Selection Process

Each proposal submitted to the AZA Conservation Grants Fund (CGF) is classified into two of the following categories: animal health, animal welfare, conservation education, wildlife conservation and/or reintroduction, management and/or breeding, and research. The AZA Conservation and Science Department verifies that all proposal application instructions and requirements have been met and returns those that were not. Verified proposals are then subjected to a rigorous two-tiered review process that determines which proposals will be recommended to AZA's Board of Directors for funding.

Review Tiers


First Tier

Once classified, each proposal is sent to the two corresponding AZA Committee Chairs who coordinate the first tier review. These AZA Committees include the: Animal Health Committee, Animal Population Management Committee, Animal Welfare Committee, Aquarium Affairs, Conservation Education Committee, Research and Technology Committee, and Wildlife Conservation Committee. Taxon Advisory Groups, Species Survival Plan® Programs, and Scientific Advisory Groups may be called on to provide expert input on relevant proposals. The Committee Chairs then distribute each proposal to at least three reviewers who provide required comments and rank the proposals in a specified manner.

Second Tier

The Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC) then meets to review the top-ranked proposals, with each Committee Chair acting as an advocate for the top-ranked proposals in his/her category. The goal of the SAC review is to select the best mix of high quality projects, representing various topics, disciplines, and taxa. The SAC also reviews the project budget and may recommend that the award amount be accepted as is, increased, or decreased. Most awards fall in the $15,000-$20,000 range. However, larger awards are considered on a case-by-case basis.

Membership on the SAC is determined by position in the AZA community and may change with the appointment of new Chairs by the incoming AZA President and the election of new Board members. SAC members can designate individuals to represent them at meetings. In the event of a conflict of interest (i.e., the member, their institution, or a conservation program they chair is being considered for a grant), Chairs must excuse themselves from the discussion of that particular proposal.

Final Decisions

Because the amount of funds requested is typically larger than the amount of funds available, only the highest ranked proposals are recommended for funding. The AZA Board of Directors makes final decisions regarding all CGF awards. All applicants are informed of the Board's decisions in early September. Public announcements of awards are typically made at the AZA Annual Conference in September.

2020-2021 Scientific Advisory Committee


Voting Members

Darin Collins; Chair, AZA Animal Health Committee
Stacey Johnson; Chair, AZA Animal Population Management Committee
Beth Posta; Chair, AZA Animal Welfare Committee
Eric Rose, Chair, AZA Aquarium Affairs Committee
Debbi Stone; Chair, AZA Conservation Education Committee
Katie Leighty; Chair, AZA Research and Technology Committee
Thomas Stalf; Chair, AZA Wildlife Conservation Committee

Non-Voting Members

Bert Castro; Chair, AZA Board of Directors
Candice Dorsey; Scientific Advisor, Conservation Grants Fund
Shelly Grow; Chair, Conservation Grants Fund

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