Spark Grants

Spark: (n) anything that activates or stimulates; inspiration or catalyst; (v) to send forth gleams or flashes

Students learn best when given real-life opportunities to engage in academic content in meaningful and relevant ways. And classroom teachers know best how to provide those opportunities. That’s the thinking behind the Spark Grants program. Conceived of and funded by Letitia and John Carter, Spark Grants are small, flexible grants designed to give classroom teachers with innovative ideas the resources they need to “spark” a love of learning.

Launched in 2013 in Providence, this competitive program has granted out $435,000 over the last three years. In the 2016-2017 school year, the Foundation is pleased to offer two types of Spark Grants:
  1. Classroom Spark Grants

    Classroom Spark Grants provide up to $1,000 for full-time teachers of third grade students in Rhode Island public schools. Teachers of special subjects like visual arts, music, or physical education are also eligible to apply so long as the proposed project is designed to be used with a cohort of third-grade students. Teachers must make a compelling case about how their proposed project will advance student learning in the classroom and integrates into existing or future units of study.

    Eligible expenses include classroom equipment and materials, field trip expenses, software licenses, and other resources that would not otherwise be available. Spark Grants are for one-time expenses and cannot provide ongoing funding to sustain projects. Supplies alone are not eligible, unless the teacher makes a compelling case for how the supplies would engage and stimulate their students in a new and unique way.

    For the 2016-2017 school year, teachers may only apply for a Classroom Spark Grant individually; the maximum award for any one project will not exceed $1,000. Two or more third grade teachers in the same school may apply for Classroom Spark Grants, but must do so separately.
  2. Spark Reading School Grants

    Spark Reading School Grants up to $10,000 are new for the 2016-2017 school year. Grounded in the beliefs that imaginative reading and assimilation of context can make learning fun and exciting, and that a childhood love of reading holds promise for long-term success, Spark Reading School Grants exist to support teams of teachers or whole grade levels who seek to inspire and reinforce a school’s culture of reading. Teacher teams must consist of two or more teachers, and the lead applicant must be a third grade teacher in a Rhode Island public school, although other educators, like reading specialists and librarians, may also be a part of the applying team.

    We welcome a broad range of ideas! We anticipate projects may include launching a guest reader program, initiatives that reinforce literacy through performance or visual arts, creating a new book club for students and parents, investing in audio or print lending book libraries, inviting published authors to visit, supporting “young author” conferences, or hosting afterschool “read-in” nights. We are looking for exceptionally creative ideas that engage a school’s entire third grade student population in activities that will inspire and support a lifelong love of reading.

Please note

  • Multiple applications from one teacher (for Classroom Spark Grants) and one school (for Spark Reading School Grants) are not permitted; please submit your best idea.
  • Funds must be expended by the end of the 2016-2017 school year.
  • Spark Reading School Grant applications require a letter of support from the school principal.
  • Note: Previous Spark Grant recipients are required to submit a one page report on their project prior to applying for the 2016-2017 school year. 


The application period is now closed; please check back for the 2017 deadline.

Recipients of a 2016-2017 Spark Grant are asked to provide a one-page summary by 5 PM (EST) on May 19, 2017 describing how they used the funds and what the grant has accomplished. Download the  Classroom Spark Grant Report Form or the  Spark Reading School Grant Report Form

To apply

Want to preview the application before applying? See Classroom Spark Application  (pdf) or Spark Reading School Application (pdf).

To apply, please complete the following:

For Classroom Spark Grants
  • Narrative
  • Online application (All applications must be submitted through our online system. Please note that you will need to attach your completed narrative to the online application before submitting.)
For Spark Reading School Grants
  • Narrative
  • Budget
  • Online application (All applications must be submitted through our online system. Please note that you will need to attach your completed narrative to the online application before submitting.)
  • Letter of support from your school principal
* If you already have started this online application, please log in to your ACCOUNT PAGE to edit the application that is in progress.

More Spark Grant videos


LocationOne Union Station
Providence, RI 02903


(401) 274-4564

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