America the Beautiful Grant Program
The Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) is requesting proposals for America the Beautiful grant program. The grant application process is open to 501(c)3 non-profits and municipalities. The funding allocation for the grants will be $1,000 – $20,000 over a two-year project timeframe. Applications will be accepted until the proposal deadline of December 3, 2021 and awards will be announced early January 2022. Awards will be administered through the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.
Background and Introduction
The America the Beautiful (ATB) grant program is administered by the DEEP Division of Forestry and made possible through funding provided by the USDA Forest Service. In previous years, the ATB grant program has funded urban and community forestry projects, such as tree planting and maintenance, management of urban woodlands, workforce development trainings, and development of educational programming. This year, the ATB grant program will prioritize projects that will contribute to long-term urban forestry planning, such as tree inventories and urban and community forestry management plans. Such planning projects align with objectives set in the Governor’s Council on Climate Change (GC3) Phase 1 Report and in the DEEP Division of Forestry 2020 Forest Action Plan to increase our understanding of baseline urban forest conditions. Other on-the-ground urban forestry projects (i.e., tree planting, woodland management) will be considered for the ATB grant program but may be better suited to other state-wide grant programs. See an overview of these grants here.
Purpose of the Grant Program
Identifying and implementing successful urban and community forestry projects depends on a comprehensive understanding of current conditions. To that end, the America the Beautiful Grant program offers funding for municipalities and 501(c)3 organizations to pursue planning projects in urban forestry. These projects may include, but are not limited to, conducting inventories of street and/or park trees, creating urban and community forest management plans, developing monitoring programs to document tree condition, evaluations of local urban tree cover, and surveys of urban woodlands and natural areas. Funds can be used to generate new materials and resources or to update existing ones, such as previous inventories or out-of-date management plans. All applicants will need to articulate how such projects will be used to promote data-driven forest management in their respective cities in the future.
If you are unsure of what an urban and community forestry planning project might look like in your city, take some time to look at examples of projects that have been done here in Connecticut and throughout the US.
- New Haven, CT Street Tree Inventory
- Hartford, CT Tree Canopy Action Plan
- Austin, TX Urban Forestry and Natural Area Management Guidelines
- Arcata, CA Community Forestry Management Plan (Draft)
- Stratford, CT Town Forest Management Plan
- Williston, VT Community Forestry Plan
You may also find these resources specifically on tree inventories and management plans helpful. If you are interested in pursuing a project on town forest or other publicly accessible woodland but are unsure of what management might look like, consider contacting your regional service forester for advising prior to preparing an application.
To learn more about the ATB grant program or the Urban Forestry Program in Connecticut, contact:
Specific Conditions and Requirements
- All grant recipients must either be a municipality or a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, as designated by the IRS.
- Projects must be completed within the time frame determined through the project agreement.
- The maximum amount awarded for each grant will be $20,000.
- In most cases, the ATB grants are reimbursement grants. This means that payment for the granted activity will occur after the grant project has been completed and final outputs have been submitted and approved by DEEP. Proof that payments have been made must be submitted before reimbursement will occur.
- It is a requirement for reimbursement that all expenditures are to be matched 50:50. This match may be a financial match, done through the expenditure of additional funds, or it may achieved by in-kind contributions of goods or services donated by grant partners or a combination of both. You may use current reasonable rates (i.e., the value of a professional consultant’s time based upon the consultant’s standard hourly rate of pay) when estimating the value of volunteer time or services. Documentation of match must be provided.
- All publications or press releases shall reference the role that USDA Forest Service funding and DEEP Division of Forestry assistance has played in this project. Similarly, the USDA Forest Service and DEEP Division of Forestry shall be mentioned on any markers put in place in association with a project.
- All products associated with ATB projects will be shared with DEEP and made publicly accessible on a statewide urban forestry data portal. For forest management plans, this means recipients must upload a final polished management plan. For inventories or other surveys, this means participants will upload all relevant data files. All data must be cleaned, organized, and checked for errors.
- At the conclusion of the grant program, DEEP will publicize accomplishments of the grant program.
The Application Process
Applications are due by December 3, 2021 at 5:00 PM and recipients will be notified of their awards by early-January 2022. Approved projects must be completed by November 2023. You can access the application here.
Applications will be reviewed and scored based on the following point system:
- Project Goals and Description (15 pts.)
- Future Management Goals (15 pts.)
- Community Impact and Involvement (10 pts.)
Content last updated in September 2021.