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NCFS-Home >>Urban Forestry >> Urban and Community Forestry Financial Assistance Program

Urban and Community Forestry Financial Assistance Program

The primary objective of the North Carolina Urban and Community Forestry (U&CF) Program is to assist municipalities with reaching a level of sustainable U&CF management that matches their goals and capacity. In addition, through this process and the completion of urban and community forestry practices and activities, we will enhance the quality of living in our communities. We define urban and community forestry as follows:

  • Urban forestry is defined as the management of the planting, maintenance and protection of tree populations in urban settings to enhance the economic and ecosystem services trees provide to the community.
  • Community forestry is a branch of forestry that engages the community in the completion of urban forestry practices in support of local government, serves broader community needs and works for positive change.

When municipalities and partners, including community organizations and other stakeholders, accomplish urban and community forestry practices and activities in an ordered manner, they enhance the level of management in the community, leading to long term program success.

We use the accomplishment of six specific standards to measure and classify the development status of a community’s U&CF program into one of four management classifications (See the NCFS U&CF Management Classifications chart below). This helps a community measure its progress, celebrate accomplishments, and allows us to best serve each community’s individual needs.

NCFS Urban & Community Forestry (U&CF) Municipal Management Classifications

The accomplishment of an individual urban and community forestry practice or activity may not directly contribute to elevating a municipality’s management classification, however that does not diminish the value of its completion in furthering urban and community forestry goals and objectives.

The Urban and Community Forestry Project Financial Assistance Program is designed to help communities climb this sustainable management hierarchy and enhance the quality of living in the community. The program accomplishes this by providing financial assistance and expertise in the development and completion of U&CF projects comprised of urban and community forestry practices and activities. A Request for Applications (RFA) process is offered several times a year to help you plan and apply for these assistance opportunities.

Eligible Project Objectives

The following is the list of eligible project objectives. All projects must occur within the jurisdictional boundaries of a North Carolina municipality or tribal lands. Each Request for Application (RFA) offering will detail which project objectives are eligible for assistance.

  • Advocacy Group Development -- Strategic planning assistance to help the organization develop a long-range strategic plan.
  • Education and Training -- Development and delivery of educational and training products, events and programs.
  • Inventories and Assessments -- Resource inventories, assessments, program reviews and surveys.
  • Outreach -- Development and delivery of outreach products and events to inform and engage the community in urban and community forestry.
  • Ordinances -- Development of local ordinances defining local government’s role in managing the urban forest.
  • Plans -- Development of urban and community forestry plans.
  • Staffing and Consulting Services -- Hire local U&CF staff or consultant to manage the urban forestry or community forestry program.
  • Tree Maintenance -- Development and completion of a tree maintenance project.
  • Tree Planting -- Development and completion of a tree planting project. Small-scale projects occur on a small, single site with generally less than 10 trees. Large-scale projects occur on a large or multiple sites planting large number of trees.
Ineligible Objectives, Practices and Activities
  • Research projects.
  • Construction activities, materials and supplies.
  • Equipment with a cost of $5,000 or more.
  • Planting project predominantly comprised of shrubs and vegetation other than trees.
  • Time and expenses developing an application project and completing the application.
  • Practices and activities completed before or after the grant contract timeline.

Financial Assistance Structure

Awardees will enter a project completion agreement/contract with the N.C. Forest Service or partner to complete the work for an agreed duration and will be reimbursed for approved expenses unless otherwise specified in the agreement. For the majority of our programs, there are two agreement structures: cost share and match share.

Cost Share
  • The awardee pays a service provider to complete the services.
  • The awardee will be reimbursed the percentage cost share, for example 50%, offered by the specific RFA.
  • Only purchased goods and services related to completion are eligible for reimbursement.
  • An awardee’s contribution may not come from another federal grant funding program.
Match Share
  • A match share structure allows for direct in-kind contributions instead of monetary contributions for managing and completing the project.
  • Examples of direct in-kind contributions include dollar value of employee time, volunteer time and donated goods or services.
  • Only disadvantaged communities and 501c3 not-for-profit organizations are eligible.
  • Disadvantaged Communities Definitions
Funding Programs

The N.C. Forest Service receives funding from various sources, and each has its own set of requirements, restrictions and activities that can be funded. N.C. Forest Service RFAs will detail all the information needed to apply for the funding program being offered. There are also urban and community forestry funding opportunities offered by other organizations. Visit our U&CF Funding Sources and Opportunities webpage for information about our funding programs and other opportunities.

How and when do I apply?

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Design Your Project

To successfully complete a project, and to apply for assistance, you will need to complete a project planning process. Your planning process should result in a project plan that includes the following six outcomes: project needs statement, project goal, project objectives, project team, project work plan and project budget.

We will periodically offer informational and training events to help you with project planning and the financial assistance program. Project planning tools and required financial assistance program documents can be found on our U&CF Resources and Specifications webpage under the Financial Assistance banner.

Request for Applications

Requests for Applications will be advertised as well as posted in the right-hand column of this page. Use these links to learn program specific information and to access the electronic application.

There will be regularly scheduled offerings Jan. 1 and July 1 each year, however there may be additional special offerings between these dates.

Prerequisites for all applications

  • All applicants must have a federal Unique Entity ID # obtained through the (Get a Unique Entity ID Only) website portal.
  • Projects must take place within the boundaries of a municipality or tribal lands.
  • Project Team – A new or established project team comprised of community citizens, municipal government staff and stakeholder organizations must be engaged in the completion of the project.
  • You must contact your N.C. Forest Service county ranger and inform him/her that you are submitting an application.
  • Completed urban forestry practices must utilize and adhere to the most current versions of the American National Standards Institute A300, Z60.1 Standards & International Society of Arboriculture Best Management Practices.
  • Project contributors providing professional services to complete work must be adequately credentialed for tasks/role on the project.
    • Urban Forestry Practices Minimum Qualifications
      • A degree in urban forestry or a closely related field (e.g., forestry, arboriculture, horticulture);
      • International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) Certified Arborist, American Society of Consulting Arborists Registered Arborist, Society of American Foresters Certified Forester, or equivalent State or professional credential; and/or,
      • At least three years of experience practicing arboriculture or urban forestry according to industry standards and urban forestry best management practices.
Review and Award

At the end of each application period, applications will be divided into disadvantaged community and non-disadvantaged community categories. They will be reviewed for completeness and prerequisite requirements. Incomplete project plans or applications failing to meet prerequisites will be disqualified. Within each respective Request for Application, acceptable applications will be scored and ranked based on the following general criteria:

  • Technical merit of the project and application.
  • Completion of the project achieves the municipality’s next standard of the NCFS U&CF Management Classification.
  • Project builds upon a previously accomplished U&CF project.
  • The applicant is a current Tree City USA, Tree Campus Higher Education or Tree Campus K-12.
  • Project start date – Practice or activity can begin soon after award.
  • Project serves a Disadvantaged Community.

Applications will be awarded by rank, highest to lowest, until funding is exhausted. Applications tied in points will be awarded based on equitable geographic distribution of project awards, the population number served or by lottery if necessary. Unused funds within a program group will be made available to fund other applications.