Cultural Equity Initiatives (CEI)


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 Sandra Panopio, 415-252-2255 o




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

Important Dates

Grant Information Session October 1, 2021 at 1 p.m.
San Francisco Arts Organizations Information Session October 6, 2021 at 12 p.m.
Fiscal Sponsors Information Session October 8, 2021 at 12 p.m.
One-on-One Consultations October 4 – November 2, 2021
Application Deadline November 3, 2021 at 12 p.m.
Grant Panel Review February – March 2022
Funding Recommendations April 2022
Commission Approval May 2022
Notification of Funding May 2022
Grant Period July 1, 2022 – June 30, 2024

*Dates are subject to change.

About Cultural Equity Initiatives (CEI)

Cultural Equity Initiatives (CEI) is a cornerstone of the Arts Commission’s grants program. CEI honors and amplifies 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.

Purpose and Funding Categories

The CEI grant program supports small and mid-sized arts organizations deeply rooted in San Francisco communities​ with core support grants up to $100,000 over two years.

  • Funds may be used for general operating expenses including but not limited to administrative/staff salaries, utilities, rent, office supplies, technology maintenance, as well as for project costs, professional development, artistic planning and programming.
  • Prioritizes organizations deeply rooted and connected to BIPOC, LGBTQ, People with Disabilities, women and other communities​ that are identified in the Cultural Equity Endowment legislation (please see below).
  • 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.

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 artists that are deeply rooted in and reflective of communities listed in the Arts Commission’s 1993 Cultural Equity Endowment Legislation and informed by current best practices in racial equity. 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.)

If you are a part of a community not listed that you feel should be included, we encourage applicants to articulate and provide supporting evidence regarding the historical and current inequities experienced by your community.

maximum grant Request Amount

The maximum grant request amount for a Cultural Equity Initiatives grant is $100,000 based on current budget availability and organization’s budget size. Should additional City funding become available, grant amounts could be increased.

The applicant organization’s average annual operating revenue from the two most recently completed fiscal years determines the eligible request amount. Please review the funding chart to determine the maximum grant request amount.

The organization’s two-year average annual operating revenue is calculated by adding the IRS Form 990line item Total Revenue for the two most recently completed fiscal years and dividing the sum by two.

Fiscally Sponsored Organizations:
A fiscally sponsored organization’s average annual operating revenue is calculated by adding the Profit and Loss Statement line item Total Revenue for the two most recently completed fiscal years and dividing the sum by two.

CEI Budget Size.png

Grant Term
A grant funded pursuant to these guidelines will have a grant term of two years. The City at its sole, absolute discretion shall have the option to extend the term for additional years as determined by the Arts Commission.

The San Francisco Arts Commission reserves the right to: reissue these guidelines and request for applications; reject or cancel any or all applications; prior to application deadline, modify all or any portion of the selection procedures, including deadlines for accepting responses, the specifications or requirements for any services to be provided under this Solicitation, or the requirements for content or format of the applications.

Project Requirements

  • Fiscal sponsors and arts service organizations: Organizations that exceed the $1,500,000 budget cap due to re-granting and/or non-arts related emergency COVID response funds 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.

How to Apply


Applications must be submitted online. Emailed or faxed applications are not accepted. In fairness to others, we cannot accept late or incomplete applications. If the applicant does not provide the complete set of information in the appropriate format by the deadline, the application may be deemed incomplete and ineligible. No deadline extensions will be granted.

NEW: If you need special accommodations, you must contact Program Officer Debbie Ng at or 415-252-2216 at least two weeks before the application deadline in order for us to appropriately accommodate. 


Who Can Apply


  • The applicant organization or fiscal sponsor must be tax-exempt and in good standing 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 a history of consistent programmatic history and public benefit to the City of San Francisco, its neighborhoods and communities over the last two years.
  • The applicant organization’s mission statement must be clearly focused on the development, production, presentation and/or support of arts activities and/or youth arts activities in San Francisco.
  • The applicant cannot be part of another City agency or department.
  • The organization’s annual operating revenue must not exceed $1,500,000.
  • Applicants must not be in default on any grants or loans from: (1) SFAC; (2) other City departments (including but not limited to the Department of Children, Youth and Their Families, Office of Economic and Workforce Development, Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development, Grants for the Arts); (3) Northern California Grantmakers Arts Loan Fund; (4) Community Vision Capital and Consulting; (5) Community Arts Stabilization Trust; and/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.
  • The proposed project must take place in San Francisco between July 2022 – June 2024.
  • 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, the organization 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 approved for funding.

fiscal sponsors

  • Fiscal sponsors must be based in San Francisco and register as a compliant City supplier.
  • If the applicant/organization plans to work with a fiscal sponsor, a contractual arrangement between the applicant and the fiscal sponsor must be confirmed prior to the San Francisco Arts Commission’s grant application process.
  • Organizations may not act as a fiscal sponsor for employees or artists contracted by that organization; a third-party fiscal sponsor is required.
  • Applicants/organizations cannot retroactively work with or change fiscal sponsorship after a grant application is approved for funding.
  • If an applicant is approved for funding, the fiscal sponsor is the legal grantee and receives the funds on behalf of the applicant who is the subgrantee.
  • The fiscal sponsor/grantee is required to work with the subgrantee to complete and submit financial documentation of the disbursement of funds with the grant’s final report.
  • All funds must be paid to the subgrantee in advance of the final disbursement of the grant.
  • Copyright: If the applicant receives funding, the fiscal sponsor and the applicant must decide who will hold the copyright to any materials or work created during the grant period. This should be discussed in advance of signing the grant agreement, as it includes language regarding copyright, which is approved and initialed by the fiscal sponsor.
  • Financials: The applicant organization’s Profit and Loss Statements and Balance Sheets for the two most recently completed fiscal years are required at the time of application and should be provided by the fiscal sponsor for the organization to upload to the online form.


  • Only one application may be submitted to this grant category.
  • Partners and collaborators cannot apply separately for the same project.
  • Programs of another City agency or department are not eligible to apply, which includes the City-owned Cultural Centers.
  • Organizations with open grants must fully close out the grant within the grant period before reapplying in the same grant category.
  • Grant funding does not imply that the San Francisco Arts Commission or any other City agency will produce, exhibit, promote or present the art created. It is the responsibility of the artist to secure a venue, insurance and any permits for public presentations.

    Please note: Current grantees are required to sit out one year after a completed grant period.
  • Applicants may only be funded in CEI for two years and may reapply in the fall after fully closing out the grant at the end of the two-year grant period.

    CRSP Table.png

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. Planning and development of space (see Creative Space grants for funding opportunities).

grantee and insurance requirements

General Liability or Special Event Insurance: Coverage with limits not less than $1,000,000 each occurrence and $2,000,000 general aggregate.

  • CERTIFICATE HOLDER must read “San Francisco Arts Commission, Attn: Community Investments, 401 Van Ness Ave, Suite 325, San Francisco, CA 94102”.
  • Certificates for General Liability and Auto Liability must include an ENDORSEMENT PAGE naming “The City & County of San Francisco, San Francisco Arts Commission, Community Investments, its officers, agents, and employees” as additionally insured.

Commercial Automobile Liability Insurance: Coverage with limits not less than one million dollars $1,000,000 each occurrence for Combined Single Limit for Bodily Injury and Property Damage, including Owned, Non-Owned and Hired auto coverage, as applicable.

  • You may request a waiver for Auto Liability insurance, if the organization will not be using a vehicle for the main purpose of the grant.

Sexual Misconduct Insurance: Working with vulnerable populations (minors under 18 years old, elderly over 65 years old, developmentally disabled populations) requires that sexual misconduct insurance be added to the general liability policy in amounts not less than $1,000,000 per occurrence, $2,000,000 general aggregate.

Worker’s Compensation Insurance: Coverage is required for all organizations that have salaried employees; in statutory amounts, with Employers’ Liability limits not less than $1,000,000 each accident, injury, or illness.

  • Worker’s Compensation Insurance is a California State law.
  • You may request a waiver for Worker’s Compensation insurance if the organization does not have employees as defined by the California Labor Code.

A Waiver of Subrogation must be added to the worker’s compensation insurance, if any work that the grant is funding happens on City-owned or -managed property.

Professional liability Insurance: Coverage is required from your contractor for professional services related to construction and facility projects, in amounts not less than $1,000,000 per occurrence, $2,000,000 general aggregate. Please visit the CA Department of Consumer Affairs-Contractors State License Board to confirm your contractor is licensed by the State.

City Permits and Permissions

If the proposal includes components that require City permits or approval such as publicly installed art, murals, street closures or sound amplification in public space, the organization will be solely responsible for securing the necessary permits, permissions and approvals. This planning should be reflected in the project timeline.

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. 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, sculpture or any other type of public art.


Panel Evaluation & 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 prepare your application responses. Please thoroughly review the application instructions for the complete overview of grant application questions, required uploads and guidance.





Racial Equity

(30 points)


1. Describe the organization’s history engaging communities identified in the Cultural Equity Endowment legislation* and how this grant will enhance the organization’s mission. 

(300 word limit)

Organization demonstrates a history and mission of engaging communities identified in the Cultural Equity Endowment legislation.*

San Francisco Arts Community Impact

(40 points)


2a. Grant Plan and Budget
Complete the grant plan and project budget.

Organization has clear artistic vision, consistent presence and benefit for San Francisco communities, plays a vital role in San Francisco’s arts and culture ecosystem and measures and understands benefits of their artistic programming.

Completed grant plan aligns with project summary and describes what the organization hopes to achieve; and budget aligns with the project summary and line items are explained in detail.

2b. Work Samples
Upload Work Samples that express the organization’s mission and reflect the communities engaged.

2c. Program Evaluation
How does the organization collect and share community feedback?

(300 word limit)

Operational Effectiveness

(30 points)


3. Add the names of the Advisory Board or Board of Directors, role on the board and their areas of expertise, as well as affiliation community. (Up to 10)

Organization demonstrates appropriate advisory or governance structure, diverse community representation and connection to identified communities.


4. Provide brief bios of the core staff and include relevant community-based experience and professional qualifications.

(100 word limit/bio, up to 3 bios)

Has appropriate staff with relevant skills and community-based experience with intended audience/or communities.


5. Describe who is engaged in fiscal oversight and reporting, and the process for how your organization develops its annual budget. 

(300 word limit)

Upload the following financial documents in PDF.

-Nonprofits:  IRS 990 or 990-EZ 
-Fiscally Sponsored Organizations: Profit and Loss Statements and Balance Sheets for the last two completed fiscal years 
-Organization Budget Notes

Organization demonstrates a process of financial planning and monitoring.

*We recognize that some communities may not be listed in the link above and encourage applicants to articulate and provide supporting evidence regarding the historical and current inequities experienced by their community. Please review the San Francisco Arts Commission Racial Equity statement. 

Grant review Panelists

SFAC grant 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 racial equity, and have experience that aligns with the purpose of the grant. 

Application Review

Panelists evaluate and rank applications according to the stated scoring criteria.

Panel Review Attendance and influence

Grant review panels are publicly accessible. A schedule of the panel review will be posted on the SFAC website calendar and applicants will be 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’s email address are not lost in your spam filter. Many applicants find it informative 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, including contacting them before or after the panel to discuss their application, their grant application will be automatically disqualified.

Panel Reviews and Panelist Scores​

Virtual panels will be recorded.

NEW: Links to the panel review recording and preliminary scores are emailed to applicants within 10 business days of the review.

Funding Recommendations

Based on an evaluation of the applications, panelist scores create a ranking for funding recommendations. Grant amounts are either the full amount of the grant request or a substantial portion of the request.

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 must be approved by the full Commission.

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

Grant notifications

Grant notifications are emailed to the address listed on the application and include instructions about the contracting process and orientation dates.

What's Coming Up

Public Meeting

Executive Committee Meeting

December 18
1:00 PM to 2:30 PM

Hybrid: 401 Van Ness | Rm 125 and Online
Public Meeting

Visual Arts Committee Meeting

December 16
2:00 PM to 6:00 PM

Hybrid: City Hall | Rm 408 and Online
Public Meeting

Civic Design Review Committee Meeting

December 11
2:00 PM to 4:00 PM

Hybrid: City Hall | Rm 408 and Online
Public Meeting

Community Investments Committee Meeting

December 09
1:00 PM to 3:00 PM

Hybrid: City Hall | Rm 416 and Online