Application window set to open for new Spark grants; $65M available for Michigan park projects

What’s happening: The application window for the new Michigan Spark Grants program is set to open on Monday, Oct. 24. The $65 million grant program is intended to help Michigan municipal governments and public authorities fund the creation, renovation, and redevelopment of their local parks. The Spark grants are being administered by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

Background: The Michigan Spark Grants were first announced in March 2022 with Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s signing of the Building Michigan Together Plan, a nearly $5 billion investment in the state’s infrastructure. The plan touches on everything from housing to high-speed internet, with $450 million invested in Michigan parks — $65 million of which is being reserved for the Spark grants.

What it is: The Spark grants will be awarded at a minimum of $100,000 and a maximum of $1 million. Those communities deemed lacking in public recreation opportunities with a higher proportion of households struggling financially and residents with physical and mental disabilities will be given funding priority. The grants can be used to create, renovate, or redevelop parks on public land.

How to apply: The application window for Round One of funding ($15 million) will open Monday, Oct. 24, and close Monday, Dec. 19. An informational webinar is scheduled for Friday, Oct. 28. Round Two ($25 million) is expected to open in spring 2023 and Round Three ($25 million) is expected to open in summer 2023. The Michigan DNR is recommending applicants verify their SIGMA numbers, obtain their federal UEIs, and register with the MiGrants platform ahead of the application window opening in order to be best prepared for the start of Round One.

The Michigan DNR has set up a website with a complete breakdown of the relevant information and requirements to apply, which is available HERE.

Why it’s important: "People’s need for nearby, welcoming outdoor places where they could safely spread out and stretch out during the COVID pandemic shined a very bright light on the tremendous value of parks, trails and green spaces everywhere in Michigan,” Ron Olson, Chief of the DNR Parks and Recreation Division, said at the time of the announcement this past March. “Unfortunately, the ability to invest in these recreation resources hasn’t always kept up with the demand and essential infrastructure needs and today’s record investment will help close that gap.”

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