Core Support for Arts and Cultural Organizations

Introduction

As a long-time funder of arts and cultural organizations, the William Penn Foundation’s Board of Directors regularly assesses its funding approach to assure funding alignment with the overall goals of the Foundation as well as to assure that its funding is responsive to the needs of arts and cultural organizations of varying sizes, types, and disciplines throughout the region. At the same time, the Board seeks to assure that, when funding is awarded, it is being awarded to arts and cultural organizations that are not only of the highest artistic caliber but financially healthy, effectively managed, and well-positioned to withstand the ever-changing environment in which they operate.

After more than ten years of awarding core support funding through an iterative, negotiated manner between the applicant organization and Foundation staff, beginning in 2014, the Foundation Board spent nearly one year evaluating the arts and culture portfolio, researching best practices for funding, and discussing the Foundation’s desired role as an arts funder. The Board wanted a funding process that was equitable for all applicants, recognized strong financial management as well as high-quality programs, and lessened the potential for organizations to become dependent on William Penn Foundation funding. As a result, in 2015, the current approach to awarding core support to arts and cultural organizations was determined.

The Foundation believes that its current core support funding approach, launched June 2015, makes transparent for applicants the review process, the funding possibilities, and the timeline for application review. In addition, in response to some grantee concerns expressed in the survey conducted in 2016 by the Center for Effective Philanthropy, more detailed information about the application review process has been added to the guidelines.

Nonetheless, as always, if after carefully reviewing the guidelines you have further questions, do not hesitate to contact someone on the Creative Communities staff.

What We Fund

Only organizations whose principal mission is arts and culture are eligible to receive core support.

The Foundation awards three-year core support grants to arts and cultural organizations that meet our criteria of artistic and organizational strength. Grants are awarded in unrestricted funds so as to give grantees the flexibility to meet their unique needs. Funding may be used toward any purpose that advances the mission of the organization, as determined by the grantee organization.

Annual benchmarks that project months of liquid unrestricted net assets available, program plans, and audiences and audience engagement strategies will be established by the applicant organization and approved by the Foundation. Grantees will be expected to report on their success in meeting these annual benchmarks in interim and final reports submitted to the Foundation.

Organizations recommended for core support funding will have their grant amount determined by their budget size and financial health, based on their most recent audit or financial review submitted with the pre-proposal. The recommended grant amount and grant term are determined during the pre-proposal review. In no case will William Penn's support be greater than 20% of an organization's annual operating budget, as determined by its most recent audit.

Budget categories have been broken down into ten ranges, with the smallest range being budgets of $100,000 or less and the largest being budgets of $17,500,001 and above. Each budget range has a corresponding annual grant size.

The Foundation also wants to recognize those organizations demonstrating good financial health. Additional funding of 25% may be added to the annual grant amount when an organization has three or more months of liquid unrestricted net assets at the end of its last fiscal year AND surpluses that total no less than 5% of expenses for the last two fiscal years.

The following chart outlines the budget range breakdown and corresponding annual grant sizes and potential added funding for financial health (in this round of funding, organizations must have a fiscal 2016 audit or financial review, and their Cultural Data Project (DataArts) profile must be up-to-date through fiscal 2016):

LOWER LIMIT BUDGET ANNUAL BASE GRANT SIZE ANNUAL FINANCIAL HEALTH BONUS ADDED TO BASE GRANT, WHEN APPLICABLE
$1 $15,000 $3,750
$100,001 $20,000 $5,000
$150,001 $25,000 $6,250
$250,001 $50,000 $12,500
$500,001 $75,000 $18,750
$750,001 $100,000 $25,000
$1,250,001 $150,000 $37,500
$2,500,001 $200,000 $50,000
$10,000,001 $225,000 $56,250
$17,500,001 $275,000 $68,750

In all cases, however, the ultimate grant award, grant term, and allocation of a financial health bonus are at the discretion of William Penn's internal review committee and determined during the pre-proposal review. There may be cases in which an organization's particular circumstances call for a different grant amount or grant structure.

Business Model Transformation

A limited number of organizations may be considered for funding of costs associated with a comprehensive restructuring of their business model designed to increase financial sustainability and build audiences. This could include re-engineering the operating model, facilitating a merger or strategic alliance, repurposing fixed assets, etc.

Requests for business model transformation support will be considered on a case-by-case basis and follow a separate application process. Organizations interested in applying for business model transformation support should contact the Creative Communities staff.

Baseline Financial Eligibility Requirement

According to the audited financial statements, an organization having two or more months of negative liquid unrestricted net assets in their most recently completed fiscal year, or having between one to two months of negative liquid unrestricted net assets and an operating deficit greater than 5% of operating expenses will not be considered for funding.

Positive liquid unrestricted net assets represent funds available to support operations and are calculated by subtracting the net equity position of the fixed assets from unrestricted net assets. Net equity is the net fixed assets (capitalized assets less accumulated depreciation) less associated debt; this represents the amount of organizational capital locked up in non-liquid investments and therefore not readily available to support operations.

Months of
Liquid Unrestricted
Net Assets
   =    Unrestricted Net Assets -
      (PPE* - PPE Debt)      
(Total Expenses/12)
*PPE: Property, Plant & Equipment

(An optional Self-Test Tool is available that allows an organization to test its financial eligibility.)

What We Do Not Fund

Organizations having the following characteristics are ineligible for core support:

  • Not having an audit or, at minimum, a financial review for the five most recently completed fiscal years.
  • Using a fiscal agent to apply.
  • Located outside of Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery, and Philadelphia Counties in southeastern Pennsylvania, or Camden City, New Jersey.
  • Do not have at least one full-time paid administrative or artistic staff person in place.
  • Less than five consecutive years of ongoing operations and programming (in the related discipline, when applicable), including the most recently completed fiscal year.
  • Less than five consecutive years of data profiles in the Cultural Data Project (DataArts), including the most recently completed fiscal year.

The following types of organizations are ineligible:

  • University-affiliated cultural organizations
  • Museums not accredited by the American Alliance of Museums
  • Choruses that do not have either a paid professional core of at least 12 singers or 25% of the singers in the chorus, whichever is less; or are not fully professional, paying all of its singers all of the time. Minimum payment to singers must be twice the federal hourly wage for each hour singers are contracted to rehearse and/or perform (based upon an average of combined rehearsal and performance hours per production). (Professional chorus standard per Chorus America)
  • Theatres scheduling less than 30 hours of rehearsal time for primary production activities and whose annual budgets comprise less than 20% for artist compensation (including but not limited to actors). (Professional theatre standard per Theatre Communications Group)
  • Battlefields/forts/military/ships
  • Churches, synagogues, or other religious institutions
  • Government agencies
  • Presses or publications
  • Schools/colleges/universities/conservatories
  • Organizations that are not professional nonprofit arts or cultural organizations
  • For arts organizations, organizations that do not regularly engage and pay artists
  • Community arts organizations whose programming is less than 80% arts production/presentation
  • Rehabilitation or arts therapy
  • Hospitals
  • Public television and radio
  • Video/recording/online organizations
  • Gardens/cemeteries
  • Youth-centered or youth-composed organizations
  • Arts education organizations (arts education organizations may be eligible for funding under the Foundation's Arts Education program.)

Click here for frequently asked questions about the grant process.

Evaluating Pre-Proposals and Proposals

How do we select grantees?

An internal review committee composed of board members and staff evaluates each pre-proposal submitted. Each organization is assessed on its own merits, but in the context of the applicant pool. It is at the pre-proposal stage where most key decisions are made, including which organizations will be invited to submit an updated final proposal for consideration by the Foundation’s Board of Directors as well as the recommended grant amount and grant term. 

The internal review committee is looking for organizations that demonstrate:

  • High-quality programming and management and financial viability.
  • An ongoing and demonstrated commitment to excellence, innovation, and audiences, as informed by mission and vision.
  • Strength of staff and board leadership, and evidence of capacity to carry out the proposed work.
  • A history of planning and disciplined implementation.
  • Demonstrated understanding and trends of the audience/constituency served.
  • Articulation of the role played in creating a sense of place and civic engagement in their community (as the organization defines community).

Organizations that otherwise meet the eligibility requirements but currently have a core support grant should check with the Creative Communities staff before applying.

How do we measure success?

Annual agreed-upon benchmarks projecting months of liquid unrestricted net assets available, program plans, and audience and audience engagement strategies will be determined by the applicant organization and approved by the Foundation during the pre-proposal review. Annual benchmarks will be specific to the organization based on mission and other key factors. The Foundation will assess the benchmark outcomes annually through the required interim and final reports. In addition, meetings and site visits may be conducted.

Application Process

Organizations that meet the eligibility requirements must apply for core support first through a pre-proposal. (Requests for business model transformation support will be considered on a case-by-case basis and follow a different application process. If you are interested in applying for business model transformation support, please contact the Creative Communities staff.)

Step 1: Submit a pre-prosal

Submit a pre-proposal, audits for the three most recently completed fiscal years, and  three years of annual operating budgets spanning the fiscal years to be covered by the requested grant. Additionally, operating budgets for the most recently completed fiscal year and the current fiscal year should be submitted. Also submit an applicable strategic, business, and/or financial plan if available and the CDP (DataArts) Funder Report. Please do not submit work samples unless requested by the Foundation.

For this round of core support funding, organizations must submit their fiscal 2016 audit or financial review with the pre-proposal. Organizations must have their Cultural Data Project profile (DataArts) up-to-date for their pre-proposals to be considered, including data for fiscal 2016.

An internal review committee composed of Foundation Board members and staff will review the pre-proposals to determine eligibility and competitiveness given the applicant pool.

Bear in mind that it is at the pre-proposal stage where most key decisions are made, including which organizations will be invited to submit an updated final proposal for consideration by the Foundation’s Board of Directors as well as the recommended grant amount and grant term.  The pre-proposal is the stage at which applicants must make their most compelling case to the internal review committee.

Based upon this assessment, final proposals will be invited for the most promising applications.

Step 2: Submit a final proposal

Upon invitation, submit a final proposal and standard Foundation submission documents. The final proposal stage allows the applicant organization to make any changes or updates to the pre-proposal that are necessary due to changes in the organization’s planning or circumstances since the pre-proposal was submitted, or to make revisions requested by the Foundation’s internal review committee, and sometimes both.

There may be additional materials requested based on the pre-proposal assessment. Please do not submit work samples unless requested by the Foundation.

The funding recommendations of the internal review committee will be presented to the Foundation’s Board of Directors, who will make ultimate decisions about grant amounts, structures, and approvals.

The following table is provided to help eligible applicants for core support understand the schedule (which is tentative at this time):

Guidelines/Pre-Proposal Available
Pre-Proposal Due
 
Notification of Invitation to Submit Final Proposal
Final Proposal Due
Scheduled Board Review
June 1, 2017
July 7, 2017
October 2, 2017
December 1, 2017
April 2018
There is one round of core support funding each year. At this time, it is anticipated that the next round of funding for core support in 2018 would follow a similar timeline, leading to Foundation Board consideration in April 2019.

The application period is currently closed.

Frequently Asked Questions

Please see our Grants Overview page for general FAQs.

  • Q: How has funding of arts and culture changed from the previous guidelines?
    A: The Foundation continues to fund core support for arts and cultural organizations, but now grants will be awarded as unrestricted funds with an even greater emphasis on supporting organizations that are artistically, financially and organizationally strong and that are thus best equipped to enrich the region’s cultural offerings.
     
    On a limited basis, the Foundation will continue to fund requests for business model transformation. Artistic projects will be funded through the New Audiences/New Places program. Please review the guidelines to learn eligibility requirements.
  • Q: Are organizations required to use the financial eligibility self-test tool?
    A: The Foundation strongly advises organizations to utilize the tool to determine their eligibility, but doing so is optional.
  • Q: In the past the Foundation has funded capital projects for arts and cultural organizations. Will the Foundation continue to do so under this new funding approach?
    A: If an organization is undertaking business model transformation and a capital project plays a central role in business model change, capital projects will be considered and can be included in the request for funding.
  • Q: Can/should I schedule a meeting with a program staff person before submitting an Inquiry Form?
    A: Prior contact with a Program Staff member is not required. Organizations considering requests for business model transformation should contact their program staff person before submitting an Inquiry Form.
  • Q: Should we submit work samples?
    A: The staff will ask for work samples if they are needed.
  • Q: Who is on the internal review team?
    A: The review team is composed of board and staff.

Increasing Arts Education

What We Fund

We consider opportunities to increase arts education for economically disadvantaged children.

The Foundation’s funding is intended to expand, increase, and deepen the arts learning for students, through partnerships with outside providers.

 

Program Implementation

Direct provision of arts education to Philadelphia students in any type of school (e.g., Public District, Public Charter, Parochial, or Independent) as long as it is serving primarily economically disadvantaged children. Funding may include staffing costs, materials, and other required resources. Programs can be offered during the academic day or during out-of-school time, as long as equal access is provided to all students and transportation is not a barrier for student participation. Programs may provide either art instruction or opportunities to be exposed to an artistic discipline or art form, provided there is sustained engagement in the work rather than a single moment of exposure.

 

Business Planning and Implementation

Planning efforts to scale or deepen high-quality arts education programs, or implementation of a comprehensive plan to deepen the impact, increase the scale, and/or improve the sustainability of a high-quality arts education program. Funding may include staff time, expert consultants, and other required resources.

We also consider support for a one-time transformation process, such as evolving to a new business model or cultivating new alliances; testing new forms of arts education program delivery, with a preference given to innovative programs experimenting with methods for increasing reach of high-quality arts education; and/or case studies of best practices when exemplar projects and practices surface.

The Foundation’s funding is not intended to replace existing arts teachers in Philadelphia schools, but rather to support their important work.


What We Do Not Fund

  • Nonprofits that are not direct providers of professional arts education programming.
  • Support directly to early child care providers, elementary schools, middle schools, and high schools. (See Great Learning)
  • Scholarships for individuals.
  • Individual teaching artists.
  • For-profit arts education providers.
  • Arts organizations without professional teaching artists on staff.
  • Organizations without a recent history of at least two consecutive years of programming in partnership with a Philadelphia school.
  • Arts education programming in which the vast majority of participants are not economically disadvantaged and are not residents of the city of Philadelphia.

Evaluating Proposals and Grants

How do we select grantees?

Programs are selected and evaluated utilizing the following criteria:

  • Quality of the arts education program (i.e., proficient teaching artists, appropriate materials/art-making supplies, well-designed program model, etc.).
  • Demonstration of successful partnership with at least two Philadelphia schools during two consecutive years, within the last five years.
  • Preference is given to programs that provide arts education programming in more than two Philadelphia schools.
  • Arts education providers from outside the region will be considered if they can provide a clear and demonstrated understanding of working with schools in Philadelphia and a track record of success in urban schools.
  • The quality of the plan for arts education providers seeking funding for the implementation of a plan, capacity building, or to execute a new operating model.
  • Inclusion of an evaluation plan assessing program quality and students impacted, and a willingness to participate in the evaluation of the Foundation’s Arts Education funding strategy.

How do we measure success?

The Foundation assesses the success of each arts education program by evaluating the quality of the program, the number of economically disadvantaged students reached, and the quality of student engagement in the experience (as measured by attendance and outcomes agreed upon by the Foundation and grantee during the full proposal review process).


Application Process

Organizations that meet the eligibility requirements may apply through a two-step process, accessing all necessary forms on the Foundation's website.

Currently the strategy is not accepting new Letters of Interest and the proposal process is by invitation only. The below information on the submission process is for informational purposes only.

 

Step 1: Submit an Inquiry Form

Submit an Inquiry Form that outlines the proposed funding request, in narrative and budget form, as well as background information on the organization and the arts education program. Inquiry Forms are accepted on an ongoing basis and reviewed to determine whether the project meets eligibility criteria. As part of the Inquiry Form review process, the Foundation may conduct a site visit to gain firsthand understanding of the arts education program. The projects and organizations with the greatest potential will be invited to submit a full proposal.

 

Step 2: Submit a full proposal

Upon invitation, submit a full proposal. Applicants invited to submit a full proposal will receive instructions that outline the submission details and requirements of the proposal.

Please note that submission of an Inquiry Form does not guarantee a request for a full proposal or grant funding. Before accessing the Inquiry Form form, please make sure to review all of our program guidelines to confirm that your proposed work aligns with the Foundation's strategic priorities.

 

 

 

Investing in Great Public Spaces

What We Fund

Access to Great Public Spaces is key ingredient for a vibrant and creative city, providing a stage for healthy civic life that promotes community interaction and engagement as well as opportunities for outdoor recreation and play.

The Foundation funds projects that improve and enhance access to existing parks, public spaces, and civic assets, especially in underserved communities, and that promote greater connectivity within and between neighborhoods through expanded trails and greenways. The following types of projects are eligible:

  • Project planning, design, and predevelopment, including community outreach.
  • Fundraising and project management support.
  • Pilot projects, interim improvements, and demonstration projects.
  • Capital, including challenge grants to leverage other funders.
  • Capital investments that are specifically recommended by a community-based planning process.
  • Working capital/reserve funds to support program start-up.
  • Data collection on park utilization/community impact.
  • Practice-based research on public space development and management.

To promote increased entrepreneurship and creativity in the development, operation, and programming of public spaces, a limited amount of one-time funding may also be available to support demonstrations of innovative initiatives, such as:

  • Innovative efforts in public space activation and programming, with a special emphasis on engaging local communities.
  • Seed funding for new revenue or earned income generating activities.
  • Experiments in public space management and maintenance aimed at improving cost and operational efficiency, including promoting consolidated, multi-site management.
  • Development of new technologies and systems to monitor public space utilization and performance.

To expand and improve the capacity of organizations providing high-quality public space operating, programming, and management services, a limited number of organizations may be eligible for funding the one-time costs related to:

  • Organizational restructuring.
  • Facilitating a strategic alliance or merger.
  • Launching a new revenue-producing initiative.
  • Key staff recruitment.

What We Do Not Fund

Organizations with the following characteristics are ineligible:

  • Projects outside the cities of Philadelphia and Camden.
  • Privately-owned public spaces or facilities.
  • Projects that represent a new and unfunded burden on city resources.
  • Projects that are not environmentally or economically sustainable.
  • On-going operating support.
  • Individual public infrastructure investments not directly associated with a larger community-based planning effort.
  • Routine maintenance.
  • Commercial recreation facilities.
  • Private, non-public, membership-based recreation organizations and facilities.
  • Athletic and sports leagues.

Funding will not be considered to any organization that discriminates on the basis of race, ethnicity, creed, gender, or sexual orientation in policy or practice.

 

Evaluating Proposals and Grants

How do we select grantees?

With an abundance of public space investment possibilities, the Foundation conducted an intensive planning process to maximize impact, identifying a set of initial priority investments that respond to park space needs, enhance community life, complement each other, and contribute to a larger whole. We also welcome introduction to and discussion of additional projects. Projects are selected based on a range of criteria, including one or more of the following:

  • Increases access to public/green space in an under-served community.
  • Provides a new public amenity desired by the community.
  • Responds to strong evidence of community interest and support.
  • Serves a community outside or on the periphery of Center City.
  • Acts as a community gateway, portal, or connector, reducing community isolation.
  • Enhances the performance of an existing park or public asset.
  • Promotes connectivity to the Circuit regional trail network.
  • Promotes public access to a riverfront or waterway.
  • Capacity and resources are available for operation and maintenance.

To be eligible for one-time funding related to innovative initiatives or organizational transformations, as described above, applicants must demonstrate the following:

  • A track record in public space management and programming.
  • On-going and demonstrated commitment to excellence and innovation.
  • Sound business planning and evidence of financial viability.
  • Sufficient capacity to implement, including strong board and staff leadership.
  • Willingness to share lessons learned.

How do we measure success?

The Foundation seeks to carefully evaluate the impact of its public space investments to gain insights that can inform refinements to individual projects as well as the overall grantmaking strategy. To this end, we track several key indicators, including:

  • Utilization and Connectivity to ensure that the public space amenities it funds are accessible, well-used, and welcoming to all potential users, including local and nonlocal park users. Studying the level of use by nearby residents helps us understand the extent to which local open space and recreation needs are being met while the amount of nonlocal use indicates the degree to which a particular public space is successfully connected to and accessible to other neighborhoods and the larger city.
  • Spillover Effects/Community Impacts  to understand whether the public space amenities represent important enhancements for local communities that help retain and attract residents, visitors, and investment. To understand how public space amenities contribute toward community renewal, the Foundation periodically collects data on factors community change, such as public sector investment and private sector development activity in areas adjacent to Foundation investments, reductions in neighborhood vacancy, and improvements in health and other the socio-economic factors welfare of existing residents.
  • Qualitative Measurements to understand the extent to which its public space investments are collectively impacting local/neighborhood, regional and national perceptions of Philadelphia as a desirable place to live, work, and visit.

 

New Audiences/New Places

Introduction

The William Penn Foundation believes that fostering a creative community is essential as the reflection of who we are. It creates a communal experience that can deepen our civic bonds, is a catalyst for changing our individual perceptions as well as our communal identity, and it builds the bridges and provides essential connections to each other. 

The New Audiences/New Places grant making program is intended to enrich community life and foster creative expression throughout the city by funding artistic projects that explore the use of public and civic spaces as platforms for cultural performances and public art that engages audiences.

The Foundation believes in the intrinsic value of art and its ability to enhance the quality of life, inspire creativity, and enlarge worldviews and perspectives. The principal aim of the New Audiences/New Places effort is to increase resident and visitor access to dynamic, high quality public art and to transform the experience of public spaces and community gathering places with art and creative expression.

Our hope is that high quality public and performing arts will increasingly become part of the everyday experience of the city through its appearance in the public, civic, and community spaces that form the daily geography of Philadelphia residents and visitors.

What We Fund

The Foundation supports a diverse range of high quality art projects in a wide range of public, civic, and community spaces with the over-arching expectation that the works will be highly accessible to the public. Specifically the Foundation funds projects that:

  • Engage audiences outside of traditional performance and exhibition venues, especially in community based settings where a diversity of people come together.
  • Promote new opportunities for residents throughout the city to engage in high quality cultural experiences, and support new relationships between cultural organizations and neighborhoods.
  • Expand the understanding of how enhanced engagement, active dialog, extended programming, or multiple points of access provide new audiences with cultural opportunities.
  • Introduce, connect, orient and interpret public spaces, and other civic assets, to residents and visitors, especially but not exclusively, the targeted landscapes of the Foundation's Great Public Spaces grant making strategy.

All aspects of project development and execution, including planning, design, civic engagement, and implementation, are eligible for funding through New Audiences/New Places.

Projects that are permanent, temporary, or seasonal in nature and in any discipline (e.g., performing arts, visual arts, media arts, literary/humanities, multi-discipline, etc.) are eligible for consideration.


Eligibility Requirements

  • Projects must be located in the City of Philadelphia.
  • Work must reflect high artistic quality and artistic merit.
  • Work must occur outside of the presenting organization's traditional venue or in a public or community space.
  • Preference will be given to works that can be executed within three years; however, all projects must be completed with 5 years.
  • Priority will be given to projects in the targeted landscapes of the Great Public Spaces grantmaking strategy (see LINK for more information), or in public spaces that are ripe for transformation throughout the city, particularly where access to cultural amenities is limited. In either case, applicants will be required to articulate the thinking behind the selected location, both in terms of the project being planned and the resident engagement strategy.
  • Projects may be permanent or temporary, and in any discipline (e.g., performing arts, visual arts, media arts, literary/humanities, multi-discipline, etc.).
  • In cases where the project will require ongoing maintenance or some form of continuing stewardship, those needs must be addressed in the proposal.
  • Projects must demonstrate close collaboration between artists, arts organizations, local community partners, and, when appropriate, directly with residents. Proposals must also include detailed plan for communications, marketing, and outreach to the intended audience.
  • Evidence of organizational capacity to execute within the planned timeline/budget.

Organizational Eligibility

This strategy is intended to primarily provide funding support to professional arts and culture organizations operating outside their traditional venues. The following types of art and culture organizations are ineligible:

  • Not having an audit or financial review
  • Battlefields/forts/military
  • Churches, synagogues, or other religious institutions
  • Government agencies
  • Presses or publications
  • K-12 Schools
  • Organizations that are not professional nonprofit arts or cultural organizations must apply to the Foundation as part of a partnership with an artistic team
  • For arts organizations, organizations that do not regularly engage and pay artists
  • Community arts organizations whose programming does not include any arts production/presentation
  • Rehabilitation or arts therapy
  • Hospitals
  • Video/recording/online organizations
  • Arts education organizations (youth or adult)

What We Do Not Fund

Organizations with the following characteristics are ineligible:

  • Projects outside of the City of Philadelphia
  • Public or private memorials

Evaluating Proposals and Grants

How do we select grantees?

An internal review team reviews all submissions and makes recommendations for funding to the full board of the Foundation. Each application is reviewed on its own merits, but in the context of the applicant pool. We fund organizations that demonstrate high-quality programming and management, a track record of successful project implementation and financial and management capacity to complete the proposed project. In addition, we consider the following criteria as part of the selection process:

  • An ongoing and demonstrated commitment to excellence, innovation, and audiences.
  • Strength of staff and board leadership and evidence of organizational capacity to carry out the proposed work.
  • A history of planning and disciplined implementation.
  • Demonstrated understanding of the audience served.
  • Deep experience in promoting artistic/civil/social engagement.

However, it should be noted that not all applicant organizations that meet the eligibility criteria will be recommended for funding because the Foundation receives many more applications than it is able to support.

Organizations that otherwise meet the eligibility requirements but currently have a core support grant should check with the Creative Communities staff before applying.

How do we measure success?

  • Agreed-upon outcomes will be determined by the applicant organization in collaboration with the Foundation during the full proposal review.
  • Outcomes will be specific to the organization based on mission, the proposed project, and other key factors.

Application Process

Organizations that meet the eligibility requirements may apply through a two-step process, accessing all necessary forms on the Foundation's website.

Step 1: Submit an Inquiry Form

Submit an Inquiry Form, a project budget, an audit or financial review for the three most recently completed fiscal years, and operating budgets spanning the fiscal years to be covered by the requested grant. An applicable strategic, business, and/or financial plan should be submitted, if available. Please do not submit work samples unless requested by the Foundation.

An internal review team will review the Inquiry Forms to determine eligibility and competitiveness given the applicant pool. Based upon this assessment, full proposals will be invited for the most promising applications.

Step 2: Submit a full proposal

Upon invitation, the applicant will submit a full proposal and standard Foundation submission documents. There may be additional materials requested based on the Inquiry Form review. Please do not submit work samples unless requested by the Foundation. During the proposal review, outcomes of the grant will be finalized by the applicant in collaboration with the Foundation.

The following table is provided to help eligible applicants understand the schedule:

Guidelines/Inquiry Form Available
Inquiry Form Due By 5:00pm
Notification of Invitation to Apply
Proposals Due By 5:00pm
Scheduled Board Review
August 22, 2016
November 1, 2016
December 16, 2016
March 10, 2017
July 21, 2017

Frequently Asked Questions

Please see our Grants Overview page for general FAQs.

  • Q: Can we apply for funding through New Audiences/New Places if we already have a Core Organizational Support or Arts Educational grant?
    A: Yes, however, you should check with a program staff person before submitting because the Foundation does limit the amount of total aggregate support it provides to a single organization in a given year.
  • Q: What does “public and community space” mean? Can you provide examples?
    A: Public and community spaces include publicly-owned and publicly-accessible facilities, such as parks, squares, plazas, trails, streets, libraries, recreation and community centers, and other city-owned facilities that are universally accessible. (See LINK for more information on the Great Public Space targeted landscapes)
  • Q: Are there minimum requirements or expectations for public space animation and activation?
    A: No. Each proposal will be considered on its own merits and factors such as the artistic vision and goals of the project, the local community context, and the specific characteristic of the public space to be animated will be taken into consideration in developing the agreed-upon results of the project, including the anticipated levels of public space animation and activation.
  • Q: Is there a preferred project type?
    A: Projects may be permanent or temporary, and in any discipline (e.g., public art, performing arts, visual arts, media arts, literary/humanities, multi-discipline, etc.).
  • Q: Are all project costs eligible, including both planning and implementation?
    A: Yes, all costs associated with project development and implementation are eligible.
  • Q: Can/should I contact a staff member of the Creative Communities Team before submitting an Inquiry Form?
    A: Prior contact with a William Penn Foundation Program staff member is not required.
  • Q: Should we submit work samples?
    A: Work samples will be requested if they are needed.


 

 

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