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Cultural Equity Initiatives (CEI) Grant

Grants to California Nonprofit Arts Organizations in
Marginalized Communities for Capacity Building Initiatives

Agency Type:


Funding Source:

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San Francisco Arts Commission (SFAC)

Conf. Date:


Deadline Date:

12/09/20 12:00 PM PST


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Grants to California mid-sized and small nonprofit arts organizations in eligible locations serving and led by marginalized communities for capacity building projects. Funding is intended to support the artistic and cultural sustainability and vitality of local arts organizations that demonstrate substantial service to historically marginalized populations. Proposed initiatives must impact communities in San Francisco.

Cultural Equity Initiatives (CEI) is a cornerstone of the Arts Commission’s grants program. CEI will continue to honor and amplify the legacy of the Cultural Equity Endowment by supporting San Francisco-based arts organizations that are deeply embedded in their communities through multi-year, core support grants. Core support grants provide organizations with the funds they need to sustain day-to-day operations and provide maximum flexibility.
This shift in strategy and prioritization of resources is informed by deep community engagement and feedback that has been conducted by the Arts Commission over time, along with field-wide research that confirms deep investments in small and mid-sized cultural organizations increase cultural equity. This shift also takes into account the severe financial impacts that the arts sector has experienced due to COVID-19, especially for BIPOC-led arts organizations coupled with the compounding effects of systemic racism. 
  • Prioritizes organizations led by BIPOC, LGBTQ, People with Disabilities, women, and other historically marginalized communities that are identified in the Cultural Equity Endowment legislation.
  • Fosters artistic expression and arts leadership reflective of San Francisco’s rich cultural heritage and legacy.
  • Provides flexibility and addresses bandwidth challenges in critical sustainability areas including operations and staff development.

Priority funding goes to organizations that foster artistic expression deeply rooted in and reflective of historically marginalized communities. Using both the Cultural Equity Endowment Legislation and the Grantmakers in the Arts’ “Racial Equity in Arts Funding: Statement of Purpose and Recommendations for Action," These communities include: African and African American; Latinx; Asian and Asian American; Arab; Native American; Pacific Islander; Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Queer; Transgender and Gender Variant People; People with Disabilities; and Women.

Note: Due to COVID-19 restrictions, all activities hosted by the Arts Commission will be online until further notice.

GrantWatch ID#:

GrantWatch ID#: 130621

Estimated Size of Grant:

Applicants may request up to $100,000 over a period of two years. The applicant organization’s average annual operating revenue from the two most recently completed fiscal years determines the eligible request amount.

Term of Contract:

CEI grants are two years or 24 months. The proposed initiative must take place between July 1, 2021 and June 30, 2023. All grantees are required to sit out for one year after each grant cycle. In addition, they are required to close out a grant before reapplying.


Additional Eligibility Criteria:

- The applicant organization or fiscal sponsor must be tax-exempt under Internal Revenue Code Section 501(c)(3) in good standing.
- The applicant organization (and its fiscal sponsor, if applicable) must be based in San Francisco and provide a business address located in San Francisco verified by a utility bill.
- Applicants must demonstrate two full years of programmatic activity at the time of application, with at least four public events in San Francisco. Two of the public events may be presented online or in a virtual platform if they took place after March 16, 2020, and the primary intended audience was San Francisco residents.
- The applicant organization’s mission must be explicitly focused on the development, production, presentation, and/or support of arts activities and/or youth arts activities in San Francisco.
- The proposed initiative must take place in San Francisco between July 1, 2021 and June 30, 2023.
- The applicant organization cannot be part of another City agency or department.
- The applicant organization must have a fundamental and substantial history of working with and/or presenting ongoing activities to members of the historically marginalized community(ies) identified in its proposal.
- The organization must be willing and able to meet the requirements associated with receiving funds from the City and County of San Francisco.

For information about fiscal sponsors, see the guidelines:

The organization’s annual operating revenue must not exceed $1.5 million in income.

Current CEI grantees are ineligible to apply. Applicants cannot receive funding for two consecutive grant cycles in the CEI category.

Programs of another City agency or department are not eligible to apply, which includes the City-owned Cultural Centers and the Cultural Districts.

Grant funds may not pay for:
1. Activities outside of San Francisco;
2. Deficit reduction;
3. Start-up money for new organizations;
4. Planning and development of space (see Creative Space grants for funding opportunities).

Pre-Application Information:

Important Dates:
- Grantseeker Information Session: October 21, 2020 at 12 p.m.
- One-on-One consultations: October 23 – December 14, 2020
- Application Due: December 9, 2020 at 12 p.m.
- Panel Review: February – March 2021
- Funding Recommendations: April 2021
- Commission Approval: May 2021

Applicants are strongly encouraged to consult with San Francisco Arts Commission staff well in advance of the application deadline to confirm eligibility.

Only one application per organization may be submitted to the CEI category. This does not apply to fiscal sponsors who submit applications on behalf of multiple fiscally sponsored organizations.

A translation of this grant application is available upon request; however, only applications in English will be accepted.

In order to receive a grant payment from the San Francisco Arts Commission, you must become a registered, compliant supplier and meet the City and County of San Francisco's insurance, business tax, and equal benefits requirements. For more information about supplier requirements, visit

Please note: You will only be required to register as a City supplier if your application is approved for funding.

Grants homepage:

Important Dates:

Upcoming Grantseeker Information Sessions:

Recording of October 16 session for San Fransisco Artists and Arts Organizations:
(Webinar password: 2020Grants)

Recording of October 21 session for San Fransisco Artists and Arts Organizations:
(Password: 2020ArtsOrgs)

Contact Information:

Before starting your grant application, please review the funding source's website listed below for updates/changes/addendums/conferences/LOIs.

Apply online:

If you do not have access to the internet, you may mail your application, postmarked Wednesday, December 9, 2020 and you must notify Program Officer Debbie Ng at or 415-252-2216. Mail to: 401 Van Ness Ave., Suite 325, San Francisco, CA 94102

For any questions about CEI, contact Program Officer Debbie Ng at or 415-252-2216.

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