Lake Merritt at sunset


Belonging in Oakland: A Just City Cultural Fund Announces $300,000 Funding Opportunity 


OAKLAND, Calif., June 27, 2023 — East Bay Community Foundation (EBCF), Akonadi Foundation, and the City of Oakland’s Cultural Affairs Division today announced a new funding opportunity for artists to partner with community organizers through the third round of funding from Belonging in Oakland: A Just City Cultural Fund. For the first time ever, The Fund will award three (3) three-year grants of $100,000 per year to collaborations between Oakland-based cultural and social change organizations led by Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC). The grant awards will also include a $12,000 annual stipend for the “life sustaining expenses” of the artists and cultural practitioners, and a $25,000 allocation for documenting the collaboration. The transformative power of the arts as a catalyst for racial justice is at the heart of this initiative. 

“Civic arts and culture programs are a truly vital component of a just, equitable, and inclusive future because they connect us to our history and our humanity,” said Brandi Howard, President and CEO of East Bay Community Foundation. “Artists and cultural practitioners give us the power to dream of what is possible, the inspiration we need to heal ourselves, and the understanding that we belong here.” 

The Fund seeks creative, mutually beneficial, and equitable collaborations working to build pathways to a more just Oakland to help break down old, racialized tropes and envision and test new narratives, social agreements, structures, and systems that lay the groundwork for freedom and liberation for Oakland communities. These collaborations seek to imagine and create a racially just and equitable Oakland where everyone belongs. 

“The democratic charge to support an ethically just, aesthetically diverse, dynamic, and rich city asks that we serve the civic narrative of belonging in all its beauty, temperaments, and complexities,” said Roberto Bedoya, Cultural Affairs Manager, City of Oakland. 

By providing resources to BIPOC-led collaborations that blend artistic innovation with social change, the Fund encourages the reimagining of power relations and the challenging of oppressive policies. Its ultimate goal is to inspire a broader sense of belonging and equity in Oakland, demonstrating the pivotal role of the arts in achieving racial justice and systemic change. 

“We are grateful to Oakland’s artists and cultural creators for gifting us with their vision of what belonging means in a community rooted in justice, healing, and liberation,” said Raymond Colmenar, president of the Akonadi Foundation. “Through their eyes, a just Oakland is not only possible, it is within our reach.” 

To ensure transparency and fair allocation of funds, the application process is open and straightforward. The lead applicant of any collaboration applying for funding must be an Oakland-based, BIPOC-led organization with 501(c)(3) or 501(c)(4) status, or with a 501(c)(3) fiscal sponsor in good standing with the IRS. They must be either a cultural organization that collaborates with civically oriented artists/cultural practitioners or a social change organization. It is also expected that they should have an operating budget of $500,000 or more. 

The application is a two-step process. Eligible applicants submit a Letter of Interest (LOI) accompanied by some general organizational information, financials for the most recently completed year, and a work sample demonstrating policy change efforts. Up to 15 applicants will then be invited to submit a full proposal. The LOI application deadline is Monday, July 31, 2023, at 5:00 pm PT. Late or incomplete applications will not be accepted. Awards will be announced in late October 2023. Applicants can learn more about the process on the Eligibility and Application Instructions page of the Fund’s website

To ensure that applicants understand the requirements and process fully, a how-to-apply webinar will be held on Thursday, July 13, 2023, from 1:00 – 3:00 PM PT. Attendance is strongly encouraged for all prospective applicants. 

Applicants can direct inquiries about eligibility or application requirements to Anyka Howard, Just City Cultural Fund Manager, at 

This is the third round of funding from the Belonging in Oakland: A Just City Cultural Fund. Launched in the spring of 2020 to support the arts and cultural sector, the first round of artists and cultural practitioners worked to reframe the crisis of COVID-19 as an opportunity to imagine how Oakland might be transformed into a more equitable and just city. In the fall of 2021, the second funding round gave cultural groups two years to implement projects to challenge the mechanisms of systemic racism and lift the voices and perspectives of communities most impacted by social injustices.  

Funding for Belonging in Oakland: A Just City Cultural Fund is provided by major contributions from the Surdna Foundation’s Thriving Cultures program, alongside additional support from the Akonadi Foundation and East Bay Community Foundation. The Surdna Foundation’s program, Radical Imagination for Racial Justice, is a national regranting initiative aimed at enabling BIPOC artists in partnership with communities to reimagine policies and practices to advance justice for those most impacted by systemic racism. 


Akonadi Foundation supports powerful social change movements, primarily in Oakland, that work to eliminate structural racism and create a racially just society. Akonadi Foundation seeks to stop the criminalization of young people of color and promote responses to harm that nurture wellness and well-being. Since its founding in 2000, the Foundation has given over 1,800 grants totaling $43 million to nonprofit organizations, primarily in the Bay Area, as well as across the country. For more information, visit:  


The Cultural Affairs Division is housed in the City’s Economic & Workforce Development Department. The division includes the City’s cultural funding program, which provides approximately $1 million in grants to support the arts in Oakland; and the public art program, which has more than $1 million in funds currently dedicated for public art installations across Oakland. The division also facilitates professional development opportunities for artists and arts organizations: policy research and advocacy; philanthropic partnerships and special events. 


Founded in 1928, and supported by over 400 local donors, East Bay Community Foundation (EBCF) connects donors with community-led movements to eliminate structural barriers, advance racial equity, and create an inclusive, fair, and just East Bay. Recognized as 2019’s “Boldest Community Foundation” by Inside Philanthropy, EBCF is committed to ensuring that all members of our community are treated fairly, with equitable opportunity and outcomes.  Visit for more information. 


The Surdna Foundation seeks to foster sustainable communities in the United States — communities guided by principles of social justice and distinguished by healthy environments, strong local economies, and thriving cultures. Learn more at