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The IRA Urban Forestry Grant Window Is Open A Little Longer. Go For It!




Some Encouragement For Any Organization That Hasn’t Yet Applied

May 15, 2023 |  Alec Sabatini


IRA urban forestry grant window is open

The June 1st deadline for the Urban & Community Forestry Inflation Reduction Act Grants is speeding toward us. We are in the territory of now or never. Has your government or organization thought about applying for an IRA urban forestry grant? Go for it!

While the application process is a thorough one, we want to encourage you to give it a shot. We know you are wildly busy, but this is an unprecedented opportunity to get potentially transformative funds for your community greening work. We wanted to provide a few tips to help during the application process.

IRA Urban Forestry Grant Essentials

Let’s start with the essential details for the $1 billion USD the Forest Service is making available through Urban and Community Forestry competitive grants.

  • Grants are for a minimum of $100,000 and a maximum of $50 million.
  • All funding agreements are for five years
  • All federal grant funds are to be matched at least equally (dollar for dollar) with a non-federal match.
  • Match waivers are available for proposals that deliver 100% of the funding/program benefits to disadvantaged communities.
  • The application deadline is 11:59 pm Eastern Time on June 1st

Read the Notice of Funding Opportunity for in-depth instruction and head over to the Online Grant Portal when you are ready to begin.

SAM.GOV Registration ASAP

The System for Award Management (SAM.gov) is the government-wide web-based system supporting all contracts, grants, and the electronic payment system. An active SAM.gov registration is required for IRA urban forestry grant applications. It’s free to register and renew, which must be done every year.

This Entity Registration Checklist walks you through every step and needed piece of information. It’s a hefty process (the checklist is 18 pages), but hang in there. It takes 7-10 days for your registration to become active, so start your application today.

Nail The Project Narrative

We know it’s easier said than done. Lean on online resources for ideas and tips, such as this one or this one. Following the instructions down to the letter, from the font size to the margin width, helps too.

Pay particular attention to Section 5: Project Scope Alignment. Applications are evaluated on a 100-point scale and the largest category of points (30) is for judging alignment with grant priorities. These include congressional, Justice40, State Forest Action Plan, and Ten-Year National Urban and Community Forestry Plan priorities.


IRA Urban Forestry Grant Essentials

Help Disadvantaged Communities, Waive The Match

The dollar-for-dollar match requirement can be waived for proposals delivering 100% of the funding/program benefits to disadvantaged communities. Your application must clearly describe the scope of work to be performed in applicable disadvantaged communities, and provide maps showing the tools used to identify these communities.

They offered several vulnerability and environmental justice equity tools that can be used:

All work must be tracked at the level that designates the disadvantaged communities, such as census block groups. To that end, this is where including GIS-based software in your project can be a big help. Our TreePlotter™ INVENTORY and CANOPY software associate project locations and tree information with disadvantaged areas to streamline reporting. Tracking, projecting, and reporting through TreePlotter can show both physical and social outcomes (i.e. increased canopy, reduced heat, health impacts, etc.), and facilitate telling the story of your work with the community.


Climate and Economic Justice Screening Tool for Grand Junction, CO (1)

Climate and Economic Justice Screening Tool for Grand Junction, CO


2021 Urban Tree Canopy in Grand Junction from TreePlotter CANOPY

2021 Urban Tree Canopy in Grand Junction from TreePlotter CANOPY

Get Some Backup

One of the allowable expenses is capacity building/workforce development. Your organization is probably at or over capacity, so use the funds to get some help to bring your grant projects to fruition.

You can also hire a contractor or an intern to help. PlanIT Geo often operates as a technical capacity booster. We’re here to help expand your options with the expertise and software to complete tree inventories, canopy assessments, and strategic plan development.

You can use IRA urban forestry grants for people power, but not mechanical power. Equipment purchases are rarely approved. Equipment rental is suggested as a more acceptable alternative.

More To Come

While this opportunity is not one to be missed, there will be additional chances to win grants from the IRA windfall. Every state has been allocated funds to redistribute through sub-grants. See how your state fared here. Those state-level grant opportunities are forthcoming.

Another upcoming option will be from pass-through funders. The Forest Service is encouraging applications from eligible entities with demonstrated ability to competitively pass through (sub-award) funding to community-based organizations and other partners. We expect a few organizations will exercise this option, apply for the $50 million maximum, and then sub-award money to nonprofit organizations.

A minimum of 80% of all funding to a pass-through entity must be competitively sub-awarded to community-based organizations serving disadvantaged communities. The intent of this option is to alleviate the administrative burden on small, capacity-constrained applicants and get these funds out faster to communities in greatest need. We will update our own grants resource page with any re-granting opportunities that open up.


IRA Urban Forestry Grant Essentials

Finally, if $100,000 is just too large for your project needs the US Forest Service created a form to stay in the loop on other opportunities. Enter your contact information, a short summary of the project, and other interests to learn more about other Urban and Community Forestry funding opportunities and activities within their partner network.








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