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John Z. Duling Grant Program


Note:  Due to the similarity of the Jack Kimmel International Grant and John Z. Duling Grant, TREE Fund requests that applicants submit to only one of these programs per unique project and funding cycle.  Related but unique projects submitted across programs may be considered within a given funding cycle.  If identical proposals/projects are submitted to both funding programs within one funding cycle, neither will be considered for review.


The John Z. Duling Grant Program was established and funded by a bequest from the estate of John Z. Duling of Indiana, a strong advocate of research who in 1972 proposed the establishment of the ISA Research Trust. The goal of this program is to provide start up or seed funding to support innovative research and technology transfer projects that have the potential of benefiting the everyday work of arborists. Duling grants may be used to support exploratory work in its early stages on untested, but potentially transformative, research ideas and approaches. Examples may include application of new approaches to research questions, or application of new expertise such as involving novel disciplinary or interdisciplinary  perspectives. TREE Fund requires a match of at least 10% cash or in-kind.  Projects are expected to be completed within one to three years with a maximum grant award of $25,000.  No project may receive more than one award from this program.  No university or institutional overhead expenses may be funded by this grant.



Application Process

Applications are due October 1 and will only be accepted through the online application form.


Applicants will need the following to complete the online application:

  • Project’s purpose, significance, design and goals
  • Itemized project budget
  • Information on funds pending or received from other sources (A match of at least 10% is required and may be made in cash, labor costs, in-kind contributions or other material and sub-contract expenses)



Priority Areas

The TREE Fund research priority areas are derived from the Revised National Research and Technology Transfer Agenda for Urban and Community Forestry. Proposals in the following priority areas are more likely to be funded, but all proposals will be considered.


  • Root and soil management: Many urban tree problems originate below ground. Promoting root development, protecting roots from injury and managing conflicts with infrastructure are issues that arborists encounter regularly. Managing roots includes soil management.
  • Propagation, planting and establishment: Methods of ensuring survival and vigorous growth of trees after planting are of concern to arborists and the entire green industry. Increasingly, arborists are dealing with problems that originate in, or could be avoided during the planting process.
  • Plant health care: Healthy plants have more effective defense systems and are better able to resist pests. Complete understanding of plant health may lead to new pest control strategies.
  • Risk assessment and worker safety: Safety is a major concern in the tree care industry that affects tree workers and the public. Detection of defects, and knowing how they develop, and understanding tree dynamics are all important facets of risk assessment. Similarly, improved equipment and better work practices among arborists are critical needs.
  • Urban forestry: Management of urban trees and forests requires improved understanding of how urban forest ecosystems function, their management, and how they interact with people in communities and at the urban/rural interface.



Criteria for Selection

Recommendations on grant awards will be presented to the TREE Fund Board of Trustees for final approval at or before the Winter Board Meeting and will be announced within 30 days of their decision. Proposals will be evaluated using the following criteria:


  • Potential impact of the topic: Does the project address a problem/issue within the TREE Fund’s mission? Does the project pose a novel research question, propose a novel approach to an existing research question or represent a new area of research for the applicant? Does the project address topics that benefit the everyday work of arborists and urban foresters? Will this project have application to a broad sector of the arboriculture and urban forestry communities? Are there measurable outcomes which will occur as a result of this project?
  • Approach: Are the methodology and proposed analysis appropriate and scientifically sound? Is the project creative,  unique or novel in its approach to the problem? If this is a technology transfer project, is the transfer vehicle/method appropriate for the target audience?
  • Feasibility: Has the investigator demonstrated appropriate qualifications and resources to accomplish the project? Can the project be completed within the given time frame?
  • Budget: Is there a clear explanation of how grant funds will be used in the context of the total project budget? Are additional sources of funding for the project being pursued? Is the potential cost/benefit ratio for this project appropriate?


Applications will be scored on the following scale:

  • Applicant is qualified (0-10)
  • Applicant has experience (0-5)
  • Project has potential to result in transformative research ideas or approaches (0-5)
  • Project directly meets one or all TREE Fund priorities (0-10)
  • Project has clearly stated need (0-10)
  • Project is clearly linked to arboriculture and/or urban forestry (0-5)
  • Research has practical application (0-10)
  • Project design is scientifically sound, methods are clear and analysis is appropriate (0-15)
  • Project is likely to result in peer review publication (0-10)
  • Objectives are achievable within proposed time frame (0-5)
  • Objectives are achievable within proposed budget (0-5)
  • Requested funds have potential to leverage future support from other funding sources (0-5)
  • Requested funds are matched with at least 10% cash or in-kind (0-5)


The TREE Fund does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, creed, gender, sexual orientation, disability or national or ethnic origin. Current trustees of the TREE Fund or any member of the family of any such trustee are ineligible to receive grants from the TREE Fund.



Reporting Requirements and Funds Distribution

Recipients will be notified within 30 days of the Board’s award decision. The award letter will include a Grant Conditions and Agreement Form, which must be signed and returned within 30 days of the award notification date. The recipient will also be asked to upload a brief summary of the project (in layman’s terms) and a photo for use in TREE Fund and industry publications.


Upon the TREE Fund’s receipt of the signed Grant Conditions and Agreement Form and additional required documents, the full amount of the award less $1600 will be sent to the recipient. A final report is due to the TREE Fund within 15 days of the project completion date identified in the application.  Upon review and approval of this final report, a final payment of $1,600 will be made.


The report shall supply sufficient information as described in the Grant Conditions and Agreement Form to verify that the grant is being used for the purposes intended and to allow the TREE Fund to fulfill its public reporting responsibilities. The recipient will also be asked to submit photos of the project with the final report. Templates of the Grant Conditions and Agreement Form and final report may be viewed at


To maximize the value of their work, we ask that recipients inform the TREE Fund when their research findings are published or presented at a conference so we may publicize this accomplishment. We also request that they recognize the support provided by the TREE Fund in their articles or presentations related to the project. An electronic slide and TREE Fund logo can be downloaded at



Proprietary Rights

The TREE Fund reserves the right to negotiate proprietary rights for projects on a per grant basis including copyrights, source codes and/or patents.


Grant Management System provided by WizeHive.

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