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Grant Writing

Tapping Into Grant Funding

Many parks and park partners have had major and significant success tapping into government funding, real and personal property sources at the national, state, regional and local level. Those with the most success have adopted an organized, strategic approach to applying for grants. This page presents approaches that will help ensure your success in obtaining grant funding. Success stories illustrate the range and type of funding available. Some basic hints for success on tapping into funding are included along with sources and ideas that will aid you in your search of grant funding sources. Also included is advice on preparing a successful grant proposal once sources have been identified and issues to consider before and after your park has been awarded a grant. Lake Mead National Recreation Area serves as a case study and highlights how the park positioned itself for successful a outcome.

One of the first steps in applying for a grant is to determine what grant resources are out there. Look for and think in terms of sources of:

  • Grants
  • Funds
  • Excess real/personal property
  • Manpower
  • Services

The most promising grant sources available can help support the following park need categories:

  • transportation/highways
  • species/site recovery
  • manpower/jobs
  • law enforcement/diversion
  • boating/fishing access
  • facility improvements
  • trail construction
  • land acquisition
  • education
  • wildland urban interface

Grants typically are targeted for projects, innovative program and special initiatives and do not fund routine on-going maintenance activities or administrative overhead.

Although NPS staff cannot solicit contributions face-to-face, they prepare and submit grant applications. Not all grants are available to federal agencies. In some cases it may be best to partner with a friends group, cooperating association, or other non-profit partner, such as, your local chamber of commerce or community development organization. Grant applications often receive a higher priority if there are multiple parties involved as co-applicants or endorsers.

Grant funds may be used to fund temporary or seasonal positions and augment volunteer programs. Grant funds may not be used for permanent NPS salaries. Grant funds may also be used to fund park construction, provided all the requirements of NPS construction processes and procedures are followed (such as the Partnership Construction Process and the Development Advisory Board approval). Guidance on the acceptance and use of donated funds can be found on the NPS website.

The real key for success in obtaining grants is your ability to match your park's specific need to the appropriate potential funding support. One advantage you have from the start is that national parks offer high visibility and appeal grant makers.

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