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 Lorena Moreno al 415-252-2211 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

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

Important Dates

Community Investments Grants Webinar September 18, 2019 at 4 p.m.
CEI Technical Assistance Workshop
View the schedule of all upcoming dates
October 9, 2019 at 4 p.m.
Applications Due November 13, 2019 at 12 p.m. NOON PST
Panel Review February/March 2020
Funding Recommendations April 2020
Commission Approval May 2020
Grant Period July 1, 2020 – June 30, 2022

Information about Cultural Equity Initiatives (CEI)

About CEI

The Cultural Equity Initiatives (CEI) grant program awards 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 deeply rooted in historically marginalized communities.

racial equity statement

The San Francisco Arts Commission (SFAC) is committed to creating a city where all artists and cultural workers have the freedom, resources and platform to share their stories, art and culture and where race does not predetermine one’s success in life. We also acknowledge that we occupy traditional and unceded Ohlone land. Fueled by these beliefs, we commit to addressing the systemic inequities within our agency, the City and County of San Francisco and the broader arts and culture sector. This work requires that we focus on race as we confront inequities of the past, reveal inequities of the present and develop effective strategies to move all of us towards an equitable future.

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; Latinx; 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. 

Eligible Request Amount

Up to $100,000 for a period of two years. The applicant organization’s annual operating revenue from the last completed fiscal year determines the eligible funding amount. Organizations can request up to 50 percent of their annual operating revenue.

Organizations may request a one-year grant period if the total grant request is less than $30,000.

Approved grant amounts may differ from the request amount due to the level of funding available to the program, demand for that funding, and/or the score a proposal receives from the peer review panel.

Native American arts & cultural traditions

Applicants who would prefer to be reviewed by a peer panel of community members deeply rooted in the Native American Arts & Cultural Traditions of the San Francisco Bay Area can check the box at the end of the Applicant Information Page. Applicants should clearly substantiate how they are connected to the Native American community within their narrative responses.

The applicant must have a strong track record and demonstrated leadership that substantiates 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.

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 since November 2017.
  • The applicant organization’s mission statement must be clearly focused on the development, production, presentation, and/or support 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 annual operating revenue must not exceed $1.5 million in income.

    Fiscal Sponsors and arts service organizations: 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 audited financials from the most recently completed fiscal year demonstrating the dollar amount of pass-through funds.
  • Applicants must not be in default on any grants or loans from: (1) San Francisco Arts Commission, (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) Community Vision Capital and Consulting; (5) Community Arts Stabilization Trust; or (6) the Center for Cultural Innovation. This default clause was expanded due to the fact that SFAC has fiduciary relationships 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, 2020 and June 30, 2021 or 2022.  
  • 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 payment from the San Francisco Arts Commission, you must become a registered, compliant supplier and meet the City of San Francisco's insurance and business tax requirements. For more information about supplier requirements, visit:

    Please note: you will only be required to register as a City supplier if you are awarded a grant. Insurance and business tax requirements will be explained and made available upon approval of grant awards.


  • 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 does not apply to fiscal sponsors who submit applications on behalf of different fiscally sponsored projects.
  • Applicants cannot receive funding for two consecutive grant cycles in the Cultural Equity Initiatives category. A Cultural Equity Initiatives grant 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. For example, applicants who received a two-year CEI grant in 2016 would be eligible to reapply in 2019 and an applicant that received a two-year CEI grant in 2017 would be eligible to reapply in 2020.
  • 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.
  • CEI does not fund the presentation or production of artistic works. Please see the Organization Project Grant if you are seeking funding for these kinds of artistic works.

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);
  5. Planning and development of space (see Creative Space grants).

project requirements

To apply for a Cultural Equity Initiatives grant, applicants must have a current strategic or business plan and must upload their current business or strategic plan to the online application. If the organization has none, the application must be aimed at supporting a strategic or business planning process. If awarded, the final or revised strategic or business plan must be submitted with the final report.

grantee and insurance 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.
  • Insurance Requirements:
    General Liability:
  • To authorize any grant payment, insurance must cover the entire grant period (July 1, 2020 through June 30, 2021 or 2022). Awarded grantees will need to submit a certificate of General Liability Insurance and the Endorsement Page with the first and final invoices. General liability insurance cannot be waived.

    Abuse and Molestation Insurance: Abuse & Molestation Insurance must be purchased and added to the General Liability policy if the project involves working with vulnerable populations (youth under the age of 18, people with disabilities, or people over the age of 65).
  • Workers Comp Insurance: Workers Comp insurance is required for an organization that has employees.
  • Waiver of Subrogation addendum is required for projects on ANY City-owned property.
  • Auto Insurance: Auto Insurance is required if use of a vehicle is necessary to fulfill the project.
  • 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, budget narrative and timeline. Please contact Craig Corpora at for questions about murals or Aleta Lee at for questions about sculpture or any other type of public art.

Panel Evaluation & Scoring Criteria

Grant Panelists

Cultural Equity Initiatives applications are evaluated in an open review process by a panel of peers. Grant review panelists reflect the diversity of San Francisco; have broad knowledge about cultural equity and field issues; and have experience that aligns with the purpose of the grant.

Application Review

Panelists evaluate and rank applications according to budget size: organizations with annual operating budgets under $150,000; organizations with annual operating budgets between $150,000 and $400,000; and organizations with annual operating budgets between $400,000 and $1.5 million.

Panel Review Attendance

CEI panel reviews are open to the public. A schedule of each panel review is posted on our website and applicants are notified in advance via email. Please be sure the email address in your application is current and regularly checked. Take steps to ensure that emails from the San Francisco Arts Commission are not lost in your spam filter. Many applicants find it insightful to listen to the discussion of applications and are welcome to observe the panel review. Applicants may not engage in discussion with any panelists or San Francisco Arts Commission staff during the panel. If an applicant is found to have attempted to influence a panelist in any way, their grant application will be automatically disqualified.

Funding Recommendations

Based on an evaluation of the applications, panelist scores create a ranking for funding recommendations. Funding recommendations are determined within each budget category.

Funding Approval

Panel recommendations are subject to the approval of the Arts Commission. Typically, recommendations are first reviewed by the Community Investments Committee and then by the full Commission. 

If approved by the Arts Commission for support, grant amounts may differ from the request amount due to the level of funding available to the program, demand for that funding, and/or the rank an application receives from the peer review panel.

Arts Commission meetings are open to the public. Agendas are available at 72 hours in advance of a meeting.

Grant Awards

Grant award notifications are e-mailed to the address listed on the application and include instructions about the contracting process and orientation dates.

Panel REVIEW Notes

SFAC staff take notes on comments during panel review deliberations. You may contact to request panel comments. Requests are fulfilled in the order they are received.

Scoring Criteria

Panelists are instructed to use the following scoring criteria which correspond to the application questions below. Close review of this grid may help you focus your application responses. Please thoroughly review the application instructions for the complete overview of the CEI application questions and guidance.





Cultural Significance

(40 points)


Organization is deeply rooted in and able to express the experiences of historically marginalized communities.

1.  Highlight your organization’s activities over the last two years engaging with historically marginalized communities.


Organization demonstrates a thorough understanding of the project’s impact on intended audience/communities and has a sound strategy for reaching them.
2. Describe how the proposed project will enhance the organization’s ability to engage the intended audience/communities.

Project Design

(35 points)


Project is well-planned with clear outputs.

3.  Describe your proposed project in detail. Explain how the proposed project aligns with the main goals and strategies identified in the current or proposed strategic or business plan.

- Uploaded Strategic or Business Plan


Has appropriate project staff with experience and relevance to intended audience/community.

4. Provide brief bios of the key staff and include relevant experience and qualifications.

Project budget demonstrates relevant expenditures to implement the project.

- Completed Project Budget

Ability to Complete the Project

(25 points)



Organization demonstrates appropriate capacity to complete the project.

5.  Describe your advisory board or board of directors and their level of engagement as it pertains to fundraising and governance.

- Work Samples
- Uploaded IRS 990, 990-EZ or 990-PF from the last completed fiscal year

    - or for fiscally sponsored applicants: Profit and Loss Statements and Balance Sheets for the last two completed fiscal years.

- Budget notes



Organization measures and understands benefits of the proposed project.

6. How will you evaluate the success of the project?

- Completed Grant Plan



What's Coming Up

Public Meeting

Visual Arts Committee Meeting

October 19
3:00 PM to 6:00 PM

Virtual Meeting
Public Meeting

Civic Design Review Committee Meeting

October 17
2:00 PM to 4:00 PM

Virtual Meeting
Public Meeting

Full Arts Commission Meeting

November 07
2:00 PM to 4:00 PM

Hybrid: City Hall | Rm 416 and Online
Public Meeting

Civic Design Review Committee Meeting

October 17
2:00 PM to 4:00 PM

Virtual Meeting