South Mountain Partnership Mini-Grants

The South Mountain Partnership’s Mini-Grant Program is intended to catalyze on-the-ground projects that further the goals of the Partnership, and to advance the capacity of partners to complete projects throughout the region. The Program provides funding, on a competitive basis, to projects that sustain the South Mountain landscape’s sense of place by protecting and promoting the region’s Landscape Resources.

The South Mountain Partnership Mini-Grant Program was developed in 2009 and is administered by the Appalachian Trail Conservancy. Financial support is provided by the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources through the Environmental Stewardship Fund. To date, more than $500,000 in grants have been awarded through 69 grants, with more than $1 million in matching funds leveraged by the grantees – a return of more than double.

Photo Credit: Amanda Chrisman

Current Funding Round

Applications for the 2024 are open! Pre-applications are due April 30th, 2024.

In 2024, Applications will be accepted digitally. Please note, we have made some updates to our application process and timing.

  1. First, download the Mini-Grant Packet to learn about the program, eligibility, and FAQs.
  2. When you are ready, submit your pre-application through Google Forms.

Final Application – If invited to do so, a final application must be submitted by the last Friday of June. The final application will be available online for those invited to apply. You must also download and submit a project budget. Our required excel format will be available.

Funding for the South Mountain Partnership’s Mini-Grant Program is provided by a grant from the Community Conservation Partnerships Program, Environmental Stewardship Fund, under the administration of the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Bureau of Recreation and Conservation. The Application Trail Conservancy administers the Mini-Grant Program on behalf of the South Mountain Partnership.

Acknowledgement of Assistance

Grantees are required to acknowledge funding assistance in all phases of the project that are applicable. South Mountain Partnership must be provided with seven (7) days to review the language and design layout before finalizing.

This requirement applies to any product of the grant, including:

  • Publications, signs, materials, and project-related websites
  • Project sites, including properties and facilities, including any portion of them acquired, rehabilitated, or developed with assistance from the grant. These projects require erecting a permanent sign and maintenance of the sign for at least five (5) years.

Statement of Assistance:

Copy text below:

This project was financed in part by a grant from the Community Conservation Partnerships Program, Environmental Stewardship Fund, under the administration of the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Bureau of Recreation and Conservation. The grant was awarded through the South Mountain Partnership, with management oversight of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy.

We are a partner of the South Mountain Partnership, an alliance of organizations working to preserve and enhance the cultural and natural assets of the South Mountain Landscape in Central Pennsylvania. To learn more about the Partnership, please visit

(Direct Download)

Helpful reminders:

  1. The South Mountain Partnership logo be at least 2 inches wide on the finished product.
  2. The PA DCNR and the ATC logos must also be included; these should be at least 1.5 inches wide on the finished product.
  3. Include the Acknowledgement of Assistance text provided below; text must be at least 10 pt on the finished product.
  4. Place all of these together in a prominent place; see examples below.
  5. Download logos.

Close-out Documentation

Mini-Grant recipients are required to submit the following three (3) close-out documents. We will use these documents to celebrate and promote your successes! After successfully submitting the items, a formal letter acknowledging close-out of the Mini-Grant will be issued by the South Mountain Partnership to you.

Project Close Out Form

Captures the financial details of the grant project. Note for processing the financial form: Total Cash Costs are comprised of (Professional Services + In-House Professional + Direct Cash Costs). Please note we are transitioning forms and either are acceptable but you only need to fill out ONE.

Mini-Grant Accomplishment Report & Appendix

This form helps us to better understand the challenges encountered by you, celebrate your successes, and better meet the need needs of Mini-Grant recipients. This must include documentation of how you fulfilled the Acknowledgement of Assistance in Article XVII of your grant contract.

Success Story

 Use the text written for the South Mountain Mini-Grant Program Accomplishment Report to fill in the short Success Story template. Add photos and any other additional information needed.

Past Mini-Grants

The Appalachian Trail Conservancy has administered a Mini-Grant Program on behalf of the South Mountain Partnership since 2009. The projects that have received funding through this program are briefly described below within each funding round.

Learn more about the Mini-Grant program through an interactive story map created by the Center for Land Use and Sustainability at Shippensburg University.

2022 Funding Round

No posts

2021 Funding Round

No posts

2020 Funding Round

No posts

Frequently Asked Questions

Municipalities, municipal agencies, counties, academic institutions and authorized non-profit organizations are all eligible applicants. Authorized organizations must be both tax-exempt under Section 501(c) 3 of the Internal Revenue Code and registered with the PA Department of State Bureau of Charitable Organizations.

The typical schedule is as follows: Pre-Application – Pre-application opens on the first Monday of April. Pre-applications are due on the last Friday of May. Final Application – If invited to do so, a final application must be submitted by the last Friday of July. Notification – Applicants will be notified of the status of their application in October.

Applicants may submit proposals that range in size from a minimum of $2,500 to a maximum of $15,000. At the discretion of the review committee, projects exceeding $15,000 and up to $25,000 may be considered for projects that have demonstrable regional impact and integrate across multiple priority areas.

All projects must be within Cumberland, Adams, Franklin, or York County and have significant ties to the assets of South Mountain, the working lands that surround the mountain, and/or the communities tied to both. Multi-year funding is not considered within this program; awarded grants close out at the end of the calendar year following the year in which the grant is awarded. For instance, projects funded as part of the 2016 grant cycle must close out by December 31, 2017.

For a description of past projects funded by the South Mountain Partnership Mini-Grant program, see “Past Mini-Grants.”

The Mini-Grant program is intended to be project-specific. We anticipate receiving applications for concrete, defined projects that have clear objectives, outcomes and deliverables. The Mini-Grant program is not intended to support organizational capacity efforts (printing membership brochures or promotional brochures for instance, or to facilitate fundraising efforts for the organization) nor provide general operating support for organizations.

Applications are considered across the following criteria:

  • Detailed and Complete Project Narrative
  • Complete Budget
  • Alignment with Partnership
    • Advances the Partnership’s Mission and Goals
    • Partner Collaboration
    • Integration
  • Connection to Partnership Activity and/or Outcomes
  • Project Evaluation & Project Sustainability

A nexus project is a project that integrates across two or more of the Landscape Resources (natural, cultural, agricultural, and recreational) that the Partnership prioritizes in its work throughout the region. Nexus projects have positive, demonstrable impact on not just one specific resource but on multiple ones; such projects are prioritized within the Mini-Grant Program.

A small committee of Partnership partners representing diverse interests and geographies review and rank the proposals. Participation in the committee is on a voluntary basis, and the committee membership changes yearly; partners serving on the committee in any given year may not apply for funding in that year’s Mini-Grant funding round.

Contact South Mountain Partnership Director Katie Hess or Lead Mike Eschenmann for more information on the Mini-Grant program. We strongly encourage all organizations considering applying to this program to contact us to discuss the proposed project.

Yes. A 1:1 match is required. That is, the Mini-Grant request may not exceed 50% of the total project cost (including cash and in-kind contributions).

Your cash match should be available when you list this match on your grant application, although we do consider applications that have pending match. Your grant application must include a support letter from the partner organization(s) that notes the agreed upon donation amount or value.

Yes. Non-cash match can include donated materials, professional time, volunteer time, donated land value, and services conducted in-house for which the grantee organization does not receive compensation.

The Mini-Grant Program is administered by the Appalachian Trail Conservancy. The original source of funding is the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources’ Community Conservation Partnership Program, Environmental Stewardship Fund.

No. The Mini-Grant program is funded through a DCNR funding source, and you cannot match DCNR funds to DCNR funds.

Terms can vary, but generally you would get between 50 and 90% of the amount up front with the remaining amount to be dispersed when the project is closed out. ATC will hold a minimum of 10% of the grant amount until all grant close-out documents have been received.

Mini-Grant funds originally come from the PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources as part of the Environmental Stewardship Fund Program. ATC is the grant administrator but requires recipients to comply with the standard DCNR terms and conditions. To view an example of a past agreement, including the terms and conditions, click here.