Each proposal submitted to the AZA Conservation Grants Fund (CGF) is classified into two of the following categories: animal health, animal welfare, conservation education, field 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.
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 Welfare Committee, Conservation Education Committee, Field Conservation Committee, Wildlife Conservation and Management Committee, and Research and Technology 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.
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 $10,000-$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.
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.
Kevin Mills, Chair, AZA Aquarium Affairs Committee
Geoff Pye; Chair, AZA Animal Health Committee
Lance Miller; Chair, AZA Animal Welfare Committee
Kelly Matis; Chair, AZA Conservation Education Committee
Mark Penning; Chair, AZA Field Conservation Committee
Katie Leighty; Chair, AZA Research and Technology Committee
Larry Killmar; Chair, AZA Wildlife Conservation and Management Committee
Dennis Kelly; Chair, AZA Board of Directors
Candice Dorsey; Scientific Advisor, Conservation Grants Fund
Shelly Grow; Chair, Conservation Grants Fund