Sparking Change Toronto Grants Program Q&A



1. Who is eligible for this grant?

We invite applications from active resident groups in Toronto’s Neighbourhood Improvement Areas or Emerging Neighbourhoods or those that wish to begin engagement in their park/green space as part of a grassroots community group or non-profits. Examples: park friends groups, community associations, neighbourhood groups, local community agencies, BIPOC organizations. Private businesses and governments are not eligible to apply.

2. What is the grant application process and how are decisions made?

You can apply for Sparking Change Grants by submitting this form. Submissions are due on Sunday, April 3rd, 2022 at 11:59 PM local time. Please note that Park People staff are not available during the weekend so to be sure we answer your questions, reach out as early as possible.

If you require a PDF application form please email us at On the email subject line please include the name of your group and Sparking Change Grant.

Decisions will be made by a team of reviewers composed of Park People staff and will be based on the following criteria:

3. How do I find out more information?

Our team will be available for 15 minutes Q&A calls from March 16th – 18th, 2022.

To schedule a call, please sign up here!

Please note that Park People staff are not available during the weekend and appointments are subject to availability.

If you are unable to schedule a call, please email your questions to Ayesha Talreja and we will be more than happy to answer them. For questions about starting your own park group please check out our “How to Start a Park Group” page on the Park People website.

4. Is the grant for providing funding so groups can apply for programming that they are currently running, a combination of new and old events/initiatives, or all-new events/initiatives?

This grant was created to support community-led groups with animating their local city parks through new or existing park programming. Groups can apply for programming that they are currently running, all-new events/initiatives, or a combination of new and existing events/initiatives.

5. What counts as a park or green space?

Park People defines parks and green spaces as public spaces readily accessible to the public. Examples of parks or green spaces include city parks, social housing property, 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; however, if you have questions about your park or green space, please get in touch with us to confirm eligibility.

6. How do I adapt my events to the current health restrictions?

Your safety and your community’s safety are a priority. Check out the City of Toronto’s COVID-19 webpage and Information on outdoor gatherings. These will contain the most up-to-date information relevant to your local context including current information on the numbers of people permitted at an outdoor event. Once you are familiar with these, here are some additional guidelines to help promote safety during park activities and events.

Remember that your events can be a combination of in-person and virtual events.




7. What are the parameters for these events?

8. How does Park People understand inclusion?

Inclusion is about concrete actions set in place to ensure that people feel welcomed, engaged and reflected in the same physical or digital space, no matter who they are, what they look like, what they believe, what is their gender, their sexual orientation, the language they speak and where they are coming from, even if they don’t use this space the same way others do.

At Park People this means that we believe that parks should be welcoming and inviting for everyone, providing a sense of belonging to all. Parks play a vital role in providing shared spaces for all people. Using parks as a bridge to bring people together and understand each other, seeing yourself and others, not like yourself, reflected and engaged in the environment. Everyone should have access to parks, even if they don’t use the park the same way we do.

9. How to create inclusive events?

Just because an event is free and open to the public is not enough to ensure that it is inclusive. You could also think about other barriers your participants may face to fully enjoy the event.

Here are some examples of measures from our recipients:

For further reading, see our resource on the accessibility of Canadian parks and some perspectives on reframing our understanding of disability.

10. Can you provide examples of in-person or online events and activities that are eligible for this grant?

Examples of simple yet creative events and activities include but are not limited to:

If you want some inspiration, check out our resources! Taking Indoor Programming to the Park, A Walking Program in the Park, Make your park clean up a great community event, Hosting a Games Night.

11. How many attendees should we aim to engage at our events?

Every event will be different. For in-person events, we suggest you aim for 20 attendees if possible, always adhering to current public health guidelines. For virtual events, the sky’s the limit!

12. Can we target our events to specific communities?

You are welcome to focus your event theme or outreach efforts in specific communities as long as the event remains open to everyone.

13. What is a virtual event?

Virtual events can take on many different forms: fully online using a number of platforms such as Zoom or Google Hangouts; or hybrid events where you encourage each other to go outside as individuals and share your experiences via different chat apps such as WhatsApp or using the phone. These are real opportunities to put your creative muscles to work. When an in-person event is not possible, there are still many ways to build a vital connection between people and parks. Check out our webinar and resources: Making Online Environmental Programming Meaningful, Supporting your Community while Physical Distancing, and Ways to Enjoy Nature while Physical Distancing.

14. Do we need a permit to host our in-person events?

As long as you keep your participant numbers under 25, you do not need a City of Toronto permit to host your events. If your group plans an event with 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. For more information on City permits, contact David Craig in the City’s Client Services department at 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.
Hey, really, contact David…he’ll be happy to help and guide you through the process. We’d call him if we were in your place!




15. 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 you’ve planned out your events.
You can view a PDF of the application questions here

16. We have previously received a Sparking Change Micro-Grant. 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 micro-grant. If you did receive a previous Sparking Change Micro Grant, we will be looking for new ideas and events than what was previously funded.

17. When are applications due?

Applications are due April 3rd, 2022, at 11:59 pm local time via online form submission.

18. When will I learn if my application has been successful?

Successful applicants will be notified in early May and payment being made the week of May 16th, 2022.




19. Are small informal groups eligible to receive the grant?

Yes, grassroots community groups and small community-based organizations are eligible. Community groups interested in applying for the grant are not required to have a trustee or have charitable status. In the case of smaller or newly formed groups who do not have event planning experience, we strongly suggest collaborating with a local organization that does. Grassroots community groups representing diverse communities or neighbourhoods are especially encouraged to apply.

20. Are municipalities allowed to apply?

No, municipalities are not eligible to apply for a Sparking Change Micro-Grant. The micro-grant is aimed at grassroots community groups that include, but are not limited to volunteer-based park groups, local agencies, resident associations, and not-for-profit groups active in their local parks. However, partnerships between any or all of the above and a municipality will be accepted, as long as the application is submitted by the group, not the municipality.

21. Are BIA’s allowed to apply?

No. BIA’s are not eligible to apply for the micro-grant at this time. The micro-grant is aimed at grassroots community groups that include, but are not limited to volunteer-based park groups, local agencies, resident associations, and not-for-profit groups active in their local parks. However, partnerships between any or all of the groups and a BIA will be accepted, as long as the application is submitted by the group, not the BIA.

22. 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. However, if you wish to host an event with more than 25 people you will be required to obtain a City of Toronto permit where we suggest you partner with a non-profit organization to support you for insurance purposes.

23. What do you mean by “BIPOC groups” or “equity-seeking groups”?

Sparking Change aims to help address barriers such as lack of awareness or fear of parks and green spaces. When applying for this grant, we ask that you 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 you work respectfully 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 grant would be supportive to you and your community. Feel free to email us with any questions or comments.

24. 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 an NIA or Emerging Neighbourhood, we invite you to apply and share with us how this grant would be supportive to you and your community.

How do I know if my group is in a Neighborhood Improvement Area or Emerging Neighborhood?

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

25. If our group is located outside of a Neighbourhood Improvement Area or Emerging Neighbourhood, can we still apply for the micro-grant?

Only groups based in or working with these areas are eligible to apply. If you are not sure if this applies to your group, please email us at

To keep up to date with changes to the Sparking Change Micro-Grant program or other funding opportunities, sign up for our newsletter or join the Park People Network.




26. Can we use the funds for transportation to the organized event, for example, bus tickets?


27. How many grants will be awarded?

20 grants in total across the City of Toronto.

28. Can I combine this funding with funding from other sources?

Yes! Money received from this grant can be combined with other sources of funding.

29. Is $1500 the amount per activity or the amount of the grant in total?

If successful, you will receive $1500 in total, to be spread across your activities.

30. If our grant application is successful when will we receive the grant money?

Cheques for the events will be mailed to successful applicants in mid-May.

31. What expenses would the grant cover?

If successful, you will receive $1500 in total to be used for your activity (event or initiative). Expenses will vary depending on the needs of your community. Examples of expenses include marketing (printing posters and flyers), honoraria for volunteers (if applicable), TTC tokens, protective personal equipment, event equipment, permit costs and insurance (if applicable). As much as 75% of the budget can be spent on human resources costs.

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