for grants that support carbon offset project development.


Applicants may employ a variety of climate science and mapping and planning tools in their projects, and OSI and the Alliance do not require the use of specific datasets or approaches.

We welcome the use of diverse forms of knowledge in project proposals, including Traditional Ecological Knowledge and Indigenous science. 

Recommended data sources and approaches include, but are not limited to:

Resources on renewable energy siting best management practices

Who may apply

Land Trust Alliance Grants or Technical Support

  • Land Trust Alliance member land trusts and Affiliate state land trust associations are eligible to apply for planning grants or technical support.

  • Applicants must have been a qualified organization under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code for at least two years, or, in the case of affiliate member state land trust associations, have an established fiduciary meeting this qualification.

  • Applicants must be a current member in good standing of the Land Trust Alliance.

  • Preference is given to accredited land trusts and organizations with a board-approved plan to pursue accreditation.

  • Geographic eligibility: Nation-wide.

Please note that technical support awards and Renewable Energy Siting project grants are only available to applicants that meet Land Trust Alliance eligibility requirements.

Open Space Institute Grants

  • The following entities are eligible to apply for Open Space Institute grants:

    • 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organizations or organizations that otherwise fulfill a similar not-for-profit charitable purpose

    • State or federally recognized Tribes

  • Geographic eligibility: OSI will consider applications from the following Eastern U.S. states: AL, CT, DE, FL, GA, KY, MA, MD, ME, MS, NC, NH, NJ, NY, PA, RI, SC, TN, VT, VA, WV.

  • OSI will award grants to support strategic conservation and land stewardship plans that address climate resilience with a preference for projects that integrate forest carbon and/or flood hazard mitigation.

  • Dedicated funds are available for projects located in the Delaware River Basin that address flooding or other climate impacts to water quality.

Please note that technical support awards are not available through the Open Space Institute.


There is no match requirement. Applicants will be asked to report the full project budget, and any sources of funding in addition to the grant request as part of the financial summary form. Documentation of in-kind or cash match is appreciated where possible.

Evaluation criteria

  • Project impact

    The project has the potential to inform conservation decisions (such as land protection; land stewardship; or related activities), in the near term. If the project does not cover a broad geographic region (e.g., county scale or larger), the applicant should demonstrate how the project serves as a model or demonstration or will influence the way the organization operates.

  • Audience

    The plan seeks to inform the actions of an identified audience (such as a land trust or organization, Tribe, landowners, municipalities, public agency partners, etc.) that has the resources and commitment to achieve the goals of the project.

  • Methods and use of science

    The proposal identifies information sources that will be used in the project and articulates clear steps or methods to achieve outcomes.

  • Feasibility

    The project team has the capacity, expertise and commitment to complete the project. The project is likely to succeed within the proposed timeframe. The applicant demonstrates ability to make effective use of technical support, if requested.

  • Community benefit

    The applicant demonstrates how the project will strengthen climate resilience in communities facing climate threats and/or address the inequitable burdens of climate impacts.

Application process and timeline

Applications will be accepted through June 8.

Submit your application

You can review a PDF of the grant application and financial summary — note this is for reference purposes only. You can download a PDF of this RFP as well. All applications must be submitted through the Land Trust Alliance’s grant portal, Foundant. 

Applicants will be notified of grant decisions by August 2023.

Learn more about applying

The Alliance and Open Space Institute want to help make sure you're able to build the best application possible. We will be offering an online information session on May 2 from 2-3:15 p.m. Eastern, as well as three office hours sessions, where program staff will be available to answer questions and offer feedback.


If you have any questions regarding this opportunity, please do not hesitate to reach out via phone or email.

Kelly Watkinson

Land and Climate Program Manager, Land Trust Alliance

(540) 333-1450 | kwatkinson@lta.org

Hallie Schwab

Conservation Planning Manager, Open Space Institute

(929) 405-3294 | hschwab@osiny.org

Technical Support

The Land Trust Alliance understands that one-on-one technical support tailored to a land trust’s mission, organizational needs and geographies can have a substantial impact on the success of a land trust’s response to climate change. Because of this, we are offering to provide contract-based technical support to individual land trusts to advance climate-inclusive strategic conservation planning and climate communications. See Frequently Asked Questions below for additional details.

Climate-inclusive conservation planning technical support from Open Space Institute

Land trusts have a critical role to play in addressing climate change. A wealth of climate data and science is available to help land trusts embed climate priorities in every land protection project. To help land trusts climatize their conservation plans and ensure that groups stay current with new and evolving data, Open Space Institute is collaborating with the Alliance to apply climate science to meet land trusts’ goals. Over the last ten years, OSI has worked with the Alliance and local and regional land trusts to integrate climate change into over 70 conservation plans spanning all or part of 19 states.

OSI technical support providers offer services that can help land trusts with setting goals for climate-inclusive conservation planning, developing methods and analyzing results.

Please note: OSI staff have the most experience in planning for habitat resilience and forest carbon mitigation in forested landscapes. OSI has been developing methods for planning for community resilience and flooding. OSI staff are open to considering projects that seek to address other climate issues if the requesting organization recognizes these are not established areas of expertise.

Development of a climate-inclusive land conservation plan

$7,000 value

This service offers 40 hours of remote technical support including assistance with goal setting, methods development, interpretation of findings and help interpreting technical matter into communications about the strategy. The technical support provider will work with the land trust to define an agreed upon scope of work, which may include reviewing climate concepts and datasets, discussing primary goals and values, helping to identify datasets to direct conservation, advising on broad-scale methods for mapping, and assisting with interpretation of results. The technical support offering does not include GIS services, but if requested, OSI will coordinate directly with GIS providers within or outside the organization.

Projects are expected to last one year from their start date. Technical support providers will only be available for a year and will track their time and update the organization as time is drawn down. It is the responsibility of the applicant to ensure they manage the project to ensure they receive the technical support necessary to complete the project.

Find a detailed example of a climate-inclusive conservation planning project

Open Space Institute technical support providers

  • Joel Houser

    Director of Capital Grants, Open Space Institute

    Joel administers OSI’s grant programs in the southeast from West Virginia to Alabama. Additionally, he provides technical support to conservation organizations developing science-based strategic conservation plans. Before joining OSI in 2016, Joel served as the Southeast Conservation Director for the Land Trust for Tennessee. For LTTN, Joel worked to acquire properties for Tennessee State Parks and Wildlife Management Areas. Preceding that, Joel was the Executive Director of Crabtree Farms, a nonprofit teaching farm on historic farmland owned by the City of Chattanooga. Joel holds both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Environmental Science from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. He lives and works in southeast Tennessee.

  • Neil Jordan

    Sr. Conservation Information Manager, Open Space Institute

    Neil maintains and implements all the organization’s GIS technology. Additionally, Neil provides technical support to various conservation organizations with regards to GIS. Before joining OSI in 2014, Neil was the Conservation Information Manager for the South Carolina chapter of The Nature Conservancy. Neil holds a degree in Geography, with concentrations in Environmental Science and GIS. Neil lives in South Carolina but his work extends along the entire East Coast.

  • Hallie Schwab

    Conservation Planning Manager, Open Space Institute

    Hallie administers OSI’s Catalyst Program, which provides planning grants, technical support and practical guidance to help conservation organizations embed climate and watershed science into land protection and stewardship priorities. Her current work includes an emphasis on planning approaches to mitigate flood hazard and strengthen community resilience to climate impacts. In a previous role as Conservationist at the Highstead Foundation, Hallie supported the work of Regional Conservation Partnerships across New England. She has also worked at regional land trusts in New York and Massachusetts. Hallie holds a masters from the University of Vermont and a BA from Amherst College.

Climate communications and organizational positioning technical support from Community Consultants, LLC

$5,000 value

With such a tough topic, embarking on discussions of climate change can feel like venturing into a communications minefield. The work that land trusts do is uniquely aligned to address climate change impacts whether it is explicitly communicated.

Increasingly, climate change has become a mainstream idea that is starting to rise above partisan politics, but many land trusts still feel unequipped to tackle this complicated topic or feel hesitant for fear of alienating others. Reticence carries its own risks, and this communications support is designed to meet you where you are at now and take you to the next stage.

Climate communications and organizational positioning assistance: $5,000 value

Starting in October, Community Consultants will offer up to 35 hours of support for climate communications and organizational positioning consulting services depending on the project needs. The timeline for this coaching effort is usually a seven to eight-month process given the ongoing work of land trust and the desire to augment that effort with coaching. Land trusts should be able to dedicate a minimum of five hours per month during this coaching process for online discussions, content creation and direct coaching. The majority of the coaching work will take place in 2024.

While the coaching is often very tangible, one of the outcomes should be a strategy to keep the momentum moving forward after the technical support is completed. This support could include, but is not limited to the following areas:

  • Development of key messages around climate change for you to incorporate into your outreach. This work involves understanding your audiences that you currently connect with, and those you want to better engage. It often includes clarifying jargon, misinformation about conservation and climate change and ways people can take action.

  • Direct coaching on storytelling, messengers and the overall strategy of messaging and engagement. This can include building a story library focused on conservation work (programs, projects, vision) and infusing climate messaging; it can also focus on stories that use climate change as the focal point. This work usually includes gaining an understanding of how people in your service area are relating to climate change, other factors that cause them stress and how your work and mission can improve lives.

  • Development of a calendar or plan that considers how your outreach and fundraising includes climate relevance, is welcoming and inclusive and provides tangible ways for people to see and experience your land trust’s work. Clarifying the overall rhythm of engagement, audiences and opportunities to repurpose and augment what you are doing.

  • Assisting with social media strategy, examples, pre-text and repurposing of content to better inspire your followers; clarification on how to talk about climate change based upon the land trust’s work and values while identifying framing that will resonate with their audiences, creating examples of messaging and posts.

  • Developing clarity related to words and framing to use and avoid for climate communications and conservation outreach; assistance with press releases, newsletter / eNewsletter strategy and content and overall integration. Messaging around conservation work to be more inclusive, connect around innovation and new ideas with climate change.

  • Website assessment related to functionality, community engagement, current trends and connecting around climate change. Coaching could include page mockups, content development and related story strategies.

  • Judy Anderson

    Community Consultants

    Judy Anderson is the technical support provider for Community Consultants. Judy has worked in the land trust sector for over 30 years. Judy currently assists nonprofit organizations on practical strategic conservation initiatives, incorporating local communities, climate change, governance, communications and community-based fundraising strategies.

    She also coaches land trusts on inclusive conservation, easement drafting and stewardship and building greater community relevance to ensure their work withstands the test of time. Judy is a regular presenter at national and regional land trust conferences and provides trainings on topics including fundraising/outreach, easement drafting/stewardship, climate change and land protection and inclusive community conservation.

Technical Support Frequently Asked Questions

Projects from grantees

Check out examples of conservation plans, story maps and communications products completed by Land and Climate Grant awardees.

Learn more about how these resources were created in the webinar recording below.