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Funding Trail Projects with the Recreational Trails Program and Other Sources

Moderated by Rich Cook, IMBA Development Director

Additional Presenters:

  • Moses Mondary, Federal Grants Manager, New Mexico State Parks
  • Simon Dunne, Global Advocacy Director, Specialized Bicycles
  • Tom Sauret, Southeast Regional Director, IMBA
  • Patrick Kell, Southwest Regional Director, IMBA

Federal Agency, bicycle industry, and IMBA representatives talked about changes in the Recreational Trails Program (RTP), the RTP grant process, industry funding, and community foundation grants that you can tap into to fund your trail projects.

Rich Cook began the session with an overview of RTP and general fundraising best practices.

Scroll to the bottom of this page to download a presentation about RTP (PDF file).

Moses Mondary then gave an overview of the legislative changes in RTP from the bill passed this summer. He also drew on his experience as the State Trails Administrator in New Mexico to help the audience better understand the RTP:

  • The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) administers the RTP program and allots block grants to each state. Each state has an administrator, and has their own regulations for administering the funds.
  • To be eligible for RTP funding in New Mexico (and many other states), your trail project must first be approved by the land manager.
  • Become familiar with your state’s SCORP (State Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan), which justifies state and federal expenditures for outdoor recreation acquisition and development projects.

Tom Sauret, IMBA Region Director for the southeast/IMBA-SORBA, has a vast amount of experience securing and administering RTP grant funding. He offered the following advice for writing a successful grant proposal and how to manage an RTP project after funding has been awarded. His tips included:

  • Meet with and build a relationship with your state RTP administrator. Don’t know who that is? Check out the FHWA website.
  • Be aware that FHWA RTP grants are a reimbursement program, and you must front the funds for the project and will be reimbursement after the final inspection.
  • RTP funds are an 80/20 match. You must secure 20% of the funding from a source outside of the RTP grant. Volunteer labor can be counted as a part of your match.
  • RTP funds may be used for infrastructure, education, tools, and trails.

Simon Dunne then offered guidance to the group around engaging the bicycle industry in local trail projects. He encouraged chapters and clubs to explore the Specialized Dealer Grant Program and gave this advice on making a successful financial ask of the industry.

  • To make a successful ask one must understand the industry’s goal to increase ridership and thus increase sales. One must also be aware of any specific corporate initiatives such as the Specialized First Gear program to get kids on bikes and then frame their project to help achieve these goals.
  • If you have an industry partner on a trail project be sure to get their name into any media coverage of the project. Post on Facebook, Twitter and send in a community piece to your local paper and make sure Specialized sees it.

Patrick Kell, IMBA Region Director for the southwest, wrapped up the session with a discussion about working with community foundations. Community Foundations are pools of money that local philanthropists put together to aid non-profit organizations. Not aware of any community foundations in your area? Find one here.

  • Do your research before you approach any Foundation. See what they have previously funded. Then schedule a meeting before submitting a grant proposal. Both the Foundation and your organization should feel good about the project you are asking them to fund before the proposal is ever submitted.

The IMBA World Summit received generous title sponsorship from the Federal Highway Administration & the Bikes Belong Coalition.
RTP Dek.pdf2.46 MB