Ends on


The vision for the Michelson Spark Grant program is to introduce an innovative just-in-time grant-making process to fill urgent needs for education organizations that are well-aligned with our key target outcomes. We seek to fund highly impactful initiatives that would not be possible if they needed to wait through a traditional grant decision timeline.

We are committed to reaching a decision on each application within 15 business days. In the spirit of acting quickly, grants will be allocated over the next three weeks (until the total funding is distributed) and you won’t need to wait for a specific deadline. The portal will close at 11:59 pm PT Thursday November 12th.

The Michelson 20MM Foundation seeks to fund macro level projects that are helping students persist and graduate by helping them meet their basic needs. We are looking to support systems level strategies that create impact at scale and inform public policy. This can include but is not limited to initiatives, partnerships, programs, and models whose outcomes will have a regional effect on student basic needs or whose effect on student basic needs will be seen across systems of higher education. 

Student basic needs work includes efforts that mitigate the impact of the real cost of college on students, including the non-tuition costs that cause students to face food insecurity, housing insecurity, homelessness or overall financial instability. 

We are interested in funding projects that help students persist and graduate by achieving the following: 

  • Increasing student awareness and access to SNAP benefits and other public social services and resources within systems of higher education.
  • Strengthening efforts within higher education systems that meet the basic needs of college students excluded from receiving CARES funding assistance.
  • Supporting efforts to educate policymakers about student basic needs issues and solutions.
  • Research that addresses glaring gaps in emergency student aid, including how institutions of higher learning manage and distribute aid dollars and how these dollars impact student retention, persistence and graduation. Research can focus on general emergency student aid funds, CARES funding received from the federal government or funding from philanthropic foundations.
  • Providing innovative solutions that target students experiencing homelessness, parenting students, and students in the foster system.
  • Increasing the understanding of an accurate definition of the real cost of college including the impact of non-tuition expenses on students. 

We will not be funding initiatives that would result in direct assistance to students during this Michelson Spark Grant round, such as emergency student aid, laptops and hotspots for remote learning, or food and housing vouchers. While we realize there is a tremendous need among students for direct support, at this time we are leveraging our funding to effect broader systemic change.

For this round of funding we have decided to focus our impact on organizations that are doing work in California. Organizations whose work does not impact California will be ineligible for this opportunity. 

We will also be prioritizing proposals that will have a focused impact on first generation college students and students of color.

Lastly, we are looking to focus this round on developing new partnerships in the space. We are hoping to fund organizations we have not previously supported via the Michelson Spark Grant program. If you are a current or past grantee that is interested in submitting a proposal, please reach out to program officers Miguel León or Ryan Erickson-Kulas.

 Our Review Process

  • After LOI is submitted the Grant Committee will do an initial assessment.
  • Within 6 business days you will be notified if your proposal is moving forward in the process.
  • Proposals that advance will be asked to complete a full application.
  • Full applications will be assessed and a follow up call will be scheduled with those that advance to the finalist stage.
  • You will be notified of the Grant Committee decision within 15 business days of your LOI submission date.

Please ensure you have whitelisted Submittable on your email client to ensure you receive notifications regarding your proposal. Go to http://bit.ly/SGwhitelist to learn how to whitelist Submittable. 

NOTE: If you do not whitelist Submittable you may miss important updates on our proposal.

 If you have any questions or need assistance while completing this form please reach out to ryan@20mm.org. Technical questions should be directed to support@submittable.com

We use Submittable to accept and review our submissions.