The Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) is accepting applications for the Recreational Trails Program - Education Grants with a final due date/deadline of February 1, 2018.

RTP Education Grant Guidelines

Through the federally-funded Recreational Trails Program (RTP), a state may elect to set aside 5% of its apportionment to be allocated to educational projects which benefit all trail user groups.  This year, the Massachusetts Recreational Trail Advisory Board (MARTAB) has elected to set aside RTP funds for projects which fall within the federal and state requirements for use of education funds.

Applicants are encouraged to apply for Trail Education grants with a maximum federal reimbursement total of $8,000 - $10,000 and will have approximately 24 months to complete their project after the award contract is signed.  The project must provide trail user education to both non-motorized and motorized trail users, satisfying the diverse use requirements of the Recreational Trails Program. Grants must be beneficial to and welcome the statewide trails community, rather than be specific to a particular property or region.  Examples include:

  • Training Workshops on sustainable trail design, construction, maintenance, operation and assessment with a particular focus on promoting safety or environmental protection related to recreational trails.
  • Statewide Programs that develop or support trail planning, design, construction, maintenance, operation, and assessment with a particular focus on safety and environmental protection related to recreational trails.

Typical education projects may include:

  • Develop and operate statewide trail-related environmental education programs.
  • Develop and operate statewide trail safety education programs.
  • Develop and provide training on trail accessibility and sustainability
  • Develop and deliver training that promotes safety or environmental protection related to recreational trails. This includes training related to trail planning, design, construction, maintenance, operation, and assessment, because each of these steps can relate directly to safety and environmental protection. Note: this does not include training related to club or organizational development or grant-writing skills.
  • Youth Corps – projects that accomplish any of the above by hiring/enlisting/partnering with youth organizations, corps or individual volunteers are highly encouraged!  Please note that if the project proposes to utilize youth corps to accomplish a region/community-specific trails project, then the application would be more appropriately submitted to the general Recreational Trails Program grants as a “trail project”, not as an educational program.  

Examples of Education Projects:

MARTAB's Trails Workshop Series Agenda: Fall 2009  pdf format of MARTAB's Trails Workshop Series Agenda: Fall 2009

DCR Trails School Agenda  pdf format of DCR Trails School Agenda

Project Selection Criteria

To evaluate and select proposals, DCR and the Massachusetts Recreational Trails Advisory Board will use the following criteria to assess whether the proposal:

  • Provides a positive impact to the statewide trail system in Massachusetts
  • Promotes safety and/or environmental protection related to recreational trails.
  • Clearly demonstrates the need for education relating to recreational trails
  • Includes supporting documentation/research which demonstrates the potential effectiveness of the initiative in meeting the need with an outcome that will be beneficial to the trails community. 
  • Describes a realistic, tangible project that can be accomplished in the time given, and has a realistic and appropriate budget.
  • Provides education which reaches out to the statewide trail community and all trail user groups.
  • Thoroughly considers relevant environmental, social and cultural issues and assists in minimizing or mitigating impacts to natural and cultural resources.  
  • Creates partnerships among trail users, organizations, or agencies


1. Timeline:  FOUR (4) unbound copies of your application (see list of application materials on the right sidebar of this page), including all supporting materials, must be submitted  If the full grant is also available in electronic form (including maps and pictures), then four hardcopies can be sent in with one electronic copy.  All grant funds must be expended and grant-funded work completed within 24 months after the contract start date (which will be signed after the grant award is announced). No grant work may begin until the grant contract and agreement has been finalized/signed.  An award letter is not a signed contract.

2. Eligibility: All state, regional, municipal, and some federal government agencies, as well as IRS-approved non-profit organizations are eligible for grants under the program. State and federal agencies should call for additional details on eligibility.

3. Permitting: It is the applicant’s responsibility to ensure that any necessary permits (e.g. Natural Heritage, Mass Historic, Wetlands Protection Act) are in place prior to beginning any work on the project. Failure to obtain necessary permits may prevent grant payment.  Permits are not required to be in place at the time of application.   

4. Match: The project application must include estimates for the matching portion of the project cost. The match must cover a minimum (greater amounts are encouraged) of 20% of the total value of a project. For example, an $8,000 grant funding request would require at least $2,000 in matching contributions, for a total project value of $10,000 (80% of $10k = $8k, 20% of $10k = $2k).  If your project is selected for a grant, the match will need to be documented with invoices, time sheets, or other acceptable records. The actual, documented value of the match must equal at least 20% of the total project value before the final grant payment can be made and the grant closed out.   If submitting multiple reimbursement requests throughout the grant contract period, each individual request must include a match of 20% of that reimbursement request.

5. Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Program and Assurances of Non-Discrimination:  The requirements at 49 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 26: Participation by Disadvantaged Business Enterprises in Department of Transportation Financial Assistance Programs apply to all RTP grants as do the Federal Highway Administration Assurances for Title VI and Other Non-discrimination Statutes and Regulations.  Upon grant award, compliance with these regulations and completion of their subsequent documentation will be required by each grantee, under the instruction and assistance of the RTP Coordinator, before any reimbursement of funds is authorized. 

6. Upon grant award, all grantees must review and sign the Massachusetts RTP Grant Agreement pdf format of RTP Grant Agreement
This does not need to be signed and submitted with the application materials.  However, it is advised that all applicants review this agreement before submitting proposals, to become familiar with the responsibilities and requirements associated with the grant program. 

Guidelines for “in-kind” match contributions:


  • Money from other grants and donations
  • Municipal, agency, or organizational funds
  • Donations of money, labor or materials

Not allowed:

  • In-kind volunteer labor, staff time/labor and in-kind use of equipment
  • Contributions that occurred prior to notification of the grant award
  • Matching contributions applied to any other grant


For more information about the program or its requirements please contact:

Amanda Lewis

Recreational Trails Program Coordinator

136 Damon Road

Northampton, MA 01060
(413) 586-8706 ext. 19