Jessica Mathews /

Small and rural towns are again being encouraged to submit ideas that can help their communities grow and thrive as part of a grant funding competition.

The Consumers Energy Foundation is calling for entries in the annual "Put Your Town on the Map" pitch competition. The competition will provide $50,000 for big ideas in Michigan’s small towns. It seeks to reward innovative ideas that attract visitors to downtowns, advance housing, education or employment, and cultivate community pride.

The competition provides funding for three projects that help small communities in Michigan grow and thrive. Communities with up to 10,000 residents can submit proposals through April 7th.

Foundation President Brandon Hofmeister said the competition is all about helping make big ideas a reality for Michigan’s small communities. He said “Consumers Energy and our foundation have a proud tradition of helping the communities we serve to grow and thrive. Our small towns are the backbone of our state, and this competition helps those communities bring their ideas to life”.

The Consumers Energy Foundation and the Community Economic Development Association of Michigan (CEDAM) will select 10 finalists to make their pitches at the Small Town and Rural Development Conference in June. The top three winners will receive grants worth $25,000, $15,000 and $10,000, respectively.

Consumers Energy started the competition in 2019.

In 2021, the Village of Pinckney was among the finalists and won $15,000 for a community garden project (pictured).

In 2022, grant dollars were awarded to the city of Big Rapids for a skatepark project, to Gaylord to develop a new art corridor, and to Hart to support their new initiative called The Hart Project.

More information about the competition and how to apply is available in the provided link.