grants and funding
What is a playground grant?
Playground grants are funds allocated by organizations in order to build and maintain playgrounds. These grants are typically awarded by groups like corporations, federal, state, and local governments, nonprofits, and foundations as these entities understand the impact of investing in communities. Not only do grants for playground equipment assist in creating happier, healthier, and more equitable communities, they also never need to be repaid; grants are simply a gift!
Could you use a hand in taking your playground project to the next level? Speak with one of our play consultants to learn how you can leverage grant funding to give your budget a boost.
Who can apply for a playground grant?
Are you in the process of planning or building a playground? If so, there's a good chance you qualify! Grants for playground equipment are available for a variety of spaces. Whether you’re looking to build your playground for a local park, school, daycare center, church, or nonprofit, the funding opportunities are there; you just have to find them.
In the next sections, we’ll guide you through:
Where to start your search for funding
How to approach the grant application process
Best practices for writing a winning grant application
How to know which grants are a match for your playground project
1. Define your project
Before diving into your search, it's imperative to first define your project and its goals.
Are you wanting to build a playground for a daycare center or elementary school? Envisioning an outdoor fitness playground or multi-use gaming area for a middle school or high school? Constructing an inclusive playground for your local community park? Or, are you simply hoping to obtain funding to provide upkeep to an existing structure? Going into your search with a clear understanding of what you're trying to accomplish with your playground project will make for a much more straightforward prospecting journey.
2. Research available funds
After clearly defining your playground project, you can now start your search.
Begin by researching for grants close to home. Many organizations look for opportunities to give back to their local community. These groups may also be more familiar with your cause and therefore more willing to donate. From there, cast a wider net, considering larger state, regional, and national funding options. These grants typically have larger budgets and can act as a substantial supplement to local funding opportunities. This is also a good time to look into available ESSER funding for your state as these funds can also give your budget a significant boost.
3. Narrow down your prospects
Once you've compiled your list, screen all your options to determine which grants apply to you.
In your preliminary search for funding, you're almost certain to have included options that initially seemed to fit the bill, but after more scrutiny, don't actually apply to your playground project. You'll want to filter these options out as you don't want to waste precious time and resources when you being applying. In narrowing down your list, aim to include double the amount of grants you'll need to achieve your funding goals, e.g., if you determine you'll need 10 grants to fund your project, plan to apply for 20 as you won't get every grant you apply for.
Playground grant application process
1. Set the application team
Having a team of individuals to work on grant applications is highly recommended as there is a lot of work involved.
You'll want to make sure each team member has a defined role, e.g., one person working on research, another writing the grant itself, and someone focused on editing. While there will of course be some shared tasks, having certain designated responsibilities will allow your team to work much more efficiently and provide a greater chance of success.
2. Agree on design & budget
With your new team, agree on a design and budget for your dream playground.
Keep in mind the design of your site can have a major impact on the budget, so it's a good idea to get in contact with a play consultant at this stage as they will have knowledge of the various types of playground equipment and structures as well as their associated costs; they can assist you in setting realistic expectations while still delivering a playground with the WOW factor you're looking for.
3. Get stakeholders on board
Now, your playground project is ready to be presented to stakeholders for approval.
There are always various stakeholders you’ll need to involve to push your project through – no matter the industry, e.g., schools will need to gain approval from the school board and potentially the PTA. There’s a good chance you already have an idea of these stakeholders, but if you don’t, you’ll want to find out as you will almost certainly need their approval. Once you get the final sign-off, you can start applying for grants.
4. Start Applying
After gaining all the necessary approvals, you're ready to begin the application process.
By this point, you may already have a list compiled of applicable grants, using the three-step approach detailed in the previous section. If not, this is time to create that list. Remember, you won't get every grant you apply for, which is normal, so you'll want to apply for at least twice the amount of grants you think you'll need to achieve your funding goals.
5. Put in the work
As you're applying, ensure you're doing your due diligence, crossing every T and dotting every I.
While some applications are fairly small, comprising of a single page, others are more robust and include several sections. For both big and small grant applications, it's crucial you pay close attention to detail. Some grant programs receive a lot of applications, so you'll want to make sure your application is error-free to give yourself the best shot at winning.
6. Receive grant money & go!
You've done the research and put in the work, now it's time to wait...
This waiting period may possibly be the hardest part of the entire grant application process as it's completely out of your hands at this point. Stay positive and don't get discouraged by the inevitable no's. Sooner or later all your hard work will pay off, and the money will start rolling in. Don't forget, all good things come to those who wait!
Tips for writing a playground grant application
No playground grant application is the same, but there are some common tips on submitting the best application possible and making the process go smoothly. Learn from our experience and with these best practices:
Start early: The application process is time consuming, and there's a lot you must prepare before sending out applications. So, start early to ensure you have time to gather all the needed information.
Know the fund you’re applying for: Read and follow the grant requirements thoroughly. This includes ensuring that the fund is willing to give grants to playground projects and that the grant is eligible in your district.
Align your cause to theirs: In continuation of no. 2, align your cause with the funds. If they want to create healthier communities or enhance the community’s outdoor activity areas, discuss that specifically in relation to your project. Perhaps the organization focuses on inclusivity, and you've planned for an accessible playground that brings play to everyone. Highlight how the playground will benefit your local community so stakeholders know how their engagement is beneficial.
Know your audience and their needs: What does your own community or school need? Knowing and answering these questions is a vital part of the application. Showcase the community is fully behind your project and that your playground has their support.
Be specific and know your details: Write in a clear and professional voice. Learn the details of your project; include visuals of the layout, breakdown of costs and the timeline for the project. When the fundraising process begins, donations for a specific playground product might be more straightforward. That's why we recommend including a list of product prices within the overall budget.
Proofread – and proofread again: It’s a good idea to ask someone unfamiliar with the project to read through the application before you submit. Typos can occur and taint an otherwise amazing application.
Remember - You have a good cause! Playgrounds help children develop in many important ways and encourage active, healthier lifestyles. Now go make PLAY happen!
Have you considered the needs of the adults in your community? Learn how to build a outdoor fitness site with this checklist and make moves for everyone!
Playground grants & funding available to you
Aegon Transamerica Foundation
Grant applications are accepted throughout the calendar year; however, the year-end deadline is November 1, and applications received after this date will be considered during the following calendar year.
Those who volunteer four to sixteen hours with an organisation can earn $500 or $1,000 to support their cause.
Have questions about planning a playground?
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