Michelson Spark Grants

On November 12th we closed our Student Basic Needs funding cycle. We will be announcing our awardees in the coming weeks. To receive those announcements and updates regarding our 2021 funding cycles please sign up for our Spark Grant email list via the form below.

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 and awarded 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.

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

Long-term organization sustainability

R

Measurability of project impact

Grant Evaluation Criteria

Baseline Grant Criteria

  • Grant ask is up to $25,000
  • The Michelson 20MM Foundation seeks to fund macro level projects that are helping students persist and graduate by helping them meet their basic needs. We are looking to support systems level strategies that create impact at scale and inform public policy. This can include but is not limited to initiatives, partnerships, programs, and models whose outcomes will have a regional effect on student basic needs or whose effect on student basic needs will be seen across systems of higher education.

  • Student basic needs work includes efforts that mitigate the impact of the real cost of college on students, including the non-tuition costs that cause students to face food insecurity, housing insecurity, homelessness or overall financial instability.

  • 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 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.
  • We will also be prioritizing proposals that will have a focused impact on first generation college students and students of color.
  • Preference will be given to grants that cover a specific self-contained milestone focus such as inflection points, things that may open up a new foothold with a partner (i.e. enabling a new partnership with a market leader), new proof of concept.
  • Examples of funding restrictions: general operating expenses (rent, utilities, server costs, etc.), general working capital.

Student Basic Needs Round Focus Areas:

  • Increasing student awareness and access to SNAP benefits and other public social services and resources within systems of higher education.
  • Strengthening efforts within higher education systems that meet the basic needs of college students excluded from receiving CARES funding assistance.
  • Supporting efforts to educate policymakers about student basic needs issues and solutions.
  • Research that addresses glaring gaps in emergency student aid, including how institutions of higher learning manage and distribute aid dollars and how these dollars impact student retention, persistence and graduation. Research can focus on general emergency student aid funds, CARES funding received from the federal government or funding from philanthropic foundations.
  • Providing innovative solutions that target students experiencing homelessness, parenting students, and students in the foster system.
  • Increasing the understanding of an accurate definition of the real cost of college including the impact of non-tuition expenses on students. 

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 your LOI submission date.

Grant Committee

Phil Kim

Phil Kim

President

Mayra Lombera

Mayra Lombera

Vice President of Programs and Operations

Ryan Erickson-Kulas

Ryan Erickson-Kulas

Program Officer

Miguel León

Miguel León

Program Officer

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Want to Learn More?

Download the slide deck or watch this 65 minute informational webinar about our Student Basic Needs round to learn more about the Michelson Spark Grant program.