Trail Fund Does Not Take Grants for Granted

19 Feb 2024 8:37 PM | Anonymous

Just as our Red Rock trails come in all shapes and sizes, so does funding for the Sedona Red Rock Trail Fund. We rely on three revenue streams to fund the essential trail work and development: individual donors and supporters, businesses and grants. In the timespan of 2019-2023, 17% of revenue contributions came from grants, and in fiscal year 2023 (ended Sept 30) grant awards totaled $98,800.

Grants – A varied and intricate process   The first step is finding grant opportunities. Some are word of mouth, some are offshoots of other grants we have pursued, and some just come to us. We recently started using a program that scours the grant universe for opportunities that match our mission of “supporting the Red Rock Ranger District in the development and maintenance of local non-motorized trails”. Very few fit this narrow window, so we identify those that are close and tailor our applications accordingly.

Grant applications can be as short as a paragraph or as long as 72 pages with another 471 pages of supporting documentation (not a misprint). Most fill a handful of pages, and they all request the same basic points: What is the project, Why does it matter, How does it support the grantor’s (not our) mission, Who does it serve, and How much does it cost?

Sophia Sweeny, chairman of the SRRTF grants committee, and committee members Amanda Maxwell, Dick Williams and Kevin Adams research, write and track the grants. When we score an award, the funds may come up front or as a reimbursement. Many have specific time frames and performance reporting requirements, so the work isn’t over!

Private, public, local and national grantors support the trails   The trails are a favorite of several local family foundations. Both the Fruhmann and Langston Family Foundations have given for many years, most recently to advance the seasonal work crew training.

The Arizona Community Foundations of both Yavapai County and the Sedona/Verde Valley have supported the trails through their annual grant programs. These are chosen by panels of local citizens that review the merits of many applications. Additionally, REI of Flagstaff supported numerous years of general trail work and Kahtoola, also of Flagstaff, awarded the SRRTF one of their first environmentally focused grants for renovation work on Cathedral Rock Trail.

The State of Arizona operates several different grant programs, mostly administered through their State Parks and partially funded by federal gas tax money. We have used those to access funds for general trail work, signage and environmental education, and most recently their support has enabled us to hire a full-time program director. Nationally, the National Forest Foundation has supported work on several past projects.

Private company foundations can sometimes be a little tricky, but the Athletic Brewing Company recently gave us a nice award to help with the training effort.

The focus and timing of awards vary from year to year, as the grantors change their giving philosophies and budgets. No matter what the grant is, after we hit the “Send” button, we await the decision on pins and needles —a process that can take several months. We are always confident that our project or request is worthy of support, but the volume of worthy applicants has raised grant competition to a keen level. We take nothing for granted.

Each time we get a “Congratulations” letter or award check we whoop for joy!

As you can appreciate, grants take a lot of expertise and effort from our dedicated grants team, but we feel our trails are worth it.

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