Application Process

Race Forward and Americans for the Arts are seeking proposals from local organizations* for funding to participate in the first annual Cultural Week of Action on Race and Democracy (CWA) this September 27 to October 5, 2024. We anticipate funding 12 to 15 sites; participation in the CWA will also be encouraged and open to organizations not requesting funding. This is an opportunity to deepen commitments to racial justice and inclusive democracy through cultural activities.

We are excited to sponsor select projects to encourage deep, bold, and long-term change. Through a competitive process, 12-15 local communities that represent the diversity of our country will receive $25,000-$40,000 for cultural organizers and community partners to design and implement projects that align with the theme of Building the Bigger We.

Proposals are due on March 29, 2024. To prepare, here’s an overview of the application questions (PDF). We encourage active co-creation around these projects, so we don’t expect proposals to have every detail ironed out. However, we do hope applicants spend time planning within your communities to establish collaborative, mutually beneficial relationships and clear goals. A team from Race Forward (including Government Alliance on Race and Equity), Americans for the Arts, and external partners with content expertise will score the proposals based on set criteria. Applicants will receive an update in early May and a public announcement for the sponsored projects is planned for June.

If you have any questions or need support in developing your proposal, please reach out to us anytime at [email protected]!

Apply Now

* ^ Local organizations include local government, local arts agencies, community-based arts organizations, and/or racial justice non-profits. Collaborations across sectors and organizations are highly encouraged.


  • Engage collaborators in your local community to develop a proposal
  • Review and begin to complete application questions (PDF)
  • Submit the sponsorship application online through March 29, 2024
  • Expect to hear back in May and prepare for a public announcement in June
  • Proposals that do not receive sponsorship funds are still highly encouraged to participate in the Cultural Week of Action


  • Applicants can include local government, 501c3 organizations, groups with a 501c3 fiscal sponsor, or other organizations with a history of community-based programming
  • Multiple groups can apply from a local area; however, we strongly encourage collaboration because each local area can receive only one sponsorship
  • Projects should be designed and executed in a manner that is non-partisan, both in concept and in the expected outcomes.
  • Projects will be selected based on the below criteria
  • There is no matching requirement to receive sponsorship funding; however, projects are encouraged to seek additional funding if needed
  • Sponsored projects will recognize Race Forward and Americans for the Arts in promotional materials, participate in national marketing activities, survey their participants with a standard evaluation, and join a debrief call to share some of the lessons, highlights, and learning from the project

Criteria for Decision-Making

(20 points)
  • Does the project directly address issues related to race and democracy and align with our theme of Building the Bigger We?
  • Does the project advance racial justice and promote understanding and dialogue through arts and culture? This may include the exploration of history, experiences, challenges, and aspirations of communities of color through civic participation, inclusivity, and democratic practice.
  • Are the partners aligned with Race Forward and Americans for the Arts’ organizational values and/or does prior work reflect our goals for this initiative? View Race Forward’s mission, vision, and values (The Government Alliance on Race and Equity—a member-network of Race Forward—has membership belief statements). View AFTA’s mission and focus areas.
Racial Justice
(30 points)
  • Does the project help increase resources for advancing racial justice? 
    Are people of color leaders, artists, and organizations active collaborators and/or decision-makers?
  • Does the project incorporate partners that have been historically left out of funding in the mainstream arts and culture space?
  • Is the project addressing specific challenges that local communities of color have named?
  • Look for initiatives that encourage unlearning harmful narratives, create spaces for discussion, lead to meaningful action(s), and contribute to the dismantling of systemic racism and other barriers.
Innovation and Creativity
(25 points)
  • Does the project bring creative and innovative approaches to addressing issues of race and democracy?
  • Does this project incorporate artistic and/or cultural expression rooted in communities of color?
  • Does this project collaborate with and compensate artists, culture bearers, storytellers, or other creatives?  (For example: earlier payouts for artists and lessening funding restrictions, compensating artists for their application presentations, etc.)
Impact, Sustainability, and Feasibility
(25 points)
  • Does the project have the potential to create meaningful change to advance democracy and racial justice?
  • Does the project raise awareness or engage a wide range of individuals and communities?
  • Does the project have the capacity to increase networks, collaborations, and relationships across groups that haven’t traditionally partnered in the past?
  • Is the project designed for sustainable impact? (Projects that are already underway in communities, or include a plan for continued impact beyond the national week of action are particularly valuable. Look for initiatives that can be sustained and further developed over time, building on the momentum generated during the event. Are there opportunities for community ownership and leadership as the project evolves? Projects that have a connection to local arts agencies, local government and ongoing funding sources should be prioritized.)
  • Is the project practical and feasible? (Consider the resources and time required for successful implementation. Look for projects that have a clear plan, achievable goals, and a strong commitment from the organizers.)