2023 Sprouts Fund RFP
View the 2023 Sprouts Fund Winners.
A primary strategy of the Milwaukee Parks Foundation is supporting Milwaukee County Parks through partnerships with community groups that anchor the park they call home. We know that a bond between a neighborhood and its park means both are healthier, safer, and stronger. Acknowledging the long history of systemic racism, MPF focuses on partnerships with grassroots groups working in our most historically disinvested communities as ranked within the Milwaukee County Parks Equity Index.
Whether it’s a neighborhood gathering, community programming, small infrastructure improvement or beyond, MPF trusts community members to identify projects that meaningfully serve their park and community. Additionally, MPF seeks to support the growth of grassroots leaders and their continued investment in the possibility of parks.
With this purpose in mind, we will distribute up to $40,000, with grants between $500 to $10,000 through our first request for proposals, called the Sprouts Fund. For our 2023 grant cycle, we invite projects connecting to the focus areas of Healing & Health, Community Care, and Collective Joy. It is our intent to grow this fund as our organization grows.
The Sprouts RFP is closed for 2023. Please check this page for updates.
About Milwaukee Parks Foundation
Milwaukee Parks Foundation (MPF) was established in 2019 with the mission of engaging our community in supporting Milwaukee County Parks to collectively steward a thriving park system. The Foundation fosters dynamic connections through our land and community, expanding what is possible in our neighborhoods, and engaging residents in supporting a safe and vibrant parks system that benefits all.
Young people decorate pumpkins at a mural feedback session in Lucille Berrien Park hosted by Milwaukee Alliance Against Racism & Political Repression and True Skool.
Sprouts Fund 2023 Focus Areas
Drawing upon lessons gained from existing community partners, for the 2023 Sprouts Fund, we seek projects embodying the focus areas of Healing & Health, Community Care, and Collective Joy. We interpret the focus areas as follows:
Healing & Health
Work advancing wellbeing, restoration, and/or physical activity
Projects addressing the needs of a park’s immediate community
Because what’s all the work for if we don’t get to play?
Grant & Process Details
Milwaukee Parks Foundation is seeking applications from groups with strong community ties, especially grassroots organizations. Preference will be given to groups that may lack other funding opportunities for projects. We encourage larger organizations to identify a project where resident ideas or direct collaboration with community members is clear.
Grants will be made for projects to be completed within the 2023 calendar year in a Milwaukee County Park.
Application and grant process
Milwaukee Parks Foundation will hold two informational sessions to answer questions:
Applicants share background on project partners and project details through this form. Deadline: April 14 at 11:59pm CST.
Applications are reviewed by members of MPF’s Program Committee, and in late April, selected projects are invited for a fuller conversation to share further details.
MPF notifies all applicants of granting decisions by May 15. All grantees participate in a group orientation and funds are distributed in full upon completion of a Letter of Agreement and W-9.
By end of 2023, project is completed or physical improvement planned to completion.
At completion, MPF, alongside grantees, will determine their preferred method of reporting, i.e. written, digital, or in-person conversation.
- Community Connection: Does the idea come from neighbors? Who is making decisions about this project? Is the project authentically led by community members?
- Sprouts Fund Focus Areas: How does the project embody one or more of our guiding focus areas: Healing & Health, Community Care and Collective Joy?
- Equity and Health: Does the project connect to Milwaukee Parks Foundation’s alignment with Milwaukee County’s vision that by achieving racial equity, Milwaukee becomes the healthiest county in Wisconsin?
- Project Assessment: What part of this project excites the applicant most? What challenges does the applicant anticipate?
To receive funds, a 501(c)3 or designated fiscal agent is preferred. You may still be eligible if you do not have a 501(c)3 or fiscal agent. Contact us directly before applying and we can discuss options. This may include a connection to our partners at The Park People, who support friends groups in Milwaukee County Parks as a fiscal agent.
- We encourage not taking community labor for granted, not just through recognition, but through compensation. This means funds can be used for organizing, programming, and other community work that may otherwise be pro bono.
- Community-based groups are encouraged to use funds from this grant to pay invited collaborators.
- A match is not required for this grant.
- If you are working with a fiscal agent, plan for their administration fee.
- Projects should include costs and plans to obtain all permits and rentals from Milwaukee County Parks. Milwaukee Parks Foundation will help navigate this process if needed.
- We want projects to succeed. We are committed to helping our grantees navigate Milwaukee County Parks processes, share connections and problem solve to open possibilities.
- Submitting an application does not guarantee that funding will be awarded at any level.
Physical Improvement Guidelines
- Grant approval from MPF does not mean projects including physical infrastructure and long-term impact are approved by Milwaukee County Parks. Examples include public art, gardens, signage and more. Any such project must go through proper Milwaukee County Parks approval. MPF will help grant recipients navigate these processes if needed.
- New park additions need to be sustainable, so projects with physical infrastructure and long-term impact should include a plan and budget for at least three years of maintenance. For example, with a mural, setting aside dollars to contract an artist when touch ups are needed. If your maintenance plan requires funds, please account for them in your plan — MPF will hold any funds being saved for maintenance beyond 2023. A maintenance plan may not require funds, i.e. a pollinator garden cared for regularly by neighbors. Contact us if you have specific questions about maintenance and your project.
We understand timelines for Milwaukee County Parks approval may require that a physical improvement started in 2023 cannot be fully completed until 2024. If your project might encounter such a timeline, please note in your application.