Cultural Equity Initiatives


(submission through

For any questions about OPG, contact Program Officer Barbara Mumby at or 415-252-2215.


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


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

Important Dates

Technical Assistance Workshops
View the schedule of upcoming dates
September – October 2017
Applications Due November 1, 2017, 12 p.m.
Panel Review January – March 2018
Funding Recommendations April 2018
Commission Approval May 2018
Grant Period July 1, 2018 – June 30, 2020

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. (SF ADMIN. CODE CHAPTER 68: CULTURAL EQUITY ENDOWMENT FUND. Sec. 68.6. PROJECT GRANTS). 

Alignment with SFAC goals

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 through artistic programming or process.

Eligible Request Amount

CEI eligible funding amounts will be based upon the organization’s prior year’s budget. Organizations, regardless of size, can request no more than 50 percent of their three-year average annual operating for an annual amount not to exceed $50,000 (for a total two year grant award not to exceed $100,000). Because funds are limited, grant awards may be between 75 to 100 percent of the grant request, but no less than 75 percent of a grant request will be awarded.

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

The sit out period is one year after the organization closes out grant. For example, a one year grant for the 2018 cycle could reapply in the 2020 cycle, while a two year grantee could apply in 2021. 

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 organization must be tax-exempt under Internal Revenue Code Section 501(c)(3) or have a fiscal sponsor that is so qualified.
  • The organization (and its fiscal sponsor, if applicable) must be based in San Francisco.
  • NEW: Organizations of any size can be fiscally sponsored. The restriction that required organizations with budgets over $100,000 to have their own 501(c)(3) status has been eliminated.
  • The 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 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 must demonstrate a continuing and stable presence in the community and been in existence for at least two years with documentation of creating and presenting original works to the public in San Francisco for at least four events that span from October 2015 to the grant deadline.
  • Applicants to CEI may apply to Organization Project Grants and receive both, if approved. Previously you could not receive both a CEI and an OPG grant but this restriction has been omitted.
  • The organization’s three-year average annual operating budget must not exceed $1.5 million in income (determined by the line: Revenue Less In-Kind minus Non-operating Revenue in the SFAC DataArts Report).
  • 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, 2018 and June 30, 2020.  NEW: CEI are two year grants, however if the total grant request is less than $30,000 organizations have the option to apply for a one year grant.
  • 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.
  • Applicants must receive an average score of 75 percent or above by the review panel to be considered for funding. Funding is not guaranteed for a score of 75 percent or above, and is determined by the availability of funds.


  • 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.
  • Applicants cannot submit more than one application for 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 FY2015 would be eligible to reapply in FY2018 and an applicant that received a two CEI in FY16 would be eligible to reapply in FY2019.
  • Organizations can request no more than 50 percent of their three-year average annual operating budget (determined by Revenue Less In-Kind minus Non-operating Revenue in the DataArts SFAC Funder Report).
  • Any previously awarded CEI grants must be completed and closed out before applying for any additional grants in the CEI 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 a venue and any required permits and insurance for public presentations or workshops.
  • Grant funds may not pay for: 
  1. Deficit reduction.
  2. Start-up costs/seed money for new organizations or businesses.
  3. Food and beverage expenses.
  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).

GRANt 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. 

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 Goals

(30 points)


Thorough understanding of communities served and intentionality for serving those communities; strongly aligns with one of SFAC goals for equitable grantmaking.

- Who does your organization serve and why?

- Describe how your organization aligns with the selected goal 


The organization has a sound strategy for meeting the needs of the communities they serve; leadership has adequate relevant experience to work in communities served.

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

- 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.

- Attach a list of Arts Activities


Work samples clearly demonstrates 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.

Plans to address any organizational disruption and obtain additional resources are sound and reasonable.

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.

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

- 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 processes?

- 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

(15 points)


Viability of project budget; confidence in the project's team; and overall fiscal health of applicant.

- Budget & Budget notes
- Key Personnel
- DataArts SFAC Funder’s Report and Notes

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 Arts, Education & Grants 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.


FAQs for CEI


Yes. Doesn’t have to be a huge performance or be in a formal space. It can be working in library to working at a community event. Or a street fair.


It is a publicly accessible activity that supports your mission. Like a reading in the library, partnership to participate in a major festival, etc. The event can be an individual artist or group event.


Yes, depending on the project. Disbursement of funds can be heavy at the front end or backend. It depends on how you articulate the grant funds in your proposal.


If you receive a grant and you don’t meet your deliverable, you can answer this in the reporting. You can explain why you didn’t meet your deliverable. It’s good to articulate this clearly.

What's Coming Up

Public Meeting

Civic Design Review Committee Meeting

July 30
2:00 PM to 6:00 PM

War Memorial Bldg | Rm 125
Public Meeting

Civic Design Review Committee Meeting

July 30
2:00 PM to 6:00 PM

War Memorial Bldg | Rm 125
Public Meeting

Civic Design Review Committee Meeting

July 30
2:00 PM to 6:00 PM

War Memorial Bldg | Rm 125
Public Meeting

Civic Design Review Committee Meeting

July 30
2:00 PM to 6:00 PM

War Memorial Bldg | Rm 125