FCT Parks and Open Space Florida Forever Program Application Process
The following summarizes the application process. For application resources, including a guide that provides detailed instructions on filling out the application, see the Application Preparation Resources page. FCT staff are available to answer questions you have regarding the completion of the grant application.
Preparing an Application
Well-prepared applications are key to project selection. It is recommended that the applicant recruit an experienced team of professionals or knowledgeable volunteers to assist with preparation of the application. The team should include individuals with experience in comprehensive planning, real estate, historic and natural resource protection, land management and recreation facility development.
Responses to questions may be typed directly on the application form in a "typeover" mode to prevent lines from shifting. Additional pages may be used, if necessary. Do not alter the original language or format of the application form (i.e., section headings, subsection headings and criteria).
Local governments and nonprofit environmental organizations that are tax exempt under section 501(c)(3) of the U.S. Internal Revenue Code are eligible to apply for funding.
For the Parks and Open Space Program, Florida Communities Trust distributes 21 percent of the Florida Forever funds appropriated by the Legislature in a given year. Eligible applicants may submit multiple applications, as long as the combination of awards applied for does not exceed $5 million. Awards requested in a partnership application are divided equally among the partners for the purposes of calculating individual applicant limits.
Counties with populations greater than 75,000 and municipalities with populations greater than 10,000 are required to provide a minimum match of 25 percent of the total project cost. Small counties and cities that are under the above thresholds and eligible nonprofit environmental organizations may apply for a 100 percent grant award.
Eligible Source of Match
Existing or future cash from the applicant.
Cash or funds from a regional, state or federal agency.
Cash from a private donation.
The value of real property owned by the applicant in a qualified pre-acquisition.
The value of real property donated by the landowner in a documented bargain sale or donation agreement.
Identifying a Project Site
A project site is defined as the specific area(s) identified by a boundary map or legal description and certified survey, where Florida Communities Trust funds are proposed to be used for the acquisition of land.
A project site may include noncontiguous areas, so long as connectivity through other public ownership (excluding road rights-of-way and water bodies, unless the parcels are directly across from each other) is demonstrated, and the noncontiguous areas are part of a unified scheme of development and management.
Applicants are encouraged to inventory available properties and determine which sites are most competitive (score the highest) by self-scoring the potential sites.
To minimize the possibility of encountering a prolonged or complicated site acquisition, it is strongly recommended that applicants also take into consideration any serious impediments to a successful real estate closing such as known environmental hazards, an unreasonable number of parcels to be acquired, or an unwilling seller.
Because the state of Florida will have an executory interest in the land, the Florida Communities Trust shall have the right to refuse to deliver funds for closing a site where hazardous materials contamination in the sole view of the Florida Communities Trust presents a liability to the state that outweighs the benefits derived from the acquisition of the site.
All transactions must be voluntarily negotiated sales with a willing seller. The use of condemnation or the threat of condemnation is not considered a voluntarily negotiated transaction. It is important to know that the landowner is at least willing to consider an offer to sell.
Submitting an Application
Four sets of application materials (one original and three copies) should be submitted in 2-inch, 3-ring binders. Set up each binder in the same order as presented in the application (e.g., project information, acquisition plan, project summary, project evaluation criteria and exhibits).
The application must be transmitted (see sample transmittal letter on the Application Preparation Resources page) with an original signature cover letter on local government or nonprofit environmental organization letterhead that binds the applicant to fulfill commitments made in the application and identifies a key contact person. All partners to the application are required to provide an original signature letter including the binding statement.
Prior to making copies of the grant application for submittal, carefully review the original to detect any math errors, missing criteria or missing pages. An Application Completeness Checklist and a Project Self-Score Check Sheet are available on the Application Preparation Resources page to assist applicants in reviewing the completed application prior to submitting it. Upon completion, mail or deliver the four complete sets of application materials to the following by the application deadline:
Mail/carrier service deliveries:
Florida Communities Trust 3900 Commonwealth Blvd., Mail Station 115 Tallahassee, FL 32399-3000
Florida Communities Trust Third Floor, Carr Building 3800 Commonwealth Blvd. Tallahassee, FL 32399
Applications received after the deadline shall not be considered by the Florida Communities Trust.
Following the receipt of the applications, Florida Communities Trust staff will notify applicants of the timely receipt and status of their application.
Applications will be evaluated as they are submitted at the time of the application deadline. No additional information shall be accepted after the application deadline, unless requested by Florida Communities Trust staff for clarification purposes.
Following the application evaluation period, Florida Communities Trust will transmit a written evaluation report to each applicant. The report contains the Florida Communities Trust staff analysis and recommended score for each criterion addressed in the application.
Applicants will have an opportunity to provide written comments to Florida Communities Trust on the evaluation report, for staff consideration. Applicant comments must be submitted to the Florida Communities Trust at least five working days prior to the scheduled project ranking and selection meeting.
Following the application evaluation period, the Florida Communities Trust Governing Board will hold a public meeting to rank and select projects for funding, based on the final evaluation score of each project and actual funds available.
Overdue Stewardship Reports
The Governing Board will not consider any applications submitted by an applicant with an overdue stewardship report. A stewardship report is considered overdue when it has not been received or approved by the Trust within the one-year period immediately preceding the grant application deadline. Applicants may cure the overdue status if the overdue stewardship report is received and approved by the Trust at least 21 days prior to the scheduled Trust Governing Board project selection meeting.
The Florida Department of Environmental Protection is the state’s lead agency for environmental management and stewardship – protecting our air, water and land. The vision of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection is to create strong community partnerships, safeguard Florida’s natural resources and enhance its ecosystems.