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Project-Based Grant: LiftOff Grant

Grants to Washington, DC Arts and Humanities Nonprofits
for Capacity Building and Professional Development

Agency Type:


Funding Source:

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District of Columbia (DC) Commission on the Arts and Humanities (CAH)

Conf. Date:


Deadline Date:

10/20/17 4:00 PM EDT


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Grants of up to $25,000 to Washington, DC nonprofit arts and humanities organizations with small operating budgets for professional development and capacity building activities. Workshops are scheduled for October 4, October 6, October 12, and October 13. First-time applicants are strongly encouraged to apply.

CAH’s LiftOff program supports professional development and capacity building of nonprofit organizations established in the arts or humanities with organizational budgets under $250,000. By working with an identified program participant (“Leader”) from applicant organizations, the LiftOff program will endeavor to incorporate perspectives of individuals from communities historically underrepresented in the agency’s past capacity building initiatives by developing an inclusive peer network across the District’s geographic areas.

The eight-month program, tentatively scheduled between February and September 2018, will be coordinated by LiftOff consultants, independently contracted by CAH, responsible for facilitating peer exchange sessions, highlighting informational resources, and providing limited hands-on technical assistance to program participants.

In addition to grant funding, the cohort of awarded organizational Leaders (up to 20) will receive a combination of hands-on technical assistance consulting and in-person learning sessions. These forums are intended to provide LiftOff participant Leaders with a robust peer exchange opportunity and resources aimed to strengthen an organization’s infrastructure, funding and program delivery methods. This flexible support will address priority capacity challenges faced by the awarded nonprofit organizations.

The program’s three components, indicated below, are specifically designed to reflect the needs of nascent or rising arts or humanities nonprofits:

-Organizational Self-Assessment: Program participants will work with consultants and facilitators to articulate short- and long-term organizational development priorities and identify opportunities and community resources available to help reach their goals; and

-Structured Peer Exchange: Six half-day peer exchange sessions will build upon the group’s knowledge and experience with fundamental nonprofit management practices, such as fundraising, finance management, governance and human capital. These in-person sessions will also serve as a welcoming space to engage, exchange and network with peers; and

-Dedicated Financial Support: Participants will work with LiftOff facilitators to identify and propose an organizational capacity building project to CAH in their interim report. These funding requests will be finalized and approved by CAH, and allocated in three tiers based on the awarded organization’s budget size, subject to the availability of funds.

LiftOff Goals:
-Prepare Leaders of small arts or humanities nonprofits to build organizational capacity; and
-Cultivate a robust peer network among LiftOff participant Leaders to foster new partnerships, collaborations and shared resources; and
-Promote culturally diverse, distinctive and dynamic expression through the arts and humanities for all District of Columbia residents; and
-Increase understanding of and access to CAH’s resources, programs and opportunities.

Successful LiftOff Applications:
-Demonstrate arts and humanities programs that are impactful to the communities they serve;
-Articulate a clear vision, with the highest levels of conviction and commitment from leadership;
-Provide a clear picture of the organization’s current position, and how LiftOff may help move it to the next step;
-Are complete, with each question thoroughly answered; and
-Are prepared in advance of the deadline, with all required documentation attached prior to the submission of the application.

Examples of allowable costs for LiftOff Grants:
-Artistic and Administrative personnel salaries or wages;
-Artists/consultants fees;
-Space rental and fees;
-Travel and transportation directly related to project implementation; and
-Purchase of equipment that increases organizational capacity.

Americans with Disabilities Act:

CAH is committed to ensuring that all grant recipients comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990. The ADA provides civil rights protection to individuals with disabilities in the areas of employment, services rendered by state and local government, places of public accommodation, transportation and telecommunication services. Organizations funded by CAH must make reasonable accommodations to ensure that people with disabilities have equal physical and communications access, as defined by federal law.

Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, Access:

In addition to detailed plans for ADA compliance, applications should demonstrate how the project will be inclusive, diverse, equitable and accessible throughout DC beyond participants with disabilities. Successful applications consider the broader definition of accessibility by addressing financial, geographic, cultural and developmental access.

GrantWatch ID#:

GrantWatch ID#: 182311

Number of Grants:

Up to 20

Estimated Size of Grant:

Organizations may request up to $25,000.

These funding requests will be allocated in three tiers based on the awarded organization’s budget size, subject to the availability of funds.

Organizational Budget Size (cash expenses) / Eligible Award:
-Budget up to $50,000: $5,000
-Budget of $50,001 - $150,000: $15,000
-Budget of $150,000 - $250,000: $25,000

Term of Contract:

The grant period for this grant program is from date of the grant award (fully executed grant agreement) through September 30, 2018.

The eight-month LiftOff program is tentatively scheduled between February and September 2018.

Additional Eligibility Criteria:

Eligibility Requirements:

-Prior to submitting applications, applicants must meet all of the following eligibility requirements: Nonprofit organizations must have an annual budget (cash expenses) under $250,000 (“annual budget” is represented by cash expenses only, typically evidenced by a most recent IRS Form 990 or the most recent twelve (12) consecutive month bank statements); and

-Commit to providing arts, humanities or arts education programs to the residents of Washington, DC, as reflected in the organization’s mission and its initiatives; and

-Ensure that at least fifty-one percent (51%) of the organization’s activities occur within the District of Columbia; and

-Identify an organizational individual who will serve as the participant (“Leader”) and, may also serve as the point of contact, for the LiftOff program. Only one (1) applicant per art or humanities nonprofit organization may apply. “Leaders” are representatives generally limited those holding positions such as an Executive Director, CEO, Managing Director, Artistic Director. “Arts or humanities nonprofit organization” are defined as those having as a primary function to exhibit, present or train in disciplines of dance, design, folk and traditional arts, literature, media arts, music, theatre and visual arts, as documented by the organization’s mission statement and evidenced by its core programs;

-Be incorporated in the District of Columbia; and

-Be a registered (non-foreign entity) District of Columbia nonprofit business; and

-Be headquartered with a land address in the District of Columbia as demonstrated by the organization’s most recent IRS Form 990 (Post Office Boxes and the address of board members or volunteers may not be used as a primary business address); and

-Possess a federal tax exemption status (501(c)(3)) for at least one year prior to the application deadline date; and

-Be a registered organization in good standing with the District of Columbia Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs’ (DCRA) Corporation Division, the Office of Tax and Revenue (OTR) and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS); and

-Obtain a Citywide Clean Hands certification; and

-Are in good standing with CAH. Applicants with incomplete or delinquent reports from any prior
funding program, as of October 16, 2017, are ineligible to receive an additional award from CAH
in FY 2018; and

-Abstain from any use of secondary party that acts on an organization’s behalf (“fiscal agent”) in
the performance and execution of financial duties; and

-Are not colleges, universities, service organizations, foreign governments or other District of
Columbia government agencies, including District of Columbia Public Schools or charter schools.

Examples of funding restrictions for Budget LiftOff Grants:
-Overhead, maintenance and administration exceeding 35% of the grant;
-Food and beverages;
-Auxiliary and/or affiliate organizations;
-Tuition, awards and scholarships;
-Debt reduction;
-Fundraising project expenses;
-Travel not directly related to the execution of the project;
-Expenses not directly related to the execution of the project;
-Operational reserve – LiftOff awards cannot go toward operational reserves;
-Funding to universities, foreign governments or District of Columbia government agencies, including DCPS.

Pre-proposal Conference:

Workshop dates, times and locations listed below are subject to change. All workshops are free and open to the public; however, participants are encouraged to RSVP. Photo identification is required for in-person workshops.

Workshop attendance is strongly recommended for first-time applicants.

-General Workshop: Wednesday, October 4, 6:00 PM - 8:00 PM at CAH
-Web Chat: Friday, October 6, 2:30 PM – 3:30 PM
-General Workshop: Thursday, October 12, 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM at DMGEO
-Web Chat: Friday, October 13, 2:30 PM – 3:30 PM

FY18 Workshops will be located at:

DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities (CAH)
200 I (Eye) Street SE, Suite 1400
Washington, DC 20003

Office of the Deputy Mayor for Greater Economic Opportunity (DMGEO)
2235 Shannon Place SE, Suite 3040
Washington, DC 20020

Pre-Application Information:

CAH staff members are available to assist grant applicants through group or individual technical assistance. CAH staff members will not write applications for applicants. CAH staff members are available for thirty (30) minute appointments on government business days up to one (1) week prior to the grant application deadline. An applicant is permitted to contact CAH to schedule a meeting to review draft applications for technical assistance.

Please note that CAH requests the applicant prepare and deliver (by email) their full draft application proposal along with any questions in advance of scheduling a meeting for agency staff assistance. (Final applications may not be submitted by email.)

Applications must be submitted via CAH’s online portal by 4:00 PM EDT on October 20, 2017.

Applicants will be notified of a grant application decision via a conditional grant award email, letter of intention to fund, letter of ineligibility or letter of denial, on or after Friday, December 15, 2017 – depending upon the program.

Contact Information:

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

Live Web Chats

Apply Online:

Arthur Espinoza, Jr., Executive Director
(202) 724-5613

To request reasonable accommodation to submit an application via mail, email, or hand-delivery, contact:

Kali Wasenko

Government of the District of Columbia
Commission on the Arts and Humanities
200 I Street, SE, Suite 1400
Washington, DC 20003

Phone: (202) 724-5613
Fax: (202) 727-4135
TTY: (202) 724-4493

Funding or Pin Number:


URL for Full Text (RFP):

Geographic Focus:

USA: Washington, DC