The Salazar Center for North American Conservation at Colorado State University is seeking proposals for a $100,000 incentive prize, with an aim to fund meaningful change in the field of conservation.

The Connectivity Challenge is the Center’s inaugural prize, and the first prize of its kind. The challenge was announced in September 2019 during the first Salazar Center International Symposium on Conservation Impact in Denver by CSU President Joyce McConnell.

Watch CSU President Joyce McConnell announce the Connectivity Challenge at the Center’s Symposium in September.

This year, the theme of the prize is landscape connectivity, and the winning team will be selected based on the proposal with the greatest potential to realize landscape-scale conservation impact.

“The Salazar Center has launched this prize with the understanding that human activities are fragmenting North America’s wild places and green spaces,” said Center founder and former Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar. “Extraordinary innovation is needed to protect and enhance our most beloved landscapes and to support community health and resilience.”

Seeking proposals

Beth Conover, the Center’s director, said a panel of internationally recognized judges will give extra weight to ideas that combine research, policy and practice. The Center also encourages non-traditional applicants and ideas. Projects should be collaborative in nature, address a landscape-scale conservation challenge on the North American continent, and ultimately provide measurable habitat and community benefit. Teams must register online by March 12, 2020.

“Unlike many prizes that recognize work that’s been done in the past, this impact prize is an incentive award to do great work,” said CSU President Joyce McConnell. “It’s designed to encourage new and creative thinking to solve big challenges in North American conservation.”

While judges will only award the prize to one team, the application process is designed to build a community of interest and provide tangible benefit to all applicants. Applicants will receive feedback from judges who are respected experts from a variety of backgrounds. Judges will select a group of finalists to participate in a pitch event in Denver, Colorado, in September 2020, which will also give finalists the opportunity to present in front of peers and funding organizations.

To learn about the impact prize, please visit


  • Registration/Application Opens: December 12, 2019
  • Registration Deadline: March 12, 2020
  • Application Deadline: April 16, 2020
  • Designation of Finalists: June 2020
  • Pitch Event and Award Decision: Fall 2020

About the Salazar Center

The CSU Salazar Center for North American Conservation supports and advances the health and connectivity of the natural systems and landscapes of North America – be they urban or rural; working or wildlands; public or private. We know that healthy natural systems bolster climate adaptation and resilience, protect biodiversity, and sustain long-term human health. Our intersectional approach builds bridges that connect academic research, community practice, and policy development.

About Colorado State University

Founded in 1870 as the Colorado Agricultural College, Colorado State University (CSU) is now among the nation’s leading research universities. With nearly $400 million per year in federal research funding across eight colleges and 35,000 students, 25% of whom are the first in their families to attend college, CSU specializes in interdisciplinary conservation science and natural resources studies.

Contact for reporters:

Catie Boehmer:, (720) 441-3528