To be eligible for grants, every State must prepare and regularly update a statewide recreation plan (sometimes called a SCORP). Most SCORPS address the demand for and supply of recreation resources (local, state and federal) within a state, identify needs and new opportunities for recreation improvements and set forth an implementation program to meet the goals identified by its citizens and elected leaders.
When a State's current plan has been approved by the appropriate field office of the National Park Service, all grant applications submitted must be in accord with the priorities listed in its action plan. To make the connection between the SCORP and concrete project proposals, each State also develops an Open Project Selection Process which contains:
- a set of project-ranking selection criteria that allow scoring of each project proposal according to how well it meets the needs and priorities published in the State recreation plan; and,
- a process (usually scheduled annually) to ensure that all eligible applicants can be notified of funding availability, application deadlines and selection criteria when a new project selection cycle starts.
In most years, all States receive individual allocations (apportionments) of LWCF grant funds based on a national formula (with state population being the most influential factor). Then States initiate a statewide competition for the amount available (including the new year allocation, any previous year allocations, and any amounts `recovered' due to cost underruns on earlier projects funded). Applications are received by a State up to its specified deadline date. Then they are scored and ranked according to the project selection criteria so that only the top-ranked projects (up to the total amount available that year) are chosen for funding. "Winning"applications are then forwarded to the National Park Service for formal approval and obligation of federal grant monies.
Because each State has its own priorities and selection criteria (tailored to its own particular needs and unique opportunities), and because individual States make the decisions, in effect, about which projects will receive LWCF grants, the first step for potential applicants is to contact the cooperating State office to find out about local application deadlines, state priorities and selection criteria, and what kinds of documentation are required to justify a grant award. Interested applicants should call or write the appropriate state agency to request application information.