2021 Delta Science Awards

Funding Category
Grants and Funding
Application Deadline

The Delta Stewardship Council (Council) and the United States Bureau of Reclamation (USBR) are pleased to announce the 2021 Delta Science Proposal Solicitation (Solicitation). The Solicitation will be administered by the Council’s Delta Science Program (DSP) and will further the DSP’s legislatively mandated mission to…

… provide the best possible unbiased scientific information to inform water and environmental decision-making in the Delta … through funding research, synthesizing and communicating scientific information to policy-makers and decision-makers, promoting independent scientific peer review, and coordinating with Delta agencies to promote science-based adaptive management.
-Delta Reform Act 2009, Water Code Section 85280(b)(4).

This Solicitation seeks research with direct management implications, thus the 2017-2021 Science Action Agenda (SAA) is the key source of focus areas for scientific studies in this Solicitation. As called for in the 2019 Delta Science Plan, the Science Action Agenda (SAA) prioritizes and aligns science actions to fill gaps in knowledge and build science capacity to address current and anticipated management needs.

Humans are an influential and inextricable component of the Delta environment. This solicitation seeks proposals that integrate social and biophysical sciences to better understand the socio-ecological processes of the watershed at local or regional scales. The Solicitation also seeks smaller research proposals focused on social sciences and/or biophysical sciences. All proposals should address the SAA action areas and or the Sacramento River Science Partnership (which seeks to support collaborative and structured decision-making between agencies and stakeholders with the intent of reducing scientific uncertainty in the upper Sacramento River through specific scientific studies) topics.

Total funding for all eligible projects is anticipated to be up to $9 million. Funding sources include the California General Fund as well as Federal funding provided to the Council by the USBR for this Solicitation. All eligible entities are encouraged to submit proposals for qualified projects.

Webinars and FAQs
Proposal Categories
Funding Availability
Proposal Requirements
Proposal Review
Terms and Conditions Resources

Webinars and FAQs

The Delta Science Program and California Sea Grant will host two optional webinars to review the request for proposals and application logistics. Please note, one will be held prior to the Letter of intent deadline, and one will be held prior to the full proposal deadline. Both webinars will be recorded and made available online.

  • Watch a recording of Webinar #1 here


FAQ here

  • Watch a recording of Webinar #2 here


FAQ here

  • FAQ #3 can be found here


Eligible entities for Council Agreements are public and private entities eligible and in good standing to do business in California, including:

  • A California State agency, state college, or state university;
  • A State agency, state college, or state university from another state;
  • A local governmental entity, including those created as a Joint Powers Authority and local government entities from other states;
  • An auxiliary organization of the CSU or of a California community college;
  • The Federal government including National Laboratories;
  • A foundation organized to support the Board of Governors of the California Community Colleges;
  • An auxiliary organization of the Student Aid Commission established under Education Code;
  • A corporation (both domestic and foreign), limited partnership, or limited liability company;
  • A private independent individual, including sole proprietors;
  • A domestic or foreign private college, university, or educational or research entity.

*Please refer to the text of the full request for proposals for more details

Proposal Categories

This Solicitation prioritizes the funding of projects that will advance the objectives of the SAA, the Delta Science Plan, the Delta Plan, and the Sacramento River Science Partnership. Each proposal must contribute toward one or more priority management need identified in the 2017-2021 SAA. The following are the action areas of the SAA:

  1. Invest in assessing the human dimensions of natural resource management decisions
  2. Capitalize on existing data through increasing science synthesis
  3. Develop tools and methods to support and evaluate habitat restoration
  4. Improve understanding of interactions between stressors and managed species and their communities
  5. Modernize monitoring, data management, and modeling

There are two categories of project types:

  1. Research - Research project teams may consist of social science and/or biophysical disciplines. Research projects may have fewer study sites or personnel, may study systems with fewer key processes, may not necessarily (but could be) interdisciplinary, or may require less effort. USBR will provide funding to the Council to manage several near-term Research projects consistent with the SAA and Sacramento River Science Partnership. Small budget projects that leverage other funding sources or have low resource requirements are encouraged to apply in this category.
  2. Integrated Socio-Ecological Systems - Integrated Socio-Ecological Systems Projects are larger in scope, may involve a larger number of co-investigators, and should meaningfully integrate at least one social science discipline (e.g., social psychology, anthropology, economics) with at least one biophysical science discipline (e.g., biology, hydrology, ecology) to address cross-disciplinary research needs identified in the SAA. For collaborative projects, a single proposal should be submitted, with multiple PIs and all key personnel identified in the proposal.

Note: Funds shall not be expended to pay the costs of the design, construction, operation, mitigation, or maintenance of covered actions in the Delta. Click here for more information.

Funding Availability

Total funding for all eligible projects is anticipated to be up to $9 million. Depending on the type of proposal, funding will be allocated as follows:

  • Research Awards - Maximum award of $700,000 per proposal; project duration of 12-31 months.
  • Integrated Socio-Ecological Systems Awards - Maximum award of $1,500,000 per proposal; project duration of 12-31 months; must be a collaborative and multidisciplinary project that meaningfully integrates one or more of the social sciences with one or more of the biophysical sciences

Smaller budget (i.e. much lower than the maximum award of $700,000) Research projects are encouraged and will be evaluated by independent scientific experts with the appropriate specialized knowledge. Proposals for Research projects may include social science and/or biophysical disciplines. Integrated Socio-Ecological Systems and Research projects will be evaluated separately.

Proposal Requirements

Letter of Intent

Applicants may submit more than one Letter of Intent, but a maximum of one award will be made to an individual lead PI. However, lead PIs may be listed as co-PIs on other awarded projects if the total combined effort is less than or equal to 100%. Letters of Intent are nonbinding documents that will allow DSP and California Sea Grant to plan for the number and topical expertise of independent reviewers and panelists.

The page limit for the Letters of Intent is two (2) pages, including header, footer, labeling, and address information.  Information in excess of two pages will not be considered.

In the Letter of Intent, please provide the following information:

  1. Name of lead PI, affiliation, and contact information
  2. List of possible Co-PIs (if applicable) with affiliation(s)
  3. Title of project
  4. Brief discussion of the focal topic and approach
  5. Indication of award type (Standard Research Award or Integrated Socio-Ecological Systems Award) and which SAA action area(s) will be addressed
  6. Approximate total budget and budget by each State fiscal year (July 1 – June 30) of the project
  7. Identification of any team collaborators with a budget >$50K or 25% of the total budget

Letters of intent must be submitted using eSeaGrant

Apply now!

Full Proposal

Applicants may submit more than one proposal, but a maximum of one award will be made to an individual lead PI. However, lead PIs may be listed as co-PIs on other awarded projects if the total combined effort is less than or equal to 100%.

Listed below are the requirements for a complete proposal:

  1. Title page
  2. Project summary
  3. Project narrative
    • Introduction and background
    • Objectives and expected outcomes
    • Work plan
    • Deliverables
    • References
  4. Science action agenda relevance
  5. Broader impacts
  6. Data management/sharing plan
  7. Environmental compliance questionnaire and IRB certification
  8. Budget and budget justification
    • Note that any team collaborators with a budget >$50K or 25% of the total budget will require a separate Council contract, and thus a separate statement of work and budget.
  9. Resumes
  10. Current and pending support
  11. Support letters (optional)
  12. List of potential reviewers

Full proposals must be submitted using eSeaGrant.  

Proposal Review

All proposals that advance past administrative review (screening for proposal completeness) will go through independent scientific review by at least three external technical experts. Individuals selected to serve as technical reviewers will be professionals in fields relevant to the proposed project and evaluated for any potential conflict of interest. Technical reviewers will evaluate each proposal in accordance with the following Criteria:

  1. Importance/relevance
  2. Scientific merit
  3. Approach and feasibility
  4. Schedule and deliverables
  5. Team qualifications
  6. Broader impacts 
  7. Data management plan
  8. Budget

Following completion of the technical review, the DSP will convene a Selection Panel facilitated by California Sea Grant. The Delta Lead Scientist (or their designee) will serve as the non-voting chairperson of the Review Panel with primary responsibility of insuring that the discussion is balanced, fair, and comprehensive. Representatives from other agencies and entities may be invited to participate on the Review Panel. The Review Panel will prepare recommendations to the DSP’s Lead Scientist of qualified projects to be considered for a potential Agreement to be negotiated with the Council. 


  • December 2, 2020 - Webinar #1
  • December 15, 2020 by 5:00 pm PST - Letter of intent deadline
  • January 8, 2021 - Webinar #2
  • February 3, 2021 - Deadline to ask questions related to this funding opportunity 
  • February 12, 2021 - Full proposal deadline
  • July 1, 2021 - June 2022 - Acceptable range of project start dates
  • February 1, 2024 - Project end date

Terms and Conditions Resources


Proposal Content Questions:

Delta Science Program

Proposal Format & eSeaGrant Questions:

Catherine Courtier, Extension & Program Analyst

Application Resources