UCF Grants FAQ

Welcome to our Grants FAQ page. Whether you are a potential grant applicant or a grant recipient, this page is intended to support you by answering frequently asked questions about grant applications, administration, record-keeping, and payments. 

Applications & Grant Agreements

How do I apply for a grant?

VT UCF's annual grant cycle follows the following cadence:

  • Grant categories are announced by early September
  • Grant applications are due in early January
  • Grant awards are decided and announced in early February

Prior to 2023, VT UCF accepted mailed paper applications or email PDF or Word applications.  As of 2024 we have decided to move to a web-based application.  Please note that once an application is started in the form, applications cannot be saved or restarted. We highly recommend that applicants use the grant application worksheet (PDF or Word) to develop, edit, and save your work prior to completing the application form and submitting.  

What makes a great grant application (and are there examples)?

Exemplary grant applications:

1) clearly define the problem you hope to solve,
2) outline a detailed plan for what will be accomplished, and
3) define the roles and responsibilities of those involved. 

VT UCF has simplified our application over the years to focus on these three components. Here are a few past grant applications that have ranked high in part because of the quality and clarity of the application:

Should I read our grant agreement? How can I get a copy of our signed grant agreement?

Yes! If you will be involved in the administration of a funded project, it is your responsibility to read and understand the executed (signed) grant agreement, particularly pages 2 and 3 (Attachments A & B), which outline your specific project's scope of work and the payment provisions (how to get the money!).  

Your executed grant agreement was sent directly to the designated individual in your municipality or organization that provided the e-signature to execute the grant. If you are involved in the administration of a funded project and this person did not forward you or send you the grant agreement, we would be happy to share it with you. Simply send elise.schadler@vermont.gov an email request and we'll send you the PDF. 

Can we changed the scope or deliverables we originally outlined in our grant agreement?

Yes, but these changes need to be formally requested, approved, and incorporated into a new version of your grant agreement.  

Page 1 of your grant agreement states: Amendment: No changes, modifications, or amendments in the terms and conditions of this Grant Agreement shall be effective unless reduced to writing, numbered, and signed by the duly authorized representative of the State and Subrecipient.

If you need to alter the scope of work (outlined in Attachment A, page 2, of your grant agreement) and deliverables, the individual who signed the original grant agreement needs to submit in writing (an email is adequate) a request to make changes. This should be submitted to elise.schadler@vermont.gov. Upon approval, the Forests, Parks and Recreation business office will develop a new grant agreement that incorporates these changes, which will need to be signed by both the State and your municipal or organizational representative.  

Funding & Invoicing

How does our community or organization receive the grant funding that we have been awarded?

VT UCF grant funds are not awarded as a single check -- they are released after the grant recipient submits an invoice. The funds awarded are available for payment according to Attachment B: Payment Provisions (page 3) of your grant agreement.  

For 2024 Caring for Canopy, Growing Urban Forests in the Face of EAB, and Urban & Community Forestry Grant recipients, funds will be available for payment in accordance with the following schedule:

  • one-third payable after the signing of the grant agreement as accompanied by an invoice,
  • one-third at a mid-project point as accompanied by a progress report and invoice, and
  • the balance upon completion of the project with verification of payment of all expenses and with submission of a final report and invoice.
What information should be included in an invoice?

An invoice should be on municipal or organizational letterhead and must include:

  • the subaward (grant) number,
  • the amount being requested for payment, and
  • address to where a check should be sent.

Click here to see a sample invoice.  

How do we submit an invoice?

For 2024 grant recipients: As outlined on page 3 of your grant agreement, invoices shall be address to the below and emailed to elise.schadler@vermont.gov.  

ATTN: Vermont Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation
Accounts Payable
1 National Life Drive, Davis 2
Montpelier, VT 05620-3801

Note that the optional mid-project invoice must be accompanied by a mid-project progress report (see section below for a template) and that the required final invoice must be accompanied by a final report and other documentation (see section below).  

Can we invoice for activities that happened before the grant agreement was signed?

Yes. Attachment B of your grant agreement states: Up to 90 days of Pre-award costs are allowable under this agreement as determined by the State and as related to scope of work in Attachment A. In other words, completed project work that occurred as early as 90 days before the grant agreement was signed is eligible for reimbursement as long as the costs were properly documented.

What if we need to request an extension to our grant project period?

If you need to request an extension, per condition number 8 in attachment B of your grant agreement:

If the scope of work as detailed in Attachment A cannot be completed by the project end date, the Subrecipient must request from the State in writing (an email is sufficient) an extension at least 30 days prior to the project end date. The extension request must include a justification and a proposed extended project end date. The State retains the right to approve or deny the request based on the provided justification.

In lay terms, this means that at least a month before the end of the grant project period, you will need to submit in writing (email is fine) a request that outlines why the extension is needed, a description of the new scope of work, and the requested end date of your extended grant agreement. The grant funds come from an annual federal source so extensions can generally not extend beyond June of the grant closure year. The request should be sent to elise.schadler@vermont.gov.

In-Kind Match and Mid-Project and Final Reporting

How do we document our volunteer in-kind match?

Most VT UCF grants require 50-100% match. This means that whatever funding amount your municipality or organization has been awarded needs to be matched partially or entirely by monetary or in-kind services. So, if the award requires 1:1 match and you have received a $5,000 grant, you need to document and demonstrate at least $5,000 worth of additional contributions to the project. This shows that the total value of the project is actually $10,000 or more. 

Most grant recipients choose to include volunteer in-kind match - the value of volunteers working on the project - as some portion of their documented match.  

In Attachment A (page 2) of your grant agreement, condition number 4 reads: Comply with OMB guidance subparts A through F of 2 CFR Part 200 as adopted and supplemented by the USDA in 2 CFR Part 400. This language refers to the federal rules and guidelines on valuing and documenting match. To support Subrecipients (aka our grant recipients) in appropriately keeping track of and documenting volunteer match on grant projects, the Forests, Parks and Recreation business office has developed Subrecipient Guidance for Valuing and Documenting Match from Non-Federal Sources.  

In a nutshell, if you will be using in-kind volunteer services as match, you should provide documentation of volunteer match.

  • A template to document match from a single volunteer completing multiple tasks on multiple days is provided as a printable pdf.
  • A sample sign-in sheet for a group event or training is provided as an Excel Worksheet or a printable pdf.
What is the dollar value of volunteer in-kind match?

The Subrecipient (grant recipient) can determine the rate (hourly dollar value) at which they value volunteer in-kind services based on the guidance provided in this document in consideration of their own municipal or organizational policies and grant accounting.  

Consistent with a recent process within the business office of the Department of Forests, Parks & Recreation to accurately determine and account for the value that community volunteers contribute to a variety of projects, we offer the following to use to document volunteer in-kind match for urban and community forestry projects:

  • Tree Warden: $34.96/hr
  • Selectboard member: $37.05/hr
  • Conservation Commission member: $32.94/hr
  • Tree Committee member: $32.94/hr
  • Town Forest Committee member: $32.94/hr
  • Planning Commission member: $29.43/hr
  • Trained and/or Tenured volunteer: $27.81/hr
  • General citizen volunteer (untrained): $11.25/hr
What should be in the mid-progress report and how do I submit it?

A project mid-progress report is only required if a grant recipient chooses to submit an invoice prior to the end of the project, per the optional payment schedule presented in Attachment B (page 3).  If the recipient so chooses, the mid-progress report and an invoice shall include:

  • Documented expenditures to date in table format.
  • A detailed statement demonstrating work accomplished to date according to the scope of work as detailed in Attachment A. 

We have developed a Mid-Project Progress Report Template (fillable PDF) as an option.  It is not required that grant recipients use this template so long as the two required report components above are addressed.

What is required in the final report?

Your final report is a summary of what you were able to accomplish with the grant funds and documentation of your spending and match. Your final report should directly address the deliverables that were outlined in your grant agreement. If you have achieved all deliverables before the end of the project period  you may choose to submit the final report and invoice and close the project out early.  As outlined in Attachment B (page 3) of your grant agreement, the final report should include the following:

  • Documented expenditures in table format, including match and comparing the proposed budget outlined as above to actual expenditures and documented match.
  • A detailed statement demonstrating final project deliverables according to the scope as detailed in Attachment A.
  • A brief written story about the project with photograph documentation, if applicable, to be used by the Vermont Urban and Community Forestry Program to share the project. Possible uses include e-newsletter, blog post, website, and printed material.
  • Provide digital copies of all products developed as part of this grant, if applicable. (This might include master plans, maps, inventories, or other printed materials.).

We have developed a Final Report Template (fillable PDF) as an option for grant awardees to use.  It is not required that awardees use this template so long as the four required final report components are addressed. 

To who do I send the final report ?

Final reports and final invoices should be submitted together as separate documents in a single email and sent to elise.schadler@vermont.gov. The final report can be submitted by anyone (town staff, the volunteer project coordinator, etc.). 

Once reviewed and approved, the final report and invoice are sent to the FPR Business Office to process payment and to close out the project. 

More questions? Please direct all UCF grant questions to our Program Manager Elise Schadler at elise.schadler@vermont.gov.