What are SPARKS Grants?

The purpose of SPARKS Grants is to organize local grassroots groups that identify and make changes in their communities that result in a positive impact on the lives of people with disabilities. Grassroots community organizing means groups working for positive community change for individuals with disabilities on issues that are important to them. SPARKS Grants are funded by the Wisconsin Board for People with Developmental Disabilities (BPDD), and are available to people with developmental disabilities and family members in Wisconsin. Activities funded by SPARKS Grants include:

  • Organize a local People First chapter
  • Form a local social justice or civic group that includes people with and without disabilities (this could be a school group)
  • Local community advocacy (e.g., developing an inclusive park or accessible garden, expanding community employment opportunities for people with disabilities)

What have been some of the accomplishments of past SPARKS Grants?

SPARKS grants have had many positive results, including:

  • Creation of an accessible city park in Oshkosh
  • Expansion of the bus transportation system in the Wausau area
  • Development of unique employment opportunities at local organic farms in Kickapoo, WI
  • Development of an accessible garden, community room and kitchen in Stevens Point

Who can apply?

Individuals with developmental disabilities and family members may apply for the grants. These funds are not intended to supplant operational funds by an organization, to purchase equipment, or to pay for staff.

How to apply:

Complete and submit the SPARKS Grants application packet (application form, budget worksheet, and project work plan). Instructions for how to submit the application packet can be found within the forms. Application materials (i.e., application form, budget worksheet, and work plan) are due by 12:00 p.m. on Friday August 3oth, 2019. Grant recipients will be notified of their award in mid-September.

How much funding can you request?

Individual grants range from $500-$5,000. A detailed budget must accompany all grant proposals (a budget template is included in the application packet).

How will projects be chosen?

A review team will score each grant according to several key factors, for example:

  • clear and concise project purpose, activities, and outcomes
  • the project addresses an important community problem that if addressed will have a significant positive impact on the lives of people with disabilities
  • there are sufficient resources to carry out the project activities

The highest scoring grants will be funded.

What can you expect from BPDD?

Each SPARKS Grant recipient must participate in SPARKS Kickoff event where you will be given the opportunity to refine your project work plan and share your project ideas with other grant recipients from around the state.

What are you committing to?

  • Each team must agree to attend the SPARKS Kickoff event on September 27th.¬†This event will focus on:
    • strategies for projects to be successful
    • reviewing grant expectations
    • signing contracts
  • Each team will agree to provide project updates and outcomes to be shared via BPDD’s website (www.wi-bpdd.org), social media platforms, etc.
  • Each team will start their project no later than October 1, and should complete their work plan by September 30, 2020.

If you have questions or would like more information about SPARKS grants, please contact Jenny Neugart at jennifer.neugart@wisconsin.gov or (608) 266-7707.

SPARKS Grants Application and Budget Worksheet

If you would like the application in a different format, please contact Jeremy Gundlach at jeremy.gundlach@wisconsin.gov