National Forest Foundation

Matching Awards Program

Supporting On-the-ground Work On Our National Forests



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.

Focus Areas

MAP supports the strategic focus areas of Forest Health and Outdoor Experiences.

Outdoor Experiences

Projects that fit into the Outdoor Experiences program area are 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 that generate tangible conservation outcomes while enhancing high quality recreational experiences for the users of the National Forest System will receive weighted advantage. Funds cannot support improvements of hardened facilities including, and similar to: campgrounds, parking lots, restrooms, visitor centers, and major signage.

Forest Health

Projects that fit into the Forest Health program area are results-oriented, on-the-ground, citizen-involved projects that maintain and/or restore forest resiliency by:

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

Projects that are consistent with or supportive of large-scale conservation initiatives will receive weighted advantage.


Education and interpretation are not funding priorities and are only supported as minor components of larger projects aligned with Outdoor Experiences and Forest Health program areas. Inventory and monitoring projects will be considered only if they are focused on determining the long-term effectiveness of NFF funded on-the-ground work. Any other baseline, implementation, or effectiveness monitoring is not currently eligible for funding.


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


MAP is national in scope and there are no geographic priorities.


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 three months. Organizations may have only one MAP award open at a time and should submit no more than one application per round.

Proposal Deadlines

  • January 17, 2017 at 11:59 pm MST
  • June 26, 2017 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, in compliance with the NFF Policy on Fiscal Sponsorship.

National Forest System Benefit

MAP projects do not necessarily need to occur within the boundaries of a National Forest or National Grassland, however, all projects must be able to show direct benefit back to these lands. However, the vast majority of funded projects take place directly on National Forests or Grasslands.

Funding Restrictions

Applications will not be considered from:

  • 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 that cannot produce a 1:1 cash match of non-federal, project-directed funds;
  • Organizations considering submitting a proposal for a project that cannot be completed within one year of award.

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.

Match Requirements

MAP requires a 1:1 cash match of secured nonfederal funds. In-kind contributions are not eligible for use as match but should be documented to show project leverage.


Once selected for funding, MAP projects have one-year to complete. Foreseeable delays, such as those related to NEPA and other environmental compliance must have already been taken into account before applying. Proposals will not be considered unless all environmental compliance work is complete at time of application. No Exceptions. Grants approved under 2016 Round 1 will likely commence around April 2016 and run for one calendar year. Grants approved under 2016 Round 2 will likely commence around September 2016 and run for one calendar year. Successful applicants will have the opportunity to choose from a few pre-selected award period start dates within a roughly 6-week window. If project completion cannot confidently occur within the period specified above, contact the NFF well in advance of the deadline to discuss the merits of applying.

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 a Forest Service Region may choose to obtain a letter of support from the Regional Forester. Do not submit letters from District Rangers or any additional letters of support.

Application Process

Eligibility Questionnaire

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

Electronic Application

Applications submission is via an electronic submission process. Submission instructions are listed in the RFP.

Funding Type

MAP awards federal funds provided through a cooperative agreement from 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.

Typical Awards (2014 - 2015)

Average Request: $29,315
Median Request: $25,497
Average Award: $27,564
Median Award: $25,380
% of Proposals Funded: 59%
% of Dollars Requested Funded: 55%

Contact Information

If you have questions not answered on this website or in the MAP Request for Proposals, please contact Adam Liljeblad, Director, Conservation Awards at 406.830.3357 or