UFI ‘Build the Canopy’ Grants: What you need to know for your application

September 9, 2020

The third round of Urban Forest Initiative ‘Build the Canopy’ grants launched on July 29, 2020. This grant program, created by the Downtown Denver Partnership, the Downtown Denver Business Improvement District, and City and County of Denver, with funding support from private donors, has the goal of building a robust tree canopy downtown. Partial grants are available to property owners in Downtown Denver to be used for expanding tree planting areas and/or installing new tree planting spaces including costs for concrete work, soil remediation, suspended pavement systems, tree planting and installation, and other tree-related work. Here’s what you need to know to prepare your property’s application.

What is the Urban Forest Initiative ‘Build the Canopy’ Grant?

The ‘Build the Canopy’ Grant provides partial funding to property owners within Downtown Denver for tree infrastructure improvements and plantings. Properties may qualify for up to $15,000 per tree area to make these improvements.

How do I qualify for the grant?

To qualify for the grant, you must be the owner or owner representative of a property in Downtown. If your property is in the DDBID, it qualifies automatically. If your property is outside of the DDBID it must fall within the Downtown Area Plan boundary (see map) and provide the same level of tree care that is provided in the DDBID.

Why was the grant created?

An urban forest can provide our city with numerous environmental, economic, and health benefits when it is mature. However, most of Downtown Denver’s tree infrastructure was installed before people actually knew how to plant trees in cities – it is outdated, small, and does not provide a conducive growing environment. Because of this, most of our downtown trees only live 3-8 years and our great city never receives the vast benefits of a mature tree canopy.

Scientific advancements in the urban forestry field have proven that one of the main drivers of tree growth is the amount of available space. When a tree has more space to grow, the roots can expand, and it is more likely for the tree to reach maturity. The grant was launched to assist property owners in providing an appropriate amount of space and soil for their trees. Due to the nature of planting trees in the city, installing planting areas can be costly; the grant helps to offset these costs.

What can the grant funding be used for?

The funding must be used for tree infrastructure installations, retrofits, and plantings. It must be used to enlarge or install at minimum one tree well to a size of 5’x15’, or greater. The more space the project commits to giving a tree, the more funding it is eligible for. Eligible costs include demolition, design, concrete work, materials, irrigation repairs, and other tree-related costs.

The grant encourages property owners to go above and beyond by applying innovative technology such as structural cells and/or installing signs of stewardship like perennials, raised curbs, or protective fences.

How do I know if my property can support better tree infrastructure?

If you are unsure what can be done at your property, contact Amanda Miller (amiller@downtowndenver.com) to schedule a walkthrough.

When is the application due?

The final application is due on November 13th, however, it is strongly encouraged to engage with a landscape architect and submit a draft application by October 9th. This way your application can be vetted by the Partnership and the City for feedback and a more accurate site plan and estimate can be submitted at the final deadline. You can submit your application here.

Please don’t hesitate to reach out to our team if you have questions or want additional information. Thank you for your interest and dedication to helping us build a thriving urban tree canopy in Downtown Denver!