After record interest in the first-round of Michigan Spark Grants funding, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources will reopen grant applications starting today, May 1, with up to $23 million available for public recreation improvement projects in areas most affected by COVID-19. To boost grant access for those in greatest need, the DNR also announced a partnership that will connect identified “opportunity communities” with funding and the support of Michigan’s philanthropic network.
Earlier this year, the DNR awarded $14.2 million in first-round funding to 21 communities. A great start, but interest in the Michigan Spark Grants program far exceeded the department’s expectations. The DNR accepted over 460 applications requesting more than $280 million.
A new philanthropy-focused partnership through the Council of Michigan Foundations will make Michigan Spark Grants funding available this summer to communities identified as “opportunity communities” – those that traditionally have been under-resourced and under-represented and who lack access to parks and recreation.
This innovative model aligns with federal funding requirements to support communities adversely affected by COVID-19, along with helping to improve and redevelop existing public recreation in communities that historically have experienced barriers to accessing these types of grants.
The DNR’s new partnership is aimed at removing barriers facing these nearly 40 opportunity communities in accessing not only funding, but also the needed supporting services for expanding a community’s ability to successfully manage and implement recreation projects.
Prospective applicants can visit the Michigan Spark Grants webpage to determine their eligibility and best prepare to complete the grant application:
- The final round (nearly $23 million) of Michigan Spark Grants through the DNR (applications due June 26).
- The $27.5 million subset of CMF Michigan Spark Grant funding and additional resources available to opportunity communities (details coming this summer).
How to Apply
Applicants can seek a minimum of $100,000 up to a maximum of $1 million. Applications opening May 1 are due June 26, with award announcements expected in late September. Michigan Spark Grants, administered by the DNR, are available to entities that are legally constituted to provide public recreation, such as:
- Units of government or public authorities.
- Federally designated tribes.
- Regional or statewide organizations that are established with a recreational focus.
- Consortiums of local units of government or public authorities.
Interested applicants are encouraged to visit the Michigan Spark Grants webpage for more on the application process, including a few steps that need to be completed before submitting an application, as well as a helpful webinar that answers a lot of common questions.
Learn more about Michigan Spark Grants and all DNR-administered grants at Michigan.gov/DNRGrants.
John LaMacchia is the League’s director of state & federal affairs. He can be reached at [email protected] or 517-908-0303.