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5 Grants That Will Kickstart Your Playground

Picture this: you’re a parent on a school council, and you’re deciding whether you should build a new playground. You know that playgrounds are a great way to attract new students. And, you also know that playgrounds play an important role in a child’s development. But, there’s only one problem – how do you pay for it all?

Fundraisers are a good starting point, but they take a lot of time and effort to organize. Plus, it can take years before you hit your fundraising goal. Next, there’s corporate sponsorships. However, for first time playground builders, it can be intimidating to ask a business for money. Especially, if they want some sort of favour in return.

With all the other responsibilities you have to worry about, money shouldn’t be one of them. That’s where playground grants come in. Whether you’re replacing an existing playground, or building one from scratch, there are a variety of programs available that can relieve the financial burden. Let’s quickly go over the benefits that playground grants have to offer.

Group of four children sitting on a Raft Rider in fall weather.

Why Should I Apply for Grants?

Reduce Fundraising Stress

From bake sales and bottle drives to raffles and auctions, fundraising events take an immense amount of time to organize. And, the returns on these events aren’t always certain or clear, which can lead to a lot of anxiety. A fundraising goal of even $5,000 or $10,000 can seem insurmountable, leading you to wonder – is it even worth it?

Playground grants take the load off of teachers, parent groups, and community associations so they can get back to doing what they do best – helping kids! While fundraising events are important, and should be done, they aren’t the “be all end all” of financing a new playground. Remember that grants and fundraisers should be used together – not exclusively.

Get Kids Playing Faster

When it comes to building a new playground, relying on conventional fundraising methods will only get you so far. Without the assistance of grants or large-scale donations, it could take years to raise the appropriate amount of money. Particularly for parents, by the time the playground actually gets built, your child may have already moved on to their next school.

Playground grants not only expedite the fundraising process, but also lets volunteers see the result of their hard work. It can be quite rewarding to know that your time and effort wasn’t all for naught. A new playground has the ability to revive an entire community. So, if there’s a faster way to get one built – why not take advantage of it?

Afford a Larger Playground

Playgrounds can be an expensive project to undertake, but they’re often costlier than you may think. By the time you consider site work, installation, and shipping, there may not be as much budget leftover for equipment. Many first-time playground builders are unaware of these additional costs, which is where grants and subsidies come into play.

Grant programs, especially those that provide matching contributions, allow you to build the playground of your dreams without making any compromises. Rather than building a smaller playground and sacrificing important elements, playground grants allow you to achieve your full vision. Often times, grants can be the deciding factor in getting the variety and inclusivity you’re looking for.

Grants You Should Apply For

1. Community Facility Enhancement Program (CFEP)

Maximum Value: $125,000 (small stream); $1 million (large stream)

The Community Facility Enhancement Program (CFEP) provides financial assistance to purchase, upgrade, or expand public-use facilities. Organizations such as schools, non-profits, and First Nations settlements may apply for the grant. Municipalities, private businesses, and individuals are ineligible. CFEP provides funding on a matching basis, and covers eligible expenses for labour, equipment, and materials.

CFEP has two funding streams: a small stream (up to $125,000) and a large stream (up to $1 million). Applicants are encouraged to apply for the stream that best matches their project’s value. The small stream has three intake deadlines in January, May, and September. The large stream, on the other hand, has a single intake deadline each June.

2. Co-op Community Spaces Program

Maximum Value: $150,000

The Co-op Community Spaces Program was established to improve the health and well-being of communities by building places for Western Canadians to come together. Funding is split into three categories: recreation, environmental conservation, and urban agriculture. The recreation category, which includes playgrounds, provides up to $150,000 in capital funding. If approved, projects must be completed within 2 years.

Each year, the application period runs from February 1st to the first business day in March. Eligible applicants include registered charities, non-profits, or community service co-operatives. Municipalities are not eligible to apply for the Community Spaces Program. Schools may also apply for the program, so long as their school board is registered as a non-profit or charity.

3. Kal Tire RePlay Fund

Maximum Value: $30,000

Kal Tire’s RePlay Fund provides grants of up to $30,000 to install playground surfacing made from recycled tires. The overall aim of the program is to build more inclusive play spaces. However, it’s important to note that Kal Tire does not supply or install recycled rubber products. With that said, applicants will need to source their own surfacing suppliers.

All non-profit organizations are welcome to apply, even if there is no Kal Tire store in their community. This includes registered charities, First Nations settlements, schools, and municipalities. The RePlay Fund is open annually, from the first week in January to February 28th. Applications are reviewed in March and April, and successful applicants are notified by April 30th.

4. Jumpstart Community Development Grant

Maximum Value: $50,000

Jumpstart’s Community Development Grant focuses on providing children with disabilities with engaging physical activities. The grant has two funding streams for Operational Support and Programming Support. The Programming stream provides up to $50,000 to develop sports and recreational programming, such as playgrounds. Eligible expenses include program supervisors and facility, equipment, and transportation costs.

To be eligible for a Community Development Grant, applicants must be qualified donees (as defined by the CRA). This includes charities, athletic associations, First Nations settlements, schools, and municipalities. Application intakes are open three times a year in February, June, and October. Approved grants are disbursed in two intervals: 70% upon acceptance, and 30% upon submission of child data.

5. FCC AgriSpirit Fund

Maximum Value: $25,000

The FCC AgriSpirit Fund supports capital projects that enrich lives in rural communities. This includes towns and cities with less than 150,000 people. The program allocates $1.5 million each year, with funding divided equally across the provinces. Applicants may apply for a maximum of $25,000 per project. Eligible organizations include charities, non-profits, rural municipalities, and First Nations settlements.

Applications open in April each year, and close on the last business day of the month. Applicants do not have to have any funds raised before applying. In addition, the AgriSpirit Fund isn’t matching, meaning that funds can cover 50% or more of project costs. Awarded projects must be completed within 2 years of receiving funding, with documented proof.

How Can We Help?

We understand that playground grants can be a daunting task, especially if it’s your first time applying for one. Grant applications are highly competitive, particularly for government programs where funding is limited. There’s lots of factors to consider when applying for a grant, including:

  • What will my financial contribution be?
  • How much do I have to raise before applying?
  • Can I stack funding with other programs?
  • What if there’s changes to my project’s cost?
  • How soon will I receive my funding?

As such, it’s important to develop an application that stands out among the rest. We can connect you with grant writing firms that will look over your application and suggest ideas for improvement. For first-time playground builders, this is an excellent resource to learn the ins and outs of grant applications. And hopefully, increase your chances of winning, too!

From left to right: Kylie Russell, Katie Hodgins, Robert McCoy, and Kyley Moisey posing for a team photo at Argyll Park in Edmonton, AB.