Who May Apply:

Only NPS staff acting on behalf of NPS-administered Parks, National Trails, and Wild and Scenic Rivers (including Partnership Wild and Scenic Rivers) are eligible to apply. Specifically, parks and programs that are funded through ONPS.

All applications are expected to include project partners from non-profit organizations, government agencies, Tribes, and educational institutions.

If a project is funded, a project partner will need to be able to receive and manage funds consistent with the project’s application, purpose and budget.

How To Apply:

  • NPS manager and interested project partners should discuss and develop their idea in keeping with NPS goals, themes, partners' interests, and the criteria of this Challenge Cost Share opportunity.

  • Review this application preview to see the kinds of information that will be needed when you apply.

  • Use this online application portal to submit an application. Disconnect from the VPN to access the application portal. (Note: The 2021 Challenge Cost Share program is administered by the National Park Trust, and all applications will be processed through this application portal prior to review by the NPS)

Eligibility Criteria:

Every application must meet these Eligibility Criteria before further consideration:

  • Supports National Park Service Responsibilities – The project must benefit one or more national parks, National Trails, and/or Wild and Scenic Rivers.

  • Collaboration and Cost-Sharing – The project must be financially supported, equally, by NPS and partner(s). The partner(s) must commit to providing a total match equivalent to the level of the Challenge Cost Share funding received. This match can consist of in-kind goods and services as well as cash from non-federal sources.

  • Maximum Financial Support – The maximum the Challenge Cost Share funding provided per project is $25,000.

  • Timing – The proposed project should be substantially complete within nine months from the date that the Challenge Cost Share funds are disbursed.
  • No NPS Salaries – the Challenge Cost Share support may not be used for any ONPS staff salaries.

Project Themes:

Applications are being accepted for projects that will advance any of the following themes that will strengthen our NPS administered National Parks, National Trails System, and Wild and Scenic Rivers:

  • Climate Change Adaptation. Projects that build resiliency to changing climate conditions. Projects can include developing green infrastructure and nature-based solutions.
  • Outdoor Recreation. Projects that increase public access to outdoor recreation opportunities.
  • Youth Engagement. In addition to projects that get youth on NPS-administered waterways, other projects will be considered that engage youth with other meaningful connections to natural, cultural, historical and recreation resources; stewardship of park resources; and building outdoor skills for life-long enjoyment of our public lands and waterways.

Selection Criteria:

Applications will be evaluated according to the following criteria:

  1. Results Driven. The project has clear and specific results.
  2. Clear Roles. Roles and contributions by both the National Park Service staff and its project partner(s) are clear, substantive, and well-defined.
  3. Benefits. The anticipated benefit for your partner(s), NPS, and the public is clear.
  4. Achieves the Challenge Cost Share Program's Themes. The project advances one or more of the three thematic categories.
  5. Build public stewardship. The project builds new stewardship opportunities for the public.

Last updated: March 19, 2021