NPS launches Directory of Community Assistance Programs

The Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance Program has worked with 2,100 organizations like the University of Illinois who received assistance on the creation of a trail stewardship group and trail connection project in Chicago Heights, Illinois. Chicago Heights Trail Stewardship Project, IL

National Park Service launches Directory of Community Assistance Programs

54 Opportunities to Receive Assistance

July 2017

Today, the National Park Service launched its Directory of National Park Service Community Assistance Programs. In addition to operating more than 400 National Park Units, the National Park Service assists community groups and the public with historic preservation, recreation and improved access to public lands, natural resource conservation, and education and stewardship. Community assistance programs of the National Park Service empower local organizations to advance preservation and conservation work in rural and urban communities across the country from Davis, West Virginia to Los Angeles, California. These programs serve as economic drivers, transforming underutilized places into community assets that ultimately enhance quality of life and boost local economies through tourism and job creation. Most of the programs leverage non-federal funds and long-term support from partner organizations.

The Directory is your short guide to the 54 opportunities for receiving assistance from the National Park Service. Consider some of the ways in which communities benefit from National Park Service programs:

1. GRANTS AND FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE provide critical funding for a wide range of community projects.

Did you know that the National Park Service has 22 grant and financial assistance programs that are available to community groups?

These include Land and Water Conservation Fund State Grants that have funded more than 40,000 park acquisition and park and recreation development projects across the country since 1965 -- from a hiking, bicycling, and horseback riding trail in the City of Geneva, Alabama to a new soccer field in Anchorage, Alaska.

There are eight grant programs supported by the Historic Preservation Fund, including African American Civil Rights Grants, Tribal Heritage Grants, and Disaster Recovery Grants, that assist communities with the preservation of historic places and sharing of diverse history. Regionally-specific grant opportunities like the Southwest Border Resource Protection Program and the National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom direct funding towards the stewardship of nationally important resources.

2. TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE from National Park Service staff helps communities advance preservation, conservation, recreation, and other projects.

Community groups can benefit from NPS technical assistance too! Programs like the Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance Program provide planning and organizational development assistance to community groups working on recreation and conservation projects, enabling them to develop community-led solutions to conservation challenges. Others like the Heritage Documentation Program, American Battlefield Protection Program, and Historic Preservation Training Program assist with local preservation projects.

The National Heritage Areas program includes 48 congressionally designated heritage areas across the country.  Pictured here is the D picture The Delaware and Lehigh National Heritage Corridor, for example, coordinates the XXXX program which brings XXX into historic towns along the D & L trail.

3. NATIONAL DESIGNATIONS acknowledge and conserve nationally important paces.

The National Park Service honors our nation’s nationally important site through seven programs, including the National Register of Historic Places, National Historic Landmarks, and National Natural Landmarks. Other programs like the National Trails Systems, National Heritage Areas, and National Wild and Scenic Rivers are congressional designations that leverage federal funding and technical assistance to support nationally important resources.

4. INVEST IN historic buildings and parkland in your community.

Did you know that the National Park Service provides incentives to rehabilitate historic sites and facilitates the acquisition of federal property?

The Federal Historic Preservation Tax Incentives Program has encouraged the private sector to invest in the rehabilitation of historic buildings by offering income tax credits to developers, putting authentic places back to use for economic ventures. Some federal properties are available for purchase through programs like the National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Program, Historic Surplus Property Program, and Federal Lands to Parks Program.

Urban Archaeology Corps youth Kalen Gilliam, Groundwork RVA's Kendra Norrell and UAC program archaeologist Ellen Chapman work on an excavation site at Chimborazo, site of one of the largest Civil War military hospitals and a Freedmen's village and school during Reconstruction. Photo: Catherine Komp

5. INTERNSHIPS, VOLUNTEER, and PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT opportunities offer communities ways to learn from and engage in preservation, conservation, recreation, and interpretation work both in and outside National Parks.

The National Park Service offers numerous internship and temporary employment opportunities. Some of these programs are available to specific groups – Latino Heritage Internship Program – or to students in specific fields – such as the Heritage Documentation Program’s Sally Kress Tompkins Fellowship in Architectural History.

Professionals have numerous opportunities to learn from National Park Service staff and engage in the work of parks and programs. Consider the Artist-in-Residence Program or the Teacher Ranger Teacher Program, which enables teachers to spend a summer as a ranger in a park’s education program and bring those experiences back to their classrooms during the school year.


Check-out the Directory to learn more about the 54 opportunities to receive assistance from the National Park Service. In the Directory you will find an alphabetical listing of programs, as well as a listing of programs by type – grants and funding, national designations, project assistance, investment and property acquisition assistance, and internships, volunteer, and professional development opportunities.

Staff of the Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance Program coordinated the development of this Directory with the 54 programs listed in it. The Directory is a tool to better represent the entirety of National Park Service assistance and to connect more Americans to the National Park Service.

Contact: Heather Passchier,, 202-513-7057

Last updated: July 6, 2017