PTNY Growing the Grassroots
Capacity Building Grants

Grants to strengthen park and trail groups around the state 

logoParks & Trails New York’s Growing the Grassroots Capacity Building Grants enhance the long-term sustainability of park and trail not-for-profit organizations by helping them better fulfill their missions; improve their reach, effectiveness, and impact; leverage resources, and increase community support for park and trail planning, development and/or stewardship.

This program is generously supported, in part, by the visionary philanthropist, Merryl H. Tisch, whose contribution makes it possible for PTNY to help park and trail grassroots groups become stronger and more effective stewards of New York’s parks and trails.


Applications must be submitted by 5:00 p.m., Thursday, October 30, 2014.  All applications must be submitted online.  Applications cannot be mailed, emailed or faxed.

Click here for the online application.


Click here for responses to frequently asked questions.


All potential applicants are strongly encouraged to participate in a one-hour, pre-application webinar to be held Wednesday, October 8, 2014 at 11:00 a.m. This webinar is designed to review the online submission process, selection criteria, and application form as well as to answer questions from potential applicants.

An archive of the presentation is available here.


Awards will be made to local or regional organizations that are classified by the IRS as 501(c)(3) or who operate under the fiscal sponsorship of a 501(c)(3) and whose primary mission is stewardship of a specific New York park or trail that is or will be open to the public.  Include a copy of the IRS ruling letter with the application.


A 501 (c)(3) fiscal sponsor is needed if a group does not have 501 (c)(3) status.  Applicants must include the IRS determination letter for the fiscal sponsor, a copy of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the applicant and the fiscal sponsor, and the fiscal sponsor's income Statement and Balance Sheet for the last fiscal year.

Click here for a sample Memorandum of Understanding


Grants of up to $4,000 will fund activities that help develop and strengthen the skills, processes and resources that not-for-profit organizations need to survive:

  • Organizational start-up – e.g., incorporation, initial staff, equipment purchase
  • Professional consulting services that aid organizational development – e.g., fundraising, communication, marketing, membership, strategic planning, financial management
  • Board and staff training
  • Volunteer recruitment, training and/or recognition program
  • Communications – graphic design, development or enhancement of a logo, website, newsletter, or other communication tool; printing and distribution of brochures, newsletters, or other educational or outreach materials. Brochures and maps can include information on the park or trail, but must also include organizational information and solicitation of membership
  • Park or trail capital project that will raise the visibility and capacity of the applicant, e.g. kiosk or sign. Please describe in detail how this will be accomplished.


  • General operating expenses, existing staff salaries, or support of ongoing or new programs
  • Costs associated with park or trail construction or maintenance, equipment, or tools
  • Endowments
  • Lobbying or political activities
  • Giveaways (e.g. T-shirts, patches, etc.), events, refreshments or other entertainment expenses. However, projects that increase capacity to raise funds by developing items for sale, such as calendars or t-shirts, are allowed. Please be specific as to how they will be used.


Awards will be based on:

  • Ability to initiate, grow, strengthen, or transform the organization
  • Organization's demonstrated financial need; preference will be given to organizations with annual budgets of less than $100,000
  • Detailed, documented, and realistic budget. See a sample budget.
  • Clearly articulated project goals, tangible outcomes and well-defined, objective measures of success
  • Applicant support for the project as demonstrated by financial and/or in-kind commitment
  • Ability to leverage other opportunities, such as partnerships and funding sources
  • Creativity and the ability of the project to serve as a model for other groups
  • Visibility – degree to which project will promote the organization and foster public use, appreciation, stewardship, and development of applicant’s park and/or trail
  • If applicable, plan for sustainability of the project after grant period ends

Preference will be given to:

  • Projects that leverage the amount of funds requested with significant cash or in-kind contributions from project partners.
  • Organizations who have not received a Growing the Grassroots grant within the last three years.
  • Organizations with annual budgets of less than $100,000.


Grants will be awarded up to $4,000


All grantees will execute a signed contract with Parks & Trails New York prior to receiving an initial payment of 65% of the grant award. Grantees will be required to submit a brief, six-month progress update. The remainder of the grant award will be paid upon receipt of a final accounting and project report. All reports must be submitted by January 29, 2016 to receive the final 35% of the award. Successful completion of funded projects and timely submission of reports will affect eligibility for future grant awards.

Parks & Trails New York reserves the right to discontinue, modify, rescind or withhold any payments if the grantee has not carried out the terms of the contract, is no longer recognized as a 501(c)(3), or is no longer working with a fiscal sponsor that is a 501(c)(3). If Parks & Trails New York chooses to terminate the contract, it will notify the grantee in writing and provide 30 days for a response. Upon contract termination, any funds not expended for the purposes outlined in the contract must be returned to Parks & Trails New York.


This year we are using an online application that will allow you to fill in information directly to the application form. Use of the online form is required for all applicants. Answers to the narrative questions must be uploaded as an attachment, along with the budget and all other required supporting documentation, such as cost estimates, support letters, 501c(3) forms, and organizational financial statements.

Please read the instructions carefully and prepare the answers to the narrative questions and scan other documents well in advance of your submission as all information must be input into the application form at once. You will not be able to partially complete the form and then save your work. Please plan accordingly.

Applications must be submitted through the online system no later than 5:00 p.m. on October 30, 2014. We will NOT accept applications that are emailed, mailed or faxed.

Since PTNY initiated the awards program in 2009, it has assisted 54 organizations in 36 New York counties to expand their fundraising and membership campaigns, enhance their public programming, redesign or create new websites, and develop marketing materials. These efforts have paid off by increasing the visibility of these groups and growing the number of members and volunteers that support them in their work. 

Read more about previous grant recipients and testimonials from awardees.









29 Elk Street * Albany, NY 12207 * (ph) 518-434-1583 * (fax) 518-427-0067 *