Frequently Asked Questions for Park and Trail Partnership Grants

Eligibility

Who is eligible to apply?

VIEW ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS

Our Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with OPRHP or eligible agreement with DEC per above is about to expire. Will that affect our application or make us ineligible?

Applicants must have a current formal MOA with OPRHP or eligible agreement with DEC at the time the grant is issued. If your agreement has just expired or will expire between the time you apply and the time awards are announced, you will need to provide a letter from agency staff stating that a new agreement is in progress and is expected to be signed. We will also need a copy of the new agreement once it is signed. Until that time, as part of your application, you must upload the most recent agreement with the agency.
If your agreement expires after the grant application is submitted, you will be asked to provide a new agreement or a letter from agency staff as part of your Interim Report.

Applying

When does the application process open for the next round?

Spring 2024

What information should we review before applying?

To prepare to apply, please review:
In addition, it will be helpful to participate in one of our application webinars.
If you still have questions, contact Parks & Trails New York at 518-434-1583 x3 or [email protected].

What types of grants are available?

There are four types of competitive grants available to eligible organizations through the NYS Park and Trail Partnership Grants:
VIEW GRANT CATEGORIES

How do we apply?

Eligible organizations interested in applying for a NYS Park and Trail Partnership Grant must first create an account with our online grants system. Once registered, you will be able to see available grants and follow the steps to apply.
When creating an account, provide the email address of the person ultimately responsible for the grant administration. Parks & Trails New York will communicate all pertinent information to this email address.

Can my organization apply if we received a grant in a previous cycle?

Yes. Organizations that meet the eligibility requirements are encouraged to apply regardless of previous grant approval or denial.

Can my organization apply for more than one grant in a given cycle?

Yes. Organizations may submit more than one application, either within the same grant category or in more than one category. However, given the limited funding available and pool of potential applicants, it is strongly recommended that organizations focus on the projects that are of the greatest priority to the organization and that can be accomplished within the grant period.

Examples of Projects

What types of projects may we apply for in each category?

Examples of projects for each category are listed below. This is not an exhaustive list.

STEWARDSHIP AND PUBLIC ACCESS CAPACITY GRANTS

Examples of projects include, but are not limited to:

  • Public access or engagement improvements, such as interpretive kiosks, exhibits, signage, new trails with signage, and other activities that enhance public enjoyment and access to the public resource.
  • Shared consultant services between more than one eligible organization.
  • Development and implementation of a community outreach plan to enhance community access to and enjoyment of the public resource and awareness of the organization’s role in its preservation, stewardship, interpretation, maintenance and/or promotion.
  • Community and constituency-building initiatives and programs that promote outreach and public education and recreation resulting in greater public support and broader public involvement, especially from new and presently underserved audiences, and those which enhance age-friendly recreational opportunities.
  • Development and implementation of public resource marketing plans, especially if undertaken in partnership with local tourism promotion efforts.

Please note: if your Stewardship and Public Access Capacity Grant application includes a project involving construction or rehabilitation, you will need to provide additional documentation (see Projects Involving Construction).

CAPACITY AND ORGANIZATIONAL EFFECTIVENESS GRANTS

Examples of projects include, but are not limited to:

  • Development of a multi-year strategic plan or major fundraising/capital or marketing campaign plan.
  • Board/staff training and development, including facilitated retreats.
  • Website and email newsletter design and development, graphic design, and printing and distribution of digital or print brochures, newsletters and other promotional materials.
  • Efforts to expand the organization’s membership and broaden the diversity of support for the organization.
  • Software to improve fundraising/development/donor relations, bookkeeping, or recordkeeping. Grant funds can cover initial software purchase or licensing, not license renewal.
  • Development and implementation of activities that will provide a future ongoing revenue source.
  • Development and implementation of a volunteer program.
  • Development of partnerships to promote new or strengthen existing collaboration with more than one organization and/or local government to increase public support for and/or participation in the planning, development, promotion or stewardship of the public resource.
  • Hiring of temporary contractors, staff or interns to support the organization’s capacity-building work.
  • Shared consultant services between more than one eligible organization.

PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT GRANTS

These grants may be used to support:

  • First Staff Hire: hiring the organization’s first permanent employee, full- or part-time.
  • Additional Staff: hiring an additional full- or part-time permanent staff member to fill a critical administrative, outreach or development need, or other key function.
  • Upgrade to Full-time Staff: increasing a part-time executive director, or other key staff position to full time.
  • Shared Staff: hiring a staff person to be shared by two or more eligible organizations.

Note: Professional Development Grants are meant to support permanent increases in staffing capacity. If an organization is interested in hiring temporary contractors or staff to support the organization’s work, this request would fall under a Capacity and Organizational Effectiveness Grant or a Stewardship and Public Access grant.

STEP-UP GRANTS

Step-up Grants may be used to cover the administrative and legal fees needed to secure 501(c)(3) status, along with the costs associated with completing a consultant-facilitated organizational assessment and resulting plan(s).


 Projects Involving Construction

What is considered “construction”?

  • Building rehabilitation
  • Any change to a historic structure: adding or removing anything, painting, remodeling, reconstructing
  • Improvements, such as interpretive kiosks, exhibits, signage, new trails with signage, trailwork and other activities that enhance public enjoyment and access to the park/trail/site.
  • Activities whose costs are part of a larger construction project
  • Activities that involve any ground disturbance/shovel in the ground (may require Archeology review)
  • Activities that require engineering plans and specifications
  • Activities that require State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) review

If our project includes construction (as defined above), what will we need to provide?

If your Stewardship and Public Access Capacity Grant application includes a project involving construction or rehabilitation, please include the following documents with your application. (Links to these and these instructions can also be found on the application):

In-eligible Costs

NYS Park and Trail Partnership Program grant funds may not be used to cover:

  • Project costs incurred before date of signed grant contract
  • General operating support
  • Purchasing interest in lands or buildings
  • Endowment funds
  • Travel or lodging
  • Lobbying or political activities

501(c)(3) Status / Fiscal Agent

Our organization is not a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization. Can we still apply?

Organizations that do not have 501(c)(3) status may apply using a fiscal agent. As part of the application process, you will need to provide the name of the fiscal agent, a copy of your Memorandum of Understanding with the fiscal agent, and a copy of the fiscal agent’s financial statements (as well as your own organization’s financial statements).
Please also note: When completing the registration process, you must use the EIN (Tax Identification Number) of your fiscal agent.

 

What happens if our organization receives 501(c)(3) status after we register? How can we change our EIN?

Please contact PTNY at [email protected] or 518-434-1583. We will be able to make the change to the EIN in the online grants system for you.


Review Process

What happens once our application is submitted?

When you submit your application, you will receive an automatic email confirmation that it has been received. Applications will first be reviewed for completeness. Organizations may be asked to clarify or resubmit a response or document at that time. Complete applications will be reviewed against the evaluation criteria for each grant category. Professional Development Grant applicants who submit a full application proposal will also be asked to participate in a one-hour interview with PTNY staff as part of the grant application review process.
Grant awards are expected to be announced in early January the following year. Grant recipients will have 30 days following the award notification to sign an electronic grant agreement and provide documentation of the required organizational match.

What if it gets denied?

Please keep in mind that the Park and Trail Partnership Grants is a competitive program. We receive far more requests for projects than we have the funds to award. A denied application does not necessarily mean the project or the applying organization is not worthy of funding. Should your proposal get denied, we encourage you to contact us to discuss the reasoning behind our review team's decision.

 

How will our application be evaluated?

Please see the evaluation criteria for each grant category.


Organizational Match

How do I calculate the required organizational match?

The NYS Park and Trail Partnership Program is a matching grants program. Other than Step-up Grants, which require a flat $500 match, all grant categories require organizations to contribute a percentage of the total project cost (not the total grant request). Below are some examples of how to calculate the required match. Try our Grant Match Calculator Tool to help you figure the amount.

Capacity and Organizational Effectiveness Grants and Stewardship and Public Access Capacity Grants

Grants may cover up to 90% of total project budget. A minimum 10% match of the total project amount is required, up to 50% of which may be in-kind.
If your organization’s total project cost is $25,000, you may apply for a grant of $22,500 (90% of $25,000) and your organization will need to provide a match of at least $2,500 (10% of $25,000), $1,250 of which may be in-kind.
Alternatively, if your organization expects to raise no more than $3,000 in matching funds, both cash and in-kind, then you should not apply for more than $30,000 in grant funds. [Divide the amount you expect to raise by .10 to come up with the total grant you may request.]

Total Project Budget (100%)

Grant Request (90%)

Organizational Match (10%)

$25,000

$22,500

$2,500 (half may be in-kind)

$30,000

$27,000

$3,000

 

Professional Development Grants

Grants may cover up to 80% of total project budget encompassing a period of two years. A minimum 20% match (cash) of the total project budget is required.

If your organization’s total project cost is $100,000, you may apply for a grant of $80,000 and your organization will need to provide a match of $20,000, all of which must be cash.

Alternatively, if your organization expects to raise no more than $10,000 in matching funds, then you should not apply for more than $30,000 in grant funds. [Multiply the amount you expect to raise by 3 to come up with the total grant you may request.]

Total Project Budget (100% - over 2 years) Grant Request (80%) Organizational Match (20%)
$100,000 $80,000 $20,000 (all cash)
$40,000 $32,000 $8,000
 

What funds may qualify as matching funds?

Applicant organizations must match the grant with non-State funds. Cash match may come from a variety of sources, such as individuals, foundations, corporations, and federal and local grants. Other state grants or state funds can be included in your overall project budget but do not count toward the match requirement.

If operating funds or reserve funds are to be used as cash match, a board-approved statement indicating that these specific funds are available and will be dedicated for the required match is required. Note: staff time, if paid by grantee on grant-related activities, is considered a cash donation.

In-kind match contributions must be quantifiable and documented and may include:
    • donation of professional and construction services (legal, facilitation, consultation, etc. as well as the donation of travel costs from that individual);
    • donation of goods (meeting rooms, equipment, printing costs, food or refreshments, construction materials); and
    • donation of unskilled/general labor from volunteers (trail work, administrative work, construction work).
Volunteer services must be quantifiable and the applicant needs to have a way of tracking volunteer hours. The rate per hour must adhere to the national standard for New York . A sample volunteer time-tracking tool is available.

Volunteer time does not include board members participating in regular board activities. If a board member contributes professional services above and beyond his or her regular board activities, or if a board member contributes as a volunteer to perform above and beyond grant-related work (e.g., trail construction, administrative functions), this may count as in-kind match.


Can grant administration count towards the in-kind match?

Grant administration can be claimed as in-kind for the grant, however that is limited to time spent AFTER the grant has been awarded and the official Grant Agreement has been signed (e.g. filling out the interim report). These funds cannot reimburse work that has been done prior to the signing of the Agreement, therefore the initial writing of the grant cannot be claimed as in-kind.

Can the hours provided by State Park or DEC staff count towards the in-kind match?

This is considered using state money to match state funds, so a state employee's time cannot be used towards the match.


Organizational Assessment (Step-up Grants)

What type of organizational assessment should be completed as part of the Step-up Grant?

Organizations must engage with an independent consultant to facilitate the organizational assessment. Following the facilitated assessment, the consultant should prepare a report and plan(s) to guide the next steps for the organization based on the results of the assessment.

PTNY has developed an Organizational Self-Assessment and Visioning Tool that may be used; however, organizations are not required to use this specific tool.


Do we have to use PTNY’s Organizational Self-Assessment and Visioning Tool?

No. Organizations may use a comparable self-assessment tool. The consultant may have a tool he/she uses, or other options may be found online or in print publications.

What if we are unable to raise the required match by the time of the grant award?

Organizations will have 30 days from the award announcement to sign a grant agreement and provide documentation of the required matching funds. If your organization is unable to secure the required match by the deadline, you may request an extension. In order to do that, contact PTNY to have an Extension Request Form assigned through the online application and reporting system. Upon receipt of this completed Extension Request Form, PTNY may, at its discretion, offer a limited extension.


Time Line / Due Dates

When does the application process for the next round open?

Spring 2024

When will decisions for the next round be announced?

Grant awards are expected to be announced January 2025.


Deliverables

Do I submit a final budget?

ALL grantees must provide a final budget and supporting documentation verifying project costs, matching funds and expenditure of NYS Park and Trail Partnership Grant program funds (i.e., invoices, receipts).

What other deliverables are needed, does it depend on grant category?

In addition to documenting how grant and matching funds are spent, grantees are expected to provide documentation of key deliverables. Below is a sample list by category.

Stewardship and Public Access Capacity Grants

  • Photographs and description of public access or engagement improvement
  • Copy of community outreach or public resource marketing plan
  • Organization newsletter
  • Press clippings

Capacity and Organizational Effectiveness Grants

  • Copy of completed strategic plan, fundraising plan, marketing plan, etc.
  • Copies of minutes from meetings with consultants for board development, organizational development work
  • Roster of attendees (board/staff trainings, workshops, conferences)
  • Screen shots from website and links to website
  • Copies of materials developed such as brochures, flyers, etc.
  • Print and digital publications
  • Press clippings

Professional Development Grants

  • Interim Report:
    • Documentation that grantee has completed the Partnership Roadmap in collaboration with public resource staff.
  • Final Report:
    • Bio/CV/resume of employee hired with grant
    • Hiring notices
    • Print and digital publications
    • Press clippings

Step-up Grants

  • Copy of tax-determination letter from IRS
  • Copy of final organizational assessment report and any plans developed by consultant
  • Copies of minutes from meetings with consultant
  • Print and digital publications
  • Press clippings

Promotion & Acknowledgement

In all written and electronic materials produced with this grant funding, we request that you refer to the following language:

“The [Project Name] project was supported with funding from the New York State Park and Trail Partnership Grants and New York’s Environmental Protection Fund. The Park and Trail Partnership Grants are administered by Parks & Trails New York, in partnership with the NYS Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation.”

Publications can include newsletters, outreach and communications materials, maps, displays, plans, websites, signage, and kiosks. Parks & Trails New York and the NYS Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation should also be listed as a funder in annual reports and/or other publications recognizing financial contributions to the organization’s work.


Application Assistance

Where can I get help with the online application?

If you need assistance with the online application, please contact Parks & Trails New York at 518-434-1583 or [email protected].

Eligible organizations interested in applying for a NYS Park and Trail Partnership Grant are strongly encouraged to participate in an upcoming webinar.


Prevailing Wage

Are we required to pay contractors the prevailing wage?

Yes. Park and Trail Partnership Program grants are funded via the Environmental Protection Fund and are thus considered public work projects. A contractor and its subcontractors must pay at least the prevailing wage rate and pay or provide the prevailing supplements, including the premium rates for overtime pay, as determined by the State Labor Department in accordance with the Labor Law.


Denied Projects

Please be aware that this is a competitive grants program--we receive more requests than we can award. An unsuccessful application does not always mean the project is not worthy. If your project is declined, we encourage you to contact the Grant Coordinator to discuss.


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