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.


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 only consider monitoring projects 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. 


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 involvement. 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 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. 

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.


MAP is national in scope and there are no geographic priorities. Note that MAP is separate and distinct from work strategically supported through the NFF Treasured Landscapes, Unforgettable Experiences program. No Treasured Landscapes work should be included in MAP proposals. 


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

  • Round 1: January 23, 2018 at 11:59 pm MST
  • Round 2: June 13, 2018 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.

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. The vast majority of funded projects take place directly on National Forests or Grasslands.

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 considering 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.

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.

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. 


Once selected for funding, MAP projects must be completed within 12 months of their start date. Grants approved in Grants approved in Round 2 will commence in August/September 2018 and run for one calendar year. Successful applicants in either round will have the opportunity to choose from a few pre-selected award period start dates within a 6-week window. If project completion cannot confidently occur within the period specified above, please contact the NFF well in advance of the deadline to discuss the merits of applying.

Applicants must consider foreseeable delays before submitting a proposal. This includes potential delays such as those related to NEPA and other environmental compliance. The NFF will not consider proposals unless all environmental compliance work is complete at time of application. No Exceptions. 

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 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 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.

Informational Webinar 

The NFF held an informational webinar about the Matching Awards Program on May 23, 2018.

Typical Awards (2017)

Average Request: $25,828
Median Request: $24,850
Average Award: $25,032
Median Award: $24,500
% 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 Adam Liljeblad, Director, Conservation Awards at (406) 830-3357 or