What is Friends of the Parks’ Seed Grant Program?

Since 2000, the Friends of the Parks’ Seed Grant Program has helped build stronger communities, develop alliances, and foster a sense of care for parks. Since then, we have awarded over $150,000 in grant funds for cultural programs, mural projects, recreation equipment, education programs, garden development – and even air conditioners! – just to give you a few examples.

“A seed, dropped into the ground, springs into activity, and in the act of living produces a hundred more seeds, life, by living, multiplies itself. It is forever Becoming More, it must do so, if it continues to be at all.”    ― Wallace D. Wattles


The 2019 Seed Grant application has been released! Download the application as a .pdf or .doc file.

2019 Seed Grant Applications are due Friday, March 8, 2019 by 5:00 p.m.

Overview of the program – Friends of the Parks (FOTP) provides small grants to park advisory councils and other park partner organizations committed to improving Chicago’s parks. The intent of these grants is to build community alliances, enhance green spaces and support parks. Through this program we hope to: 1) leverage the dollars that are spent on parks in the city; 2) promote and support community groups and community assets; 3) develop leaders who can share their knowledge with others; and 4) provide additional resources to park advisory councils. Seed Grant funds are usually awarded in amounts less than $1,000. Grant funds will be distributed to 2019 Seed Grant recipients in April and projects must be completed before the end of 2019.

What can be funded?  Many different kinds of projects can be funded through this program. All projects must be related to a Chicago park, and funds must be used for events, programming, beautification or supplies. Examples of previously funded projects include: Gardens, tree plantings, sports equipment, community concerts, art projects, programming, etc. Requests for funds to be used for capital improvement projects will not be considered. Capital improvements are expenditures related to the acquisition, expansion or renovation of some segment of a park’s infrastructure (e.g. tennis courts, playgrounds).

What are the eligibility requirements? Friends of the Parks is pleased to offer two Seed Grant opportunities in 2019. The 2019 Burpee Seed Grant and the 2019 Crowley Seed Grant each have their own eligibility requirements, and FOTP reserves the right to determine eligibility based on organization geography, budget and type:

  • 2019 Burpee Seed Grant – A 2019 Burpee Seed Grant applicant must be either a park advisory council or a park partner organization (PPO) that stewards a local park in Chicago. PPOs must have annual budgets no larger than $500,000 to be considered. A funding total of $5,000 is available for 2019 Burpee Seed Grants.
  • 2019 Crowley Seed Grant – Park Advisory Councils located on the southeast side of Chicago are eligible for a 2019 Crowley Seed Grant. Other types of organizations are not eligible for a 2019 Crowley Seed Grant, but are eligible for a 2019 Burpee Seed Grant. A funding total of $5,000 is available for 2019 Crowley Seed Grants.

Do you have questions about the 2019 Seed Grant or need technical assistance? Contact Nicole Machuca with questions about the Seed Grant Program at (312) 857-2757 ext. 7 or machucan@fotp.org, or visit our upcoming 2019 Seed Grant workshops:

  • Seed Grant Do’s and Don’ts Information Meeting – Monday, December 10, 2018
    Our 2019 Seed Grant application will open in December. Join the 2018 Seed Grant recipients and our Director of Neighborhood Parks to learn some tips and take in some food-for-thought before your team begins to develop a Seed Grant proposal. RSVP today!
  • Seed Grant Grant Writing Workshop – Saturday, February 9, 2019
    Join our Deputy Director of Program and Resource Development, Sandra Del Toro, for our Seed Grant meeting and grant writing workshop that will provide an overview of the grant program and review basic best-practices of grant writing that can be applied to any grant application. Bring your ideas and/or draft 2019 Seed Grant application! RSVP is kindly requested. Please see RSVP and location details here.

2018 Seed Grant Recipients:

  • Ridge Park Advisory Council – New water bottle filling station

  • South Shore Cultural Center Advisory Council – Community for Unity music and youth programming

  • Loyola Park Advisory Council – Artists of the Wall website development

  • Gompers Park Advisory Council – Expand archery progam

  • Mozart Park Advisory Council – Arts programming and panel products

  • Park 540 Community Garden Group – To build four raised beds in new garden

  • Friends of Eckhart Park – New jerseys for special recreation program

  • Midway Plaisance Advisory Council – Bulbs and supplies for stewardship workdays

  • West Chatham Park Advisory Council – Summer of Peace Community Picnic

2017 Seed Grant Recipients:

  • Douglas Park Advisory Council – Special recreation equipment

  • Euclid Park Advisory Council – Euclid Neighborhood Park Festival

  • Hamilton Park Advisory Council – Expanding the Englewood Art Fair to include a youth component

  • Kelvyn Park Advisory Council – Gymnastics equipment

  • Ogden Park Advisory Council – Senior programming

  • Ping Tom Park Advisory Council –  Community kayak program

  • Pottawatomie Park Advisory Council – Two raised beds in the community garden

  • Rainbow Beach Park Advisory Council – Enhancing summer camp

  • West Chatham Advisory Council – Summer of Peace Community Picnic

  • West Ridge Nature Preserve – Citizen science programming

  • Pottawatomie Park Advisory Council – Two raised beds in the community garden