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 an opportunity for Forest Service units and partners to apply for up to $30,000 for collaborative citizen science projects. 

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 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 and partners.

The project incubator model is 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.

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 

2019 Awardees

2018 Awardees


Request for Proposals

Proposal due date extended to December 5, 2019 at 11:59 PM EST.

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)


Changes from 2019

  • Updated goals to better reflect the program.
  • Updated Application and Review Criteria to better meet program goals.
  • Updated Phase descriptions to better meet the intentions of the Incubator.
  • Increase in funding amounts for Phases 2 (from $25k to $30k) and 3 (from $10k to 20k).
  • Base funding remains at $200,000.


    Frequently Asked Questions



    Project Criteria and Eligibility


    Funding and Partnership Agreements


    Proposal Submission


    Project Selection