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Michelson Spark Grants

Our Digital Equity funding cycle will run from Tuesday, February 15th to Tuesday, March 1st. We host a webinar on February 3rd at 10:00 am PT to provide an overview of the Spark Grant program, highlight past awardees, and share updates regarding our Digital Equity cycle.

REGISTER FOR THE WEBINAR

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.
  • 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.
  • We will not be funding initiatives that provide direct assistance to students during this Michelson Spark Grant round (e.g. laptops or hotspots for remote learning). While we realize there is a tremendous need in our communities for this type of direct support, we are leveraging our funding to effect broader systemic change at this time.

Digital Equity Funding Cycle Focus Areas:

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  • Efforts that inform, engage and bring together diverse groups to elevate and take action against industry’s false narrative that improving speeds for ”underserved” communities or building infrastructure in urban areas is “overbuilding.” Said efforts must address the needs of “underserved” communities in California and address the impact that inadequate broadband has in areas that may superficially appear to be served.
  • Efforts that take digital navigator models beyond basic digital literacy (device/internet use) and leverage them to help end users connect to supplemental resources (education, health, workforce) scaled across the state of California
  • Efforts that uplift the experiences of students and their families in navigating digital inequity and highlight the intersectionality of the digital divide to affect systems and or policy change.
  • Landscape analysis/literature review of existing digital inclusion resources for scaling/ translating
  • Efforts that can be taken to scale across the state focused on the points of intersectionality for advancing digital equity and addressing inequities that exist in education, healthcare/public health, and civic engagement

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

Senior Program Manager

Want to Learn More?

We hosted a webinar on November 3rd to provide an overview of the Spark Grant program. It highlighted past awardees and also provided updates regarding our Smart Justice round.