Cultural Equity Initiatives


(submission through

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


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

Una traducción de esta solicitud de aplicación está disponible a petición; sin embargo, solamente se aceptarán solicitudes en inglés. Favor comunicarse con Kate Patterson-Murphy al 415-252-2229 ó para una traducción al español.


Ang pagsasalin sa Tagalog ng aplikasyon para sa pagkalooban na ito ay makukuha kung hihingilin. Ngunit ang aplikasyon sa Ingles lamang ang aming tatanggapin. Para sa tulong, maaring i-contact si Cece Carpio, 415-252-2217 o


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Important Dates
Information about Cultural Equity Initiatives
Who Can Apply
Panel Evaluation & Scoring Criteria

Important Dates

Informational Webinar September 5, 2018, 12 NOON
Technical Assistance Workshops
View the schedule of upcoming dates
October 2, 2018, 4 p.m.
Applications Due November 8, 2018, 12 NOON
Panel Review  February 2019
Funding Recommendations April 2019
Commission Approval May 2019
Grant Period July 1, 2019 – June 30, 2021

Information about Cultural Equity Initiatives (CEI)

About CEI

The Cultural Equity Initiatives (CEI) grant program offers grants up to $100,000 to small and mid-sized arts organizations for capacity-building initiatives that ensure the artistic and cultural vitality and the sustainability of San Francisco’s arts organizations that are deeply rooted in historically marginalized communities.

Alignment with SFAC's cultural equity goals

The San Francisco Arts Commission is committed to creating a city where all artists and cultural workers have the freedom, agency and platform to share their stories, art and culture.

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: Statement of Purpose,” these communities include: African and African American; Latino/a; Asian and Asian American; Arab; Native American; Pacific Islander; Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Queer; Transgender and Gender Variant People; People with Disabilities; and Women. (SF ADMIN. CODE CHAPTER 68: CULTURAL EQUITY ENDOWMENT FUND. Sec. 68.6. PROJECT GRANTS).

Please note: We recognize that some marginalized communities may not be listed here and encourage applicants to articulate and provide supporting evidence about the marginalization for any community not named above. Please also note the legislation pertains to marginalized communities and not fringe artistic disciplines. 

Organizations must align with one of SFAC’s goals for equitable grantmaking:

  • Capacity Building: Build capacity, resilience and economic viability of individual artists from historically marginalized communities.
  • Accessibility: Provide a space to access art and creativity for historically marginalized communities.
  • Cultural Integrity: Create or present work that demonstrates integrity and ethical use of material with specific cultural origins and context.
  • Intersectionality: Address how race, gender, sexuality, ability, socioeconomic status, immigration status, religion, class, etc. are interconnected and expressed through artistic programming or process.

Eligible Request Amount

Up to $100,000 for a period of two years. The applicant organization’s two-year average annual operating revenue detailed in the DataArts SFAC Funder Report determines the eligible funding amount. Organizations can request up to 50 percent of their two-year average annual operating revenue for an amount not to exceed $100,000 paid over two years.

NEW: CEI grants are paid over two years, however if the total grant request is less than $30,000 organizations have the option to apply for a one year grant.

Applicants must receive an average score of 75 percent or above by the review panel to be considered for funding. Funding will be determined by the availability of funds and is not guaranteed for a score of 75 percent or above.

Native American Arts & Cultural Traditions (NAACT-CEI)

Native American Arts & Cultural Traditions (NAACT) category is aligned with Cultural Equity Grants. Applicants are to apply through the applicable grant category, and will be prompted to choose if they would like to apply through NAACT. By choosing this prompt, these applications will be reviewed by a panel of community members that represent the Native American community in San Francisco Bay Area. Applicants to NAACT-CEI should clearly substantiate that they are connected to the Native American community within their narrative responses. Please follow all of the instructions for CEI and check the box at the end of the Applicant Information Page to confirm that you would like to be considered under the NAACT-CEI program.

Who Can Apply


  • The applicant organization or fiscal sponsor must be tax-exempt under Internal Revenue Code Section 501(c)(3).
  • The applicant organization (and its fiscal sponsor, if applicable) must be San Francisco-based, and must demonstrate two years of programmatic activity with at least four programmatic San Francisco activities.
  • The applicant organization’s mission statement must be clearly focused on the development, production, and/or presentation of arts activities in San Francisco.
  • 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’s two-year average annual operating budget must not exceed $1.5 million in income (determined by the line: Total Operating Revenues (2-year average) in the DataArts SFAC Funder Report).
    New for Fiscal Sponsors: Organizations that exceed the $1.5 million budget cap due to regranting must verify their operational budget without pass-through funds at the time of application. Applicants must upload their most recently completed IRS Form 990.
  • Applicants must not be in default on any grants or loans from: (1) SFAC, (2) other City departments (including, without limitation, Department of Children, Youth, and their Families; Office of Economic and Workforce Development; Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development; and Grants For The Arts), (3) Northern California Grantmakers Arts Loan Fund; (4) Northern California Community Loan Fund, (5) Community Arts Stabilization Trust; or (6) the Center for Cultural Innovation. This default clause was expanded due to the fact that SFAC has a fiduciary relationship with these particular organizations, through either shared City resources or other pooled philanthropic funds.
  • The proposed initiative must take place in San Francisco between July 1, 2019 and June 30, 2021.  
  • The organization must be willing and able to meet the requirements associated with receiving funds from the City and County of San Francisco. In order to receive a grant from the San Francisco Arts Commission, you must become a registered, compliant supplier (formerly called vendor) and meet the City of San Francisco's insurance and business tax requirements. For more information about supplier requirements, visit: Please note if you are not already a City supplier, you will only be required to register if you are awarded a grant. Insurance and business tax requirements will be explained and made available upon approval of grant awards.
  • For NAACT-CEI: The organization must have a strong track record and demonstrated leadership that substantiates that they are connected to a Native American* community and engaged in significant programming that is rooted in Native American arts and cultural traditions.
    *Per the Human Rights Commission, Native American is defined as people of indigenous descent from North, Central, and South American heritage as well as Native Hawaiians, Samoans, Marshall Islanders, and the indigenous people of Guam (whether enrolled, federally or nationally recognized or not). All groups indicated are encouraged to apply, but due to limited funds, priority will go to artists that are affiliated and connected to groups falling under the jurisdiction of the United States.


  • A proposed initiative cannot receive simultaneous funds from multiple SFAC funding sources; this includes collaborators applying to work on different components of the same project and applying separately.
  • Only one application per organization may be submitted to the CEI category. This includes CEI and NAACT-CEI. This does not apply to fiscal sponsors who are submitting applications on behalf of different fiscally sponsored projects.
  • Applicants cannot receive funding for two consecutive grant cycles in the Cultural Equity Initiatives category. This includes NAACT-CEI. A CEI grant (or cycle) is for two years. All of our 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. Generally, applicants that received a two year CEI in FY2016 would be eligible to reapply in FY2019 and an applicant that received a two year CEI in FY17 would be eligible to reapply in FY2020.
  • The awarding of funds does not imply that the Arts Commission or any other City agency will produce, exhibit, or present the art created. It is the responsibility of the applicant to secure a venue and any required permits and insurance for public presentations or workshops.

ineligible expenses

Grant funds may not pay for:

  1. Activities outside of San Francisco;
  2. Deficit reduction;
  3. Start-up money for new organizations;
  4. An arts project or programming (See Organization Project Grants or Artists and Communities in Partnership Grants);
  5. Planning and development of space (See Creative Space grants).

project requirements

To apply for a CEI grant, applicants must have completed a strategic or business planning process. If the organization has none, this proposal must be aimed at supporting a strategic or business planning process. Applicants must upload their current business or strategic plan. If awarded, the final strategic or business plan must be submitted with the final report.

grantee requirements

  • City Permits and Permissions: If the proposal includes components that require City permits or approval such as publicly installed art, street closures, sound amplification in public space, or murals, the artist will be solely responsible for securing the necessary permits, permissions, insurance, and approvals. This planning should be reflected in your project timeline.
  • Insurance Requirements:
    General Liability: Awarded grantees will need to submit a certificate of General Liability Insurance and an Endorsement Page with first invoice. General liability insurance cannot be waived. This requirement can met by the following:
    • Purchasing General Liability Insurance as an individual artist or organization.
    • Purchasing Special Event Insurance for any public events associated with the grant project.
    • Obtaining a General Liability Insurance certificate from their host venue, which adds the grantee and event to their policy by endorsement and lists the San Francisco Arts Commission as additionally insured.

Workers Comp Insurance: Workers Comp insurance is required for an organization that has employees. If you do not have employees, the San Francisco Arts Commission will provide a waiver for this requirement.

NEW: Waiver of Subrogation addendum is required for organizations to do work on ANY City-owned property.

Auto Insurance: Auto Insurance is required if the awarded grantee will use a vehicle for the purposes of the grant. The San Francisco Arts Commission will provide a waiver for this requirement.

Abuse and Molestation Insurance: Proof of Abuse & Molestation coverage in addition to General Liability coverage is required for working with vulnerable populations (minors, people with disabilities, or elderly people).

  • Art Installation: Please note that any art installed with these grant funds on property owned by the City and County of San Francisco or on private property, must be reviewed and approved by the San Francisco Arts Commission starting with the Visual Arts Committee of the Commission. This applies to murals, public sculpture, and similar projects. It will be the responsibility of the grantee to build this process into their grant plan and timeline. Please contact the following Public Art Program staff if you have questions: Alyssa Torres at for murals.

Panel Evaluation & Scoring Criteria

Grants Panelists

CEI applications are evaluated in an open panel review process by a panel of peers. Grant review panelists reflect the diversity of San Francisco; have broad knowledge about the particular artistic discipline, cultural equity and other field issues; and have experience that aligns with the purpose of the specific grant category.

Application Review

SFAC staff process applications and sends them to panelists for review in advance of meeting. Prior to the review panel, you will receive an email containing information about the review schedule and instructions to attend the meeting. Panelists will convene to discuss applications and make funding recommendations.

Panel Review Attendance

CEI panel meetings are open to the public. A time schedule of each panel meeting is emailed to applicants in advance and will be posted on the SFAC website. Please be sure that you include a working email address in your application. Take steps to ensure that emails from SFAC are not lost in your spam filter. Applicants are welcome to observe the meetings, but may not engage in discussion with the panelists or SFAC staff during the panel. Many applicants find it insightful to listen to the discussions of applications because the panelists are seasoned professionals. An applicant that is found to have made attempts to influence a panelist in any way will be automatically disqualified.

Funding Recommendations

Based on an evaluation of the proposals, panelist scores create a ranking for funding recommendations. Panelists will evaluate and rank proposals in three distinct budget categories: organizations with budgets under $150,000; organizations with budgets between $150,000 and $400,000; and organizations with budgets between $400,000 and $1.5 million. Funding recommendations will be determined within each budget category. Staff may also take into consideration discipline when determining how deep into the ranking recommended funding will go. Applicants that do not score about 75 percent of the allotted points will not be eligible for funding. Grant amounts are either the full amount of the grant sought or a substantial portion of the requested grant—and never less than 75 percent.

Scoring Criteria

Panelists will be instructed to use the following scoring criteria that correspond with the noted application questions. Close review of this grid may help you focus your application responses.





Alignment with SFAC's Cultural Equity Goals

(30 points)


Thorough understanding of communities served and intentionality for serving those communities. The organization has a sound strategy for meeting the needs of the communities they serve.

- Who does your organization serve and why?

- How does your organization meet the needs of the communities you serve?


The organization strongly aligns with one of SFAC goals for equitable grantmaking; leadership has adequate relevant experience to work in communities served.

- Describe how your organization aligns with the selected goal


- Describe the leadership team and staff’s relevant experience and qualifications working in the communities you serve.

Artistic History

(20 points)


The organization’s artistic history and accomplishments are strong and demonstrate a meaningful evolution.

- Describe your organization’s artistic progression or maturation. Focus on a few relevant accomplishments or benchmarks.

- Complete the San Francisco Arts Activities table


Work samples clearly demonstrate the organization’s, mission, aesthetics, and audience.

- Provide a maximum of six Work Samples 

Quality of Proposed Project

(30 points)


The organization demonstrates awareness of its current state and positioning (opportunities, challenges, and major change) in relation to the capacity building issue to be addressed.


The need for a strategic or business plan is clearly important for this organization at this moment or the proposed project has been identified in the strategic plan as necessary for the organization’s cultural viability or financial sustainability.

-  Describe the current state of your organization.

- Have you completed a Strategic or Business Plan?

- If NO, grant MUST be used for strategic or business planning. 
- Describe the ways that your organization is prepared to begin a planning process.
- If YES, explain how the proposed project aligns with the main goals and strategies identified in your plan?

- Cite the relevant section of your plan for the panel to review.


-Attach Strategic or Business Plan


Proposed initiative is sound; has great potential to foster artistic vitality and financial sustainability for the applicant beyond the term of the grant; and strongly aligns with the organization's direction and current strategic (or business) plan OR proposed strategic (or business) plan.

-  Describe the proposed capacity- building or planning initiative. Note: For organizations that have not completed a strategic or business planning process, this grant MUST be used for that purpose.

- Complete the Grant Plan


Desired outcomes and strategy to evaluate the impact and success of the initiative on the organization and community are clear and appropriate.

- Describe your desired outcomes and strategy for evaluation.

Ability to Complete the Project

(20 points)


The budget and allocation of funds to the proposed initiative is clear and reasonable in relation to the scope of proposed initiative.


The organization’s financial and audience history as reflected in the CCDP supports the feasibility of the project plan and budget & includes detailed budget notes.  Plans to address any organizational disruption and obtain additional resources are sound and reasonable.

- Complete Budget & Budget notes
- Submit DataArts SFAC Funder’s Report and Notes

-What is the plan to address any disturbance to normal operations?

10 Qualifications of key staff and/or personnel are strong and relevant to implementation of the proposed initiative; Board of Directors is active and supportive. - List key personnel, staff members, partners, collaborators, and Board of Directors.

Panel Notes

SFAC staff takes notes on panel comments during deliberations. You may contact to obtain panel comments.

Funding Approval

Panel recommendations are subject to the approval of the Arts Commission. Typically, recommendations are first reviewed by the Community Investments Committee, then by the full Commission. Meetings of the Commission are public. The agenda will be available on the Arts Commission website at 72 hours in advance of the meeting.

Grant Awards

Notifications will be emailed. Award notification will include instructions about contracting procedures.


What's Coming Up

Public Meeting

Advisory Committee of Street Artists and Crafts Examiners

October 01
1:00 PM to 4:00 PM

War Memorial Bldg | Rm 125
Public Meeting

Advisory Committee of Street Artists and Crafts Examiners

October 01
1:00 PM to 4:00 PM

War Memorial Bldg | Rm 125
Public Meeting

Advisory Committee of Street Artists and Crafts Examiners

October 01
1:00 PM to 4:00 PM

War Memorial Bldg | Rm 125
Public Meeting

Advisory Committee of Street Artists and Crafts Examiners

October 01
1:00 PM to 4:00 PM

War Memorial Bldg | Rm 125