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Michelson Spark Grants

Our Smart Justice Spark Grant funding cycle was open from November 21st to December 7th. We will be announcing awardees in January.

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 advancing or declining an LOI within 1 week of when our call for proposals close. Grants will be awarded within 6 weeks of the call for proposals closing.

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.
  • 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.

Smart Justice Funding Cycle Focus Areas:

  • Programming that supports access to high-wage high-growth employment and career opportunities for formerly incarcerated individuals.
  • Advancing programming that grows the pipeline for college enrollment of individuals who did not pursue higher education while in prison.
  • Multigenerational approaches focused on supporting the family unit of justice impacted students (parents, children, uncle/aunt, cousins, etc.)
  • Bolstering scalable solutions for soon-to-be or recently released individuals to advance digital skills.
  • Elevating the voices of justice-impacted student leaders to build awareness and educate policymakers on specific challenges and needs.

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.

Alignment with focus areas

Lasting organizational sustainability

Measurability of project impact

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 6 weeks 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

Director of Programs and Operations

Kenia Miranda Verdugo

Kenia Miranda Verdugo

Smart Justice Program Manager

Past Spark Grant Recipients

spark grant hero image

Want to Learn More?

The grant committee hosted an informational webinar on November 3rd.