Small Sparks Fund gets projects rolling

Ready-made for residents, businesses, and non-profit organizations

You have a great idea for a seniors’ art therapy workshop or a neighbourhood children’s party, but haven’t gone further because the cost is prohibitive. 

Enter the City of Edmonton’s Small Sparks Fund. It offers any resident, non-profit organization, or business in the Avenue revitalization zone up to $250 for a one-time project or event.

“The Small Sparks Fund is great for organizing events over the upcoming fall and winter,” encourages Karen Mykietka, District Council chair for the Alberta Avenue revitalization zone.

Apply for funding for your idea this upcoming fall or winter. | Supplied

Whether it’s a community art project, neighbourhood sporting event, or community beautification, the seed money available from this fund supports small-scale revitalization projects quickly and effectively, agrees Ian Robertson, co-ordinator for the Avenue Initiative revitalization project. 

“The bonus is that it’s designed to assist not only businesses and not-for-profit and social enterprise organizations but [also] residents, which is a wonderful citizen-centric feature of the program.”

The fund is part of the City’s wider neighbourhood revitalization initiative, which started with Alberta Avenue and Jasper Place in the mid 2000s. It stems from the premise that people “who live, work, and play” in a neighbourhood know its attributes and how to build on its potential. 

Residents, businesses, social enterprise organizations, and non-profit organizations are eligible to apply as long as they and the project are within their respective revitalization zone. In the Avenue zone, those communities are Westwood, Spruce Avenue, Alberta Avenue, Delton, Elmwood Park, Parkdale, Cromdale, and Eastwood. 

The project must also advance the goals of neighbourhood revitalization. In the case of the Avenue Initiative, current goals are improving safety and security, advancing the local economy, increasing social vibrancy, and fostering leadership and sustainability.

Projects are ineligible if they are ongoing, such as a weekly yoga class, or if there is an admission fee or alcohol. The fund is also not available for paying salaries or facility maintenance. 

The Small Sparks Fund’s application process doesn’t take long. | Supplied

Over the past year, projects that got help from the Small Sparks Fund have included a writer-in-residence at The Carrot Coffeehouse, a German-themed cultural experience, and a garage door mural in Spruce Avenue. 

The application process is simple, in step with the current push by municipalities to simplify forms and permits for residents. It’s a five to 10 minute process, which involves briefly describing your project, who is involved, and how it will benefit your neighbourhood. 

You can apply at any time, and more than once in a calendar year. Projects must be completed within eight weeks of receiving the funding, so apply no sooner than two months before your project.

The reporting is also simple and is required 90 days after your project is completed. Make sure to take photos or have stories that highlight the event. 

Robertson reminds people that revitalization for the Avenue is in transition with funding only in effect to the end of 2020. Any extension to 2022, which ends the City’s current budget cycle, is subject to council approval. 

And if an organization has a bigger idea in mind, they can apply to the Revitalization Matching Grant, which has a limit of $20,000. 

For more information on the Small Sparks Fund, go to edmonton.ca and click on City-run Projects & Plans, or email Ian Robertson at ian.robertson@edmonton.ca. Find the application form online at edmonton.ca by searching “small sparks” or visit edmonton.ca/documents/Neighbourhood_Revitalization_Small_Sparks_APPLICATION.pdf.


Featured Image: The Small Sparks Fund provides up to $250 for a one-time project of event. | Supplied

Kate Wilson

Kate took up the reporter's pad and pen while living in northern Alberta. The writing bug stuck, and the next 20 years were spent covering everything from local politics to community happenings. She lives in Alberta Avenue with her daughter.

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