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NYC Green Fund

2023 Treetops Grant Program 


The NYC Green Fund is a pooled grant program intended to support an equitable and resilient network of parks and open spaces to benefit the well-being of all New Yorkers. 

Program Description

The NYC Green Fund’s Treetops grants program provides funding for mid-size organizations that program, steward, and advocate for parks and open spaces across NYC’s five boroughs in order to support an equitable and resilient network of open spaces to benefit the well-being of all New Yorkers. The NYC Green Fund Treetops grants program will support a range of projects, including open space stewardship, environmental action, organizational development, health and wellness, youth engagement, and live arts and culture.

Organizations with annual operating budgets between $175,000 - $2,500,000 will be awarded one- or two-year grants of up to $50,000 annually. Please note that recent changes have been made to applicant and expense eligibility - please review the Application Eligibility and Types of Expenses sections below to confirm eligibility. 

For organizations with operating budgets less than $175,000 annually, please review our Grants webpage to see upcoming funding opportunities through the NYC Green Fund’s Grassroots grant program, which provides funding for groups with annual budgets under $175,000. The next Grassroots grant round is anticipated to be announced in Spring 2024.

Key Dates 

The application deadline is November 7, 2023 at 11:59 AM ET. Applications and reports must be submitted through the City Parks Foundation’s online grants management system. The application is available for submission here and may be previewed here

Applicants will be notified in December 2023/ January 2024, and the grant period will commence in January 2024. One- and two-year grant recipients are required to submit an interim report halfway through the grant period, and a final report will be required within one month of the grant period completion.

Application Eligibility

Organizations with demonstrated experience working in NYC’s parks and/or public realm (publicly owned property) open spaces with annual operating budgets in the previous fiscal year between $175,000 - $2,500,000 are eligible to apply. 

Organizations may submit joint applications. An applicant may only be the lead on a single application but may participate as a partner in other submissions. There is no maximum recommended percentage of the total budget for joint applications. 

Grants will be awarded for one (1) or two (2) year commitments, pending funding raised for the NYC Green Fund in the second year. Please note that to be eligible to apply for two-year funding, an organization must have received a grant from City Parks Foundation in 2020 or later and must have submitted all required interim and final reports.

The applicant or applicant’s fiscal sponsor must be exempt from federal taxation as a public charity as described in sections 509(a)(1), (2), (3), or (4) and Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.

Past grantees must submit final reports before applying for additional funding. 

Examples of eligible applicants include:

  • Parks or open space stewardship-focused organizations 
  • Open space programming focused organizations
  • Organizations that advocate for open space improvements 

Types of Expenses

Eligible expenses include:

  • Staffing costs including fringe benefits (full-time/part-time/ seasonal/ internships/ apprenticeships/ etc.)  
  • Consultants, contractors, or professional fees 
  • Equipment and supplies 
  • Marketing and outreach costs

Non-eligible expenses include: 

  • Maintenance work conducted by anyone other than volunteers or interns 
  • Electioneering
  • Lobbying
  • Litigation

Areas of Support  

Applicants may apply for funding in at least one and up to three of the following:

  • Stewardship: community-oriented care of open spaces such as volunteer service projects;

    • Examples: planting a native flower garden, maintaining a dog run, or organizing beach cleanups.

  • Environmental action: educational and awareness-building programs that provide people with the skills to take responsible actions to protect the environment

    • Examples: hosting a teach-in on the impacts of shore erosion, developing a proposal for your community board in support of public composting.

  • Organizational development: support the organization’s ability to thrive, including activities such as training, strategic planning, marketing, communications, financial management, HR systems, and transition or succession planning;

    • Examples: attending a conflict resolution training, purchasing accounting software, or working with a consultant to develop a 5-year plan.

  • Youth engagement: job training for high school students and/ or talent development programs to support young adults (18- 24) entering the workforce;

    • Examples: supporting young people through paid internships at your organization, developing a mentorship program with STEM professionals.

  • Health and wellness: activities that promote physical, mental, and emotional health for park users such as exercise, community connections, or meditation;

    • Examples: yoga in the park, a free basketball league, nature walks.

  • Live arts and culture: performing arts and community-oriented cultural programming. 

    • Examples: a celebration of traditional cultural dance, public theater performances, a movie night, arts and crafts making workshops, or a music festival.

Funding Limits

One-Year Funding Request: Applicants may request up to 25% of their operating budget from their previous fiscal year, with a maximum request amount of $50,000 per year for all applicants, regardless of budget size. For joint applications, please use the combined annual budget of partners. 

Note, the average grant size awarded in 2022 was $27,000, with the largest grant awarded being $40,000. 

Two-Year Funding Request: City Parks Foundation (CPF) offers former grantees the opportunity to apply for two-year grant funding. To be eligible to apply for two-year funding, an organization must have received at least one CPF grant since 2020 and completed all required interim and final reports. Eligible organizations may request up to 25% of their operating budget from their previous fiscal year, with a maximum request amount of $50,000 annually for two years. If approved for two-year grant support, grantees will receive the first year’s award payment at the beginning of the grant cycle (January 2024) and the second award the following year (January 2025). The second year of funding is contingent on completion of required reporting and funding raised for the NYC Green Fund in the second year.

Review Process

City Parks Foundation vets applications, and then scoring and funding decisions are made by a grant review committee composed of the NYC Green Fund’s funder group.

Evaluation Criteria and Priorities

Funding decisions will be based on the following criteria and priorities:

  • Communities served: 

    • Proposals planned for properties deemed parkland in NYC are prioritized, although all publically accessible open spaces in NYC are eligible.
    • Priority will be given to open spaces located in and serving Environmental Justice Areas recognized by NYC’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. A map of the areas is available here.
    • Priority will be given to applicant organizations led by individuals who identify as Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (i.e., BIPOC Executive Director, or 51% BIPOC Board, or 51% BIPOC senior staff).
  • Strategic alignment: 

    • The project aligns with NYC Green Fund’s Treetops requirements and priorities of the grant as outlined above, including meeting some or all of the key activities.  

  • Feasibility: 

    • The intended outcomes of the proposal are feasible considering the applicant’s resources, relationships, and experience. 
    • If the proposed project’s immediate environment, such as landscaping, vegetation, or access to the open space,  will be significantly altered through an applicant’s proposal, the proposal includes a description of the plan and capacity to provide long-term care for the ecosystem impacted. 
    • If a partnership application, the proposal demonstrates that the partnership is mutually beneficial to all parties involved. 
  • Budget: 

    • The proposal should demonstrate a clear and pressing funding need. 
    • For solo applicants, applications should request at most 25% of their annual operating budget. 
    • For joint applicants, applications should request at most 25% of their combined operating budget for the most recently completed fiscal year.

Grants Management

Grants will be made by City Parks Foundation (CPF), and all reporting information will be submitted to CPF. CPF manages the day-to-day administration of the NYC Green Fund, which is governed by a steering committee of funders. 

For more information 

For more information, visit CityParksFoundation.org or email NYCGreenFund@cityparksfoundation.org