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

For which 2024 grant category are we eligible?

Check out our UCF Eligibility Map to explore for which 2024 grant category or categories your project is eligible. Because each grant category is funded by a different federal source with different requirements, the geographic eligibility varies by category.  The UCF Eligibility Map allows users to explore by grant category, or by inputting a specific address or town name to see for which category or categories that project location would be eligible.  

Summary of geographic eligibility by category:

Our project is eligible for multiple grant categories. For which should we apply?

Great! Some things to consider as you decide for which grant(s) to apply:

  • The primary functional difference between the 2024 grant categories is that Caring for Canopy and Growing Urban Forests in the Face of EAB require 1:1 match in the form of cash, services, or volunteer contributions.  The Urban & Community Forestry grants require NO match (though you may provide it if you wish).  
  • The primary topical difference between the 2024 grant categories is that:
    • Growing Urban Forests in the Face of EAB grants are intended to support ash removals and replacements in downtowns village centers and along primary corridors into these areas.
    • Urban & Community Forestry grants are intended to support healthy tree canopy cover and access to the benefits of trees in specific communities, as defined as disadvantaged by the USDA Forest Service.
    • Communities Caring for Canopy grants are intended to support any activity that moves any community tree program forward, anywhere in the state.  
How do I apply for a grant?

Prior to 2023, VT UCF accepted mailed paper applications or email PDF or Word applications.  Due to the increase in funds available this year and an anticipated increase in grant applications, we have decided to move to a web-based application for all 2024 grants. The application is the same for all three grant categories.  The application form is available here.   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.  Applications are due by midnight on Friday, January 5th, 2024. 

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 4 and 5 (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. In the meantime, refer to this blank sample grant agreement.

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 2 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 4, 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 4) of your grant agreement.  

For 2023 Caring for Canopy and Growing Urban Forests in the Face of EAB Grant recipients, funds will be available upon project completion and submission of a final report and invoice.

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

Click here to see a sample invoice.  2023 grant agreements and beyond will also have a template invoice on the last page of the executed (signed) agreement.

How do we submit an invoice?

For 2023 grant recipients: As outlined on page 4 of your grant agreement, invoices shall be addressed to the below and emailed to ANR.FPRAgreements@vermont.gov.

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

Please cc elise.schadler@vermont.gov to the email so that our program staff knows that it is in process. 

For 2024 grant recipients: As outlined on page 4 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

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 7 in attachment B of your grant agreement, the Subrecipient must request from the State, in writing, an extension, at least 30 days prior to the close-out date. The extension request must include a justification and a proposed extension date. The State may require a certificate of insurance meeting the requirements in Attachment C if the prior submittal is no longer current. 

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 & Final Report

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 $2,000 grant, you need to document and demonstrate at least $2,000 worth of additional contributions to the project. This shows that the total value of the project is actually $4,000 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 4) 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 volunteer sign-in sheets as 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.

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 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 5) of your grant agreement, the final report should include the following:

  • A written list of expenditures, including match, comparing proposed budget outlined in grant application to actual expenditures.
  • A short (up to one page) story about the project with available photo documentation to be used by the Vermont Urban and Community Forestry Program in outreach material. Possible uses include e-newsletters, blog posts, websites, and printed material
  • Digital copies of all products developed as part of this grant, if applicable. This might include master plans, maps, inventories, or other printed materials.
  • Additionally, Ash Management grant recipients need to submit a copy of Request for Proposals or other procurement documents related to any portion of the work under this grant performed by a subcontractor.

We have developed a Final Report Template (fillable PDF) as an option for grant awardees to use.

Who do I send the final report to?

Final reports and final invoices should be submitted together in a single email and sent to ANR.FPRAgreements@vermont.gov. The final report can be submitted by anyone (town staff, the volunteer project coordinator, etc.). Though not required, please cc elise.schadler@vermont.gov so that our UCF program staff is aware that the report has been submitted.  

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