Applying for a STEP Grant

A STEP grant allows you to help maintain the trails in your area. Find out how to apply today.

Below is everything you need to know to about the requirements to apply for a STEP grant and ensure your application is complete.

First, make sure your project is eligible. Projects will be funded based on community involvement and sustainability. The following guidelines are also helpful:

  • Projects may include, but are not limited to:
    • Trail maintenance, construction and relocation.
      • Projects for improving existing trails to address design and/or erosion issues or enhance safety will receive priority. 
    • Educational programs, including Tread Lightly! and Leave No Trace training.
      • Programs targeting youth will receive priority.  
  • Must be located on public land and accessible to the public.
    • Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service, National Forest Service, local and state government land. 
    • Individually owned land or private ranches that are open to public riding. 
      • Individual groups and/or private land owners who wish to apply must have a 501c3 status. Grants for exclusive-use trails or facilities will not be considered for funding.
  • Rental of tools and heavy equipment are eligible for funding. Tool purchases and installment of electricity are not eligible.

Once you’ve determined your project is eligible, applications must be received by AQHA on or before August 1 each year. To apply, simply fill out the online application and submit the following documents:

  • Project budget detailing cost breakdown and clearly outlining how the STEP grant would be used, including any matching funds or in-kind services you may receive from an agency, landowner, club or other partner.
  • Written project approval letter from the land manager or owner that specifies length of time for public access with a minimum of 20 years. Projects that do not submit the written approval letter will not be considered for funding. By submitting an approval letter, the land manager or owner agrees to reimburse the original grant amount if public access is removed prior to the length of access time submitted in the letter.

Ready to apply? Submit your application and required documents by August 1 of each year. Applications received after August 1 and/or incomplete applications, including lack of required documents, will not be considered for funding. 

If your project receives funding, a full summary of the project, including cost, volunteer hours, donated items and monetary contributions, is due by August 1 of the following year. Additional requirements are:

  • Copies of any media coverage of the project.
  • Photos documenting the project.
  • Letter from land owner/manager confirming completion of the project.

All submissions become the property of American Quarter Horse Association and may be used for publicity and/or shared with STEP partnering organizations.