America’s Great Outdoors: Connecting Youth to the Outdoors 2012 Grants

Deadline: September 19, 2012

The National Environmental Education Foundation  (NEEF), in partnership with the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, U.S. Forest Service and The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) have launched the America’s Great Outdoors: Connecting Youth to the Outdoors 2012 Grants. The grants are aimed at increasing the number of youth recreating, learning, and volunteering on public lands.

Approximately $243,000 in funding is available to support grant awards in the range of $2,500 to $20,000. It is estimated that the average award amount will be $15,000 for 16 grants. Grants will be in the range of $2,500 to $20,000 each for programs and projects.


Applicant must:

  • Be a Forest Service or Bureau of Land Management unit or a non-profit organization, academic institution or tribal group that partner with the Forest Service or Bureau of Land Management.
  • Have been in existence for at least two (2) years.
  • Establish, or already have, a collaborative relationship with the Forest Service or Bureau of Land Management.
  • Hold the proposed youth engagement events on a Forest Service or Bureau of Land Management site, or show that the project clearly benefits these agencies.


This grant opportunity is funded through federal dollars from the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management.  Grantees will be expected to manage these grants using federal guidelines, such as, but not limited to, OMB Circular A-122.  Note that any organization that spends more than $500,000 of federal funds in one year is also required to comply with Circular A-133.

Types of Projects

Proposed projects should maximize hands-on outdoor engagement opportunities on public lands, focused on three areas:

  • Education: Opportunities that provide quantifiable and meaningful conservation education outcomes that enhance environmental literacy, support  STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) education and use of the environment as a context for learning;
  • Recreation: Opportunities that promote healthy lifestyles, build outdoor recreation skills, and engage youth in active recreation (e.g. hiking, paddling, snowshoeing, hunting and fishing, wildlife watching, geo-caching etc.);
  • Environmental Stewardship: Opportunities that provide quantifiable and meaningful conservation outcomes (native fish focused stream restoration, species focused landscape restoration, invasive species removal, native plant restoration, wildlife surveys/assessments, project monitoring, trail restoration, etc.).

Matching Contributions

There is a minimum one-to-one non-federal match required for this grant, though larger match ratios are encouraged.  As such, applicants will need to identify non-federal sources of funding, which can include non-cash and in-kind support, to at least match the amount awarded.  Partnerships with corporations and foundations are strongly encouraged.  Amount and diversity of matching contributions will be given consideration as part of the selection process.

Third party in-kind contributions may be in the form of real property, equipment, supplies and other expendable property, and the value of goods and services directly benefiting and specifically identifiable to the project or program.  This includes volunteer hours for the proposed project.  See OMB circulars for more details.

Evaluation (Outputs and Outcomes)

Each grantee will be expected to track and report on youth participation in the program, and participants’ attitudes about public land.  Outputs (metrics) and Outcomes (impact) should be an integral part of the application.


A budget form will be provided in the application.  All budget items must be broken into and displayed as distinct line items.  Also, budget items must directly relate to the activities described in the proposal and include matching funds.

The budget must comply with the OMB Circulars that apply to the applicant’s organization and type of project, such as A-122 (A-133 may apply if the grantee spends more than $500,000 of federal funds in their fiscal year).  See OMB circulars for more information.


Two reports will be required over the grant period.  An interim report due at six months of the period and a detailed final report are due within 90 days of completing the project.  This report will include metrics and outcomes associated with the project and a financial report.  Report forms will be provided by NEEF and will be completed online.

Objectives and Criteria for Grant Selection

Applications will be reviewed based on the following Objectives and Criteria for Grant Selection.

Successful applications will achieve the following objectives:

  • Incorporate innovative partnership-based projects that integrate conservation education, meaningful environmental stewardship, and outdoor recreation;
  • Engage youth (pre-K-12th grade), particularly urban and/or underserved youth, in meaningful outdoor and conservation education experiences on National Forest System or Bureau of Land Management lands, or in direct benefit to these public lands;
  • Build partnerships with diverse entities including corporations, Tribal, state and local agencies, educational institutions, and non-governmental organizations to leverage federal dollars awarded with non-federal contributions to the project;
  • Support the Forest Service and/or Bureau of Land Management public land stewardship missions.

The most competitive proposals will:

  • Show a well thought-out plan for implementing the project.  Stronger consideration will be given to organizations focusing on urban and underserved youth, and for using innovative and contemporary approaches that actively engage youth, model best practices, and share successes broadly;
  • Demonstrate an alignment with one or more of the following:
  • Describe plans for diverse partner collaboration and support;
  • Describe in detail how output and outcome data will be collected, synthesized and shared;
  • Describe how the project will be sustained in the long-term;
  • Demonstrate that the organization has the capacity to undertake the proposed project and can manage federal funding.
  • Include details for non-federal support to match grant funds. Some preference will be given to organizations that are able to provide a match higher than the required one-to-one match ratio.

Funding Restrictions

Funds cannot be used for:

  • Conducting lobbying, carrying on propaganda or otherwise attempting to influence legislation.
  • Influencing the outcome of any specific election through any means.
  • Purposes other than charitable, scientific or educational.
  • Budget shortfalls, general support or endowment funds.
  • Land acquisition or real estate purchases.
  • The purchase of food.
  • New permanent staff positions.  Costs for staff time are allowable, unless the applicant is a federal unit or the staff is new.  Temporary staff or contractors are permissible.
  • Travel costs, except when it is used to support youth participation in events.
  • Scholarships, fellowships or grants to individuals.  This does not include stipends for time spent on the project.  For example, a stipend for a teacher’s time is permissible.
  • Any other restrictions detailed in OMB Circulars.


Applications Open July 31, 2012
Applications Due September 19, 2012
Grantees Announced November 2012
Grant Period One Year
Interim Report Due Seven months after Grant Period begins
Final Report Due 90 days after Grant Period ends


Applications are accepted only through our online application system.  Follow these steps to register and apply:

  1. Go to our online application system.
  1. You will be taken to a Log On page.  If you have not created an account from a previous NEEF grant or award, select Create New Account.  If you have previously created an account with NEEF, skip to step 4.
  1. Follow the instructions to create your account.  It will ask you for your contact information as the account holder and the contact information for your organization’s representative.  For example, you may be the development director, but want the executive director’s name on the application as the representative.
  1. Upon creating an account, it will take you to your home screen.  To apply, click Apply in the menu on the left.  You will be taken to a list of NEEF grants and awards.  Select America’s Great Outdoors: Connecting Youth to the Outdoors 2012 begin your application.
  1. Complete the application.  Remember:
  1. You can save your application and return later.
  2. We recommend you use the Word version of the application to create your narrative.  This will allow you to edit and spell check as needed. Once you have your answers complete, cut and paste them into the online application.
  3. Pay close attention to character limits.  These limits include spaces!
  1. Once you have completed the application and uploaded all attachments, click Submit Form to officially apply for the grant.  If you do not click Submit Form, you will not have applied.  You will also receive a confirmation screen upon submitting.

If you have any questions or problems, please consult our FAQ or don’t hesitate to contact us at

Apply now!  Applications are due September 19, 2012.

More Resources
National Environmental Education Foundation
Connecting Youth to the Outdoors 2012 Grants