Building, updating and maintaining a playground takes money, but there are several organizations across the country that allocate funds for playground projects through playground grants. Since grants are financial aid that does not have to be repaid, it’s essentially free money and a way to boost or jumpstart your playground budget.
A playground grant is typically given by a government agency, foundation, non-profit group or corporation. These organizations see the benefits playgrounds bring to a community and how they contribute to the healthy development of children. They also see playgrounds as a way to fight the childhood obesity epidemic and a fun way to promote a healthy lifestyle.
Playground grants are also a way for foundations and corporations to get involved and support healthy activities for kids. Some businesses are also looking to support the revitalization of the communities they are a part of and may look to donate money specifically for playgrounds in lower-income areas, inclusive playgrounds, special needs playgrounds, natural playgrounds, or spaces in desperate need of updates.
Playground Grant Process
Although each playground grant requirement may differ, they typically follow the following process:
- Step 1: An organization plans and develops a funding program based on its mission. They then put together an application that outlines the specific requirements and criteria needed to be awarded the funds.
- Step 2: Programs and organizations interested in the grant money will fill out and submit a grant application. Applications may require everything from basic organizational information, to explanations of proposed work and financial data. Completing a grant application could take weeks or even months.
- Step 3: Grants for playground equipment are typically decided by an independent group of experts. They will form a panel to review applications and decide how the funds will be allocated. After funds have been awarded, the grant recipient can begin their project.
It's important to research each grant thoroughly. The more you know about its origins, goals and objectives the better you can craft your application to fit its needs and up your chances of being awarded the funds.
How to Write a Playground Grant That Gets Funded
Playground grant proposals that are more likely to get funded focus on the mission and interests of the funding organization. Before you begin filling out a grant application, it's important to understand the grantor's objectives and define how your playground project fits into their mission. This will help you better tailor the content of your proposal and ensure it follows the ideals of the funding organization. The grant application process can be time consuming so it's important to start early to meet the application deadline.
A grant proposal typically has six sections that must be addressed:
The summary is the first section of the proposal and should briefly describe the problem, solution, timeline and expenses. This is your chance to tell your story and infuse the personality of your playground project.
The introduction includes a brief description and background of the problem, and the purpose and scope of the proposal.
Plan of work
The solution to the problem is laid out in the plan of work section. Include statistics or examples to add credibility to your request. This section also includes a project timeline and measurable outcomes of the project. If anything can be described in greater detail with a chart, it should be referenced here and included in the appendix.
The costs of your project should be carefully described under the budget section. Make sure to include any expenses showing how they track back to the outcome of the project.
Qualifications and experience
Carefully describe the qualifications of those carrying out the proposal.
Information that is not included in the proposal such as charts, graphics, drawings of your playground design, pictures of kids enjoying specific components from your design, etc. can be included in the appendix. Be sure to include captions when appropriate to avoid confusion.
10 Tips to Better Grant Writing
Create a thorough and complete grant request by following these recommended guidelines.
- Understand the purpose of the grant and write to the grant requirements
- Establish goals and activities that are clear
- Before you begin writing, outline your playground proposal
- Write clearly, concisely and professionally
- Write as if your playground project has already been funded and you are explaining what you will be doing
- Make sure the proposal meets all of the grant requirements
- Be sure to consult with required stakeholders and get appropriate approvals to submit the grant early in the process
- Use visuals of your playground plans when possible as the appearance of your proposal matters
- Read and edit your complete proposal
- Have someone not familiar with your project review the proposal for clarity
Playground Grant Resources
There are many programs and sources of grant money available, you just need to know where to look. Several federal, state and local programs award grants for playground and physical fitness equipment and many corporations have grant opportunities for park and playground projects.
Our grant resource area helps you navigate the playground grant process by providing a list of federal grants and state grant programs, as well as grants offered by organizations and corporations. There are also location specific grant opportunities for each state as well as international opportunities.
As you are thinking about which grants to apply for, take some time and reflect on the impact your playground project will have for your community and the families living in it. If you think creatively, you might be surprised at how many qualifications your project fits into.
Below is a sampling of playground grant opportunities outlined in our grant resources:
American Express has three divisions of their grant program, one of which includes community service and could be a good fit for the installation of a playground. Grant amounts vary and there is a rolling deadline.
KaBOOM! works with corporate sponsors to bring play areas to communities. You can apply for their grants at any time of the year. KaBOOM! Offers many grant opportunities—some ranging from $10,000 to $80,000.
The Christopher Reeve Foundation offers grants for special needs up to $25,000 to support non-profits addressing the needs of persons living with paralysis, their families and caregivers.
The Campbell Soup Foundation donates approximately $1 million each year to a variety of organizations that focus on community wellbeing, youth empowerment and the development of a healthy community.
Entergy's Open Grants Program focuses on improving communities as a whole and looks for giving opportunities in the area of arts and culture, community improvement, the environment and healthy families. Although any organization can apply for Entergy grants, priority is placed on programs where Entergy has operations: Arkansas, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, New York and Texas.
Playground grants are a great way for recreation departments, schools, non-profits, parks, churches, daycares or preschools to secure supplemental funding for new playground equipment. For the most up-to-date information, follow the link below to request access to our online grant resources.