Funding & Awards

Grant Spotlight: Free Gear for Your Makerspace from SparkFun

New for 2017, SparkFun has launched a formal grant program that is awarding prize packages and sponsorships on the monthly basis to educational and non-profit organizations to support makerspaces, coding, robotics labs and STEM- and STEAM-related activities.

SparkFun is not your usual ed tech company. Its focus is on "electronics literacy," with a strong emphasis on making and coding. It specializes in distributing hardware based on open source designs and currently offers some 2,000 open source "components and widgets."

SparkFun Inventor's Kit

As for the new grant program, the SparkFun Community Partner program doesn't award pre-determined prize packages. Rather, it asks applicants what their needs are (a package of products, a sponsorship, etc.) and bases its awards on those needs. Awards "tend to be" in the $100 to $500 range, including free hardware — from individual micro-controller boards to full invention kits. According to SparkFun, some of the popular award requests have included:

According to the company: "SparkFun looks for individuals and organizations who embrace maker values of open source, collaboration, playfulness, learning at all levels, and making the world a better place. Our community partners will demonstrate a noble cause, a vital need and an inspiring story....."

Full details can be found on SparkFun's Community Partner site here.

About the Author

David Nagel is editorial director, education for 1105 Media's Public Sector Media Group and editor-in-chief of THE Journal. A 22-year publishing veteran, Nagel has led or contributed to dozens of technology, art and business publications.

He can be reached at dnagel@1105media.com. You can also connect with him on LinkedIn at or follow him on Twitter at @THEJournalDave (K-12) or @CampusTechDave (higher education).


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