How to Apply to Creative Communities

Please note: the following information is only for the Creative Communities program. If you are seeking funding through the Great Learning or Watershed Protection programs, please visit our general How To Apply webpage instead.

The Foundation’s Creative Communities program team welcomes requests from grant seekers and actively seeks opportunities to fund efforts aligned with the Creative Communities program’s strategic goals. Funding will not be considered for any organization that discriminates on the basis of race, ethnicity, creed, gender, or sexual orientation in policy or practice.

To streamline our process, the Creative Communities program shifted to a one-step application process in fall 2021, with a single application used for all five funding strategies (i.e., Arts and Culture Hubs, Arts Education and Exposure, Arts Presentation and Art Making, Public Space Creation and Stewardship, and Equitable Economic Impacts).

Funding requests are accepted on a rolling basis and reviewed at quarterly board meetings. Dates by which a submission must be received to be reviewed for each board meeting are provided in a table below.


Please note: Additional instructions for fiscally sponsored projects are listed below.

Step 1: Reviewing grantmaking goals
Visit the What We Fund webpage and determine from which Creative Communities strategy you will be seeking funding. 

Step 2: Reviewing eligibility guidelines
Visit the How We Fund webpage to understand eligibility requirements for applying to each specific strategy.

Step 3: Communicating with staff (not required unless fiscally sponsored)
You are not required to contact a Creative Communities team member before applying. However, if you have questions or need to clarify funding eligibility and guidelines, feel free to contact the appropriate staff person. Please see the contact information linked below.

At this initial stage, any communication with a Creative Communities team member will be for the purpose of clarifying basic funding eligibility and answering questions about our guidelines. No approvals will be made at this stage in the process.

Step 4: Creating a portal username and password
Returning Portal Users: If you have previously used the William Penn Foundation’s online portal, please log-in to the portal using the username and password you previously created. If you don’t remember your password, can’t find your username, or aren’t sure if you already have a username with your current organization, email for assistance. Do not create a new username for yourself, as this creates duplicated records in our system and may delay review of your submission.

If you have a username, but need to reset your password, go to the portal and click “Can’t access your account?” Enter your username, and the system will email you a reset password link.

New Portal Users: If you have not used the William Penn Foundation online application system before, or if you used it while working for a different organization, you can create a new username and password. To do this, go to the portal and click "New User?" You will fill out a short form that will allow us to associate your user account with your organization’s grant application. Please enter your organization EIN in the format xx-1234567. We recommend using an email address tied to you as a person (i.e., not something like

Step 5: Starting an application
Once you have finished finding or creating your username and password, log in to the portal. Click on “Explore Grant Opportunities” and look for the grant application titled “Creative Communities.” Once you are on the Creative Communities application screen, go the bottom right corner, and select "Create Request".

Clicking “Save” means that the next time you log in, you will automatically see that you have a Creative Communities request in progress. You can then click “Edit” to finish working on your application. For your convenience, a copy of the application is also available here for reference. 

Special instructions for applicants using a fiscal sponsor:

Applicants may use a fiscal sponsor for fiduciary oversight of a grant with these considerations:

  1. If a grant is awarded, the Foundation will enter a contractual relationship/grant agreement with the fiscal sponsor, not the project, and the fiscal sponsor will legally be the grantee.
  2. A representative who is authorized to legally bind the fiscal sponsor will be required to sign the grant agreement.
  3. As the grantee, the fiscal sponsor will be responsible for fulfilling all terms and conditions of the grant agreement, including the reporting requirements.
  4. Payments will be made directly to the fiscal sponsor.

If you plan to apply through a fiscal sponsor, it is required that you contact the Creative Communities staff person assigned to the strategy you will be approaching at least one month prior to applying. This is so we can set you up in our online application system with a fiscal sponsor application. Following the above instructions listed under Step 5 will not give you access to the fiscal sponsor application. Please refer to the below list for the Program Officer who is the point of contact for the strategy to which you plan to apply. Be sure to communicate that you wish to apply through a fiscal sponsor.

The following is a more detailed description of important information about the Creative Communities grant development process, including:

Timeline To Consider When Applying

Applications are accepted on a rolling basis for all Creative Communities funding strategies, and we are happy to receive an application at any time. Once an application has been reviewed (about four to six weeks following submission), a member of the Creative Communities staff will be in touch to share whether or not an application can move forward, and the timeline for further review of the request.

Please adhere to the following application submission deadlines if you would like your proposal to be eligible for consideration at a specific board meeting.  However, review at a given board meeting date is not guaranteed.


Applications Submitted No Later Than*:

Staff Communicates Status Update on Application By:

For Earliest Possible Scheduled Board Review:

December 1, 2021
January 12, 2022
April 22, 2022
April 1, 2022
May 13, 2022
July 22, 2022
July 1, 2022
August 12, 2022
November 4, 2022

*Fiscally sponsored projects must communicate their intent to apply to a Creative Communities staff member at least one monthe prior to submission due dates.   

All funding proposals above $110,000 follow the schedule above. Funding requests at or below $110,000 are not required to be considered at a board meeting, and thus do not follow the deadlines shared above. Creative Communities program staff can provide more information about the timing and submission process for these types of requests.

Reaching Out Prior to Applying 

If you would like to share a project concept for consideration, we are happy to hear from you. Please know it is not a requirement for applying and decisions affecting funding will not be made until a full application is submitted and reviewed.

Reminder: If you will be applying to Creative Communities through a fiscal sponsor you must communicate this at least one month prior to applying so we can set you up in our online application system. 

If you would like to find a time to speak with a Program Officer before applying, please email the appropriate staff member. Email communication is preferred and often the quickest, but if you do not have access to email, please call 215-988-1830 to be directed to the appropriate Creative Communities team member, listed below:

Arts and Culture Hubs: Lindsay Tucker So

Arts Education and Exposure: Hillary Murray

Arts Presentation and Art Making: Lindsay Tucker So and Hillary Murray

Public Space Creation and Stewardship: Cara Ferrentino

Equitable Economic Impacts: Cara Ferrentino


General Operating Support

It is Foundation policy not to fund more than 25% of an organization’s operating budget. The Foundation may make exceptions on a case-by-case basis under limited circumstances, subject to approval by its board of directors.

Overhead/Indirect Costs

Direct costs can include funding for staff, materials, and other organizational costs related to the project. We also encourage organizations to include funding to support related indirect costs or overhead. The percentage allowed for indirect costs to support a project cannot exceed 25% of the total requested amount and is determined with the Program Officer. Program staff work with applicants on a case-by-case basis to determine what is reasonable and appropriate and in proportion to the organization, scope of work, and level of reporting required under the intended grant. The amount of indirect expenses should be allocated over the term of the request and entered as part of the Project Budget.

What to Expect After You Have Submitted an Application

Grant development is an iterative process between the Foundation and applicant organization and may take at least four to five months before a request is considered for approval.

During this time, applicant organizations can expect frequent communications with their program officer to clarify objectives of the proposed work, reasons for the chosen approach, anticipated results that the applicant intends to achieve through successful completion of the grant, or to finalize the expected project budget.

After you first submit your application, Creative Communities staff will review it and communicate within six weeks to let you know whether your application will be moving forward for further review. If the application is declined, it may be for reasons of eligibility, available resources, or priority shifts in the program. If your application moves forward, it may take at least four to five months before your request for funding is reviewed by the board. During this time, Creative Communities staff may ask for clarification about aspects of your proposed work and budget. As this is an iterative process, the application may require resubmission to finalize this information. Having your request for funding go before the Foundation’s board does not guarantee funding will be awarded or awarded at the requested level.

Site visits may be requested by the Creative Communities staff to help build our understanding of an organization or to see programming in-person. This is a very common request for arts education and public space applicants, however, the site visit is not a decision-making step, or a pre-qualification needed for applying.

Additional Reviews Done on Every WPF Application

Financial Review – The Foundation conducts an in-depth financial review to assess the financial health of each applicant organization to assure the prospective grantee has the capacity to carry out the work during the grant period. The assessment identifies potential risks and determines the level of WPF financial exposure. Finance staff use the financial statements provided to make this assessment. Members of the Foundation’s finance team may contact the applicant organization directly to clarify or request further information if needed.

Legal Review – Proposals may also require legal review, especially for advocacy requests or if lobbying activities are included as part of the proposed work. (Please refer to our Advocacy and Lobbying Guidelines, below). Legal review is necessary on more complex grants such as unusual grantee structures, recoverable grants, program related investments (PRIs), or grants of a very significant size. These may require communications with our legal representatives to assure that potential grants are aligned with IRS requirements.

Advocacy and Lobbying Guidelines

If a request for funding will support advocacy efforts and/or lobbying activities are included in the project, which is not typical for work funded through the Creative Communities program, please follow these guidelines.

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) prohibits private foundations from earmarking grant funds for “lobbying.” However, the IRS allows private foundations to fund projects undertaken by section 501(c)3 public charities that include lobbying activities so long as the private foundation demonstrates that its grant funds are not earmarked for any lobbying activities and the grant satisfies the “Project Grant Rule.” The Foundation uses the Project Grant Rule as set forth in the IRS Regulations. Under the Project Grant Rule, the total grant requested from the Foundation cannot exceed the total non-lobbying portion of the project.

The Project Grant Rule pertains to lobbying as defined by the IRS in section 170(c)(2)(B) of the Internal Revenue Code. Using the IRS definition of lobbying, applicants should estimate the cost of lobbying and non-lobbying activities for the proposed work and provide the expected lobbying budget for each project year. The full project should be considered to determine lobbying costs, not just the portion of funding to be requested from the Foundation. The Foundation cannot fully and appropriately review the proposal until this information is provided.

If lobbying activities are included in the project, the Foundation cannot be the sole source of funding for the project. Adequate sources of other committed, pending, and anticipated funding should be available and indicated on the "Other Funding" tab of the application form. This support must reflect donations or pledges of cash; the IRS will not consider in-kind support for Project Grant Rule purposes.

To use the Project Grant Rule, applicants are required to have enough non-WPF funds on hand to cover the full amount of the lobbying allocation prior to the request being considered for approval. Program staff will work with applicants to resolve any issues if enough funds are not available by this time.

Also note that under the Internal Revenue Code, all section 501(c)(3) organizations are absolutely prohibited from directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office. Contributions to political campaign funds or public statements of position (verbal or written) made on behalf of the organization in favor of or in opposition to any candidate for public office clearly violate the prohibition against political campaign activity. Violating this prohibition may result in denial or revocation of tax-exempt status and the imposition of certain excise taxes.

If your organization has questions about how the Project Grant Rule or Campaign Intervention regulations apply to your project, please contact your organization’s legal or tax advisor.

The Grants Management team is always available to assist with any question applicants may have about the process, forms, or expectations. Please contact with any questions or concerns.