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Questions and answers about Michigan Spark Grants
Find answers to frequently asked questions about the Spark Grants program below. If you have additional questions, please contact DNR grants management staff.
For additional information and to apply for the grant, please visit the Michigan Spark Grants webpage.
When can I apply?
First-round applications open Oct. 24, 2022, and are due in MiGrants by 11:59 p.m. Dec. 19, 2022. Second- and third-round application dates will be announced in 2023.
Who is eligible to apply?
Eligible applicants must be legally constituted to provide public recreation and can include:
- Units of government or public authorities.
- Federally designated tribes.
- Regional or statewide organizations.
- Consortiums of local units of government or public authorities.
DNR divisions like the Parks and Recreation Division are NOT eligible for Spark funding.
Can non-governmental entities apply?
Three criteria must be met for a non-government entity to be eligible to apply:
- They must have a regional recreational focus as an entity.
- The underlying land where the project is proposed must be public (federal, state or local government).
- There must be a binding agreement in place with the public land managing entity clearly articulating roles, short and long-term responsibilities, and allowing the applicant to implement a project on their behalf.
Can an eligible entity submit more than one application?
Yes. An eligible entity can submit up to three applications for separate park locations throughout the life of the program. If an entity submits more than one application, they must be prioritized across multiple rounds.
Can a project be awarded a grant in multiple funding rounds?
No. To ensure the greatest range of funding is provided to communities across the state, a single project can only be funded in one round.
If a project is not awarded a grant in the first round, is it eligible to be resubmitted in a subsequent round?
Applicants will have the ability to withdraw, resubmit, or resubmit with changes on any unfunded application between funding rounds.
Can an applicant use a Spark grant to fill the funding gap on another DNR grant?
Spark grants can leverage and match existing Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund or Recreation Passport grants. Spark grants can’t leverage and match pending DNR grant applications (not yet awarded) or existing Land and Water Conservation Fund grants.
What types of projects are eligible?
Projects must support and enhance neighborhood features that promote improved health and safety outcomes or address increased repair or maintenance needs for public facilities that would result in significantly greater use in local communities that have been adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Projects may include:
- Development, renovation or redevelopment of public recreation facilities.
- Provision of recreation-focused equipment and programs in public recreation spaces.
Indoor recreation opportunities ARE eligible.
Land acquisitions ARE NOT eligible.
Studying/planning/designing/engineering-only grants ARE NOT allowed. (An awarded grant will allow for up to 25% to be eligible for planning and design services, but it must be part of an infrastructure-based project.)
How will projects be selected / what are the scoring criteria?
Projects will be competitively scored based on prioritization criteria. The recreational needs that will adequately address the negative impacts of COVID-19 will be left to the community/applicant to define.
What happens if the full grant amount is not used?
Any unused funds will be retained by the DNR.
Are there required status reports and project documentation?
Status and budget reporting will be required quarterly and annually. Milestone reporting will be determined as the application is finalized.
What is the relationship between the Michigan Spark Grants program and the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund?
This is a standalone program dependent on availability of federal funds.
What if a contractor is unable to perform the work by the end of calendar year 2026?
Advance notice of at least 120 days must be made to the DNR if the project is not going to be completed by Oct. 31, 2026.
What documentation is needed to complete the application?
- Site control form and deed or agreement by landowner (site control).
- Resolution by the highest governing body to apply for the funds.
- Site plan of proposed improvements.
- Bid documents and plan specs (if developed at the time of application submittal).
- Permits (if developed at the time of application submittal).
- Additional materials may be required after the application is finalized.