Northern Forest Center offers grants to get youth active outdoors

The Northern Forest Center is offering grants of $1,000 to $3,000 to volunteer-led organizations working to increase youth participation in outdoor recreation in Northern Forest Communities. Proposals are due May 1.

“Sometimes a small investment can help increase access to high-quality outdoor recreation areas and programs by lowering costs, providing necessary equipment, and supporting the work of the many volunteer groups that support these assets and programs,” said Joe Fox, outdoor recreation manager for the Center. “By doing so, we hope that many more young people can experience the myriad benefits of getting physical activity and connecting socially in the great outdoors.”

Communities across the region are still responding to the pandemic-inspired increase in outdoor recreation. This grant program is intended to help volunteer-led organizations with that new demand, particularly for local youth, by reducing barriers to participation. 

LL Bean provided funding for the mini-grants program. Grants may be used for projects such as buying tools for trail maintenance, offsetting tuition for volunteer-led summer outdoor programs for youth, providing transportation to recreation locations, and more. Programs that increase participation in outdoor recreational activities, such as skills camps or educational workshops, are also eligible for funding.

“We know there are a lot of amazing volunteer-led outdoor recreation groups working across the Northern Forest and hope these mini grants can help them enrich the lives of people in their communities,” said Fox.

To be eligible, projects must take place in one of the following Maine counties: Aroostook, Franklin, Hancock, Oxford, Penobscot, Piscataquis, Somerset, and Washington.

Volunteer-led non-profits and municipal groups such as town conservation committees in designated counties are eligible for funding. Generally, organizations with paid staff are ineligible for funding through this program. For questions about eligibility, email Fox.

Ideal projects will reduce physical, financial, or social barriers to youth participation in outdoor recreation. Preference will be given to projects that will benefit significantly from the scale of funding available and meet the following criteria:

  • Alignment with program goals 
  • Visible or quantifiable outcomes within six months of award 
  • Clear implementation plan
  • Demonstrated community support

Requests should range between $1,000 and $3,000. The Northern Forest Center anticipates making up to 15 awards. To apply, complete the online form at

Proposals must be received by 5 p.m. on May 1. Center staff will review proposals and may reach out for additional information. Decisions will be announced in early June.

A PDF of the grant guidelines and questions is available at

The Northern Forest Center is a regional innovation and investment partner creating rural vibrancy by connecting people, economy, and the forested landscape.

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