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Citizen Science Competitive Funding Program

A group of volunteers with clipboards sits in a boulder field between snow-capped mountains with coniferous trees. The CitSci Fund

The USDA Forest Service delivers world-class science, technology, and land management to sustain the Nation's forests and grasslands in collaboration with communities and our partners. In 2017, the agency launched the Citizen Science Competitive Funding Program (CitSci Fund) to support innovative projects that address science and resource management information needs while connecting people to the land and one another. Together, partners, volunteers, and the Forest Service are using the data and information gathered to shape the management of forests and conservation of resources.



  • Expand and strengthen the practice of citizen science in agency programs.
  • Advance science and resource management through sound citizen science project design.
  • Stimulate partnerships that address mutually beneficial outcomes, expand capacity, and leverage expertise and resources.
  • Provide opportunities for meaningful engagement by the public in agency activities.
  • Offer opportunities for peer-to-peer learning for agency and partners.


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 competition is open to all Forest Service units along with their partners. All recipients participate in a learning cohort intended to accelerate learning and success of projects.

The project incubator model is uniquely designed to nurture projects in different phases of development through coaching, training, and shared learning. Projects can enter the incubator at any Phase and then apply for the consecutive Phase during the next eligible funding cycle. Projects that successfully complete Phase 3, are considered “model projects” that could be replicated on other Forest Service units. Over the course of the incubator, projects are eligible to receive up to $60,000 over the course of 6 years.

The incubator has three phases of funding for projects in every stage of maturity:

  • Phase 1: Ideation and Design - up to $10,000
  • Phase 2: Implementation - up to $30,000
  • Phase 3: Ongoing Implementation and Knowledge Transfer - up to $20,000


CitSci Fund Awardees 

2020 Awardees

2019 Awardees

2018 Awardees


Request for Proposals

Update 11/20/20 - The 2021 request for proposals is canceled.  We intend to return with a request for proposals in the fall of 2021 for fiscal year 2022. Please subscribe to our mailing list for updates.


The 2017 Citizen Science Act (Sec. 402 of the American Innovation and Competitiveness Act), grants federal science agencies the direct, explicit authority to use crowdsourcing and citizen science and encourages it's appropriate use to facilitate broader public participation in the innovation process.


Project Criteria

  • Open to all Forest Service & 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
  • Meet a Forest Service information need
  • Demonstrate meaningful volunteer engagement/collaboration
  • Can be on any subject area (biological, social, cultural, infrastructure, etc.)
  • Duration of one year or longer, involving volunteers multiple times over the course of the project (for funding Phases 2 and 3)


Frequently Asked Questions



Project Criteria and Eligibility


Funding and Partnership Agreements


Proposal Submission


Project Selection