National Forest Foundation

Matching Awards Program

Supporting On-the-ground Work On Our National Forests

Program Focus

The National Forest Foundation (NFF) Matching Awards Program (MAP) provides funding for results-oriented on-the-ground projects that enhance forest health and outdoor experiences on National Forests and Grasslands.

On-the-Ground Projects

MAP supports the implementation of on-the-ground conservation and restoration projects that have an immediate, quantifiable impact on the National Forest System. These projects provide a lasting impact to the lands, waters, and wildlife of the National Forest System through the alteration of the physical environment. Education, inventory and monitoring projects are not considered on-the-ground projects.

Program Areas

The current NFF strategic plan focuses on the Program Areas of Outdoor Experiences and Forest Health. Organizations may self-select into one of the Program Areas defined below, or choose to submit a proposal that cohesively integrates the two Program Areas. Projects that strongly integrate the program areas are highly encouraged. The NFF does not have funding targets for the Program Areas, and strongly encourages applicants to integrate the programs areas cohesively in their proposals.

The NFF supports results-oriented, on-the-ground, projects that improve the quality, condition, and care of Outdoor Experiences on National Forests by:

  • Improving or maintaining recreation resource connectivity including, and similar to: trail maintenance, bridge and crossing construction or repair, and installation of trail drainage structures; and/or
  • Engaging youth, volunteers, or diverse, underserved or under-engaged populations in hands-on stewardship activities; and/or
  • Employing youth and/or veterans crews to implement on-the-ground conservation, stewardship and/or restoration work.

Projects should generate tangible conservation outcomes or enhance high quality recreational experiences for the users of the National Forest System. Funds cannot support improvements of hardened facilities including, and similar to: campgrounds, parking lots, restrooms, visitor centers, and major signage.

The NFF supports results-oriented, on-the-ground, citizen-involved projects that maintain and/or restore ecosystem resiliency on National Forests by:

  • Promoting ecosystem structure, function and diversity; and/or
  • Promoting forest health through the removal or control of non-native invasive species, and/or reintroduction of native plants and trees.

Projects should be consistent with or supportive of identified large-scale conservation initiatives. The NFF will not fund monitoring work unless it is focused on determining the long-term effectiveness of previous NFF-funded on-the-ground work.

The NFF encourages projects that cohesively integrate Outdoor Experiences and Forest Health program areas. Ideal projects will have a strong connection to each of the individual program areas, and effectively integrate both in a clear, direct manner.

Examples of integrated projects include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Engaging community volunteers to complete riparian plantings as part of a watershed-scale restoration project;
  • Utilizing youth crews from underserved communities to complete habitat stewardship work and forest stand treatments.

The most compelling projects will strongly integrate the Outdoor Experiences and Forest Health program areas, and will receive a weighted advantage in evaluation. A project will not be eligible for full weighted advantage if it does not cohesively integrate the two program areas, or only does so nominally.

Header photo by Sage Brown, courtesy of Northwest Youth Corps



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Key Dates

December 13, 2019: Informational Webinar on MAP

January 16, 2020: Deadline for Round 1 MAP Applications

June 9, 2020: Deadline for Round 2 MAP Applications

Civic Engagement and Community Involvement

In addition to focusing on the above Program Areas, MAP requires projects show a strong commitment to civic engagement and community involvement through direct public participation. In order to be eligible for MAP funding, projects must contain significant, legitimate community involvement or civic engagement in the pre-implementation, implementation, or post-implementation phase.

Typically, this involves the use of volunteers in project implementation, or the implementation of projects selected as an outcome of a formal collaborative-planning process. Note that the community engagement portion of the project does not necessarily have to occur in the portion of the project receiving MAP funding, although the project narrative must clearly describe the community engagement component. The standard public involvement component of the NEPA process is insufficient to meet this requirement.

Education, Interpretation, Inventory and Monitoring Projects

Education, interpretation, inventory, and monitoring are not priorities for the use of MAP funds.

  • Education and interpretation may only receive consideration as minor components of otherwise well-aligned larger projects.
  • Projects with inventory or monitoring components may only receive consideration if those components focus on determining the long-term effectiveness of previous NFF funded on-the-ground work.
  • Requests for “citizen science”, “bio-blitz”, or “Early Detection and Rapid Response” funding are generally considered inventory and monitoring and are not eligible for MAP, except as permitted in the bullet above.

The NFF encourages applicants to use funding from other sources (including project match) for any portion of a project focused on education, interpretation, inventory, or monitoring. If applicable, clearly identify in the proposal narrative and budget that matching funds will be used for these activities.


MAP is national in scope and there are no geographic priorities. All projects must benefit US National Forests and Grasslands. The vast majority of funded projects take place directly on National Forests or Grasslands. Although they are technically eligible for funding, the NFF currently funds very few projects that do not physically take place on National Forest System lands.

Proposal Deadlines

  • Round 1: January 16, 2020 at 11:59 pm MST
  • Round 2: June 9, 2020 at 11:59 pm MDT


501(c)(3) nonprofits, universities, and Native American tribes are eligible to receive MAP grants. If an organization does not meet this eligibility requirement, it must utilize an eligible fiscal sponsor.

Funding through MAP is separate and distinct from work funded through the NFF Ski Conservation Fund, Forest Stewardship Fund, or strategically supported through NFF programs and initiatives like Treasured Landscapes, Unforgettable Experiences.

  • Organizations applying for or anticipating to receive funding for work under the Ski Conservation Fund or Forest Stewardship Fund programs should not apply for MAP funding for work on the same National Forest or relevant geographic area.
  • Organizations directly partnering with the NFF on its Treasured Landscapes Initiatives or any other NFF Invited Grant program should not include any related components in their MAP proposal.

Please contact the NFF well in advance of the application deadline to discuss any eligibility questions. Requesting feedback from NFF staff about eligibility is encouraged to ensure you are submitting a proposal that will not be disqualified.

Funding Restrictions

The NFF will not consider MAP applications from the following:
  • Federal agencies;
  • Regional, state or local governmental entities;
  • For-profit organizations;
  • Consultants;
  • Educational and research organizations proposing projects that do not show tangible, on-the-ground benefit;
  • Organizations seeking general operating or programmatic support;
  • Organizations seeking funding for litigation or advocacy;
  • Organizations that cannot produce 1:1 cash match of non-federal, project-directed funds.
  • Organizations submitting a proposal for a work over a timeline longer than one year.

The following project types are not eligible for funding:

  • Funding for outreach and/or education as a primary project component;
  • General operating or programmatic support;
  • Funding for any form of advocacy or litigation;
  • Funding provided to the U.S. Forest Service or any other federal entity.

Environmental Compliance

The NFF will not consider proposals unless all permitting and environmental compliance work including but not limited to NEPA is complete at time of application. No Exceptions.

Project Timing

MAP project selection occurs twice each year through a single-stage proposal process. In each round, submitted proposals are evaluated, with a subset receiving funding. The process from proposal submission to notification of funding generally takes about two months. Organizations may have only one MAP award open at a time and should submit no more than one application per round.

The proposed project period should be no more than 12 months long and start at least 2 months after the application deadline for the round.

  • The award period for projects funded in Round 1 will begin in March/April 2020 and run for 12 months.
  • The award period for projects funded in Round 2 will begin in August/September 2020 and run for 12 months.

All activities funded by the NFF MAP grant and its associated matching funds must occur within the award period. Applicants must consider foreseeable delays before submitting a proposal. If project completion cannot confidently occur within the periods specified above, please contact the NFF well in advance of the application deadline to discuss the merits of applying.

Match and Funding Requirements

MAP funds are federal and disbursed only as a 1:1 match to cash contributions from an eligible non-federal source. Matching funds must be expended within the dates of the NFF grant (see project timing section above), and toward completion of the same project activities proposed for NFF funding. Award recipients cannot use in-kind or federal contributions to meet MAP matching requirements.

Both MAP and matching funds:

  • Must be received by the applicant organization;
  • Must support the same project activities and be expended within the same one-year project period;
  • Cannot support general administrative purposes beyond eligible indirect costs;
  • Cannot support litigation or advocacy;
  • Cannot be directed to the U.S. Forest Service or any other federal entity;
  • Cannot meet the matching requirements of any other federal funding program.

Upon selection for funding, award recipients must submit documentation showing the receipt of eligible non-federal matching funds to release the NFF award funds. Award Recipients may submit this documentation at the beginning of the grant period for a full advance of NFF funds, or incrementally throughout the grant period. NFF will only disburse MAP award funds on a 1:1 basis as the award recipient submits match documentation.

IMPORTANT: In October 2017, the National Forest Foundation amended its matching grant policies and no longer requires grant recipients to send a check for match when submitting a cash request form and documentation of the origin of the match.

Letters of Support

All applications must include a letter of support from the Forest Supervisor of each National Forest or Grassland unit included in a proposal. Proposals that include work on more than four National Forest System units within any Forest Service Region may choose to obtain a letter of support from the Regional Forester rather than each Forest Supervisor. Do not submit letters from Forest Service District Rangers or any additional letters of support.

Electronic Application

Applications submission is via an electronic submission process. Submission instructions are listed in the MAP Request for Proposals (RFP). The MAP RFP can be accessed upon successful completion of the eligibility questionnaire below.

Funding Type

MAP awards are federal funds provided to the NFF through a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Forest Service. Neither MAP funds, nor the funds used to match MAP funds may be used to meet the matching requirements of any other federal award program.

Informational Webinar

The NFF held an informational webinar about the Matching Awards Program on Friday, December 13, 2019 at 11:00am MST.

Click the buttons below to view a recording of the webinar or download the webinar slides.

Typical Awards (2018)

Average Award: $25,032
% of Proposals Funded: 52%
% of Dollars Requested Funded: 51%

Eligibility Questionnaire

To proceed in the application process,complete the MAP Eligibility questionnaire via the link below. The MAP Request for Proposals (RFP) can be accessed upon successful completion of the eligibility questionnaire.

Contact Information

If you have questions not answered on this website or in the MAP Request for Proposals, please contact Kerry Morse, Conservation Programs Officer at (406) 830-3358 or