Capacity Building - Chesapeake Bay Trust Skip to main content

Capacity Building Initiative (CBI)

The Chesapeake Bay Trust leads and administers the The Capacity Building Initiative (CBI) on behalf of the Chesapeake Bay Funders Network. CBI seeks to build both individual organization and collaborative capacity to advance regional environmental and community health goals.

The CBI invests resources at three levels:

1) Movement level investments: including the development of tools and trainings that advance the field.

2) Regional (Collaborative) level investments: including critical Infrastructure to advance shared goals, this comes in the form of collaborative model development or enhancement through backbone support, training, leadership development, and shared resources.

3) Individual organization level investments: through a competitive annual grant program.

Background: “Organizational capacity” is defined as activities that strengthen an organization and help it better fulfill its mission. Organizations that are strong and healthy are better able to accomplish their missions, which in turn allows the entire community to realize its collective goal of healthy natural resources given the degree of partnership that exists across organizations.

What does this program fund? This program funds key capacity-building strategies vital to establishing a strong base, including (but not limited to) the development of robust financial plans to modify or diversify organizational revenue sources and collaboration among organizations. Collaborative models may range from increased coordination through network development, sharing of back-office support, and/or shared decision-making and resources to full integration of programs, planning, and funding via organizational mergers. Requests to modify or develop more robust organizational financial plans or to investigate and plan for collaborations or mergers among organizations are encouraged.

Examples of other specific tools for which funds may be requested include organizational assessments, consultant or facilitation costs for planning, financial management or donor management software, financial planning, video conferencing software, fees or registration costs for board or staff training opportunities, website design specifically related to online giving and membership, printing and postage for membership drives or annual appeals, presentation materials, and administrative hardware costs.  This list is not exhaustive.  Please contact the program manager to discuss your idea before applying.

Who can apply? Requests are encouraged from non-profit organizations, and tribal or local governments who:

  • Provide services within the Chesapeake watershed in one or more of the following Chesapeake Bay watershed jurisdictions: DE, DC, MD, NY, PA, VA, and WV.

Non-profits must also have:

  • >1 and < 50 staff. At least one staff member must be employed full-time (defined as >35 hours per week). If a paid staff member is not in place, the applicant may substitute a dedicated volunteer position in which the individual contributes at least 35 hours per week.
  • A water and/or natural resource-focused component within their mission
  • An active Board of Directors

For all eligibility requirements refer to the RFP.

How much can be awarded? Requests are typically no higher than $30,000 for non-profits but may be higher (up to $150,000 if applying for the local government track) with justification for both non-profits and local governments.

How much is available in the program? Approximately $800,000

Grant Application Process: The Chesapeake Bay Trust’s grant applications are all submitted through our online system linked to the right.

Program Status: OPEN

Deadline is: Thursday, July 18th, 2024 at 4pm EST

Click Here to View the Request for Proposals (RFP)

Start a New Application

Click below to access the online application

Start Grant

Manage an Existing Grant

Manage an Existing Grant or Continue an Application

Questions and Technical Support

Kacey Wetzel
Director of Outreach
and Education Programs
(410) 974-2941 x 104


Upcoming Trainings

The Trust will be offering a Diversity. Equity, Inclusion, and Justice Learning Series for a limited number of non-profit organizations and regional funders (up to 50 – to be determined) please check back for more details, which will be posted here as they become available.

Past Trainings

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Training – Organizational Leadership and Leadership Culture

The purpose of the training was to assist non-profit leaders with their commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice (DEIJ). Through structured engagement, including small break-out groups, participants had the opportunity to discuss organizational leadership and culture regarding DEIJ, specifically focused on:

  1. how organizations can and should diversify their boards and leadership,
  2. how to overcome common (real or perceived) obstacles to doing so, and
  3. how to develop and maintain a leadership culture that ensures leaders and/or board members of color not only stay with the organization but feel they have agency and power to make change where necessary.

About the Facilitator:

Francisco “Paco” Ollervides, PhD has worked directly with individual leaders and organizations in diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice initiatives in the environmental sector for over 20 years. He assists strategic planning as well as conceptualizing, innovating, and driving forward initiatives that allow individuals to learn and act equitably and as stewards to our planet. His focus is on building the power of the environmental movement by facilitating opportunities for People of Color to excel in the sector through client and sponsor relationship management, customer satisfaction and retention, and staff management.

DEIJ in Action Webinar 

During this webinar, the Chesapeake Legal Alliance, Chesapeake Conservancy, and Chesapeake Commons discussed successes and barriers they have encountered to carry out their organizational DEIJ goals. The Chesapeake Bay Trust, on behalf of the Chesapeake Bay Funders Network (CBFN) also provided an update on CBFN’s Capacity Building Initiative and resources available for DEIJ efforts. Attendees left with a greater understanding of approaches to make the Chesapeake Bay community more diverse, equitable, inclusive, and just.

View the recording here.

Restoration Project Management Training

In May 2019 through a competitive bid process the Trust on behalf of the Chesapeake Bay Funders Network contracted Johnson, Miriam, and Thompson Engineering (JMT), to provide training and coaching services to 25 regional non-profit water focused organizations interested in learning more about effective restoration project management. The training was held in Hunt Valley Maryland at JMT’s headquarters. The agenda included six modules provided over the course of two days on April 24th and 25th2019. The modules covered topics like permit acquisition, planning, partnership management, and budget management among other topics. Additionally, JMT provided a sub-set of training attendees mentoring services. For example JMT provided over-the-shoulder review for Blue Water Baltimore and City of Lancaster on several construction specifications and proposal templates as well as a constructability plan review for a green infrastructure projects.


View the training material here.


None at this time – Check back at a later date.

Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Justice (DEIJ) Resources:

  • The Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Justice Guide – DEIJ in Action is the result of a collaboration between Chesapeake Bay Trust, the Chesapeake Bay Funders Network, and the Choose Clean Water Coalition. This report provides recommendations for how organizations working on environmental issues and the funders who support them, can increase DEIJ within their organizations.
  • The Expanding the Circle Lessons Learned Report summarizes the Expanding the Circle Pilot Program. This program was started in 2015 by the Chesapeake Bay Funders Network and the Chesapeake Bay Trust. Included in this report are summaries of each project, lessons learned, and recommendation for both watershed organization and funders.

Network Building Resources:

  • The Innovation Network for Communities provides network building materials to accelerate and deepen systems level change.
  • The Understanding Networks guide developed by the Alliance for Global Justice/AdAstra describes the different forms of organizational networks and the roles within movement ecologies. Understanding Networks emphasizes the importance of connection and relationship building as part of a strong organization.
  • A social movement is a organized effort by a large group of people to achieve a particular goal. The Movement Cycle guide provides participants with ways to identify their plans and strategies for organizing a social movement (environmental movement are social movements). The Movement Cycle worksheet assists in creating a social movement that will develop societal movements as one, dynamic system.
  • The Spectrum of Community Engagement to Ownership developed by Facilitating Power creates a pathway to strengthen and transform our local democracies and assess community engagement efforts to advance community-driven solutions.

Organizational Capacity Assessment Tools:

Story Telling Resources:

  • The Storytelling workshop guide builds upon the skills an organization needs to communicate effectively and frames storytelling as an important for both leadership and advocacy. This guide allows participants to construct an action plan outline.

Fundraising Resources:

  • The Grassroots Fundraising Training developed by the Alliance for Global Justice/ AdAstra examines the different options for grassroots fundraising and the structures for how to form a concrete ask.

Background: The Regional Capacity Building Initiative (RCBI) is designed to enhance local networks comprised of cross-sector organizations who are committed to working collaboratively. RCBI will increase collective grassroots capacity to accomplish shared goals at the intersection of community and watershed health and enhance local networks’ ability to advance programs and policies to improve regions beyond the term of the initiative. This initiative will provide evaluation and training services, technical assistance, and grants to strengthen and diversify regional networks working together to advance a shared regional and community driven agenda that improves the quality of life in the region and protects and restores natural resources.

Who can apply? The Chesapeake Bay Funders Network and the Trust welcome requests from a single organization on behalf of a group of organizations committed to working together long-term. Organizations eligible to apply on behalf of the network include but are not limited to: 501(c)3 private nonprofit organizations faith-based organizations; community associations, service, and civic groups, municipal, county, regional, state, federal public agencies, soil/water conservation districts, and public higher educational institutions.

How much can be awarded? $200,000 per network in year 1 of the program with additional funding annually pending funding availability.

How many networks will be selected? The Chesapeake Bay Funders Network and the Trust anticipate selecting 4 – 5 networks for a funding, training, and coaching opportunity (up to 5 years pending funding availability).

Grant Application Process: The Chesapeake Bay Trust’s grant applications are all submitted through our online system linked to the right.

Program Status: CLOSED

Deadline was: Friday, August 13th, 2022 at 4:00 PM EST.

Click Here to View the Request for Proposals (RFP)

Start a New Application

Get started with a new grant application

Manage an Existing Grant

Manage an Existing Grant or Continue an Application

Questions and Technical Support

Kacey Wetzel
Director of Outreach
and Education Programs
(410) 974-2941 x 104

Program Partners

Learn more about previously awarded projects on our interactive map! 

View Map
Close Menu