Special Project Grants (SPX)

FOR PROJECTS TAKING PLACE MAY 2021 — OCTOBER 2022, or as indicated. 

For any questions about Special Project Grants, 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.

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, 415-252-2217 o sandra.panopio@sfgov.org.



Jump to:
Important Dates
Information about Special Project Grants
Who Can Apply
Panel Evaluation & Scoring Criteria

Important Dates

Applications Due February 16, 2021 at 12 p.m.
Panel Review February 2021
Funding Recommendations February 2021
Commission Approval March 2021
Grant Period Begins May 2021

About the Special Project Grants (SPX)

The Special Project Grants (SPX) program consists of one-time grants to address emerging needs within the arts ecosystem of San Francisco. Projects cover a wide range of arts activities related to neighborhood and/or community-based engagement and arts access. The San Francisco Arts Commission (SFAC) has allocated resources to make grants in multiple program areas based on supervisorial districts and/or specific communities.

Applicants may only apply for funding specific to those geographic areas or 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.

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.


Special Project Grants vary project to project and the award amounts in this cycle range from $12,500 to $27,500. Please refer to each category and project description for the eligible request amount.

How to Apply

APPLICATIONS ARE AVAILABLE ONLINE AT: https://sfac.tfaforms.net/71 

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, post marked Tuesday, February 16, 2021, and you must notify Senior Program Officer Jaren Bonillo at (415) 252-2227. Mail to: 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

District numbers can be found at: http://propertymap.sfplanning.org

  1. District 5 Juneteenth Celebration: Support up to $15,000 for an arts nonprofit organization or fiscally sponsored entity to provide arts programming and/or event(s) to commemorate Juneteenth. Activities may include gallery shows, workshops and classes, special events and general community engagement. The organization will be responsible for event management and on-site security and maintenance

    Applicants should address the following within their proposed project:  
  • The organization’s history and experience producing community engagement opportunities through the arts.
  • Demonstrate strong leadership and partnerships that convey confidence that the proposed activities will be successful.
  • A budget that reflects payments to San Francisco-based artists.
  1. District 5 Mini-Grants to Performing Artists and Musicians: Support up to $27,500 for a nonprofit organization or fiscally sponsored entity with deep experience in the BIPOC arts community in District 5 to administer mini-grants (up to $2,000/individual) to performing artists and musicians residing in District 5 to mitigate the financial impacts of COVID-19.  

    Applicants should address the following within their proposed project:
  • Outreach strategy to develop applicant pool of BIPOC and financially vulnerable performing artists and musicians deeply impacted by the coronavirus.
  • Ability to design an outreach, application, and selection process to re-grant funds.
  • Experience with paying artists in a timely manner.
  1. District 9 Police Violence Commemorative Art Projects: Support up to $25,795 for a nonprofit organization located in District 9 to re-grant funds to artists to create artworks memorializing police violence against people of color. Funds should be used to operate an outdoor site at the Bernal Heights Library to provide educational and literary artworks inspired by the life of Sean Monterrosa; and other artworks or performances in the Mission/Bernal neighborhood that shed light on the impacts of police violence.

    Applicants should address the following within their proposed project:
  • Demonstrated history of successfully working with communities and artists to develop and execute community arts projects.
  • Ability to design a selection process to re-grant funds.
  • Demonstrated administrative capacity to pay artists in a timely manner.
  1. Citywide Native American Cultural Activities: Support up to $12,500 for an arts nonprofit organization or fiscally-sponsored entity to highlight the cultural traditions of  the Native American community in San Francisco. The proposed project should provide an opportunity to engage and celebrate the resurgence and resilience of Indigenous Peoples in contemporary and traditional practices. 

    Applicants should address the following within their proposed project:
  • Demonstrated history of successfully executing arts and cultural events and/or activities.
  • Demonstrated history of successfully and authentically working with local Native American communities.
  • Proposed leadership conveys confidence that the activities supported through this grant will be successfully executed.

Who Can Apply


  • The applicant organization or fiscal sponsor must be tax-exempt under Internal Revenue Code Section 501(c)(3).
  • The applicant organization or fiscal sponsor must be San Francisco-based, and must demonstrate two years of programmatic activity (since February 2019).
  • The applicant organization’s mission statement must be clearly focused on the development, production, and/or presentation of arts activities and social services in San Francisco or clearly aligns with the intent and purpose of the applicable grant category.
  • The applicant organization cannot be part of another City agency or department.
  • Applicants must not be in default on 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.
  • The proposed project must take place in San Francisco between May 1, 2021 and October 31, 2022, or as indicated in the specific grant category.

    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.
  • 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: 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.


  • A proposed project 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.
  • Applicants cannot submit more than one application for each SPX category.
  • 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.


  • General Liability Insurance: To authorize any grant payment, general liability insurance must cover the entire grant period (May 1, 2021 through October 31, 2022). If funded grantees will need to submit a certificate of General Liability Insurance with an Endorsement Page.
  • Workers Compensation Insurance: Workers Compensation Insurance is required for an organization that has employees.
  • Abuse and Molestation Insurance: Abuse & Molestation Insurance must be added to the Workers Compensation policy if the project involves working with vulnerable populations defined as: minors under the age of 18, seniors over the age of 65 and developmentally disabled populations.
  • Auto Insurance: Auto Insurance is required if use of a vehicle is necessary to fulfill the project.
  • Waiver of Subrogation addendum is required for projects on ANY City-owned property.
  • 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.
  • 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

Please be aware each category will have distinct areas to address, which are listed in the aforementioned Categories and Project Description section above. The review panel will assess all applications and will recommend grants for applicants that strongly meet the review criteria below. The panel's review of applications and required documents is a multi-step process and involves assigning applications to “Fund” or “Not Fund”. Applications must be assigned a “Fund” by the review panel to be approved for funding.

Quality of Proposed Project 

  • Project goals, vision and process are clearly defined; demonstrate clarity and depth of concepts; and are relevant to requirements of the specific grant category.


  • Strength of the impact of the project on the organization and audience(s) and/or community.
  • Ability to demonstrate the impact and benefits of the project, including qualitative and quantitative results.

Application Review

Grants will be awarded based on a review process that includes a review panel comprised of representatives from the San Francisco Arts Commission and other City department staff and/or funding partners. Panelists will review applications and make funding recommendations. Priority will be given to applicants who successfully meet the criteria within each funding category.

Panel Review Attendance and influence

SPX panels are not open to the public. Please note an applicant that is found to have made attempts to influence a panelist in any way will be automatically disqualified.

Funding Recommendations

Applications that do not have “Fund” assigned to them 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.

Funding recommendations

Applications that do not have “Fund” assigned to them will not be eligible for funding. Grant amounts are either the full amount of the grant sought or never less than 75 percent of the requested amount.

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.

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.

Grant notifications

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


Panelists may take notes during their review. You may contact sfac.grants@sfgov.org to request panel comments. Requests are fulfilled in the order they are received.

What's Coming Up

Public Meeting

Visual Arts Committee Meeting

May 18
3:00 PM to 6:00 PM

Virtual Meeting
Public Meeting

Civic Design Review Committee Meeting

June 20
2:00 PM to 4:00 PM

Virtual Meeting
Public Meeting

Full Arts Commission Meeting

June 06
2:00 PM to 4:00 PM

Hybrid: City Hall | Rm 416 and Online
Public Meeting

Civic Design Review Committee Meeting

June 20
2:00 PM to 4:00 PM

Virtual Meeting