Dream Keeper Initiative 

Arts + Culture Grants to Support the Black Community 

For PROJECTS TAKING PLACE  August 2021 - January 2023

For any questions about the Dream Keeper Initiative, please contact Senior Program Officer Jaren Bonillo at jaren.bonillo@sfgov.org or 415-252-2227. 


A translation of this grant application is available upon request; however, only applications in English will be accepted. For more information, please contact 311.

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 lorena.moreno@sfgov.org 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 sandra.panopio@sfgov.org.


 Dream Keeper Initiative Guidelines (PDF) 

Dream Keeper Initiative INSTRUCTIONS (PDF)  

Jump to:
Important Dates
Information about the Dream Keeper Initiative
Who Can Apply
Panel Evaluation & Scoring Criteria

Important Dates

Application Due April 16, 2021 at 12 p.m.
Panel Review May 2021
Funding Recommendations June 2021
Commission Approval July 2021
Grant Period Begins August 2021


About the Dream Keeper Initiative

The Dream Keeper Initiative is a new, citywide effort to reinvest $120 million over the next two years from law enforcement into San Francisco's Black and African-American communities. This initiative is part of Mayor London N. Breed's roadmap for reforming public safety and addressing structural inequities in San Francisco.

The Arts Commission is investing $2.1 million in arts and culture organizations to anchor support for the cultural assets and economic vitality in historically Black and African-American communities facing rapid change. 

Applicants may only apply for funding specific to the priorities and communities outlined within these guidelines. For questions about this grant category, please contact Senior Program Officer Jaren Bonillo at jaren.bonillo@sfgov.org or 415-252-2227


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.

Eligible request Amount​

Dream Keeper Initiative grants vary project to project and the award amounts range from $100,000 to $1,000,000 over eighteen months. Please refer to each category and project description for the eligible request amount. 

The anticipated maximum amount for a Dream Keeper Initiative grant is $1,000,000 based on current budget availability. Should additional City funding become available, award amounts could increase by up to $1,000,000 for one additional year. The San Francisco Arts Commission reserves the right to reissue these guidelines and request for applications. 


APPLICATIONS ARE AVAILABLE ONLINE AT: https://sfac.tfaforms.net/115

Applications must be submitted online. Emailed or faxed applications are not accepted.

If you do not have access to the internet, you may mail your application, postmarked Friday, April 16, 2021, and you must notify Senior Program Officer Jaren Bonillo at 415-252-2227. Mail to: SFAC, 401 Van Ness Avenue, Suite 325, San Francisco, CA 94102.

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.

Categories and project descriptions

1. Theater Companies: Support up to $100,000 for nonprofit theater companies, or organizations dedicated to advancing stories with a focus on the Black experience. Activities may include workshops and classes, special events and general community engagement. One to six grants are available

2. Mini-Grants to Artists and Arts Organizations: Support up to $500,000 for a nonprofit organization with a focus on the Black arts community to administer mini-grants to artists and arts organizations. Funding may be directed to supporting artists, providing professional development opportunities, building capacity of SF-based organizations to support community stakeholders, creating and sharing art, and increasing opportunities for funding. One grant is available. 

3. Artists and Creatives Collaborative: Support up to $1,000,000 for a nonprofit organization with a focus on the Black arts community to direct funds to low-income communities, address barriers in grant processes, and increase ability of organizations to successfully compete for funding. Funding may also include creating art, and hosting events and activities with a focus on celebrating Black culture. One grant is available. 

Applicants should identify the project area to which they are applying and will be asked to address the following in the grant application: 

  • Strong examples of working with and strengthening culturally-based practices that  focus on celebrating the Black experience;
  • A clear vision with aspirational goals and desired outcomes for the funds;
  • A strong plan to identify community participants and/or partners;
  • Include staff who demonstrate experience and have strong relationships with a focus on Black communities;
  • An assessment plan that collects and shares participant feedback, and includes anticipated number of events, number of attendees and partners. 

Who Can Apply


  1. The applicant organization or fiscal sponsor must be tax-exempt under Internal Revenue Code Section 501(c)(3). Applicants to the Theatre Companies may be fiscally sponsored, and Mini-Grants to Artists and Art Organizations and Artists and Creative Collaborative applicants must be tax-exempt under Internal Revenue Code Section 501(c)(3).
  2. The applicant organization must be San Francisco-based and demonstrate two years of programmatic activity (since April 2019).
  3. The applicant organization's mission statement and core programs must clearly focused on the development, production, and/or presentation of arts activities in San Francisco, with a focus on Black and African-American communities.
  4. Applicants must be in good standing with any grants or loans from: (1) SFAC; (2) other City departments (including, without limitation, the 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; 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, through either shared City resources or other pooled philanthropic funds.
  5. The proposed project must take place in San Francisco between August 1, 2021 and January 2023. It is anticipated that successful proposals will be for a term of eighteen months beginning in fiscal year 2021-2022 with a possible extension for up to one additional year based on extenuating circumstances as determined by the Arts Commission in consultation with the grantee. Any extension is subject to Arts Commission approval and funding appropriation. The Arts Commission reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to not exercise an extension option. 
  6. 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 text requirements. For more information about supplier requirements, visit: https://sfcitypartner.sfgov.org/pages/become-a-supplier.aspx

Please note: you will only be required to register as a City Supplier if you are approved for funding.

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 required permits 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. 

Insurance requirements 

Proof of insurance held during the grant window August 1, 2021 and January 2023 and/or an approved insurance waiver are required. 

  1. General Liability or Special Event: 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 Investment, its officers, agents and employees" as additionally insured. 
  2. Abuse & Molestation Insurance: Grantees working with vulnerable populations (minors—under 18 years old, elderly—over 65 years old, developmentally disabled) are required to have Abuse & Molestation insurance added to the General Liability policy in amounts not less than $1,000,000 per occurrence, $2,000,000 general aggregate. 
  3. Auto Insurance: Commercial Automobile Liability Insurance 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 Grantee will not be using a vehicle for the purposes of the grant. 
  4. Workers Compensation Insurance 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.
  5. Waiver of Subrogation must be added to the workers compensation insurance, if any work that the grant is funding happens on City-owned/controlled property. 
  6. Professional Liability Insurance 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. https://www.cslb.ca.gov/OnlineServices/CheckLicenseII/checklicense.aspx
  • 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 sorely responsible for securing the necessary permits, permissions, insurance and approvals. This planning should be reflected in your project timeline.
  • 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. 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 craig.corpora@sfgov.org for questions about murals or Aleta Lee at aleta.lee@sfgov.org for questions about sculpture or any other type of public art.

Panel Evaluation & Scoring Criteria

grant panelists 

Dream Keeper Initiative grant applications are evaluated in an open review process by a panel of peers. Grant review panelists reflect the diversity of San Francisco, have a broad knowledge about racial equity and have experience that aligns with the purpose of the grant. 

Application review

Applications are grouped and reviewed based on the project category. 

Grant panel review attendance

Due to COVID restrictions, panels will be virtual until further notice. The Dream Keeper Initiative grants review panel is publicly accessible. A schedule of the panel will be 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 organizations 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 applicants is found to have made attempts 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. 

funding recommendations

Based on an evaluation of the applications, panelist scores create a ranking for funding recommendations. 

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

Arts Commission meetings are open to the public. Agendas are available at sfartscommission.org 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. 

Panel Notes

Virtual panels will be recorded. You may contact sfac.grants@sfgov.org to request panel scores and a link to the recording. Requests are fulfilled in the order they are received. 

Dream Keepers initiative grant 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 the Dream Keepers Initiative grant application questions, requirements, uploads and guidance.





Racial Equity 

 (30 points)


1. Describe how the organization advances and celebrates with a focus on Black artists and stories. 
300 word limit 

The applicant shares strong examples of working with and strengthening culturally based practices with a focus on the Black experience.

Program Design & Implementation

(40 points)


Identify the project area. 

2. What is the short and long-term vision for this project area? Include aspirational goals and desired outcomes for the funds. 
300 word limit. 

The applicants shares a clear vision with aspirational goals and desired outcomes for the funds

  • the grant plan includes goals, outcomes and a timeline for the project.
  • project budget aligns with goals and outcomes. 

3. How will the organization identify who receives services and any partnering community based organizations, schools, and/or housing developments involved.
300 word limit. 

The applicant describes who they want to reach and details a strong plan to identify community participants and/or partners. 


4. Upload bios of key staff administering the program and their roles.
3 bios max

Upload up to three work samples

The applicant lists designated staff members and their roles in the proposed program. Staff and work samples demonstrate experience and strong relationships with a focus on Black and African-American communities.

Community Influence

 (30 points)


5. How will the organization collect and share community feedback? 
300 word limit 

Enter anticipated number of events, attendees and partners.

The applicant details an assessment plan that collects and shares participant feedback, and includes anticipated number of events, number of attendees and partners.

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