Frequently Asked Questions
About the Grant Program
Belonging in Oakland: A Just City Cultural Fund (the Fund) is a unique public-private partnership inspired by the values lifted up in the City of Oakland’s cultural plan, Belonging in Oakland and a vision to create a more just city. In the 2023 funding round, the Fund is putting out a call for collaborations between Oakland-based, BIPOC-led cultural and social justice organizations working in community with civically-engaged BIPOC artists or cultural practitioners to co-create, develop, or test aspirational policy ideas for building a racially just city.
The Fund is putting out a call for collaborations between BIPOC-led cultural and social justice organizations looking to shape racial and social justice-oriented policies and practices to create a more just Oakland. Eligible collaborations may not yet have a clear project in mind, but should have an idea of what sector or issue area will be addressed and what vision grantseekers have for change, what communities will be centered in the work, what track record grantseekers have of working in communities for social change, and what will be strengthened by collaborating.
Sectors or issue areas of where social change is needed include community development, economic justice, education equity, environmental justice, sustainability, climate change, food justice, health & well-being, housing rights, immigrant & refugee rights, land use & spatial justice, participation in the civic realm, public safety, and worker rights. You are free to offer additional issues or ways of framing where you want to make change to create a more just Oakland.
Three-year grants of $100,000 per year will be awarded to no more than three collaborative partnerships. In addition, each partnership will also receive: an annual stipend of $12,000 (12% of the grant amount) for life sustaining expenses of the participating artist(s)/cultural practitioner(s)—for example, to cover healthcare, childcare, student debt, restorative time or activities, or other such expenses) and an annual stipend of up to $25,000 will be available for the purpose of documenting the learning and outcomes resulting from the collaboration, the amount to be negotiated with each collaboration based on the scope of their plans and their capacity/desire to carry them out.
Up to 15 Letters of Interest (LOI) applications will receive an invitation to submit a full proposal by late August. Three collaborative awards will be announced in late October.
To be awarded a grant, the lead applicant of the collaboration must be prepared to submit a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that outlines the respective roles, responsibilities, and general budget allocations of the collaborative partners, and the fiscal sponsor if one is being engaged; a general documentation plan and budget, if documentation funds are being requested (up to $25,000 is available); and have a mutually agreed upon plan with the Fund on reporting requirements.
The form of reporting will be based on the nature of each collaboration and what the Fund needs to track for the program as a whole. Annual reporting requirements will be negotiated between awardees and the Fund before awards are made to ensure mutual benefit and possibilities for sharing learning with other awardees and the field. Some demographic data collection and reporting will be required on an annual basis as well as information about how grant funds and special stipends were allocated that the Fund needs to report back to the Surdna Foundation. Annual grant renewals will be contingent on demonstrated progress on goals and adherence to funding requirements.
Yes, an artist, cultural practitioner, or artistic company may be named in more than one collaboration. However, we encourage you to move forward with the collaboration you believe is the strongest and most aligned with the program goals
No, matching funds are not required. A collaboration doesn’t need to be large in scale to be considered most competitive. However, if a draft budget significantly exceeds the grant amount offered by the Fund, having additional secured or pending resources will strengthen the feasibility of the collaboration. A detailed budget will not be required for the Letter of Interest (LOI) application.
Eligibility & Fiscal Sponsors
Eligible collaborations must include an Oakland-based, BIPOC-led cultural organization that works with civically-oriented artists or cultural practitioners and an Oakland-based, BIPOC-led social change organization. Both organizations must have either 501(c)(3) or 501(c)(4) or have a 501(c)(3) fiscal sponsor in good standing with the IRS. One organization needs to be designated as the lead applicant for the collaboration. This organization will serve as the main contact for the collaboration and the Fund. The lead applicant organization must have an annual operating budget of at least $500,000, even if fiscally sponsored.
No. The Fund seeks to support Oakland’s historically marginalized communities of color and the artists or cultural practitioners within them. While the Fund can only grant to 501(c)(3) and 501(c)(4) nonprofit organizations, we are aware that nonprofit infrastructure is challenged in communities of color in Oakland. For that reason, fiscal sponsoring organizations do not need to be located in Oakland nor BIPOC-led.
A fiscal sponsor is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization that is willing and able to assume the legal responsibility to receive and administer grant funds in compliance with requirements. If you or your organization have never had a fiscal sponsor, you can find resources about fiscal sponsorship, including a list of arts-centered fiscal sponsors, here.
Use of Grant Funds
The grant award is for the work of the collaboration over a three-year period. Generally, the funds may be used to advance the proposed vision of the collaboration. However, this program, because of legal requirements and limited resources, will not fund collaborations meant to:
- Influence the outcome of elections for candidates for public office
- Use the funds for anything that qualifies as a reportable campaign contribution
- Support capital campaigns for building maintenance/construction/purchase or endowments
- Create artistic works with the principal purpose of putting them before an audience
- Support training activities with the sole purpose of helping individuals develop artistic skills
If there are specific questions in this regard, please contact JCCF Fund Manager Anyka Howard at email@example.com.
An annual stipend equal to 12% of the grant amount will be added to each award. This stipend is meant to be used by the artist(s) or cultural practitioner(s) engaged by the collaboration for life sustaining expenses such as healthcare, childcare, student debt, restorative time or activities, or other such expenses. This stipend serves as a modest recognition of the hidden costs of maintaining cultural practices in Oakland’s communities of color.
Application Process & Letter of Inquiry (LOI)
In order to submit an application, you will be asked a series of questions that ensures you are eligible to apply to the grant program. (Please see “Who is eligible to apply” above.)
The eligibility quiz saves prospective applicants from going through the process of submitting an application if they are not eligible to receive the grant. Eligible applicants will be given access to submit Letters of Interest and work samples after meeting basic eligibility requirements.
The first step is to complete an online Letter of Interest (LOI) application.
- some information about the purpose and nature of your collaboration
- some summary financial information
- a work sample
Up to 15 LOI applications will receive an invitation to submit a full proposal. The rest will receive notification that their application has been declined. For those declined, the process will end there.
The grantmaking process is very competitive and many worthy collaborations will not be able to be funded. To save your time and effort, please do not apply unless there is a good fit with the program guidelines.
The second step will be for those who have been invited to submit a full proposal.
Full proposals will need to include more information about your collaboration, your vision and the role arts & culture play in realizing it, communities served, and a proposed budget. Proposals will be due within three weeks after receiving the invitation and will be reviewed by peer panelists. Those who submit a full proposal will receive an honorarium of $300 for the effort required to submit a full proposal.
The three collaborations to receive three-year grant awards will be announced in late October.
We encourage applicants to directly address the questions asked in the application and to try to convey the vision of your collaboration as faithfully as possible. Your LOI will be ranked using the Review Criteria listed in the guidelines. It will be helpful to have the Review Criteria in front of you as you write your LOI.
The Review Criteria
Potential impact of the proposed policy change 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 policy ideas for the issue areas to be addressed
- The strength of the capacity or track record of the partners to make positive social change
Depth of understanding of the importance of culture/aesthetics to equity and social change
- The strength of the proposed partnerships with artists or cultural practitioners
- The relevance and resonance of the cultural or aesthetic practices, values, and vision proposed and their relation to the participating communities
Quality of relationship and engagement between the collaborative partners and the community(ies) centered in the collaboration
- The depth of the engagement and relationship of the collaborative partners and the community(ies) centered in the work
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.
Yes, there is a requirement to submit one work sample. It must be a relevant example of social change work your organization or your partner has engaged in to make a more just Oakland. Work samples can take the form of a written report, policy paper, powerpoint slides, a film, video, oraudio sample, or other form of documentation.
Application Support & Technical Assistance
Belonging in Oakland: A Just City Cultural Fund uses SurveyMonkey Apply (SMA) as its online application portal.
We’ve put together a list of tips on how to navigate SurveyMonkey Apply.
Yes. You can click here to view a recording of the informational webinar we held on July 13, which included an overview of the program, review of the letter of interest requirements, and a Q&A session. Click here to view the webinar presentation slides [PDF].
For other questions, you can email Anyka Howard, Program Manager, at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also schedule 15-minute phone appointments on Wednesdays and Thursdays 11:00 am – 3:00 pm PST at: https://calendly.com/anyka/15min.
If you are having technical difficulties with the online application, please submit a SMA Help Desk ticket, they typically reply within an hour: https://eastbaycf.smapply.io/helpdesk/
For questions and assistance, contact email@example.com.
Glossary of Key Terms
Belonging: Within the civic realm, belonging is tied to people’s ability to lead meaningful lives, to be connected to the place they live in and the people they live among, and to feel a part of something larger than themselves. We believe to cultivate belonging, there must be more equitable racial, cultural, and socioeconomic conditions for self-expression, mutual respect, empathy, and acceptance. These conditions cannot be fulfilled without an understanding of the breadth of cultural diversity in Oakland and how different forms of expression have different needs. (Definition from the City of Oakland’s cultural plan)
BIPOC: BIPOC is an abbreviation for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color, and highlights the legacies of enslavement and colonization in the U.S. People of Color refers to people who do not identify as white and are not exclusively of European heritage.
BIPOC-Led Organization: The Fund defines a BIPOC-led organization as one whose principal staff leadership is Black, Indigenous, orPeople of Color. Generally, the organization should also have a majority BIPOC board membership.
Civic-facing: The Fund considers a civic-facing organization or individual as being one whose work concerns or addresses the realm of the public sector, such as engagement in democratic processes and governance, public policy and administration, the rights and responsibilities of members of communities and societies, and the like.
Community-centered: The Fund seeks to support collaborations that center the voices, aspirations, and ideas of the communities they serve, in this case, those most impacted by systemic racism and other intersectional systemic oppressions.
Community-rooted: It is important to the Fund that the artists or cultural practitioners involved in collaborations are deeply a part of the communities with whom they will work – either through identity, years of involvement, or both. A community may be geographically or ethnically or culturally defined. It may also be a community of identity based on, for example, age, faith, sexual orientation, gender identity, or immigration status.
Cultural Practitioners and Cultural Workers: The Fund uses the term cultural practitioners and cultural workers to include not only artists, but artist-activists, traditional culture bearers or keepers, griots, storytellers, craftspeople, creative placemakers and place-keepers, cultural strategists, community historians, elders, or other visionaries.
Intersectional or Intersectionality: The interconnected nature of social categorizations such as race, class, and gender, regarded as creating overlapping and interdependent systems of discrimination or disadvantage.
(A term coined by Prof. Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw)
Racial Justice: 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 adopted from Race Forward) Racial justice is a step on the way to a society liberated from racialized systems of oppression.
Radical Imagination: The ability to imagine the world, life, and social institutions not as they are, but as they might be in a just world. It is the courage and the intelligence to recognize that the world can 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)
Systemic or Structural Racism: Systemic or structural racism in the U.S. is the normalization and legitimization of an array of dynamics—historical, cultural, institutional, and interpersonal—that routinely advantage white people while producing cumulative and chronic adverse outcomes for people of color. It is a system of hierarchy and inequity, primarily characterized by white supremacy—the preferential treatment, privilege, and power for white people at the expense of Black, Latino, Asian, Pacific Islander, Native American, SWANA (Southwest Asian, North African) and other racially oppressed people. (Definition adopted from Structural Racism by Keith Lawrence and Terry Keleher)