Request for Nominations

The Southern Forest Community Champion awards, administered by The Conservation Fund, will recognize community leaders from across the U.S. Southeast that have been working to advance awareness of and investments in forest conservation and sustainability with majority Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) communities. BIPOC families and communities have long been the stewards of our working forests in the region but have been systematically excluded from public and private environmental funding and, even now, are disproportionately bearing the impacts of climate change. The Southern Forest Community Champions award will recognize the grassroots organizers that have supported landowning families and communities in accessing resources, managing family lands, advancing land justice, and keeping communities in working forests for the long term. Winners will be awarded up to $50,000 each.

How to Apply / Nominate

Individuals are encouraged to self-nominate, although it is also possible to nominate someone (with their permission). If you aren’t sure how to answer a particular section, you can leave a comment at the end of the application. Click here to view and fill out the application or click on the button below.




Submissions have now closed. We extend our gratitude to all who applied. Stay tuned for updates!

Number of Awards

Six Southern Forest Community Champions will be selected by a panel of judges appointed by The Conservation Fund.


The Southern Forest Community Champions should have spent a decade or more working at the intersection of forest conservation, environmental sustainability, community development, and/or environmental justice. They may be working as a citizen volunteer or be affiliated with a non-profit, educational, or faith-based organization.

The work of Southern Forest Community Champions is often complex and challenging, using a broad range of skills, approaches, techniques, contacts and more. Individuals or small groups of individuals may self-nominate or may be nominated by an individual or an organization. The award is intended to recognize and reward individuals, rather than the organizations with which they may be affiliated.


The nominee’s personal experience and commitment to environmental and economic justice should inspire future generations of BIPOC environmental and community leaders. In particular, the nomination will ask:

  1. How did you come to believe in this work and what are the main challenges have you faced (tell us about your journey)?
  2. What would you like your work to achieve for your community?
  3. How have you been in service to your community, especially in the areas of forest conservation, environmental sustainability, climate resilience, community development, and/or environmental and land justice (tell us about your actions)?
  4. Who are your mentors and sources of inspiration? For whose benefit do you envision your work making a difference (tell us about your people)?
  5. Please include 1-3 references — individuals who can speak to your work (their relevance and personal connection is more important than their title or perceived status).


Additional information

  1. The cash stipend is anticipated to be up to $50,000 per recipient, in the form of a one-time personal grant. There will not be restrictions on how it may be used and the recipient will be responsible for any taxes that may be due. At the request of the recipient (and at the discretion of The Conservation Fund) the funds may be directed to a non-profit or similar institution. The funds were received by The Conservation Fund specifically to support this award process and the original funding source will be disclosed to recipients.
  2. Recipients will be required to embargo personal and media announcements for a few weeks until all the recipients can be announced together.
  3. Recipients will be selected by an outside Review Committee comprised of knowledgeable individuals in the field. The members of the Review Committee are confidential and should not be contacted during the nomination process.
  4. For questions about the process, please contact
  5. We do not currently have plans for another round of awards in the future.
  6. For the purpose of this award, the US Southeast consists of Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia (per USDA Forest Service Southern Region).