Sparking Change Toronto Microgrants Q&A
Here are answers to some general questions your group may have about the Sparking Change microgrants.
There are a few other ways to talk to us if you have any questions about logistics, planning, and eligibility:
- Drop in to our weekly Wednesday and Friday Zoom rooms anytime from 12-1 pm EST starting March 10 and ending March 31 (no registration required).
- Attend our Sparking Change info session/grant writing workshop on Thursday March 30 at 6pm. Sign up here.
- Book a 15-30 minute coaching call on Calendly.
Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
1. Who is eligible for this grant?
The Sparking Change microgrant is designed to support community groups, such as park friends groups, community groups, community associations, neighbourhood groups, local community agencies, artists and other collectives, etc, to activate their local parks and greenspaces and bring community members together. The specific event or activities you choose to host is up to you. After all, your group knows your community best!
We will give priority to applications from active and newly forming groups in Toronto’s Neighbourhood Improvement Areas or Emerging Neighbourhoods. We prioritize BIPOC and equity-deserving communities in our application process.
Your group doesn’t need to be a non-profit or need a trustee to apply. Please note: Private businesses, individuals and governments at any levels are not eligible to apply.
We are unable to offer the grant to individuals living in the same household, even if those individuals are part of different groups.
2. What is the grant application process and how are decisions made?
You can apply for a Sparking Change microgrant on Survey Monkey Apply here. Submissions are due on Wednesday, April 12th at 11:59 PM local time. You will need to create an account on Survey Monkey Apply which will allow you to come back to your application at any time before you submit it.
Be sure to save your Sparking Change application while you are writing by creating a login on their website. Please review the Survey Monkey application guide.
If you are not able to access the application online, please email us at email@example.com. On the email subject line, please include the name of your group and Sparking Change microgrant application.
- Decisions will be made by a team of reviewers composed of Park People staff.
- We will prioritize submissions that meet the following criteria:
- Equity-deserving and/or groups from NIA communities.
- Groups that host activities with minimal environmental impact, including a zero-waste approach.
- Groups that engage community members who experience barriers to accessing outdoor parks programming. We prioritize groups that demonstrate a commitment to inclusive, barrier-free activities
Starting this year, we have a low-barrier option to apply for a $1000 microgrant. If you are a newly formed park group or a grassroots initiative that does not have experience planning events, we strongly suggest we recommend you email firstname.lastname@example.org to set up a phone call.
3. Where can I find a PDF of the application questions to read before I prepare my application?
You can find the PDF of the application here. Do not forget to submit your application on Survey Monkey Apply. Review the application guide for help with Survey Monkey. If you need assistance with this, please contact email@example.com
We highly recommend reading these strong answers from previous microgrant applications.
4. What counts as a park or green space?
Park People defines parks and green spaces as spaces readily accessible to the public. Examples of parks or green spaces include city parks, social housing properties, school grounds and other urban green spaces that are publicly accessible.
Private property or green spaces that are not open to the public are not eligible for the grant. If you have questions about your park or green space, please get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org to confirm eligibility.
5. How do I adapt my events to the current health restrictions?
Your safety and your community’s safety are a top priority. Check out the City of Toronto’s COVID-19 webpage, it contains the most up-to-date information relevant to your local context including current information on the number of people permitted at an outdoor event. Here are some additional guidelines to help promote safety during park activities and events.
6. What kind of events will the microgrants support?
All events must be free and open to all, and in-person events must take place on publicly accessible land.
Events must take place between May 29th and November 30, 2023.
- Events can be a combination of in-person and virtual events. Virtual events should focus on connecting, celebrating, or championing parks or green spaces as places for health, well-being, inclusive placemaking and fostering a connection with nature.
- Your event can be new or existing park programming. If it’s an event you’ve already hosted in the past, that’s fine.
7. How do I ensure my event is inclusive?
An event that is free and open to the public does not necessarily make it inclusive. Here are some measures past grant recipients have adopted to make their park events inclusive:
- Conduct outreach beyond social media by engaging community leaders, schools, local newspapers, and language centers, etc.
- Translate promotions into the most widely spoken languages in your community.
- Partner with a community organization that can offer participants free access to computers and wifi.
- Ensure the event is accessible to those with mobility devices and/or service animals
- Serve vegetarian or vegan options and exclude food with common allergens
- Offer portable toilets if the park doesn’t have toilets
- Use gender-neutral language in your material promotion and presentations
- Ask for the preferred pronouns of your participants
- Use closed captions for a virtual event
- Assure the participation of a sign language interpreter
- Host your event in a wheelchair-accessible park.
- Verify that the park is easily accessible by public transportation.
- For further reading, see our resource on the accessibility of Canadian parks and some perspectives on reframing our understanding of disability.
8. Can you provide examples of in-person or online events and activities that have been funded through the microgrant in the past?
Some events and activities that we’ve supported in the past include:
- Meditative, interpretive and/or historic walks,
- Art-based activities such as sketching or drawing, photography, storytelling, African drumming circle,
- Play-based activities such as scavenger hunts or nature bingos, dominoes/yoga in the park, cycling events, and Games Nights,
- Cultural events such as Indigenous day celebrations, Diwali celebrations, and religious celebrations,
- Stewardship activities such as weekly community garden activity and cooking classes, native plant garden harvest festival,
- Citizen science engagement activities, clean-up events, Butt Blitz, Zero-waste picnic and Book, Toys & Clothing Swaps,
- A series of smaller outdoor events such as weekly yoga/tai chi session, weekly walking steps challenge, and fitness challenge.
9. How many attendees should we aim to engage at our events?
For in-person events, we suggest you aim for 20 attendees. If your event has less than 25 people, you don’t need a permit from the City of Toronto.
10. Can we target our events to specific communities or groups?
You are welcome to focus your event theme or outreach efforts on specific communities as long as the event remains accessible to everyone.
11. Do we need a permit to host our in-person events?
If your event has fewer than 25 participants, you do not need a City of Toronto permit.
If your group plans an event for more than 25 people and you would like to gather at a specific location in a park, you will need to get a one-time booking permit. Please note that the City will only issue one permit per park per day.
In order to secure a City of Toronto Permit, you will need to be a non profit organization or partner with a non-profit that has appropriate insurance to meet the City’s requirements. Please ensure you leave enough time for booking a permit, as applications take up to 8 weeks to be secured.
For more information on City permits, contact David Craig in the City’s Client Services department at David.Craig@toronto.ca or 416-338-3294 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. We also recommend you let your City Councillor and park supervisor know about your plans to host a park activity in your community.
The application form should take about 30 minutes to complete once your group has planned out your events.
You can view a PDF of the application questions here.
12. How much time will the application process take? What information do you ask for?
The application form should take about 30 minutes to complete once your group has planned out your events. You can view a PDF of the application questions here.
13. We have previously received a Sparking Change microgrant. Are we eligible to apply this year?
Yes. However, we would like to support as many new community groups as possible, so in cases of comparable applications, preference will be given to applicants who have not previously received a microgrant. If your group did receive a previous Sparking Change microgrant, we will be looking for new ideas and events that differ from those that were previously funded.
14. If we don’t have non-profit status, do we need to find a group with non-profit status to be our sponsor?
No. You do not need non-profit or charitable status to apply. Informal grassroots groups are welcome to apply.
15. What do you mean by Neighbourhood Improvement Areas or “equity-deserving communities”?
The Sparking Change program aims to help address barriers to accessing parks and address difficulties around using parks and green spaces for diverse communities. This includes communities that have had less access to services (education, health, economic, social programs, etc.) and where there are significantly greater rates of poverty, lower-income rates, and/or larger newcomer populations.
When applying for this microgrant, we ask that your group consider who is in the park or green space and who is not there, comparing that to the make-up of your own community. How can your group work respectfully and collaboratively with community members to understand the barriers they might face and how better to overcome them?
If you identify as part of a group that experiences barriers to park engagement, we invite you to apply and share with us how this microgrant would be supportive to you and your community. Please feel free to email us with any questions or comments.
16. What do you mean by “Neighbourhood Improvement Area” or “Emerging Neighbourhood”?
These are designations provided by the City of Toronto’s “Toronto Strong Neighbourhood Strategy (TSNS) 2020” which supports healthy communities across Toronto by partnering with residents, community agencies and businesses to invest in people, services, programs and facilities in 31 identified Neighbourhood Improvement Areas (NIAs) and 8 Emerging Neighbourhoods.
If you identify as part of a group that is located in a NIA or Emerging Neighbourhood, we invite you to apply and share with us how this grant would be supportive to you and your community.
If you are not sure if your group falls within one of these areas, please check out the Neighbourhood Improvement Area Profiles to learn more, or email us at email@example.com
17. If our group is located outside of a Neighbourhood Improvement Area or Emerging Neighbourhood, can we still apply for the microgrant?
Yes! However, this grant prioritizes those in neighbourhood improvement areas, emerging neighbourhoods, and equity-deserving communities.
If you are not sure if this applies to your group, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
18. Can we use the funds for transportation to the organized event, for example bus tickets?
19. How many microgrants will be awarded?
7 applications across the city of Toronto will be awarded with a $2,500 grant. If your group would like to access a smaller amount of funding, please contact us at email@example.com or 647-417-7250 ext 103.
20. Can I combine this funding with funding from other sources, including other Park People grants?
Yes! Money received from this grant can be combined with other sources of funding.
21. Is $2,500 the amount per activity or the amount of the grant in total?
If successful, you will receive $2500 in total. This amount will need to be spread across all of the events your group chooses to host, if you choose to host more than one.
22. If our grant application is successful when will we receive the grant money?
Cheques for the events will be mailed to successful applicants no later than June.
23. What expenses would the grant cover?
Examples of expenses the grant covers include marketing materials (printing posters and flyers), honoraria for volunteers, TTC tokens, protective personal equipment, event equipment, permit costs and insurance (if applicable).
To stay up to date about other funding opportunities, sign up for The Park People newsletter or join the Park People Network by contacting us at firstname.lastname@example.org .