Belonging in Oakland: A Just City Cultural Fund

A Partnership of the City of Oakland’s Cultural Affairs Division, Akonadi Foundation, and East Bay Community Foundation

Belonging in Oakland A Just City – Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)


APPLICATION DEADLINE Monday July 13, 2020, 11:59pm

Applications must be submitted online through EBCF’s application portal

Late applications will not be accepted. Incomplete applications may be deemed ineligible. 

Please review the guidelines and FAQs before starting your application.

What is the purpose of this program?

The purpose of the Fund is to support cultural practitioners of color (Black/Indigenous/People of Color) to radically reimagine a racially just city. We believe that we cannot build a just city without knowing what we are aiming for. We seek to engage the imaginative power of the communities most impacted by systemic racism to envision what justice looks like. The Reflect & Reimagine grants are intended to support reflection and reimagining time and processes as a first step to move us closer to the creation of a just city.

Who can apply?

The Fund seeks to support Oakland’s historically under-resourced communities of color and the cultural practitioners within them.

Applicants must be:

  • a cultural practitioner of color who is based and rooted in Oakland
  • a group/collective of cultural practitioners led by people of color based and rooted in Oakland
  • an Oakland-based nonprofit cultural organization led by people of color

Groups/collectives of cultural practitioners can include non-Oakland-based members, but must be led by Oaklanders.

Groups/collectives must be led by people of color, but can include others.

While the Fund can only make a grant to 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations, individuals and groups/collectives can apply through a fiscal sponsor.

A fiscal sponsor is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization that is mission-aligned with the project it is sponsoring and is willing and able to assume the legal responsibility to receive and administer grant funds in compliance with requirements.

501(c)(3) fiscal sponsors are not required to be led by people of color nor does it have to be located in Oakland. If awarded a grant, the fiscal sponsor of a project must be prepared to submit a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that outlines the mutual obligations of the fiscal sponsor and the person or entity it is sponsoring.


If you have further questions about whether you are eligible to apply, please contact Katherin Canton at 510-999-4137 or

Who is a cultural practitioner?

For the purposed of this program, cultural practitioners are: artists, artist-activists, traditional culture bearers/keepers, griots/storytellers, craftspeople, creative placemakers and -keepers, cultural strategists, community historians/elders, or other visionaries.

Please review the Glossary of Key Terms for other defined terms.

How do I find a fiscal sponsor for my project?

If you are not a 501(c)(3) organization and have never worked with a fiscal sponsor, please contact Katherin Canton, Program Manager for assistance. You can also ask you peers about any recommendations, word of mouth is helpful to get to know the working relationships between a fiscal sponsor and a project.

Some background on finding a responsive and responsible fiscal sponsor:

Best Practices for fiscal sponsorship by the National Network of Fiscal Sponsors

What is fiscal sponsorship? How do I find a fiscal sponsor? by Candid

The fiscal sponsor can be located outside of Oakland and does not need to be led by people of color. You and your fiscal sponsor must be prepared to submit a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) if the project receives an award.

What does it mean to be “based in Oakland”?

Being “based in Oakland” means that you are located in Oakland and serve Oakland communities, whether you are a cultural practitioner, organization, or business.

What does it mean to be “rooted in Oakland?``

The Fund is seeking cultural practitioners who not only live in Oakland, but are a part of and deeply connected to the community they work in—for example, who have a significant history and a strong web of relationships in the community.

How do I show I am rooted in Oakland?

In the application narrative, we ask applicants to describe what community(ies) are at the core of their project. We are looking for information about, for example, who applicants are collaborating with, what the depth of that relationship is, and how there is reciprocity. We want to understand how applicants both “claim” and “are claimed by” the community they are working with.

Who can be my “community”?

The Fund supports Oakland-based projects, meaning the community is who the cultural practitioner or cultural organization has been working with prior to the application. This can be determined by geographic scope, cultural/ethnic group, experience and/or affinity within Oakland.

Why are only people of color eligible to apply to the Fund?

The Fund seeks to address the historic inequities in the cultural sector for communities of color, especially centering Black and Indigenous people. It is doing so by investing in cultural practitioners of color who are based in Oakland and seeking to strengthen the cultural infrastructure within, for, and by Oakland’s communities of color.

How do you define “people of color”?

People who are not of exclusively European parentage or white identified. For the purposes of this program, people of color will include inter-racial people with both white and non-white heritage and who identify as people of color.

Please review the Glossary of Key Terms for other defined terms.

Can I apply if I am an artist of color but my collective includes white artists?

Yes. You may apply as long as your collective is led by people of color, is based and rooted in Oakland, and has nonprofit status or a nonprofit fiscal sponsor.

Can my organization apply if the staff includes a mix of people of color and white people?

Yes. Your organization can apply as long as it is located in Oakland, is led by people of color, and has nonprofit status or a nonprofit fiscal sponsor.

Can I apply to the Fund even if I currently have or recently received an award from one of the partner’s grant-making programs?

Yes. For example, you may apply to the Fund even if you have an open grant with the City of Oakland Cultural Funding Program, the East Bay Fund for Artists, or were previously funded by the Beloved Community Fund.

Can my organization apply even if we have had suspend normal operations due to the pandemic lockdown?

Yes. We understand that many cultural organizations are unable to operate normally or organize physical gatherings that put people at risk. This is why we are offering support to cultural practitioners to reflect and reimagine a “new normal” that is founded on visions of racial justice once we emerge from the pandemic.

What do you mean by “radical imagination”?

For the purpose of this program, radical imagination is the ability to imagine the world, life, and social institutions not as they are, but as they might be in a racially just world. We seek projects with the insight and courage to envision how the world can and must be changed. Radical imagination is about calling on the past, telling different stories about how the world came to be the way it is, and remembering the power and importance of past struggles and the way their spirits live on in the present. It calls on our capacity to imagine how to make common cause with other people, and undergirds our ability to build solidarity across boundaries and borders, real or imagined. (Definition adapted from writings by Alex Khasnabish and Max Haiven)

Please review the Glossary of Key Terms for other defined terms.

How do you define “racial justice”/ “racial equity”?

The systematic fair treatment of people of all races, resulting in equitable opportunities and outcomes for all. Racial justice—or racial equity—goes beyond “anti-racism.” It is not just the absence of discrimination and inequities, but also the presence of deliberate systems and supports to achieve and sustain racial equity through proactive and preventative measures. (Definition adapted from Race Forward)

Please review the Glossary of Key Terms for other defined terms.

What is the award amount?

Awards will be $25,000. Our hope is that cultural practitioners and community members participating are seen and valued for their labor in the project.

Are matching funds required?

No. We do not want matching fund requirements to be a barrier to applying to the program. We encourage applicants to share how the community might support their project through things like volunteering, donated materials, etc., as appropriate.

What types of projects are you looking for?

The program is open to all disciplines, mediums, and civic and reflective practices.

The Fund is looking to Oakland cultural practitioners of color to creatively engage their imaginations in partnership with, for example, community organizers, youth, elders, policymakers, and/or others to envision what a racially just city or community or neighborhood could look and be like.

How many and what kind of work sample formats can I submit?

You can submit up to five work samples in the following formats, as appropriate. For example, you could include a video, one set of images (up to 10 jpgs), two poems (up to 20 pages), and an audio sample.

  • For performance, media, or activity documentation: Vimeo or YouTube link.
    • You may submit a full-length work, but please provide a cue that is three minutes in length, as reviewers will not be expected to review more than that unless they choose to. See below for Video Link Upload Instructions.
  • For visual arts/crafts/design, or activity documentation: upload up to ten digital photographs. This will count as one sample.
    • These may be png, jpg, jpeg files.
    • Recommended resolution: 300 dpi. Recommended image size: 800 x 600 pixels. Size per image file may not exceed 10 MB.
  • For literature/text-based forms: up to ten pages in one PDF. This will count as one sample.

How should I describe my work samples?

For each of your work samples, we would like to know why you picked this sample, for example, it shows the quality of the work of the cultural practitioner, and what we should pay attention to in reviewing it, for example, this is the kind of reflection process you will use in the project.

In one PDF, please list your sample, number it, and provide the following information:

  • whose work is it/who is performing it (if applicable)
  • what year it was created
  • any cueing instructions
  • brief description of the work and what you think it demonstrates that is relevant to your project

Work Sample Description sample:

Sample #1: Spoken word/music video title, Poet: xx, Composer: xx, Performed by: xx, Year Created: xxxx. Please cue at 2:30 minutes into the video. This excerpt expresses a futuristic view of a world based on the well-being of the planet. This idea will be explored as part of our project.

Sample #2: Title of writing sample, Form: xx (for example, an excerpt of a novel, creative nonfiction, poetry, etc.) Author: xx, Year Created: xxxx. This excerpt is a social critique of racialized policies that have promoted gentrification that aligns with our research project.

How do I upload audio or video samples to YouTube or Vimeo?

Check out the following video links explaining how to upload audio files OR videos to YouTube.

Check out the following video link explaining how to upload videos to Vimeo.

How do I upload my audio or video sample to my application?

When pasting the link, be sure to use the whole, non-shortened link (avoid using links with ““).

If your link includes an ampersand (&) followed by additional text (such as “&feature=” or “&t=”, it may not work. Remove the “&” and everything that comes after it before pasting the link.

After you paste the link, use the Test button to check that it works.

Note: We strongly encourage you to consider using the Unlisted or Private setting on YouTube (or similar setting for other public sites). Review these Instructions for specifics on updating your video settings. Non-password protected videos are preferred; if protected, be sure to provide password information. Do not submit links to websites that require video content to be downloaded.

What is funding period?

The funding period is the timeframe in which grant funds may be applied to your project. The funding period for the Fund can begin the moment you receive an award notification in mid-August 2020 and will end by August 31, 2021, when the Reflection piece/work is due.

When will I be notified of grant decisions?

You will be notified of grant decisions by mid-August 2020.

If awarded a grant, when will I receive the funds?

Funds will generally be disbursed at the time you are notified in mid-August 2020. Projects applying through a fiscal sponsor must submit an MOU before grant funds can be released. The full award amount will be disbursed in one payment.

Who will be reviewing my application?

A peer review panel of cultural leaders and activists who understand the historical grounding and cultures of a wide range of communities of color in Oakland. The review panel will include members of communities most impacted by racial injustice. In assembling the panel, the Fund’s leadership team will create a racial, ethnic, age, and gender balance that is inclusive of LGBTQ+ people of color.

We will announce the names of the review panelists after awards have been made.

What are eligible project expenses?

Grant funds may be used for the expenses it will take to realize your project. We value fair compensation for cultural labor. We believe that compensation for the time and effort of community members should be considered, as appropriate, or valued as donated labor (in-kind contributions).

The Fund is intended to support the capacity of cultural practitioners and the cultural landscape of Oakland’s communities of color. We want to see this value reflect in the proposed budget.

For example, the reviewers will look for project budgets that identify life sustaining expenses—such as wellness, healthcare, childcare, food, student debt, rent, utilities, etc.—in addition to payment for cultural practitioner’s labor.


Budget Example:

Expense Description Amount Notes
Artist Fees $14,000 1 lead artist x $100/hr x 50 hrs = $5,000, 3 artists x $100/hr x 30 hrs = $9,000
Community Stipends $2,500 5 focus groups: 10 people x $50 x 5 mtgs = $2.5K
Life Sustaining expenses $4,500 $2,000 toward debt relief for 4 artists, $1,000 for restorative retreats, $1,000 toward healthcare expenses for 4 artists
Staff Support $ 4,500 Activity coordination, scheduling, facilitation
Research Materials $1,000 Books, subscriptions, training, etc.
Overhead $1,500 Video conferencing, utilities, insurance, etc.
Expense Total =$28,000


Income Description Amount Notes
Grants $27,000 JCCF $25K, XXX Foundation $2,000

(will apply for)

In-Kind $1,000 $300 research materials, $700 space for physically-distanced activities
Income Total =$28,000

Can I, as a cultural practitioner, be included in multiple applications?

Yes. As a cultural practitioner or cultural group, you may be included in multiple applications, but be aware that you may be competing against yourself.

As a 501(c)(3) cultural organization, can I submit more than one application?

As an applicant organization, you may submit only one application on your behalf. If you are acting as a fiscal sponsor, you may submit one application per fiscally sponsored project.

If I receive a grant, what are the reporting requirements?

At the end of the grant period, awardees are required to submit a Reflection Piece in their preferred medium or a written piece that expresses or explains their idea for a radically imagined, racially just Oakland related to the community they are rooted in. Our intention is to decrease the burden of grant writing by asking you to submit documentation for the reflection that best suits your work and goals.

Tips on navigating the SurveyMonkey Apply (SMA) Online Application Portal:

See the Guidelines and Application Text PDFs for the required application information.


Register for an SMA account

  • In order to complete or see the application in the SMA portal, you must “Register for an applicant account” and select either Individual or Organization, enter your name, email, and create a password.
  • If you have applied for an EBCF program recently, within the last year, you most likely already have registered and will simply need to log in.
  • Note that your selection of Individual or Organization will only affect which EBCF grant programs are visible to you when you first log in. Both Organizations and Individual artists (with a Fiscal Sponsor) are eligible to apply for The Just City Cultural Fund, but you must select one or the other.


Eligibility Quiz

  • The Eligibility Quiz is required to get access to the full online application. You can see the Eligibility Quiz questions in the Application Text PDF.
  • Once you click the “Mark as Complete” button at the end of the quiz, you will no longer be able to edit your responses. If you are unsure about a question, please contact the Program Manager before submitting your response.


Application Navigation

  • During the Application Tasks (sections of the application) you will submit the information by clicking on the “Mark as Complete” button at the bottom of each page.
  • You can always go back and edit these sections by clicking the ellipsis button (three dots) at the top right of each section in your dashboard—as long as you haven’t submitted the full completed application. Once you complete each Task in the application, you can download a copy of it for reference.
  • To submit the application, you will click the green “Review & Submit” button at the bottom of the Application Tasks page. You will be able to review one last time your full application response and when you are ready click the “Submit Your Application” button at the top right corner of the page.
  • Once you “Submit the Application” you will no longer be able to edit it. Please review your application before submitting it.

How can I get support with access needs during the application process?

Yes. We are hosting three application webinars with ample time to ask questions about the program and/or application process. In addition, you can email or call Katherin Canton, Program Manager, at 510-999-4137, with specific questions.

  • Please contact Katherin Canton, Program Manager via email or phone or text at least one week before the deadline to get assistance. We want to make sure cultural practitioners / cultural organizations who have not typically or previously accessed grant funding to be able to receive the support they need to apply.

Can I contact someone if I have questions or need technical support?

Yes. We are hosting two application webinars with ample time to ask questions about the program and/or application process. In addition, you can email or call Katherin Canton, Program Manager, at 510-999-4137, with specific questions.

If you are having technical difficulties with the online application, please submit a SMA Help Desk ticket, they typically reply within an hour:

Please view this application webinar if you plan to apply – [Webinar Recording] BELONGING IN OAKLAND: A JUST CITY CULTURAL FUND  – June 24, 2020


Please review the Application Text PDF for all the required application information. If awarded a grant, you will need to provide a copy of your Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with your Fiscal Sponsor. To complete the application, you will need approval from your Fiscal Sponsor and the following basic information:

  1. Primary Contact of 501(c)(3) Applicant of Record (Fiscal Sponsor)
    1. First Name
    2. Last Name
    3. Street Address 1
    4. Street Address 2 (optional)
    5. City
    6. State
    7. Zip Code
    8. Phone
    9. Email
    10. Website
    11. EIN
  2. Authorized Signatory – Please list information for the person who is authorized to sign a Grant Agreement on behalf of your organization (fiscal sponsor). This information may be used to obtain electronic signatures using DocuSign.
    1. First Name
    2. Last Name
    3. Title
    4. Email
    5. Phone


We are currently accepting applications / project proposals for the year one “Reflect & Reimagine” grants. Our goal is to continue to be responsive to what the cultural landscape needs in year two and three, but we are planning for year two and three to be implementation grants with awards that may range from $25,000 to $40,000. We will determine the scope of Year two and three grants in 2021, once we have learned from the year 1 grant process and impact. Although applying and/or being awarded a Year one grant may prepare you to apply for the Year two or three grants, it is not required to apply or receive a Year one grant to apply for a Year two or three grant.


The Year one “Reflect & Reimagine” grant award or $25,000 covers the funding period between mid-August 2020 – August 31, 2021. The $25,000 award is for a one year project period.


Download the Guidelines [PDF]

Download the Application Text [PDF] (Note: This document is for reference only. Applications must be submitted online HERE)




For questions and assistance, contact Katherin Canton at 510-999-4137 or