Cover photo for Forest Service Citizen Science Competitive Funding Program

Forest Service Citizen Science Competitive Funding Program

Forest Service,
U.S. Department of Agriculture

Closed December 3, 2019

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



The CitSci Fund supports projects that use citizen science as a collaborative approach to resource management – all proposals must identify a Forest Service Project Lead and a Partner Project Lead and clearly identify how volunteers have been and will be engaged in the project. The outcomes from this program are being used to demonstrate how citizen science can help the Agency deliver mission results including the increased collection and analysis of usable data for resource management. Successful proposals will clearly state the nature of the work to be accomplished and how the proposed partnership and citizen science project will add value in realizing needed work. Projects that are addressing needs or interests identified by the community will be highly competitive. Partners that are providing matching funds above 20% and not reliant on volunteer time as part of these matching funds will be highly competitive. Projects can be on any topic including biological, social, cultural, economic, infrastructure, etc. Projects can take many forms from large-scale data collection using apps, to site-specific longterm research, to classroom curricula that immerse students in monitoring and evaluation. Projects must engage citizen scientists over a continuous period of time – single event projects will not be accepted. For example, a 24 hour bioblitz would not be a competitive project, but a bioblitz that takes place over an entire calendar year would be.


Proposal Evaluation

Two teams of evaluators will review projects in two rounds with some overlap of reviewers. During the round one review each project will be assigned randomly to at least three reviewers who will score the project based on the Evaluation Criteria (See Evaluation Criteria document on program webpage). Two teams of Forest Service evaluators will review projects in two rounds with some overlap of reviewers. During the round one review each project will be assigned randomly to at least three reviewers who will score the project based on the review criteria. These scores are then normalized using Z-scores to remove bias from reviewers. From there, the top projects are determined by seeing where there is a marked drop-off in scores - this will determine the top 20% or so of the proposals. In the round two review, all proposals will be reviewed by the entire team using the same criteria and again normalized using Z-scores. At this point, the top projects that are equal to or less than the amount of funding available are then looked at to take into consideration if they represent geographic, disciplinary, and deputy area diversity. Finalists will then be notified and a call will be scheduled with both project team leads to ensure that they can complete the Commitments and Outcomes as described in the Instructions.


Release Date

October 3, 2019


December 3, 2019

Financial Instrument

Grant, Cost Share

Maximum Award Amount


Updated April 5, 2024

Image Credit: US Forest Service and Erica Prather

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