Partners in Conservation (PIC) Grants

The Partners in Conservation (PIC) Grants Program supports projects that help people grow fresh food, improve water quality and soil health, restore fish and wildlife habitat, and support strong and sustainable communities.

The 2023 PIC grant application is closed. This year, EMSWCD’s Board will award $700,000 to applicants for projects ranging from $5,000 to $70,000. Non-profits, local governments, schools and educational institutions, and Native American tribes are all eligible for projects up to two years in duration. Projects or events must show a clear public benefit and be located within the EMSWCD service area (all Multnomah County east of the Willamette River) or serve its residents.

PIC 2023 – Important Dates

October 21st, 2022Application opens
November 16th, 2022Virtual information session
December 15th at 4:00 PMApplications due
February/March 2023Grant Review Committee meetings
April 2023Awards approved/announced
June 2023Grant-funded activities may begin
July 1st, 2023Upfront funding available

PIC grants support community projects that focus on soil health and water quality, reducing and addressing climate impacts, sustainable agriculture and community gardens, outdoor and garden education programs, and fish and wildlife habitat restoration. These grants also advance our goal of building the capacity and structures necessary for equitable access to land and water and conservation outcomes for low-income communities and people of color. A Grant Review Committee reviews the applications and selects those that strongly meet our grant program goals.

Partners in Conservation Grant Program Goals


Interested in applying and have questions? Please contact our Grants Program Manager, Heather Nelson Kent at or give her a call at (503) 935-5370.

  • Complement other EMSWCD program efforts in water quality, soil health, habitat restoration and sustainable agriculture.
  • Increase environmental literacy of EMSWCD residents.
  • Increase capacity and strengthen organizational structures needed to advance equitable conservation outcomes.
  • Establish and support sustainable school and community gardens throughout the urban areas of the EMSWCD service area.
  • Increase the urban tree canopy and support a sustainable urban forest.
  • Increase conservation benefits for communities and populations experiencing disparities in environmental health, environmental education, and natural amenities.

Apply for a PIC Grant

The 2023 PIC Grant application cycle closed on December 15th. Committee review of the received applications will begin in February (see “Important Dates” above). If you are interested in applying for the next grant cycle, you can subscribe to our email list for announcements about grant opportunities.

Find out all the details, including examples of projects that meet our program goals in our updated 2023 Partners in Conservation Handbook. You can also find more information and resources here.

Find all the application questions in a word document here.

Learn more from our recorded virtual information session

On November 16th we held a virtual information session, which you can now watch here! The session covers grant funding objectives, eligibility, evaluation criteria, and the role of the Grant Review Committee.

Watch the info session

Previous PIC Grant Awards

Several first-time applicants were awarded grants in 2022. A variety of projects serving diverse communities, youth and families received funding. The minimum grant award is $5,000 and the maximum is $70,000 (10% of funding available). Grants may take up to two years to complete.

See the projects awarded funding in 2022.


It can sometimes help to see examples of successful applications from previous grant years. Our reviewers focus on the content of what you propose and the strengths your team and community partners bring to the project. Here are two applications from last year that ranked high and were funded by EMSWCD. Please note that some application questions have changed for 2023.

Application #1 – Our Village Gardens, $46,681
Neighborhood Grown, Neighborhood Owned

Our Village Gardens strives to magnify food equity for low-income residents of North Portland living at New Columbia and Tamarack Apartments. The grant employs neighborhood leaders and supports community access to free urban garden and orchard space, garden education programs, sustainable seed-to-harvest practices, care for fruit trees, purchasing and distributing produce from neighborhood growers to patrons of their local market.

Application #2 – Columbia Riverkeeper, $50,000
Columbia River Education and Monitoring Project

This grant supports a partnership between Columbia Riverkeeper and the Yakama Nation to engage diverse communities fishing near Bradford Island (a newly designated Superfund Site on the Columbia River). As part of the project, the Riverkeeper will also monitor harmful algal blooms and E. coli at nine popular Columbia River beaches, sharing results in English and Spanish and offer job-skills training to paid interns.

Grant Review Committee

The Board of Directors appoints the Partners in Conservation Grant Review Committee. The committee includes individuals from the community with diverse professional backgrounds, lived experience and relevant expertise. See the list of the PIC 2022 committee members and read a short description of their personal and professional backgrounds here.

The committee reviews all PIC grant applications and makes funding recommendations to the Board of Directors. The Board has final approval.