Smart Growth Program & GrantA

2020 Grant Applications and Guidance Now Available

Smart growth is an approach to development that encourages a mix of building types and uses, diverse housing and transportation options, development within existing neighborhoods, and community engagement. The Smart Growth Program offers state and local REALTOR® Associations ways to engage with government officials, community partners and the general public in planning and designing community’s future.

Ten Principles of Smart Growth
Based on the experience of communities around the nation that have used smart growth approaches to create and maintain great neighborhoods, the Smart Growth Network developed a set of ten basic principles:

  1. Mix land uses
  2. Take advantage of compact building design
  3. Create a range of housing opportunities and choices
  4. Create walkable neighborhoods
  5. Foster distinctive, attractive communities with a strong sense of place
  6. Preserve open space, farmland, natural beauty, and critical environmental areas
  7. Strengthen and direct development towards existing communities
  8. Provide a variety of transportation choices
  9. Make development decisions predictable, fair, and cost effective
  10. Encourage community and stakeholder collaboration in development decisions

Questions? Contact Hugh Morris at 202-383-1278.

Smart Growth Action Grant

Smart Growth Action Grants support a wide range of land-use and transportation-related activities. These activities must support REALTOR® engagement in land-use and/or transportation-related community issues with the primary goal of affecting public policies that support development that meets one or more of the 10 Smart Growth Principles. The project should also raise the profile of REALTORS® as community leaders and enhance REALTOR® relationships with local elected officials. There are no program prerequisites to applying for or being awarded a Smart Growth Action Grant.


Grants cannot fund:

  • NAR-sponsored courses except Level 1 grants for the Smart Growth for the 21st Century Class.
  • Activities that will have occurred prior to six weeks after the application deadline.
  • Purchase of capital items (tools, park benches, etc).
  • Donations to other organizations unless there is significant REALTOR® activity associated with the collaborative effort.

Level One


Level 1 Smart Growth Action Grants can be used to host the Smart Growth for the 21st Century Class or other educational activity such as a speaker who can address specific growth issues impacting your community. Level 1 applications are accepted anytime from January 1st through October 15th with decisions announced approximately one week later. Grant funds are eligible for up to $1,500. A maximum of one Level 1 grant is awarded per year per association.

  • Expected Financial Participation by Applicant: As needed to meet all additional costs either by admission fee or association contribution.

Level Two



Level 2 Smart Growth Action Grants provide seed funding to enable a state or local association to make the initial efforts to engage local land-use/transportation policy issues with other stakeholders and elected officials. No donations will be to other organizations unless REALTORS® are substantially engaged in the activity. Using a Level 2 grant is appropriate for sponsoring events.

Level 2 applications are accepted on a rolling basis from January 1 through October 15 with decisions announced approximately two months later. Grant funds are eligible for up to $5,000. A maximum of one Level 2 grant is awarded per year per association.

  • Expected Financial Participation by Applicant: Minimum 10% of requested grant amount.

Level Three – Not available at this time

Based on a review of program goals and resources, Smart Growth Action Grants are now offered at two funding levels.

Can’t Hold Your Event In-Person?  Use a Smart Growth to Host it Online!

Apply for a Smart Growth grant to host an event or online activity that helps position your association as a leader in your community while engaging members by hosting an online or virtual event addressing growth, community planning and development issues.

Grant Application & Program Guidance

Grant Payment to Selected Applicants:

  • All grant awards are paid on a reimbursement basis.
  • Funds are distributed when NAR receives:
    • Proof of expenditure in the form of receipts, signed contracts, or invoices
    • Grant Evaluation Form
    • One or two items resulting from the effort, such as photos, or a plan, a study, news clips and videos.

The Grant Program requires that:

  • Level 2 grants require a minimum of 10% match of the amount requested from NAR by the applicant.
  • Applications may be only submitted by a state or local REALTOR® association.
  • The funds be used within one year of the award or be forfeited back to NAR.
  • You submit evaluation form(s) after your activity is complete. If the evaluation form is not returned, your association will not be eligible to receive another grant.
  • Applications should be submitted by the association AE or with the AE copied to Hugh Morris.

The Grant Program allows that:

  • If your association has previously been awarded a grant you may apply again to support a new activity or further development of an existing activity.
  • Funding requests related to green building and energy efficiency be used to advance public policies that support development of green residential and commercial buildings.
  • Proposals that address housing issues must do so from the point of view of land-use public policy issues (zoning codes, community planning, development issues, etc.) and cannot be used to fund efforts such as housing programs or housing construction.
  • Funding of websites is only permissible if the website is integral to the execution of a land-use policy initiative.