Working With Lots Program 2020

Detroit Future City’s (DFC) Working with Lots Program aims to accelerate vacant land revitalization in Detroit using the Field Guide to Working with Lots. The program has three components: an annual grant program, workshop series, and maintenance program.

The Working with Lots Program encourages Detroiters to install one of 38 lot designs to activate community spaces, beautify neighborhoods and address increased rainfall through green stormwater infrastructure (GSI) practices. 

The Working with Lots Grant Program has been funded by the Erb Family Foundation, the Kresge Foundation and Bank of America.

Community groups, faith-based institutions, nonprofits, small businesses and other community organizations interested in using the Field Guide to activate a lot in their community can email to speak with a member of the Field Guide team.

2020 Working with Lots Grant

Now in its fifth year, the DFC Working with Lots program continues to award grants to install, maintain, and program several sites with a Field Guide lot design.

Applicants must choose from one of the following five categories:

Side Lot Solutions Category

Green Stormwater Infrastructure (GSI) Category

Terrain Category

Forest Category

Choose Your Own Lot Design Category


Click on a category to learn more.


Applications were due by 11:59 p.m. on Monday, April 20, 2020.

Working with Lots Grant Program 2020 - Office Hours

Make An Appointment:

All 2020 Working with Lots Grant applicants are required to complete an Office Hours phone call with a DFC Field Guide team member. Please request an appointment by April 10; no appointments will be held after April 17. Your appointment request must have the names of the organization and the representative, a valid email address, three possible dates and times for an appointment and an idea of which lot design(s) you are interested in implementing.

The window for office hours appointment requests is now closed. Thank you for your interest!

Office Hours are designed to assist applicants by answering questions and providing technical assistance. Please bring photos of your lot from at least two angles (including one from the street) and a drawing of how you plan to use the space for this project. See the Working with Lots Workbook (pgs 32-33) for guidance on creating a draft base map/site plan.

In 2019, DFC’s Working with Lots Program launched a workshop series to increase Detroiters’ capacity to successfully install land-based projects. DFC partnered with different Detroit organizations to offer workshops aimed at strengthening skills and knowledge to better install, maintain and enhance Field Guide lot designs and other community spaces.

Now in its second year, the Working with Lots Workshop Series continues to invite Detroiters to participate in workshops around community engagement, gardening and designing land-based projects.


SAVE THE DATE for these Upcoming Events:

Land Acquisition – Thursday, February 13, 2020

Project Planning & Community Engagement – Thursday, March 5, 2020

Basics of Pruning – Thursday, March 24, 2020 – CANCELLED.

Grant Writing & Resource Hustle Webinar – Thursday, April 2, 2020

Garden Maintenance – Tuesday, May 18, 2020 (POSTPONED.)

Water Catchment & Irrigation – Thursday, June 25, 2020 (date may be subject to change.)

Leveraging Media & Communicating Your Vision – Thursday, July 30, 2020

Planting Techniques – Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Bench Building – Thursday, September 17, 2020



The Working with Lots program awarded its first cohort of grantees in 2016, with installations taking place throughout the city of Detroit. Since then, DFC has invested over $330,000 in communities and vacant land transformation through the Working with Lots Program. Click below to learn more about past Working with Lots grantees.


Working with Lots Grantees – 2019

Working with Lots Grantees – 2018

Working with Lots Grantees – 2017

Working with Lots Grantees – 2016

Working with Lots Grantee Program 2020 Categories

Side Lot Solutions Category

For the first time, the Working with Lots Program is awarding one organization a single grant up to $7,000 to install one lot design across three non-contiguous lots within a half-mile radius to increase their overall neighborhood impact.

Qualified lot designs include a simplified version of the “Dumping Preventer,” “Friendly Fence,” or the “Rose Appeal” (simplified from the Rear Parking Partner) Lot Design.

The “Side Lot Solutions” category is ideal for community groups and block clubs looking to beautify their neighborhood.

One grant is available in the “Side Lot Solutions” category. To qualify, an organization must be able to implement three sites within a half-mile radius.

Click here to submit your grant proposal today.

Green Stormwater Infrastructure (GSI) Category

The lot designs in the “Green Stormwater Infrastructure (GSI)” category are sustainable approaches to managing Detroit’s increased rainfall.

The “Storm Soaker” and “Organic Bowl” Lot Designs use our natural environment to manage stormwater runoff in ways that transform vacant lots into intentional and enjoyable landscapes. This category is ideal for organizations and businesses looking to use GSI practices to manage the runoff from their impervious surfaces and potentially receive a DWSD drainage credit.

There is one grant up to $10,000 available to implement an “Organic Bowl” or a “Storm Soaker” lot design.

Click here to submit your grant proposal today.

Terrain Category

The “Terrain” category includes the “Mounds of Fun” and “Perennial Propagator” lot designs.

Featuring three large mounds of varying sizes, the “Mounds of Fun” lot design uses topography to create a fun and interactive area for neighbors to play and gather. This lot design is suitable for a single lot but can be more versatile and have a more significant impact if implemented across multiple lots, creating a unique landscape.

The “Perennial Propagator” lot design features perennial plants that quickly spread and divide to share with neighbors. This eye-catching lot design is an excellent fit for any organization looking to build a regenerating neighborhood resource where plants can be divided and shared among a community.

Grants up to $7,000 is available to implement a lot design in the Terrain Category.

Click here to submit your grant proposal today.

Forest Category

The lot designs in the “Forest” category are ideal for organizations that want to improve biodiversity by beginning, continuing, or completing a forest in their vacant lot.

The “Syrup Maker” lot design is ideal for groups that can imagine stewarding their tiny forest for many years until trees reach maturity and can be tapped for maple syrup production.

The “Shade Maker” lot design offers beautiful spring and fall colors by planting both flowering and non-flowering trees.

The “Forest Patcher” lot design takes an existing forest and clears weedy understory to create a beautiful landscape for the neighborhood.

Grants up to $7,000 are available to implement a “Forest Patcher,” “Shade Maker,” and the “Syrup Maker” lot designs.

Click here to submit your grant proposal today.

"Choose Your Own Lot Design" Category

Certain designs may not work for certain lots, and that’s okay! For the “Choose Your Own Lot Design Category,” we are welcoming proposals using any lot design from the Field Guide to Working with Lots, or an original lot design of your creation that we can add to the Field Guide after installation.

There is one grant up to $7,000 available to implement a lot design from this category.

Click here to submit your grant proposal today.

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