Michelson Spark Grants

The mission of the Michelson 20MM Foundation is to improve access, affordability, and efficacy in postsecondary education that leads to meaningful careers.

Spark Grants Overview

The vision for the Spark Grants program is to introduce an innovative just-in-time grantmaking process to fill urgent needs for education organizations that are well-aligned with our Key Target Outcomes. We seek to fund highly impactful initiatives that would not be possible if they needed to wait through a traditional grant decision timeline.


In the spirit of acting quickly, grants will be reviewed and awarded on a rolling basis until funds are exhausted. The Spark Grant program will award $100,000 in Phase 1.  


The Spark Grant program is available to United States-based non-profits, institutions, and for-profits (for for-profit organizations we will apply additional scrutiny to mission alignment).


We are committed to reaching a decision on each application within 15 business days.

Grant Evaluation Criteria

Baseline Grant Criteria

  • Grant ask is up to $25,000
  • Grant would cover a specific self-contained milestone focus
  • Accepted types of milestones: inflection points, things that may open up a new foothold with a partner (such as enabling a new partnership with a market leader), new proof of concept
  • Examples of milestone restrictions: general operating expenses (rent, utilities, server costs, etc.), on-going inventory, salaries of team members, general working capital

Key Target Outcomes

  • Increase the number of underserved learners who enroll in postsecondary opportunities.
  • Increase the number of individuals prepared for 21st century careers.
  • Decrease the cost of postsecondary education for all students.
  • Increase students’ college persistence.  
  • Decrease students’ average time to degree completion.
  • Advance nascent digital technologies that are relevant to learning outcomes.

What We're Looking For


Alignment with Key Target Outcomes


Potential Impact of Grant


Measurability of Project Impact


Long-term Organization Sustainability


Scalability of Project

Spark Grants Evaluation

Grant Committee

Phil Kim

Phil Kim


Mayra Lombera

Mayra Lombera

Director, Strategic Initiatives

Ryan Erickson-Kulas

Ryan Erickson-Kulas

Program Officer

Evaluation Steps

  • After an application is submitted the Grant Committee will do an initial application assessment. Within 6 business days you will be notified if your application is moving forward in the process.


  • If you do move forward a follow up call will be scheduled within 6 to 10 business days of application submittal for an in depth discussion of your proposal.
  •  Applicants that do not respond within 48 hours to our request to schedule a follow up call will be determined ineligible for a Spark Grant.


  • You will be notified of the Grant Committee decision within 15 business days of your application submission date.

Evaluation Timing Based on Rolling Applications