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Ignition Grants

Grants to Greater Hartford, Connecticut Arts
Nonprofits to Improve Operations

Agency Type:

Foundation / Corporation

Funding Source:

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Greater Hartford Arts Council and Hartford Foundation for Public Giving

LOI Date:


Deadline Date:

10/04/18 11:59 PM


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Grants of up to $10,000 to Greater Hartford, Connecticut nonprofit arts organizations to support organizational development and sustainability. Applicants must submit an intent to apply by March 8, 2018 and are advised to contact program staff to discuss the project before submitting an application.

Funding is intended to help arts organizations at all stages of development fulfill their artistic mission and deliver innovative programming. Ignition Grants provide funding to increase sustainability, raise organizational profiles, and build the capacity necessary to produce high quality work.

Eligible initiatives include and are not limited to board development and training, marketing plans, and strategic planning. Specifically, grants will be awarded in two categories:

Planning Phase: Support planning activities that pave the way to carry out an initiative. These activities include determining:
- The scope of the initiative;
- Resources needed for the initiative;
- The project plan.

Implementation Phase: Support implementation activities to achieve the planned initiative. These activities include:
- Hiring consultants to work on the initiative.
- Purchase of materials.
- Execution of project plan.

Please note: Applicants are not required to complete a planning grant in order to receive implementation grant funding but must demonstrate that the work needed to support implementation has been completed. Funding for a planning grant does not guarantee future funding for an implementation grant.

Applicants are required to demonstrate significant impact in one or more of the five core goal areas in order to receive funding.
1. Increase Greater Hartford’s ability to attract and retain talent by leveraging the value of extraordinary arts experiences as an integral part of the region’s quality of life.
2. Promote intercultural understanding by supporting arts experiences that include, represent, and engage all populations regardless of their ethnic, cultural, social, economic, and ability backgrounds.
3. Utilize the arts to cultivate the creative talents of school-aged (pre-K through grade 12) youth in the region, especially those whose economic conditions present a barrier to access.
4. Enhance the vibrancy of communities that have been historically unserved or underserved by increasing members’ access to arts experiences and institutions.
5. Engage members of diverse communities to explore social issues of broad public concern through the arts together.

In general, the most successful initiatives:
- Address issues that affect the organization as a whole, rather than a single department or program.
- Come at a strategic moment for the organization, such as a leadership transition, a period of rapid growth or expansion, or significant change in a program or income stream.
- Are focused on a single problem or issue, rather than a patchwork of unrelated problems or needs.
- Are critical to the organization's long-term success in achieving its mission.

Examples of eligible initiatives:
- Exploration of Partnership and Collaboration
- Administrative Systems Support
- Audience Assessments
- Board Development and Training
- Staff Development and Training
- Branding and Communications
- Financial Management Systems
- Fundraising Planning (Plan Development, Event Assessment, Training)
- Human Resources Assessment (Staffing, Policies, Procedures)
- Marketing Plans (including Social Media strategies)
- Organizational Assessments
- Program Planning and Evaluation
- Research Development
- Transition Planning
- Strategic Planning
- Volunteer Program Planning and Implementation
- Website Development

Eligible expenses directly related to the initiative include but are not limited to:
- Salaries and wage expenses of staff directly related to the initiative (up to 30% of the total)
- Overhead (facility rental, utilities, office supplies) directly related to the project (up to 3% of the total)
- Appropriate ‘fair market’ value for in-kind contributions (up to 25% of the total)
- Consulting and professional fees
- Reasonable travel expenses
- Equipment/room rental and purchase
- Printing, postage, and advertising expenses
- Legal fees
- Software and hardware expenses
- Conference, workshop and other registration fees
- Publication fees

GrantWatch ID#:

GrantWatch ID#: 161104

Estimated Size of Grant:

The maximum award is $10,000 per phase.

Term of Contract:

All funded project expenses must be incurred within the grant period which cannot exceed 12 months.

Additional Eligibility Criteria:

Applicants must:
- Be an arts organization regularly offering arts programming as a primary public function. See definition of an arts organization below.
- Be a non-profit corporation registered in the State of Connecticut with 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status from the Internal Revenue Service.
- Maintain an annual operating budget of under $1 million.
- Have a primary physical address within the 29-town region outlined on the map (see page 3 of the Guidelines in Supporting Documents below).

Eligible organizations are located in the communities of:
Andover, Avon, Bloomfield, Bolton, Canton, East Granby, East Hartford, East Windsor, Ellington, Enfield, Farmington, Granby, Glastonbury, Hartford, Hebron, Manchester, Marlborough, Newington, Rocky Hill, Simsbury, Somers, South Windsor, Suffield, Tolland, Wethersfield, West Hartford, Windsor, Windsor Locks, and Vernon.

For the purposes of this grant program, “Arts Organization” is defined as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that creates, exhibits, and/or performs works in any of the following fine, performing, applied or literary art forms as a primary public function:

- Drawing
- Painting
- Sculpture
- Printmaking
- Photography
- Architecture
- Dance
- Theater
- Music
- Decorative art
- Functional art
- Creative Writing (including poetry and prose)

Arts organizations typically reference the arts in their mission and vision statements, strategic planning documents, and other foundational materials. The Arts Council recognizes that there is not always a clear distinction between the arts and humanities and that some organizations utilize both to achieve their missions. Please contact Arts Council staff to discuss the work of your organization if it does not fall clearly into the definition above.

The following entities are not eligible for Ignition Grant support:
- Organizations that have an open Ignition Grant.
- Organizations requesting funding for two different initiatives in the same year.
- Churches or church-affiliated organizations receiving a significant portion of their base support from a church or religious organization.
- Governmental institutions and agencies, e.g. public libraries, park and recreational facilities, schools, etc.
- Organizations that have not fulfilled grantee obligations from prior Arts Council grants, including filing of final reports that are due before the Ignition Grant application deadline. No exceptions.
- Organizations currently receiving funding for capacity building projects from the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving or Connecticut Humanities, or which currently have an active Business Volunteers for the Arts (BVA) project with the Arts Council.
- Organizations that are part of the Arts Catalyst Program.

The following are not eligible for funding:
- Presentations of exhibitions, performances, events, programing expenses
- Capital improvements such as renovation, restoration, rehabilitation or construction
- Endowment requests
- Unrestricted funding requests or general operating support
- Individual fellowships, graduate education, or university-based projects that require participants to register for academic credit
- Acquisition of artifacts, works of art or documents
- Repayments of loans or debt service
- Costs associated with social or fund-raising events
- Retroactive funding for activities completed before the start date of the proposed initiative
- Undocumented expenses
- Salaries for new or expanded staff positions
- Office supplies
- Food and beverage expenses

Pre-Application Information:

Applicants need not demonstrate matching funds in order to receive an Ignition Grant, although initiatives with matching funds are encouraged. There are two application deadlines per calendar year. Organizations may apply for and receive funding for each phase of the same initiative in the same calendar year, but may not receive funding for two different initiatives in the same year. Applications that combine planning and implementation activities within the same proposal will not be funded.

Applicants must first submit an Intent to apply via email. If approved, instructions will be provided on how to submit a full application via the online portal.

Deadlines and Timeline:

For Initiatives between July 1, 2018 - June 30, 2019
- Intent to Apply due: March 8, 2018
- Application deadline: April 12, 2018
- Award notification: Late May

For Initiatives between January 1, 2019 - December 31, 2019
- Intent to Apply due: August 30, 2018
- Application deadline: October 4, 2018
- Award notification: Late November

Community Impact Goals and Indicators:

Application Instructions:

Contact Information:

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

Email application materials to The subject line should read “Ignition Grant Intent to Apply - [Organization Name].”

Questions should be directed to Catherine Valenza at 860-525-8629 x245 or the email address above.

Greater Hartford Arts Council
100 Pearl Street
Hartford, CT 6103

URL for Full Text (RFP):

Geographic Focus:

USA: Connecticut: Greater Hartford Area