Citizen Science Competitive Funding Program

A group of volunteers with clipboards sits in a boulder field between snow-capped mountains with coniferous trees.
2018 Awardee: Front Range Pika Project volunteers learn to conduct field research on American Pika in the the Rocky Mountains of Colorado.

The CitSci Fund

The Citizen Science Competitive Funding Program (CitSci Fund) is a competitive funding opportunity for Forest Service units and partners to apply for up to $25,000 for citizen science projects. 

The USDA Forest Service is responsible for managing national forests and grasslands in a way that delivers benefits to the public, strengthens communities, and sustains healthy ecosystems. In 2018, the agency piloted the CitSci Fund to promote collaboration in support of these goals. Together, partners, volunteers, and the Forest Service are using the data gathered to shape how we manage forests and conserve resources. Due to its success, the program will continue for a third year in 2020.

The CitSci Fund is a collaborative approach to resource management – each project will have one Forest Service Project Lead and one Partner Project Lead, and demonstrate how volunteers are meaningfully involved. The CitSci Fund supports Forest Service National Priority #3: Promoting shared stewardship by increasing partnerships and volunteerism.

The project incubator model is designed to nurture projects at different levels of development through coaching, training, and shared learning. Projects can enter the incubator at any  level and then apply for the next level during the following year of funding. Projects that successfully complete Level 3, are considered “model projects” that could be replicated on other Forest Service units.

The incubator has three levels of funding for projects in every stage of development:

  • Level 1: Project Ideation - up to $10,000
  • Level 2: Project Development and Implementation - up to $25,000
  • Level 3: Ongoing Project - up to $10,000


CitSci Fund Awardees 

2019 Awardees

2018 Awardees


Request for Proposals

The application for the 2020 funding cycle is planned to open in early October 2019 with a webinar taking place in late September 2019. Subscribe to our mailing list for updates

  • CitSci Fund webinar recording - Includes results from 2018, proposal information for 2019, and tutorial of the online form. Note: the dates in the presentation will be incorrect since these have been updated after the partial government shutdown.
  • For questions, email:
  • 2017 Citizen Science Act (Sec. 402 of the American Innovation and Competitiveness Act)


Our Goals

  • Expand capacity for the collection and analysis of data to advance science and land management.
  • Provide opportunities for meaningful participation by the public in agency activities.
  • Strengthen partnerships to address mutually beneficial outcomes and leverage resources.
  • Share learning by participating in communities of practice.


Project Criteria

  • Open to all USFS & partners
  • Each project must have a USFS Partner Lead and a Partner Project Lead with a partnership agreement ready to be put into place upon receipt of award
  • Have a genuine scientific and/or management outcome
  • Take place on national forest system lands or data used to meet an USFS Information need
  • Demonstrate meaningful volunteer engagement/collaboration
  • Can be on any subject area (biological, social, cultural, infrastructure, etc.)
  • Duration of 6 months or longer, involving volunteers multiple times over the course of the project (for funding levels 2 and 3)


Changes from 2018

  • This year’s base funding amount has increased from $100,000 to $200,000.
  • Change from a fillable pdf form to an online form.
  • The partner’s DUNS number is required for this year or it needs to be clear that they will receive a number prior to May 15, 2019.
  • Volunteer hours can be counted towards partner contribution. See the Budget section of the Instructions for more information.
  • The Forest Service must identify a grants & agreements/partnership specialist to help with the partnership agreement, and a budget person to help with funds transfer.
  • Pilot project incubator model with three levels of funding that support projects in every stage of development.


    Frequently Asked Questions



    Project Criteria and Eligibility


    Funding and Partnership Agreements


    Proposal Submission


    Project Selection