School Garden Mini-Grants

The 2020 grant application is now closed. Check back next year for more information on the next application cycle.

Mini-grants are available for school gardens in Macomb, Oakland and Wayne counties of Michigan. Current grant opportunities are listed below:

Southeast Michigan School Garden Mini-Grant Overview 

The goal of this mini-grant program is to support beginning and expanding school or early care and education (ECE) gardens to provide garden-based education by providing funding, training and technical assistance.  School garden teams are a critical factor in sustaining a garden over time, and this program will assist grantees with developing a strategy to build or maintain their garden team to support their garden programs.  For the purposes of this grant, gardens at ECE sites will be referred to as school gardens.

MSU Extension is administering the Southeast Michigan School Garden Mini-grant (SGMG), with funding from the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan. The SGMG will support schools or sites that are starting or expanding school gardens, providing experiential garden-based/agricultural education, or supporting staff or volunteers to attend school garden related professional development. To support these efforts, approximately 15 awards of $500 - $1,500 will be granted to eligible schools and sites that demonstrate a commitment to qualifying school garden activities. This RFP is for a one year grant, renewable for a second year upon reapplication, provided that all requirements are met and funds are available. Grants will be awarded on March 30, 2020.  The grant year will start on March 30, 2020 and end on March 29, 2021. The SGMG includes two separate funding tracks: planning grants and implementation grants.

Planning Grants are intended to support schools and ECE sites that are in the beginning phases of creating a school garden program. Planning grantees will create a school garden action plan and form a school garden team by the end of the grant period.

Implementation Grants are intended to support schools and ECE sites that are ready to establish a school garden or will expand their school garden program. Expansion can include expanding the physical garden, curriculum implemented, students reached or other program additions. Having a school garden team is a prerequisite to apply for an implementation grant. Implementation grantees will create a school garden sustainability plan to maintain the garden, garden team and activities beyond the grant period. 

Mini-Grant Eligibility 

Public, private, charter schools or ECE sites (licensed child care providers in programs such as center-based, family child care, public or private preschool, Head Start/Early Head Start, Great Start Readiness Program (GSRP), and/or childcare within K-12 districts) in Macomb, Oakland and Wayne counties are eligible to apply. Applications must be submitted by an employee of one of the above entities, applying on behalf of the school or ECE site where the garden program will be conducted. A project lead as a point of contact must be designated. Students, parents or volunteers are welcome to collaborate on applications, but they must be submitted by a school employee. Approval from an authorized representative of the school or ECE site is also required. Only one application is allowed per school or ECE site.

Note: For schools located in Detroit, we are partnering with local organizations which currently provide support to school gardens, including the Detroit Public School Community District’s Office of Nutrition and Keep Growing Detroit to avoid duplicating efforts and maximize resources available to schools. We encourage schools to connect with these organizations (links below) and consider the resources offered before applying for this grant. We hope this grant will offer opportunities to complement these resources and contribute to sustainability of the network of resources available in the city.

Planning Grant Eligibility  

Schools and ECE sites are eligible to apply for a planning grant if they are considering or are in the initial stages of planning a school garden program and will work towards creating a school garden action plan and school garden team during the grant period. It is recommended that at least two people are identified as committed to the school garden project as planning grant applicants. At least one of these people is required to be an employee of the school or ECE site named in the application.

Implementation Grant Eligibility  

Schools and ECE sites are eligible to apply for an implementation grant if they can demonstrate previous school garden activities, as reflected in their application, and have a school garden team in place. At least one member of the school garden team is required to be a school employee at the school or ECE site named in the application. Implementation grantees can work towards creating a school garden design and/or establishing a school garden. All grantees will work towards a school garden sustainability plan during the grant period. If your program does not meet these requirements, consider applying for a planning grant.

Examples of ways to use Planning Grants

  • Starting a school garden team by convening meetings
  • Hiring a facilitator to conduct a visioning and planning process
  • Hosting a school garden planning event
  • Visiting other school gardens for research and networking
  • Attending school garden related professional development 

Examples of ways to use Implementation Grants

  • Purchasing school garden supplies, materials and tools
  • Conducting garden-based education
  • Paying for garden design consultant fees
  • Paying for garden installation services
  • Purchasing school garden curriculum
  • School garden or farm field trips (for professional development or for student education)
  • Attending school garden related professional development
  • Starting a garden to cafeteria program

Requirements of the SGMG

  • Attend or view SGMG orientation webinar
  • Attend one school garden training (Friday, June 26, 2020 for planning grants, Friday, October 23, 2020 for implementation grants)
  • Complete and submit payment forms as necessary for funding disbursements at the beginning of the grant period and after submission of mid-year report
  • Complete and submit a mid-year grant report (due by October 1, 2020)
  • Submit a year end grant report at the conclusion of the grant period (due by April 30, 2021)

Application Selection  

Submissions will be reviewed and assessed by a committee of school garden stakeholders. Applications will be scored in the following categories

  • Completeness;
  • Strength of vision;
  • Attention to team development for school garden project (planning grants);
  • Strength of school garden team and action plan (implementation grants);
  • Demonstrate existing connections to community partners or plans to develop community connections (a letter of support is encouraged, but not required);
  • Free and reduced lunch rates will be used to ensure that equity is a consideration in grants awarded;
  • Demonstration of practices to make the garden more inclusive to all students;
  • Plans to incorporate environmentally responsible gardening practices.

Grant Package

  • Award monies in two equal disbursements, at the beginning and mid-point of the grant year
  • Attendance to one school garden training by grant or project lead (separate trainings for planning and implementation grantees)
  • One or two site visits during the grant year to your school, planned garden site or garden site (April – October 2020)
  • Connection to a network of peers to share learnings, best practices and other resources
  • Appropriate technical assistance from MSU Extension Educators and community partners

Submission and Deadline 

All applications must be typed. Please send the completed application as an attachment in Word or PDF format to Kristine Hahn at hahnk@msu.eduApplications are due by 5:00 p.m. Eastern time on Monday, February 24, 2020. Late applications will not be considered. Please contact Kristine Hahn at or 248-802-4590 with any application related questions.  


Download the planning application here and implementation application here.


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