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

Throughout history, the arts have played a unique role in inspiring and unifying communities. As EBCF embarks on our journey to advance an inclusive, fair and just East Bay, we continue to uplift the power of art and culture to drive social change and build stronger communities and neighborhoods.

–James W. Head, President & CEO, East Bay Community Foundation


Review Process

There is a two-step application process. 

Letter of Inquiry: Eligible applicants are asked to submit a brief (up to 300 words) Letter of Inquiry (LOI) along with a sample of artistic work and some demographic data. Eligible and complete LOIs will be reviewed and ranked by peer readers and the Fund’s leadership team.

Full Proposal: Up to 20 applicants will be invited to submit a full proposal in mid-July. This proposal will be due within three weeks of the invitation. Applicants will receive an honorarium of $300 to offset the cost of submitting the full proposal. A peer review panel will meet to discuss the applications and recommend up to eight projects for two-year funding. The East Bay Community Foundation board will have final approval of the slate of recommended grants.

The Fund’s peer readers and panelists will be cultural leaders and activists who understand the historical grounding and cultures of a wide range of BIPOC communities in Oakland. In assembling the readers and panelists, the Fund has a goal of creating a thoughtful mix of racial, ethnic, age, and gender considerations that is inclusive of LGBTQ+ people of color.


Review Criteria

Letters of Inquiry will be assessed based on the following criteria:

Quality of radical imagination and action for a just Oakland

  • The strength of the vision of social transformation for Oakland and the actions prompted by it, and the clarity and resonance of the areas of systemic racism to be addressed

Depth of cultural/aesthetic practices

  • The depth and resonance of the cultural/aesthetic practices, values, and inquiry involved with the project 

Quality of relationship and engagement between the artist(s)/cultural practitioner(s) and the community(ies) centered in the project

  • The depth of the engagement and relationship of the artist(s)/cultural practitioner(s) and the community(ies) centered in the project and the sense of collective voice

In addition to these criteria, factors such as geographic, cultural, and issue diversity may also be considered in selecting those invited to submit a full proposal. 


Application Assistance

We will host two how-to-apply webinars during which attendees will be able to ask questions. 

  1. Wednesday, May 12, 2021 10:00am – 11:30am Register for the Zoom Webinar here. This webinar will be archived on the program website for viewing should you be unable to attend.
  2. Monday, May 24, 2021, 5:30pm – 7:00pm: Register for the Zoom Webinar here.


Applicants are strongly encouraged to attend or view a webinar before applying to the program. Please also see the Frequently Asked Questions for further guidance.

Questions about applying to the Fund will be answered by phone or email up to the deadline, as possible.

We encourage you to begin your LOI application at least a week before the submission deadline.

For assistance contact Michelle “Mush” Lee at You can also schedule 20-minute phone appointments with Mush Monday – Wednesday 10am – 5pm at:


Application Portal Opens May 4, 2021
Application Webinars

Recording of the webinar will be posted on the grant website for those unable to attend.

Letter of Inquiry Application Deadline

Late applications will be not be accepted

Monday,  June 14, 2021, 6:00 pm

The 2021 application deadline for A Just City Cultural Fund has past.
We are not accepting applications at this time.
Invitation to Submit a Full Proposal Mid-July 2021

If you receive an invitation to submit a full proposal, you will have 48 hours to accept or decline the invitation.

Full Proposal Deadline Wednesday, August 11, 2021, 6:00 pm
Award Notification Mid-September 2021
Grant Period Starts September 2021
Peer Learning Activities Activities will take place periodically throughout the grant period as determined by the grant recipient cohort in collaboration with the Fund.
Interim Check-In Fall 2022

The Fund will have a verbal or in-person check-in with grant recipients to discuss progress, learning, adaptations/course corrections.

Sharing the Vision activity By the end of the grant period (September 2023)

Sharing the project vision with a broader community is a program requirement. This could be a process-based activity, work-in-progress showings, culminating events, or a final product (in-person, virtual, documented, as appropriate).

Grant  Period Ends September 2023 
The 2021 application deadline for A Just City Cultural Fund has past.
We are not accepting applications at this time.


Download 2021 Guidelines 

Download 2021 Application-At-A-Glance (contains the text of the online application for reference)

Download 2021 Tips for Using the Online Application Portal

Download 2021 FAQs



For questions and assistance, contact