MA Urban and Community Forestry Challenge Grants

Massachusetts Department of Energy & Environmental Affairs (EEA)

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Grant amount: US $1,000 - US $30,000

Next deadline: Oct 1, 2020 (Letter of inquiry)

Later deadlines: Nov 1, 2020 (Full proposal)

Applicant type: Government Entity Nonprofit

Funding uses: Education / Outreach, Project / Program

Location of project: Massachusetts

Location of residency: Massachusetts

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With support from the USDA Forest Service, the Massachusetts Urban and Community Forestry Program now offers an Urban and Community Forestry Challenge Grant. These are 50-50 matching grants offered to municipalities and non-profit groups in Massachusetts communities of all sizes for the purpose of building local capacity for excellent urban and community forestry at the local and regional level. This grant offering is not a new grant, but a combination of our previous grant opportunities (Mass ReLeaf, Planning and Education, and Heritage Grants). We have changed the format in an effort to streamline the grant process for applicants and better target our limited resources.

What is Urban and Community Forestry?

For the purpose of these grants, Urban and Community Forestry refers to professional management (planting, protection, and maintenance) of a municipality’s public tree resources in partnership with residents and community institutions.  

On a broader scale, Urban and Community Forestry involves the community in the management of all a municipality’s or a region’s “green infrastructure” in order to maximize social, economic, and environmental quality. For a more detailed description, see here.

Environmental Justice Applicants

The DCR, in collaboration with the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EOEEA). offers competitive challenge grants for projects that serve environmental justice (EJ) populations. If your town or city is home to environmental justice neighborhoods and grant work will serve environmental justice populations, you can apply as an Environmental Justice applicant for a 75-25 matching grant. 

What can we apply for under this grant?

This grant program seeks to fund projects which will result in sustained improvements in local capacity for excellent urban and community forestry management in six key areas. See full details in the grant application packet. 

  • Building and Strengthening Citizen Advocacy and Action Organizations
  • Developing and Adopting Tree and Forest Ordinances and Policies
  • Securing or Training Professional Staff
  • Developing and Implementing Systematic Urban Forestry Management:
    • Tree Inventory and Analysis
    • Resource Assessment 
    • Management Plans or Street Tree Management / Master Plans
  • Attaining a Tree City USA Award, Growth Award, Tree Campus USA Award, or Tree Line USA Award
  • Completing Strategic Community Tree Plantings and “Heritage” Tree Care Projects
    • Strategic Tree Plantings
    • “Heritage” Tree Care Projects 
  • Other Projects: We may consider some well-conceived and executed projects which result in sustained improvements to urban and community forestry management in other areas

You can learn more about this opportunity by visiting the funder's website.


  • Eligible groups include all units of local government and nonprofit 501(c) (3) organizations.
  • All grants must be matched 50-50 by local funds or in-kind contributions (or 75-25 for environmental justice applicants). 
  • Environmental Justice applicants: 
    • Eligible groups include all units of local government and nonprofit 501(c) (3) organizations that are working in environmental justice communities in Massachusetts. 
    • Projects must take place entirely within EJ areas.


  • Local tree departments and citizen tree groups are specifically encouraged to apply.


  • These grant funds can be used for any activity related to your project except:
    • food and beverages,
    • pass-through grant programs,
    • childcare,
    • excessive administrative overhead,
    • stipends for board members,
    • regular tree maintenance,
    • construction costs or capital improvements (other than tree planting),
    • expenses incurred before or after the grant period, and
    • costs associated with preparing the grant application/