Applications open for Sparkplug Foundation Grant Program

Sparkplug Foundation

Relevent Country: United States of America

The Sparkplug Foundation is encouraging Black, Indigenous, People of Color, people with disabilities, women, lesbian, gay, bisexual, pansexual, transgender, queer and other queer-identifying communities, organizations or organizers to apply for its grant program.

The Sparkplug Foundation is a family foundation, funded and administered in the US. They are guided by community voices, and prioritize grassroots organizing and innovation as the key for creating change.

Thematic Areas


  • Sparkplug funds projects to educate or support communities, including but not limited to school-age students, that move beyond traditional classroom instruction. In keeping with the justice-oriented framework, they fund education projects that engage excluded students in new ways, projects that restore knowledge that has been marginalized through racism or colonialism, and projects that rebuild community and collective problem-solving.
  • They’re especially interested in supporting critical and investigative thinking, and projects that address race, gender, and class disparities in education. They do fund community-based education and social justice curriculum development.
  • They do not directly fund schools and do not fund programs that have been eliminated by budget cuts. Finally, they do not fund arts projects under this funding area.

Community Organizing

  • Sparkplug funds work by members of a community for their community-work that aims to create justice by making systemic change and/or shifting power. Or in other words, they fund projects that are created, run by, and meet the needs of people with shared lived experience who face the same types of oppression, discrimination, violence, or barriers, who live in the same area, or who have a shared vision and aspirations for the future.


  • Recognizing the critical importance of music in bringing communities together and building collective creativity, Sparkplug supports emerging musicians in developing new work, sharing existing work with a wider community through events or media, bringing together musicians to collaborate on creating or performing pieces, or facilitating new workshops that bring music to oppressed communities. Applicants for music grants will be asked to submit a sample of their music with their Letter of Intent form.
  • Please note that they do not provide budget replacement funding for music programs in the education system suffering from budget cuts.  The best way to understand whether your project may be fundable is to look at the past music grants.

Funding Information

  • They consider grant applications for amounts from $1,000 to $20,000. Most grants are in the $10,000 to $15,000 range.

Eligibility Criteria

  • They fund early stage organizations and projects. They offer grants to innovative and important work that has not yet established broad sources of support. For Sparkplug, what matters is that the project comes from and supports an engaged community.
  • They fund small-to-medium organizations or ideas. They most often fund projects with small budgets, and that are less likely to receive corporate, institutional, or government funding.
  • They fund 501c3 non-profits or individuals, communities or collectives that have a US-based 501c3 fiscal sponsor.
  • They fund materials and activities that make new ideas real and sustainable. This can include support for a new organization’s growth like outreach materials, short-term staff to get your project underway, and short-term general operating support for new organizations only. They have very occasionally funded website development or software purchases where it drives other work. A grant can cover capacity-building expenses like trainings that grow your community leadership.
  • They fund one-year grants. Since they focus on start-up projects and organizations, they accept applications for up to one year. If you’re a new organization interested in a start-up grant that spans beyond one year, you are invited to note that on your application – but can only apply for one year of funding. They’ll be in touch if they think they can do more.
  • They fund with an eye for community accountability and inclusion. They recognize that power imbalances in the world impact how work happens in any organization. Power imbalances shift how people within organizations interact, and how organizations’ work affects others in their communities. Community accountability means that power imbalances are acknowledged within an organization (this goes beyond having a diverse board or team), that organizations have made an effort to understand how power affects their work, and that some ongoing means of addressing power imbalances are in place. Inclusion means that the organization deliberately structures itself to be guided by, and to support, people on the downside of power imbalances.
  • They fund projects in the US and Palestine/Israel. The funding in Palestine/Israel, given current conditions of colonial apartheid, is limited to projects that involve Palestinian communities, operate with Palestinian leadership (and may also include non-Palestinian leadership), and work for justice.

Ineligibility Criteria

They do not fund:

  • businesses or any organization or individual without a fiscal sponsor.
  • general operating expenses such as regular ongoing salaries, office space rental, etc., except for start-up projects and start-up organizations.
  • lobbying or election campaigns.
  • technology equipment such as computers, printers, etc.
  • Under the Education Funding Area: they don’t fund budget replacement for classes or programs within the formal education system that have been cut.
  • Under the Community Organizing Funding Area: they don’t fund service projects. They only fund projects that are designed, led, and implemented by members of the affected community AND that aim to change systems and shift power. They do not fund projects that provide aid.
  • Under the Music Funding Area: they don’t fund budget replacement for music programs in the education system suffering from budget cuts.
  • multi-year requests. They accept applications for one-year grants. If you’re a new organization interested in a start-up grant that spans beyond one year, you are invited to note that on your application. They’ll be in touch if they think they can do more.
  • projects or organizations in Palestine/Israel that do not have either a US-based 501c3 fiscal sponsor or Israeli documentation of NGO status.
  • religious projects, projects run by religious organizations, or any project that involves religious practice, no matter how peripheral religion is to the project. They also do not fund projects that limit their work to a religious community.
  • visual arts projects, films, medical research or relief, dance, animal rescue, athletic programs, tuition grants, or scholarships.
  • university-based projects.
  • any projects or organizations with budgets larger than $1 million. Chapters of national organizations should not apply if their national organization’s budget is greater than $1 million.
  • technology equipment such as computers, printers, etc.