Special Events Sponsorship Program

 Image of multiple special events

Events and activities can bring diverse groups together; they bring us together. Events offer opportunities to share, celebrate, raise funds, promote causes, and to have fun. They create a sense of community by building social, emotional, and physical connections. When events happen, our city is vibrant, tourists visit, and our local economy thrives.

The Office of Special Events (OSE) works with local organizers to generate vibrant, diverse events. We collaborate to make sure these special events are fun, creative, safe, and inclusive. Our goal is to boost the economy and revitalize the sense of community by supporting events.
This program will financially support events that encourage community unity and pride, and promote equity. We'll give particular funding consideration to events that impact equity. This includes diverse locations, vendor/artist/entertainer participation, cultural education, and more. For full program details, download the Special Events Sponsorship Program Policy linked to the right. 


Application Period Currently Closed

Having an event between January 1 - June 30, 2022? You're eligible for the second funding cycle of the Special Event Sponsorship Program. We'll open the application period December 1, 2021 with a deadline to apply by December 15, 2021 at 5 pm. 
  • Application Period: December 1 – December 15, 2021
  • Application Deadline: December 15 at 5 pm
  • Award Notification: December 23, 2021
To be eligible for this sponsorship program, an event must:
  • be organized by a not-for-profit or nonprofit entity
  • not be organizations that exist for the purpose of providing funding to or managing other groups or entities
  • occur between the dates listed in the application cycles
  • be held on public property within the City of Grand Rapids
  • be free and open to the public
  • not be political in nature
  • align with the City’s mission and values of equity
  • must be in good standing with the City of Grand Rapids (this includes organizers and fiduciaries)
  • be permitted by the Office of Special Events

We want to help defray the costs of community level events that are open and free to the public. Our sponsorship funds only cover certain expenses. Review the list below to make sure your request meets allowable uses.

Eligible Use of Sponsorship Funds

  • Special event expenses like children’s activities, educational workshops, advertising, printing, local entertainment, and more
  • Liability insurance fees (Liquor Liability Insurance is not eligible) 
  • City fees related to barricade placement, police services, trash receptacles, permit fees, or facility rental
We offer two application cycles, the first is in June and the other in December. Make sure to mark your calendars and apply by the deadline. We don't accept late applications.

Cycle 1 - Eligible events occur between July 17 - December 31, 2021
  • Application Period: June 25 – July 9, 2021
  • Application Deadline: July 9 at 5 p.m.
  • Award Notification: July 16, 2021
Cycle 2 - Eligible events occur between January 1 - June 30, 2022
  • Application Period: December 1– December 15, 2021
  • Application Deadline: December 15 at 5 p.m.
  • Award Notification: December 23, 2021

Application Process

We know you're excited about this program, we are excited too! Currently, the application period for Cycle 1 is closed. We'll announce the award recipients on July 16, 2021. We won't have updates on the status of your application until the announcement date just a few weeks away. 

  1. To be eligible, complete and submit your Special Event Permit Application before submitting your Sponsorship Application 
  2. Use the Aligning Events with Strategic Priorities Worksheet(DOCX, 56KB) to help align your event with the City's Strategic Plan 
  3. Complete the Special Event Sponsorship Application and Estimated Budget Form when the application cycle opens December 1, 2021 
  4. Return the Special Event Sponsorship Application and Estimated Budget Form
  5. An evaluation committee will review your application based on alignment with the City’s vision, mission, values, and strategic priorities 
  6. For the second funding cycle, we'll communicate with all applicants regarding the status of their application
  7. Recipients will be required to sign a contract with the City of Grand Rapids that includes a marketing plan and a strategy for capturing demographic information
  8. Funds will be awarded prior to the event as long as the special event permit requirements have been met
  9. Recipients will submit reconciliation requirements due no later than 14 days after the event 

Evaluation Criteria: Aligning With the City's Strategic Plan

We evaluate applications on how the event or activation aligns with the City’s Strategic Plan and core mission. We look for events that enhance Grand Rapids’ neighborhoods in the following ways:

  • Support equitable economic impact through engaging BIPOC and diverse vendors
  • Provide cultural and educational enrichment
  • Celebrate our unique diversity, history, and heritage
  • Create ownership and a sense of belonging
  • Enhance pride and a sense of community
  • Promote a positive image of the City
Wondering how to connect your special event with the City's Strategic Plan? We've created a helpful list of questions for each strategic priority. These will help you brainstorm and create a narrative for the sponsorship application. By doing this, you'll help us identify how your event aligns with the strategic priorities. Download the Aligning Events with Strategic Priorities Worksheet linked in step 2 above.