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Michigan Spark Grants

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Final round recommendations

The final round of recommended Michigan Spark Grant funding was announced July 10, 2024, by the Council of Michigan Foundations, which administered this round in partnership with the DNR.

In all, 29 “opportunity communities” are, to date, sharing $24.2 million for projects that include a new park with playground and splash pad in Benton Charter Township; updates to Wheatley Park’s restroom, baseball field and playground in Inskter; a new nature trail and park in Standish – the first locally owned park in the community’s history; and new baseball fields and pickleball courts in Highland Park.

View final round recommendations »

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Information for grantees

Grant handbook

You got the grant! What’s next? Our grant handbook has all the details to help you successfully manage your project from start to finish.

About the program

Michigan Spark Grants are helping local communities create, renovate and redevelop public recreation opportunities for residents and visitors—especially those communities whose economies and health were hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.

These grants 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 both indoor and outdoor recreation. It’s all made possible because of the Building Michigan Together Plan, signed in March 2022, which included a historic infusion of federal funding in state and local parks.

Addressing community need

The Michigan Spark Grants program is aimed at helping improve and redevelop existing public recreation in communities that have historically experienced barriers to accessing these types of grants. Funding priority was given to areas with a high proportion of households that are struggling financially, a high number of residents with physical and mental disparities, and a lack of public recreation opportunities.

Eligible applicants included local units of government or public authorities legally established to provide public recreation, as well as regional or statewide organizations of same.

Eligible projects

  • Projects must support and enhance neighborhood features that promote improved health and safety outcomes or address the increased repair or maintenance needs in response to significantly greater use of public facilities in local communities 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 used 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 Oct. 31, 2026, on public land with the primary purpose of providing outdoor recreation.

Application scoring criteria

Applications that address existing park infrastructure were given priority. Consideration also was given to applications that complete critical trail projects or provide access to new opportunities that currently don’t exist within a local community. Scoring was based on the following criteria, listed in order of priority:

  • Public benefit and anticipated outcomes
  • Financial and social considerations
  • Access to project site
  • Access to new opportunities for people of all abilities
  • Clarity of scope and ability to execute
  • Renovation and long-term maintenance

Advisory group

Several key collaborators worked with the DNR to provide input on the program’s intent, scoring criteria and application requirements to ensure the stated objectives of the grant program are met. The group also advised on a strategy for the disbursement of funds, though the DNR is ultimately responsible for how and where to leverage this funding. Members represented diverse perspectives including private philanthropy, regional planning, parks and recreation, community foundations, local governments (rural and urban), and federal and state grant programs. Advisory group members are:

  • Kyle Caldwell, Council of Michigan Foundations
  • John Egelhaaf, Region 4 Southwest Planning Commission, Michigan Association of Regions
  • Andrea LaFontaine, Michigan Trails and Greenways Alliance
  • John LaMacchia II, Michigan Municipal League
  • Dan Lord, Michigan Department of Natural Resources
  • Amy Matisoff, Michigan Department of Transportation
  • Clay Summers, Michigan Recreation & Park Association
  • J. J. Tighe, Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation

Awarded 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 $100,000 to $1 million – have been distributed so far:

Funding authority


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