DDCSP Alumni Network Mini Grants  

Sparked by community-led feedback, the Alumni Network will begin a Small Projects Fund in Fall 2021 to support Alumni professional and personal leadership development. DDCSP Alumni have already been developing projects that benefit their surrounding communities in the DDCSP Alumni Network and beyond and have asked that more funds be set aside to continue to create and develop these projects.

The Mini Grants Fund is meant to amplify the creativity, expertise, and leadership that is existent within the Doris Duke Conservation Scholars community. This leadership is also mirrored in the grant application, selection and management of the Small Projects Fund which will all be alumni-led through the DDCSP Alumni Council. The current funding secured for the inaugural and pilot year of this program is $10,000 to be distributed by the beginning of January 2022 and spent by April 2022. Cycle 2 of mini grants will begin in Fall 2022.

Overview and Purpose

This Mini Grants Program was made to support DDCSP alumni with projects designed to strengthen the community of DDCSP alumni, support cross-program collaboration, connect with conservation and environmental professionals, enhance leadership capacity amongst DDCSP alumni, and promote innovative equity-based solutions to systemic environmental challenges. 

Our mission is to support the environmental goals of DDCSP alumni while also fostering a community of young professionals with the tools and leadership skills to address society’s most pressing environmental challenges. We believe that the DDCSP alumni network will serve as a crucial foundation for scholars as they navigate a range of environmental professions. The projects stemming from the DDCSP mini grants will spark dialogue and community building across the DDCSP network by enhancing connections and collaboration amongst DDCSP alumni. Examples of projects that may be supported through this fund include, but are not limited to the following project formats:

  • Nature: Want to get your hands dirty? 🪴

    • Create a community garden with another DDCSPer.

    • Start a seed exchange with other DDCSPers.

  • Research: Not getting enough homework? 😉

    • Fund your conservation research project and share it with the network

  • Creative: Are you an artist, writer, or generally creative and crafty? 🎨

    • Make your art and share (via social media or IRL) it with the DDCSP network! 

    • Create a DDCSP zine

    • Create video or photography content for the DDCSP blog, website, or social media pages

    • Work on your podcast, show, social media account, zine etc. about conservation themes/ topics

Examples of projects that may be considered ineligible for funding include: 

  • Any project that does not engage members of the DDCSP network in some capacity.
  • Any project that provides only personal benefit and does not involve or engage others in the DDCSP community (i.e. scholarships, etc.)
  • Any project that does not align with any of the values of DDCSP (conservation, environmental justice, racial justice, community building, etc.)
  • Lobbying for specific legislation. See IRS description here 

Grant Amounts

There are three grant funding levels 500-1000, 1001-3000, 3001-5000

There are three tiers of funding for the Project Fund Applications. The funding range for each tier is Seed: $500-$1000, Sprout: $1001-$3000, Sapling: $3001-$5000

Awards will be distributed by category, with the large fund being the most competitive. These grants provide a short term, one-time funding with reports of spending due in April 2022. Funds must be spent within 4-5 months of award. Therefore, applicants are highly encouraged to have a clear timeline and plan on how to spend the funds if awarded. Due to the nature of the funding, projects that require recurring or long term funding will not be considered. Projects themselves can be ongoing, however funds from these grants must be spent by April.

Grants will be distributed in Early February (updated 12/9). If awardees are not able to receive checks as the format of funding, please contact ddcspgrants@elpnet.org. Upon receiving the mini-grant funding, awardees will be provided with a form to track expenses that will be required along with progress reports over the course of the mini-grant period.

Selection Process

Voting will be open to all DDCSP alumni  from January 10-21 (updated 12/9). These votes will be used as recommendations to the Alumni Council who will collectively make the final decisions and notify grant recipients by January 24, 2022 (updated 12/9). The Alumni Council will be using a rubric to select recipients that includes:

  • Background, Impact, and Significance - Does it align with the small project fund mission? Does the applicant explain the purpose and goals of the project well? Is this project beneficial for the community they are serving?

  • Approach and Timeline - Does the applicant provide a clear and realistic timeline of events (both for funding expenses and project advancement)? Is the project realistic (is it something that can be done within the timeframe provided by the mini-grant, spending of funds completed April 2022)?

  • Budget and Justification - Does the applicant provide clear and valid reasoning for budget expenses? Are their expenses necessary/appropriate for their project?

  • Accountability and Growth - Does the applicant display a strong sense of accountability? Does the applicant demonstrate how the project will help them grow/accomplish their goals?

  • Alumni Council Votes - What degree of interest does the DDCSP Alumni Network have in this project?


11/24/21 - Apply to Mini Grants Pilot Year!

12/5 - Q&A Session with Alumni Council Members

1/7 - Application Closes

1/10-1/21 - Voting Window for All Alumni

1/20-1/21 - Review & Selection by Alumni Council

1/24 - Grantee Notification

Early February 2022 - Awards Distributed

TBD - Onboarding Q&A for grantees

4/30 - Funds Spent/Lessons Shared

Fall 2022 - Next Round of Grants Open