In 2012, the Sustainable Forestry and African American Land Retention Program was initiated by the U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities and the USDA's Forest Service and Natural Resource Conservation Service agencies. Three community-based pilot projects were begun in three states: North Carolina, South Carolina, and Alabama. Following four years of operation, Forest Service scientists at the agency's Southern Research Station studied the pilots to identify lessons for success. This was in contrast to prior research that had described the problem and made recommendations, but had not analyzed what worked well. The scientists conducted qualitative interviews with 33 individuals associated with the projects, including African American landowners, natural resource professionals from state and federal agencies, cooperative extension agencies, and forest industry professionals. The scientists identified processes to enhance awareness and education about forestry, to address ownership issues and heirs’ property, to improve participation in financial assistance programs, and to increase returns from timber harvesting. The study also identified a ten-step process for gradually increasing landowners’ engagement with sustainable forest management.