Neighborhood to the River Application Process and Guidelines

The Neighborhood to the River application process includes a pre-application phase. If your pre-application is approved, the Grant Coordinator will invite you to complete a full application. Learn more about how and when to apply for a Neighborhood to the River grant on this page.
On this page

How to Apply

The application process includes a pre-application phase and an application phase. Potential applicants must submit a pre-application form that describes the proposed project and how it meets the program requirements. The program uses the pre-application as the primary basis to determine funding eligibility and to provide feedback on how the proposal can best meet Neighborhood to the River goals.

If your pre-application is approved, the Grant Coordinator will invite you to submit a full application. Applicants who do not receive an invitation to submit a full application will also be notified.

Application Timeline

Pre-applications for grants are accepted at any time of year.

Pre-Application Guidelines

In the pre-application, please briefly describe your project and how it meets the grant selection criteria.

You will also need to identify the fiscal agent for your project and the property owner. Please discuss your project with them. Be aware that letters of support from the property owner and fiscal agent are required with the full application.

Find the pre-application form and instructions on the Apply for a Neighborhood to the River Grant page.

Upon receiving your pre-application, the Grant Coordinator will notify you that your submission is under review.

Full Application Guidelines

After the Grant Coordinator notifies you that your pre-application was approved, you should begin completing the full application. Please contact the Grant Coordinator with any questions about fiscal agents, property owners, or letters of support.

After receiving all the required materials, the Grant Coordinator will notify you to confirm the application package is complete and ready for assessment. After the Grant Coordinator has notified you that you've been awarded the grant, the processing of the contract/agreement can take several months.

Full Application Documentation

In addition to the application form, you will need to submit the following documents with your full application.

  • Map – Attach a map (PortlandMaps is a useful reference) with the project site clearly marked. Submit a site plan, if applicable.
  • Photos – Include two or three photos of your project area, if applicable.
  • Letters of support – All projects require a letter of support from:
    • The fiscal agent. This is someone within your organization or a partner organization who can handle the money and liability and worker's comp insurance.
    • The property owner(s). To determine the property owner of a parcel of land, look up the parcel on PortlandMaps.

Additional Letters of Support

If your project is at a Portland public school, park, or in the right-of-way, you will need an additional letter(s) of support from representative(s) of those organizations.

  • Portland Public School projects require letters of support from both the school principal and the school district's point of contact. Contact Aaron Presberg, Portland Public Schools, (503) 916-3279, For projects at other schools please ask the Grant Coordinator for the district point of contact.
  • Parks or natural area projects require letters of support from Portland Parks & Recreation. Contact Maija Spencer, (503) 823-5593, at least three to four weeks in advance of submitting your application.
  • Transportation-related stormwater and landscaping projects in the right-of-way such as landscape or planting strips, green streets, and traffic circles or triangles also require letters of support. Contact Ivy Dunlap, (503) 823-7754,

Additional letters of support are recommended if partners are contributing substantial or critical resources to your project.

Preparing to Do Business with the City

It is important to be prepared for what you will need if chosen to receive funding. The City of Portland has policies in place that require partnering organizations to:

  • Have a business bank account. This is required to allow for payment. Neighborhood to the River cannot write checks to personal accounts. Project costs are reimbursed after the work is done, not in time to pay invoices. You can submit paid invoices for reimbursement throughout the project schedule and do not have to wait until project completion.
  • Provide insurance documentation. Neighborhood to the River will confirm that the work performed for grant projects is properly protected. Exact insurance requirements may vary. Contact the Grant Coordinator if you have questions about meeting this requirement.
  • Have the financial capability to make project-related purchases upfront and provide invoices and receipts for reimbursement. It can take up to 30 days after invoices are submitted to receive reimbursement.
  • Be responsible for any, federal, state, or local taxes and fees applicable to their receipt of funding through the program. Federal law requires the City of Portland to report payments under the Neighborhood to the River program to the Internal Revenue Services on Form 1099. Please speak to your tax advisor about the reporting requirements for your tax return.

If your organization or group is unable to meet one or more of these requirements, the Grant Coordinator may be able to help you connect to a fiscal agent to fulfill these components.

Fiscal Agents

Fiscal Agents help growing organizations with the administrative and financial side of a grant.

Does my group need a Fiscal Agent?

Your organization will need a fiscal agent if any of the requirements in the section above on doing business with the City are not available. If you are unsure if you meet the requirements, talk to the Grant Coordinator, and they will help you determine the best route for your organization and may have ideas regarding fiscal agents.

Who can be a Fiscal Agent?

Any organization that has a business bank account, insurance (general liability, workers' compensation, automobile), and the ability to make purchases upfront, with the understanding that reimbursement will come 30 days after the City receives an invoice.

What does a fiscal agent do?

The fiscal agent for a Neighborhood to the River project will participate in the initial contracting process by:

  • Reviewing and acknowledging the grant agreement, which describes the roles of the fiscal agent and grantee.
  • Providing or coordinating insurance documents.
  • Setting up direct deposit for reimbursement.
  • Signing the contract itself.

The fiscal agent will pay for project expenses upfront and be responsible for saving receipts, tracking expenses, and sending invoices to the Grant Coordinator for reimbursement. Note: You can submit invoices for reimbursement throughout the project. You do not need to spend the full grant amount before getting reimbursed.

The exact division of tasks between the grantee and fiscal agent should be agreed upon after reviewing the grant agreement and acknowledging a mutual understanding of each other's responsibilities.

Do Fiscal Agents receive compensation?

Some organizations are willing to act as fiscal agents for smaller groups at no charge. Other organizations charge a percentage of the award to cover administrative costs. Be clear about your arrangements from the beginning, and factor this into your budget.


Partners help you get your project done. They provide materials and services, help find volunteers, offer special knowledge and advice, and help you reach out to other groups and communities. Partners also benefit from being a part of the project. They learn about watershed health, develop skills, and create lasting relationships in your community. Contact the Grant Coordinator for a list of potential partners.

Budget Guidance

A budget template is provided in the application. Add additional lines if you don't find your budget item. The Grant Coordinator can help with estimating costs and figuring out what items might be needed for your project.