Trail Volunteer Fund
How to Apply for Grants

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The Trail Volunteer Fund grant application is simple, requiring minimal new paperwork and using your existing project plans to explain details. This page explains the types of grants we will consider and the process for applying.

Eligibility and expectations

Projects supported by the Trail Volunteer Fund must benefit trails that are part of the western Pennsylvania multi-use trail network.

Projects must rely exclusively or principally on volunteer effort. The effort must come mostly from volunteers, and the value of the volunteer effort should be at least comparable to the value of the materials, preferably greater. A collection of examples of appropriate and inappropriate types of projects makes this important criterion more precise.

We encourage proposals for projects in which a few hundred to a few thousand dollars will enable a significant volunteer project, though larger projects with exceptional value to the trail system and outstanding leverage of volunteer effort will also be considered. It is possible that we will be able to offer only partial support for larger proposals, so consider complementary sources of support.

Grants will be made only to 501(c)(3) and other exempt entities in western Pennsylvania and the surrounding area as determined by the Board of Directors of The Pittsburgh Foundation. The appropriate trail organization must be willing to accept the project.

Major equipment purchased with support of the fund will be available for loan to other trail groups if it is not being used by the grantee’s trail group. The fund will maintain a web site listing all major equipment that has been granted and who to contact to borrow the equipment. Major equipment will generally be powered equipment such as spreaders or shredders, but not smaller equipment such as mowers or chainsaws.

When a project is completed, the grantee is expected to submit a short follow-up report with a description  of the the project, including photos in digital format, and information about how the funds were spent. Our Projects page will give descriptions of the projects.

Application and decision process

We usually make decisions in March, June, September, and December on proposals received by the first of those months.

Each grant application will under go a two stage review. The first stage will evaluate the project on the criteria above and will provisionally accept, suggest changes, or reject the project. The second stage verifies the documentation of the organization's tax-exempt status, insurance coverage, and other legal/procedural matters.

The initial review will evaluate the the merits of the application, considering the following criteria:

If the application is provisionally approved on initial review, we will then request documentation to enable The Pittsburgh Foundation to actually make the grant. The additional information may include

The Trail Volunteer Fund is a donor-advised fund of The Pittsburgh Foundation. The Fund reviews the grants approximately every quarter to decide on the donor advice to The Pittsburgh Foundation, which then makes the formal awards.

Application materials

Instructions for submitting grant applications for initial are on the grant application page.


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