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Michigan Spark Grants

About the program

It’s a milestone moment for outdoor recreation in Michigan: a $65 million grant program to help local communities across the state who want to create, renovate or redevelop public outdoor opportunities for residents and visitors – especially those communities adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Administered by the DNR, Michigan Spark Grants will support projects that provide safe, accessible, public recreation facilities and spaces to improve people’s health, introduce new recreation experiences, build on existing park infrastructure and make it easier for people to enjoy the outdoors.

This grant opportunity is possible because of the Building Michigan Together Plan, signed in March 2022, which included the single-largest investment, ever, in our state and local parks. Eligible applicants must be local units of government or public authorities legally designated to provide public recreation, or regional or statewide organizations of such entities working together.

Program details – including application timeline and reporting requirements – are being defined right now, but the information we do know is available below. Applications will launch later this year; once announced, applicants will have up to eight weeks to apply. All projects must be completed by Dec. 31, 2026.

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Program goals

  • Leverage federal, state, local and private resources toward a sustainable public recreation development program.
  • Provide a clear, simple and equitable grants distribution process in support of public outdoor recreation.
  • Align project partners and community organizations so resources are maximized and roles and responsibilities are clearly outlined and balanced.

Available funding

A total of $65 million of coronavirus state and local fiscal recovery funds was made available through Public Act 53 of 2022. Individual grant amounts – ranging from a minimum of $100,000 to a maximum of $1 million – will be distributed in three rounds:

  • Round one: $15 million by the end of 2022.
  • Round two: $25 million in the spring of 2023.
  • Round three: $25 million in the summer of 2023.

Eligible applicants

  • Applicants must be local units of government or public authorities legally established to provide public recreation.
  • Applicants may include a regional or statewide organization or consortium of local units of government or public authorities legally established to provide public recreation.
  • An eligible financial match is encouraged but not required.
  • A community planning process is encouraged but not required.

Eligible projects

  • Projects must support and enhance neighborhood features that promote improved health and safety outcomes or address the increased repair or maintenance needs to respond to significantly greater use of public facilities in local communities across the state that have been adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Projects may include the development, renovation or redevelopment of public recreation facilities, and the provision of recreation-focused equipment and programs at public recreation spaces.
  • Funds may be expended for activities such as, but not limited to, project review, planning, architecture and engineering services, construction, oversight and compliance activities associated with state and federal requirements, as applicable.
  • Projects must be completed by Dec. 31, 2026, on public land with the primary purpose of providing outdoor recreation.

Application scoring criteria

Applications that address existing park infrastructure will be given priority. Consideration also will be given to applications that complete critical trail projects or provide access to new opportunities that currently don’t exist within a local community.

Scoring categories include:

  • Clarity of scope and ability to execute
  • Financial and social considerations
  • Public benefit and anticipated outcomes
  • Renovation and future maintenance
  • Impacts to urban and rural population
  • Access to new opportunities for people of all abilities
  • Access to natural resources

Funding authority

Contact

If you’re not finding answers to your questions on this webpage, please email DNR-Grants@Michigan.gov for assistance.