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CMF/DNR Spark Grants

Grant Announcement

Twenty-nine Michigan communities whose economic opportunities and public health were hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic are benefitting from $24.2 million in Michigan Spark Grants funding to date, which is designed to remove barriers to creating, renovating or redeveloping community-informed public recreation opportunities.

Administered by the Council for Michigan Foundations (CMF) in partnership with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and through the CMF Statewide Equity Fund, the CMF/DNR Spark Grant program partnership was established to equitably guide resources to communities and expand access to healthy indoor and outdoor recreation projects where there has been little or no previous parks and recreation investment. A core component of the partnership, designed and brokered by the Governor’s Office of Foundation Liaison, is centering community voices and engaging a diverse array of community residents in all aspects of the visioning, planning and execution of the parks projects.

“Michigan’s parks drive tourism, jobs and economic activity across our state. I’m proud that our administration has made the largest investments ever in state and local parks. This round of funding will fuel projects that bring people together, build a community’s sense of place, and provide avenues for healthier, more active lifestyles. Let’s keep working together to help more Michiganders discover our beautiful natural resources, relax with family and friends, and enjoy a Pure Michigan summer.” 
- Gov. Gretchen Whitmer

The framework for this new grantmaking model was created with the assistance of an advisory group comprising philanthropic, regional government planning, parks and recreation, and other grantmaking entities with relevant expertise. They helped the DNR design a new approach to a grant program that seeks to remove barriers with an equity-focused application and evaluation process and provide the needed support services to expand community capacity to successfully manage and implement recreation projects.

“In support of our community of philanthropy, CMF is proud to be part of this partnership with DNR that will guide public resources that can increase access to recreational opportunities in historically underrepresented and under-resourced communities throughout the state. We are grateful for the leadership of the many community foundations who served as conveners and are walking alongside their communities, ensuring community voice is centered in developing equitable solutions to enhance healthy recreation opportunities for all residents.” 
- Kyle Caldwell, CMF president and CEO

39 opportunity communities were identified, 29 of which are receiving funding through this CMF/DNR Spark Grants partnership. The remaining communities had already received funding through DNR’s first Spark Grant awards in 2023. Examples of funded projects in this round include: 

  • Development of a new park with a playground and splash pad in Benton Charter Township. 
  • Updates to Wheatley Park’s restroom, baseball field and playground in the City of Inkster. 
  • A new nature trail and park in the City of Standish, making it the first locally owned park in the community’s history.
  • The addition of new baseball fields and pickleball courts in the City of Highland Park.

All projects will now move to the execution phase and will be completed by September 30, 2026.