Applying for playground grants in Canada is one way to ensure that you are able to afford a high-quality playground for your business, school or community. Playground funding comes in many forms, but applying for grants can be particularly important. Unlike loans, grants do not need to be repaid. They allow you to afford more (and better-quality) play equipment – ensuring that all of your guests have an enjoyable experience at your playground.
In Canada, playground equipment grants are available from non-profit organizations, government agencies and other sources. Each grant has its own deadlines and requirements, but chances are good that you may be able to qualify for at least one.
At PlayPower Canada, we’ve put together this playground grant guide to help you navigate the options available. We will cover grants available, tips for securing a grant and more. If you’d like more information about funding or would like to start looking for playground equipment for your school or community, contact PlayPower Canada at any time.
Who May Need a Playground Grant?
Just about anyone can use a playground grant. You can use this form of playground funding in Canada if you are:
- A parks and recreation organization
- A landscape architect
- A school
- A daycare
- An urban planner
- A church organization
- A community
- A business
You can use grants if you are fundraising, leasing, buying or using other forms of financing. In fact, many organizations use grants as just part of their funding strategy. While some grants are generous and may cover all the costs of a new play area or renovation, many are intended only to defray costs.
If you are budgeting for a play area, you may notice that the costs can be high for safe, high-quality equipment. In addition to the price of equipment, you will also need to factor in installation, maintenance and other costs. Grants can help with these additional costs. Playground grants can also be a solution for you if:
- You are in a disadvantaged area with few families or an area where fundraising may not yield many donors.
- You need an accessible or inclusive playground and will be spending more on equipment.
- You wish to buy quality materials that will last.
- You wish to buy playground materials that will encourage childhood development.
- You don’t have private business donors in your area willing to donate to your playground.
- You have tried other forms of funding and have not been able to raise the full amount for your playground.
- You don’t want to include advertising on your play area.
- Paying back leasing or a loan will not work with your current budget.
- Your play area will be in a location where children have few options for play, meaning you may wish to add a more elaborate or inclusive playground in order to benefit as many children as possible.
Playgrounds and playground development benefit entire communities. They provide safe places for children to play, offer healthy alternatives for children looking to spend time and bring communities together. Play areas encourage healthy childhood development and allow kids to expand their social skills while promoting physical development, emotional development and sensory exploration.
At a time when concerns about health and obesity rates are high, playgrounds also encourage physical activity, which can promote overall health. Grants help communities, churches, schools and other groups promote good health for youth in their area. They can also help revitalize an area by updating an existing playground, or by installing one in a previously under-developed area.
Why Get a Playground Grant?
If you are in need of funding for playground equipment anywhere in Canada, you can use grants for:
- Creating a new play area
- Renovating an existing playground
- Making a play area inclusive and accessible
- Modernizing a playground and making it compliant with current safety standards
- Adding or replacing equipment
- Updating surfacing
- Paying for playground installation and maintenance
There are many advantages to Canadian playground grants. With funding, you can focus on quality when creating your play space and worry less about purchasing the lowest-cost product to make your budget work. This is especially important with Canadian winters. In many parts of the country, lower-price play equipment simply will not work. It can rust and quickly fall apart in harsh winter conditions — particularly with the large amounts of salt many communities use to break up snow and ice.
In addition, lower-cost materials and playground equipment may simply not provide the childhood development advantages or the safety standards you need for your play area. With the proper funding, you can purchase better-quality equipment that will last for years and offer the highest safety, protecting you and the community.
While there are many ways to raise funds for your playground, grants are attractive because they do not have to be paid back. If you have a traditional loan, you’ll need to budget for monthly loan payments — sometimes for years. With a grant, you don’t have to worry. Instead, you can turn your money towards maintenance and keeping your playground updated.
Grants are also generally quite flexible. You can use them to level terrain for playground equipment, to purchase playground equipment and for maintenance and other costs. There are many expenses associated with building a play area and grants allow you to cover some expenses you haven’t even factored into your budget yet.
Grants can also boost civic pride. It can be a great selling point for your playground to mention that it’s a product of generous grants from a foundation or government agency. Many families like to see their tax dollars at work — and that includes seeing the government spend on quality, community-oriented projects like playgrounds.
How to Get a New Playground for Your School or Community: Securing the Grant
There are many playground grants for schools, communities and other organizations across Canada. If you’re ready to start applying for funding, be sure to follow these tips for the best possible outcome:
- Understand the rules for applying for grants. If you’re a school, for example, keep in mind that your school board may have regulations for applying for or securing grants, especially over a certain amount. Confirm the rules before you apply. If you’re building a playground for your community, make sure you understand zoning laws and local bylaws so you don’t apply for playgrounds that you won’t be able to legally build.
- Apply for every grant you qualify for. Grants are extremely competitive, so you may not get all the funding you seek. Even if you’re confident you’ll get that one big grant you have your heart set on, it’s still best to apply to numerous grants, just in case you do not get the one you expected.
- Prepare carefully before applying by keeping a file folder of information you can use for grants. Private charitable organization and funding bodies want to see their money put to good use, so show how your project is worthwhile. If possible, conduct studies or contact local government agencies for statistics. Can local child health concerns be linked to inadequate exercise? How many children are in your area? Making a clear argument for why you need a playground will improve your chances.
- Make sure to organize your playground plan before you start. If you do get the grant, where will the money go? Who will administer the grant money? What will it be used for? Knowing exactly how you will implement the grant when you receive it can help you make a persuasive case for why you’re the best steward of the funding in the first place.
- Assemble a committee. Before you start writing, recruit a group of people who can help you with grant writing. Writing is an involved process, so it can be constructive if you can find someone with professional writing experience, professional editing experience or grant-writing experience.
- Stay organized. You don’t want to miss a deadline or an important set of instructions with an application. Your organization process should help you with sending away for applications, storing records and instructions and setting calendar reminders for applying. Your organizational system can include a binder or planner with marked dates and file folders. You can also use a computer system to track your progress.
- Look up grant-writing resources. There are workshops, books and even coaching programs to help you become a stronger grant-writer. Explore the world of grant-writing before you apply.
- Create your grant budget carefully. Don’t apply for more than the grant maximum and make sure your numbers are accurate.
- Give yourself plenty of time. Start applying for grants weeks or months before you need the money. This allows you to make your application as strong as possible. Rushing means you may not get all the required materials you need and can lead to mistakes.
- Be thorough and read the instructions. When applying for grants, work as a team and follow directions carefully. Do you need letters of recommendation, proposals, blueprints or other materials? Make sure you submit everything correctly, whether that means meeting a deadline or sending in a specific format. Even tiny errors can hurt your chances, so double-check and be thorough.
- Make your words count. Ultimately, grants are about using words for persuasion. Be sure to provide enough details and ideas to stress the importance of your project. Provide statistics, quotes and information to help support your position. Stay within the word limit, don’t go off topic and make sure each sentence boosts your argument and makes your application stronger.
- Write and edit like a professional. Plan an outline of important information and answers before you start to write. Once you have all your ideas on paper, arrange them in order of importance. Go through multiple drafts of each proposal, tightening the language and working to make your words more persuasive. Remember to ask for feedback from each committee member and have each member edit the grant application. For a final draft check, read your application out loud.
- Get copies of successful grant applications. These set a good example for what your application needs to succeed. Make sure you spend plenty of time on analysis. Do the successful applicants use empirical data or quotes from community members? What can you do in your own application to match this standard? Don’t just mimic successful applications — use them to find ideas for strengthening your own.
- Pay attention to the details. If a hard copy is required, make sure your application is submitted with all pages in order. Make reading the application as simple as possible for the committee.
Playground Grants in Canada
There are several grants available in Canada. A few include:
- The May and Stanley Smith Trust. These tax-exempt grants are available to non-profits in British Columbia as well the Western United States.
- The Community Facility Enhancement Program Grant. This grant is offered through Alberta’s government and pays for community projects related to sports, public use and recreation. It can go towards creating and updating playgrounds. Funding of up to $125,000 is available. The application deadline for 2018 is September 15.
- The Canada Post Community Foundation. Grants of up to $50,000 are available through this foundation for projects that benefit children. Deadlines usually occur in early spring and decisions go out by August or September. To be eligible for this grant, you must be a registered charity, community group or school.
- Random Acts of Play Grants. These grants offer pieces of equipment to playgrounds and play areas designed for children.
- BC Accessibility Grants Program. These grants offer up to $20,000 for making British Columbian facilities accessible. Your play area must already have a Rick Hansen Foundation Accessibility CertificationTM (RHFAC) rating. If you are a for-profit organization, you must be able to match the fund amount. All successful applicants must use the funds within one year to make material improvements to improve access for people with disabilities. This grant is not available for new construction projects.
- Ontario Trillium Foundation. This foundation offers a variety of grants for youth and activity-promoting projects.
- The Saskatchewan Lotteries Community Grant Program. These grants are available for community projects across the province. Applications are due in February. Successful recipients who receive more than $2,000 must have projects that benefit under-represented or disadvantaged populations. Community size determines grant applications. Funds are made available to Aboriginal organizations and municipalities.
- Saskatchewan Culture. A number of grants are available through this organization to benefit Aboriginal and other local cultures.
- The Saskatchewan Parks and Recreation Association. This organization offers a few grants for encouraging active lifestyles and grants for community improvement.
- The GoodLife Kids Foundation. This organization offers grants of different sizes for community products and initiatives aimed at benefiting children with special needs. Past recipients have used the funds for playground projects.
Tips for After You Secure the Grant
When you receive a grant, be sure to send a thank-you note to the grant administrators. Administrators work hard to review applications and like to feel appreciated. If you have social media or newsletters, announce the grant and the source of the grant to show your gratitude. This is also a good time to ask follow-up questions like whether you can apply next year.
Continue to follow directions to receive the funding. Engage your playground building plan to make sure the money is secured and put to good use. Depending on the grant, you may wish to use social media or email to let grant administrators know when you reach milestones with your playground and when the play area is complete.
Playground grants for nonprofits are designed to do good, so if you can show a grant has made an impact in your community, this can encourage federal and provincial governments to continue to offer funding.
Picking Equipment With PlayPower Canada
Of course, once you have funding you’ll want to make the money go further by investing in high-quality, long-lasting and super-fun equipment! If you want to purchase play equipment that stands the test of time from coast to coast, contact PlayPower Canada. We are Canada’s leading supplier of commercial playground equipment and site furnishings.
We can work with you and make the most of your budget by bringing you versatile playground equipment and accessories that are inclusive, fun, creative and designed to encourage childhood development. Request a quote today!