Citizen Action

Citac, Union Square Garden

Keeping the Grassroots Green

For more than 20 years, OSI’s Citizen Action Program has provided a home for a broad range of environmental projects started by concerned citizens who want to make their world a better place.

Do you need help getting project started? Do you have an idea and seed money but need help with administrative capacity? Are you involved with a small start-up that wants to become more established? Would you like to receive tax deductible donations but do not have 501(c)(3) status?

The Citizen Action Program can provide you with the necessary support to help you navigate the legal and financial aspects of your project, attract more donors, and make your work more effective. OSI helps community groups manage money, track donors and meet IRS requirements.


Fiscal Sponsorship is a financial and legal system by which a legally recognized 501(c)(3) nonprofit (such as OSI) provides limited financial and legal oversight for a prokect initiated independently by a group. That project might be a one-time project or an on-going project that does not have its own 501(c)(3) status. Once sponsored in this way, the the project is eligible to solicit and receive grants and tax-deductible contributions that are normally available only to 501(c)(3) organizations.


Through the Citizen Action Program, the Open Space Institute (OSI) provides administrative support to grassroots community groups whose programs and activities are aligned with OSI’s central mission to protect scenic, natural and historic landscapes. We assist environmental groups who:

  • protect natural habitats
  • make cities more livable
  • enhance local communities
  • promote environmental sustainability
  • provide environmental education
  • connect people with the land


Charitable Contributions

All Citizen Action projects are fiscally sponsored by the Open Space Institute, Inc., based in New York City. OSI is a nonprofit public charity exempt from federal income tax under Sections 501(c)(3) and 509(a)(1) of the Internal Revenue Code. All contributions accepted by OSI for the purposes of Citizen Action Projects are tax-deductible to the fullest extent of the law. A copy of OSI’s latest financial report may be obtained by writing to OSI.



As a member of OSI’s Citizen Action Program, your group will become an official project of OSI. As your project sponsor, we help groups to:

  • Handle  your public and private grants and contracts, monitor reporting requirements, and facilitate payments;
  • Administer project finances, including cash receipts and cash disbursements;
  • Provide quarterly financial statements so you can stay up-to-date on the economic status of your group;
  • Include your project activities in OSI’s annual audit and Form 990 informational filing;
  • Provide employment, payroll and benefit services, including all required payroll reporting and IRS filings (Forms 1099, W-9, I-9, W-4, etc.) to any paid project staff;
  • Provide sales tax exemption form and bulk rate postal permit in New York state, saving you money that can be better spent in direct program services.


The Citizen Action program is open to groups that: 

  • Have a mission and project goals that complement or further OSI’s own mission and programs (e.g. land conservation/preservation; food systems/small-scale farming; public parks);
  • Have a leadership team;
  • Have a fundraising plan;
  • Projects take place in the Greater NYC area, Hudson Valley or other areas in which OSI has a programmatic presence (see Places We Work dropdown menu on the left).

If you are interested in the Citizen Action Program, the first step is to contact or call, (212) 290-8200 ext. 307. Be prepared to talk about your project, its programs and its finances.

Groups that pass the initial eligibility screen will be invited to submit an application, available here.

Applications submitted without invitation will not be considered. All applications are subject to review by the staff and Trustees of OSI. Applications are considered by the Trustees at regularly scheduled quarterly meetings. There is a $250 non-refundable application fee. You can send a check or make the payment online.