Seal of Dane County County of Dane
Dane County Parks

Friends of Dane County Parks Grant Program

Scenic view of blue skies and a prairie blooming with wildflowers

The Friends Grant Program was created in the 2020 County Budget and provides matching funds to Friends groups and other nonprofit organizations to implement capital improvements on Dane County parkland. Grants will fund up to 75% of the total project costs and can range from $3,000 - $18,750. All grants must be matched 25% with cash. 

The 2022 grant period opened January 4, 2022 and had an initial review on February 21, 2022. Applications are still being accepted and will be reviewed as they are received. Grants will be awarded on a rolling basis through 2022 as funding allows.


To apply for a grant, an entity must:

  • Have 501c3 status
  • Abide by all county rules, polices, and guidelines
  • Have previously worked with Dane County Parks

Grants will be awarded for capital projects on county parkland. Capital improvements are generally defined as permanent changes that have a life expectancy of at least ten years. Projects must be far along in the planning process and meet the following minimum eligibility requirements to be considered for funding:

  • Total project cost may not exceed $25,000 for projects that involve construction or paving
  • Project or concept must be identified in a master plan, if applicable
  • Projects must be pre-approved by Dane County Park staff
  • Organization must have the capacity to manage and implement the project on their own
  • Only one (1) grant application can be submitted per organization/park property per year. Previously awarded Friends Capital Improvement Grants must be closed before another application is accepted.

Examples of eligible projects include, but are not limited to:

  • Trail construction
  • Habitat restoration and perennial plantings
  • Signage (interpretive, kiosk panels)
  • Tree planting
  • Food systems
  • Storage structures (storage structures cannot become buildings)

Grants will NOT be awarded for the following projects:

  • Buildings or other construction projects that exceed $25,000 in total cost, which must be bid out through the County
  • Projects that the organization can’t manage and implement directly
  • Plans or studies, brochures or printed materials
  • Projects on private lands
  • Vehicles, trailers, equipment or hand tools
  • Memorial bench installation
  • Are for private use or benefit
  • Acquisition of land or easements
  • Other projects may be deemed ineligible upon review

$100,000 is available for the program. The standard grant amount will be up to 75% of the project costs with a maximum grant award of $18,750 and a minimum grant award of $3,000. All grants must be matched with cash.

Eligible expenses for projects include construction materials and contracted services. Donations of cash and grants from private foundations, state or federal grants are acceptable match. In-kind services are NOT accepted as match, such as donated labor, materials, supplies or discounts from vendors.

Complete the application (PDF) and return it to Staff will review the applications and recommend projects to the Dane County Park Commission for consideration. The review and approval process may take a few months.

If you have questions, contact:
Joleen Stinson
Parks Director
(608) 422-0657