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Michelson Spark Grants

The call for proposals for our Student Basic Needs funding cycle closed on September 13th. We will be announcing awardees in early October. To receive updates on the Spark Grant program, please sign up via the form at the bottom of this page.

Spark Grants is an innovative, just-in-time grantmaking process.

Our vision is to introduce a process that can fill urgent needs for education organizations that are well-aligned with our focus areas. We seek to fund highly impactful initiatives that would not be possible if they needed to wait through a traditional grant decision timeline.

The Spark Advantage

Timing

In the spirit of acting quickly, grants will be reviewed on a rolling basis. 

Eligibility

For this round of funding we have decided to focus our impact on organizations that are doing work in California. Organizations whose work does not impact California will be ineligible for this opportunity.

Velocity

We are committed to reaching a decision on each application within 15 business days of our call for proposals closing.

Spark Grant Awardees

Click the logo to learn more about the work we have funded.

What We’re Looking For

Our vision is to introduce a process that can fill urgent needs for education organizations that are well-aligned with our focus areas.  We seek to fund highly impactful initiatives that would not be possible if they needed to wait through a traditional grant decision timeline.

R

Alignment with focus areas

R

Lasting organizational sustainability

R

Measurability of project impact

Grant Evaluation Criteria

Baseline Grant Criteria

  • Grant ask is up to $25,000.
  • We welcome proposals where Michelson Spark Grant funds are part of a larger overall project with multiple funding streams.
  • We will not be funding initiatives that would result in direct assistance to students during this Michelson Spark Grant round, such as emergency student aid, laptops and hotspots for remote learning, or food and housing vouchers. While we realize there is a tremendous need among students for direct support, at this time we are leveraging our funding to effect broader systemic change.
  • For this cycle of funding we have decided to focus our impact on organizations that are doing work in California. Organizations whose work does not impact California will be ineligible for this opportunity.
  • Preference will be given to grants that cover a specific self-contained milestone focus including inflection points, things that may open up a new foothold with a partner (i.e. enabling a new partnership with a market leader), or a new proof of concept.
  • For this funding cycle we will not be funding general operating expenses such as rent, utilities, server costs, etc.

Student Basic Needs (SBN) Funding Cycle Focus Areas:

  • Innovative efforts that help advance systemic solutions to support disproportionately impacted student populations better meet their basic needs. Efforts should focus on serving one or more of the following student population groups:
      • Current or former foster youth

      • Pregnant or parenting

      • Undocumented

      • Veterans

      • LGBTQIA

      • DACA

    • Efforts that address implementation challenges for the distribution of emergency student aid funding, including better insights on how institutions of higher learning manage and distribute aid dollars and how these dollars impact student retention, persistence and graduation. 
    • Innovative efforts looking to scale solutions that tackle housing insecurity/homelessness among college students.
    • Research on effective implementation of student basic needs centers/coordinators within the California Community College system.
    • Innovative efforts focused on re-enrolling students who stopped out/dropped out during the Covid-19 pandemic due to basic needs challenges. These efforts should be able to scale across institutions and/or higher education systems

    Spark Grants Evaluation Process

    Grant Application is Received

    After LOI is submitted the Grant Committee will do an initial assessment.

    Reject or Move Forward Decision is Made

    Within 6 business days you will be notified if your proposal is moving forward in the process.

    Complete Full Application

    Proposals that advance will be asked to complete a full application.

    Applications Assessed

    Full applications will be assessed and a follow up call will be scheduled with those that advance to the finalist stage.

    Final Decision Made

    You will be notified of the Grant Committee decision within 15 business days of our call for proposals closing.

     
     

    Grant Committee

    Phil Kim

    Phil Kim

    Chief Executive Officer

    Mayra Lombera

    Mayra Lombera

    Chief Operating Officer

    Ryan Erickson-Kulas

    Ryan Erickson-Kulas

    Programs Director

    Miguel Leon

    Miguel Leon

    Program Manager

    Want to Learn More?

    We hosted a webinar on August 11th to provide an overview of the Spark Grant program. It highlighted past awardees and also provided updates regarding our Student Basic Needs round.