This program has now concluded. Learn more about our current work in supporting Parks of the Future here.

Sometimes the smallest grant can make the largest difference. The National Park Foundation (NPF)’s Impact Grant program was designed to help parks in need of a small amount of additional funding – up to $25,000 – to transform innovative ideas into successful programs or partnerships that address critical needs.

Grantee projects ranged from overhauling infrastructure in Washington, D.C. community gardens to conserving historic paintings in Iowa and developing bi-lingual podcasts and distance learning programs in Florida. NPF’s Impact Grants program helped bring inventive ideas to life through targeted financial support.

Program Highlights

View over the water at the jagged shore of Pictured Rocks

Protecting Native American Artisanship

NPF’s support of Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore enabled the park to engage a professional Anishinabe Native American birch bark canoe builder to give weekend demonstrations so visitors can learn about this traditional tribal craft. The canoe built in the demonstration will also be used to share with students visiting and learning about the park throughout the school year.

Park entry signage at Wupatki National Monument

Research & Restoration at Wupatki

An NPF Impact Grant supported the Little Colorado River Restoration and Community Stewardship program at Wupatki National Monument in their efforts to restore riparian habitats and genetic connectivity between important biological hotspots that promote regional biodiversity. It also increased community awareness of critical ecological issues around the park.

Youth Trail Work Volunteers

Service-Learning in Grand Canyon

NPF’s support provided training for college students participating in service-learning projects while on college breaks, helping the National Park Service expand its nationwide volunteer program. 54 students performed 658 volunteer hours removing wood from Grand Canyon National Park and attended training sessions on service and advocacy projects, diversity and social justice, and other topics.

Starry night sky

Preserving the Night Sky

A 2012 NPF Impact Grant helped reduce light pollution inside Redwood National and State Parks by retrofitting existing lights. The project also enabled park staff to work with two local school districts to promote best lighting practices and train local teens in video documentary creation, producing short, educational videos promoting dark sky values.

Toad

Restoring Rare Wetlands

NPF’s support helped remove invasive species of plants and sow seeds for native species cultivation in the rare wetlands within Great Smoky Mountains National Park. This helped support a critical habitat for diverse native plants and animals, including bears, bobcats, birds, amphibians, and fish, while also improving water quality along the Raven Fork and Oconaluftee Rivers.

Glacier National Park

Leave No Trace in Glacier

An NPF Impact Grant supported the Flathead Wild & Scenic River Corridor Stewardship project in Glacier National Park, providing the proper, wildlife-safe equipment for visitors to store food and reduce their own footprint while visiting their park. This helped improve resource health, protected visitors’ health and safety, and taught river users Leave No Trace principles.

Big Meadows in Shenandoah National Park

Webcams at Shenandoah

With the help of an NPF Impact Grant, Shenandoah National Park upgraded its live webcam system covering the Big Meadows section of the park. The webcam provides visitors with real-time weather information, air quality data for scientists to study and analyze, and opportunities for remote wildlife viewing and virtual park visits. 

A paved road in Zion National Park

Green Fleet Bicycles in Zion

NPF’s support of the Zion National Park Green Fleet Bicycle project encouraged using bicycles for short trips within and outside the park, as well as healthy activity among Zion employees, partners, and volunteers. By reducing vehicle emissions and the demand for additional employee vehicle parking, the air quality and level of water runoff in the park improved.

Bats huddled on the ceiling of a cave

Studying White-Nose Syndrome

With the help of NPF, Mammoth Cave National Park and the University of Kentucky were able to study the effects of White-Nose Syndrome on the cave ecosystem. The grant funded the first year of this joint project studying how bat populations and their insect prey respond to the arrival of White-Nose Syndrome at the park, as well as helping visitors understand bats and their role within the park ecosystem.

Boy studying lichens in Arches National Park

Field Trip in a Box

With the help of an NPF Impact Grant, Arches National Park created a “Field Trip in a Box” kit for local teachers. Educational guides and materials assist teachers in leading their own field trips to the park without the need of National Park Service staff. Three “field trip boxes” were created, based around park themes, state core curriculum, and frequently requested topics, including microorganisms of the desert, desert plant and animal adaptations, and geologic processes.

Turret Arch and the Windows at Arches National Park

Reducing Erosion & Increasing Accessibility

To increase wheelchair accessibility in Canyonlands and Arches National Parks, an NPF Impact Grant funded the construction of erosion control structures on park trails. The funding supported the necessary expertise in guiding design and construction of the structure. The results created an elevated causeway that is firm, stable, and suitable for wheelchair use – improving access to routes to beaches, camping facilities, trails, and more.

Students capturing a bark rubbing

HAVENS at Hagerman

In August 2010, the Long Butte wildfire burned more than 75% of Hagerman Fossil Beds National Monument, resulting in low quality habitats in the area. Using an NPF Impact Grant, the HAVENS project was created to restore areas of habitat in the park. Local students planted seedlings, studied plant and wildlife diversity, and cultivated the burn site, learning about key ecological principles and the importance of conservation.

A cabin sits in a valley in Grand Teton National Park

Green Roof Study

An NPF Impact Grant funded a study on green roofing alternatives for historically sod structures in Grand Teton National Park, partnering with the University of Pennsylvania to design and install green roofs on historic sod cabins in the park. The roofing system involved grass, “geofabrics” to prevent water infiltration, and “data loggers” to detect water infiltration through the roof.

Mountains at dusk on the Blue Ridge Parkway

Oral Histories in Blue Ridge Parkway

With the help of an NPF Impact Grant, Blue Ridge Parkway conducted an oral histories project, interviewing people who had either a personal or employment,connection to the parkway over the course of its creation and existence. The project fully documented eight interviews, including stories from individuals who worked with the CCC in the 1940s building some of the first sections of the parkway.