Grant Information

San Mateo County Arts Commission Grants Program

Grants Program

The Office of Arts & Culture will administer the San Mateo County Arts Commission’s 2021 grants program, providing a streamlined, trust-based grant opportunity for general support for all nonprofit organizations and local public agencies/entities in San Mateo County providing arts and culture services and/or programs. Trust-based funding provides grantees with the flexibility to use the funds in a way that makes the most sense for each organization and for greatest impact on overall organizational health and sustainability. We look to you as our partners, doing the important work in our community to celebrate the arts and create a sense of belonging.

To develop trust-based grantmaking practices, it is essential to build a respectful and trusting relationship between the OAC, the Arts Commission, and grantees, past and future. To do this, we will:

  • Embrace engaging diverse, inclusive, and equitable perspectives and community voices that provide significant, relevant, and collaborative conversation and actions.
  • Require clarity, responsiveness, and transparency from both parties.
  • Design a streamlined online application and reporting system that is efficient, accessible, and user-friendly.
  • Engage an expert panel of peer readers to review the applications along with the OAC staff and recommend funding priorities to the Arts Commissioners.
General Support Grants

All funds may be used by the organization as needed to support the organization’s overhead, salaries, projects/programs, or other needs.

  1. Must be an arts or cultural organizations located in or serving residents in San Mateo County.
  2. Must be a 501(c)(3) nonprofit or fiscally sponsored organization in good standing with the Internal Revenue Service or a local public agency/entity.
  3. Must have been in operation for 1+ years.
  4. Must have a budget under $1,000,000.
Arts & Civil Rights Cohort Grants

All funds will be designated to support the organization’s Arts & Civil Rights Project as part of the SMCAC’s Arts Leaders Cohort.

  1. Must be an arts or cultural organizations located in or serving residents in San Mateo County.
  2. Must have participated in SMCAC’s Arts Leaders Cohort and attended all 6 sessions.
  3. Must be a 501(c)(3) or fiscally sponsored nonprofit organization in good standing with the Internal Revenue Service.
  4. Must have been in operation for 1+ years.
  5. Must have a budget under $1,000,000.
Review Criteria

Requests for grant funds are reviewed based on evidence organizations’ ability to:

  • Celebrate the arts and culture through programs that reflect diverse County needs
  • Present effective arts and culture programs/services in San Mateo County
  • Articulate a clear vision and plan for success and sustainability
  • Embrace diversity, equity, and inclusion in the organization’s staff, board, and community served
  • Demonstrate the organization is well-managed, effective, and financially viable
  • Establish impactful goals and appropriate evaluation methods
  • Partner/collaborate with others for community benefit and organizational efficiency
  • Attract/secure diverse board members that are engaged and contribute financially

What We Do Not Fund

  • Individuals, individual artists, scholarships or fellowships
  • Organizations that discriminate with regards to employees, volunteers, delivery of programs/services or clients served based on age, sex, religion/creed, race, ethnicity, gender identity, disability, marital status, military or veterans’ status, or socioeconomic status
  • Any organization that is inconsistent with the mission, values, and strategic framework of the SMCAC
  • Capital expenditures including construction projects; purchase of land and buildings, equipment, or debt repayment
  • Trusts, endowment funds or investments
  • · Activities with a political or religious purpose or lobbying activities
Review Process

The streamlined process ensures potential grantees’ eligibility before beginning the application and that only fully completed applications may be submitted through the Common Grant Application portal ( The Peer Review Panel will use rubrics that reflect trust-based pedagogy to review and rank applications for funding. The Arts Commissioners will review the panel’s recommendations and award grants accordingly. Decisions of the Arts Commission are final.

San Mateo County Arts Commissioners who have professional or volunteer affiliations with any organizations that apply for grants from the Commission must excuse themselves from any deliberation concerning these grants.

To Apply

Grants open from Sept. 29 – Oct. 15

To View Workshop video

Workshop Presentation on the bottom of the page

Please direct any grant related questions, to

Mara Grimes
OAC Administrator-Manager

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