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Arts and Culture

Grants & LoansGrantsCommunity Grants › Arts and Culture

Working with MCF

We encourage potential applicants--both current and prospective grantees--to read about MCF's overall approach to grantmaking, our grantee relations commitments, and updates on working with MCF.


The goal of this Community Grant area is to help underserved Marin County residents access, participate in, and learn from high-quality, relevant arts and cultural programs. We believe that participation in arts and culture enriches the lives of individuals, promotes interaction among residents, provides opportunities to deepen learning, and builds community across groups with diverse ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds.

Under this goal, MCF will support projects that are aligned with the strategy and approaches described below.

A logic model for this strategy has been developed that further explains the approaches, activities, and desired impact of this goal area.

MCF has developed a list of resources about arts and culture.


Grants, Results, and More

Click here to learn about grants made under this goal area, along with results, an impact story, and background about this issue. Until 2012, MCF made arts and culture grants through two Community Grants areas: Arts in the Community and Arts Education. These two areas have been combined under the new goal area, Arts and Culture. You can learn about grants made under Arts in the Community, along with results, an impact story, and background about this issue, by clicking here. And you can learn about grants made under Arts Education, along with results, an impact story, and background about this issue, by clicking here.

To read the executive summary of the evalaution of Approach B (below), click on the document name to the right

To read the full report of the evaluation of Approach B (below), click on the document name to the right



To be eligible for funding, organizations must have a nonprofit tax-exempt status or a fiscal sponsor with a nonprofit tax-exempt status. In addition, applicants must serve Marin County residents.


Strategy: Reduce disparities in access to and participation in arts and culture education and programming

Approach A: Grantmaking to support programming that provides equitable access to high-quality and relevant arts and cultural activities

MCF focuses its support on arts and cultural programming for underserved populations, including low-income residents, people of color, Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender and Questioning (LGBTQ), immigrants, individuals living in rural settings, and youth whose many challenges include not experiencing the benefits of the arts. The Foundation is looking to support an array of arts and cultural programming and activities that engage underserved residents.

In addition, MCF recognizes that many Marin residents are unable to engage in arts and cultural programs and activities due to isolation and/or institutionalization. The arts offer a powerful mechanism to make a difference in the lives of these residents and assist their continued or renewed participation in community activities. MCF will support organizations providing programs or activities that use the arts to enrich and improve the lives of those who are isolated or institutionalized.


To be eligible for funding under this approach, organizations must have a nonprofit tax-exempt status or a fiscal sponsor with a nonprofit tax exempt status. In addition, applicants must serve Marin County residents.

The following entities are not eligible for funding under this approach:

  • Individuals
  • Endowments, school foundations, or private foundations
  • Religious organizations, where the grant is to be used for sectarian purposes
  • Political campaigns or candidates

Grant term, amount, and requirements

Approximately $250,000 will be available in funding. Requests under $10,000 or over $45,000 are not encouraged. The one year grant term will be January 2014-December 2014.

A semi-annual and final report will be required through the Foundation’s online Grant Center. At minimum, grantees will be expected to report on the number of underserved residents benefitting from funded projects.

Funding Limitations

Funding in this area is limited to Project Support restricted to a specific piece of work that provides direct benefit to the organization’s constituents over a period of time to achieve measurable results. Project support grants may be used to pay for all costs directly related to the operation of the project. Project support grants cannot be used for general administration of the organization.

The Foundation does not generally provide support for:

  • Individual artists
  • Special event sponsorship
  • Stand alone tuition scholarship programs
  • Underwriting support to provide free tickets to performances or events as a stand alone project
  • Capital projects

Requested funds may be used to support:

  • staff or consultant positions that plan, coordinate, supervise, implement, and/or evaluate the project;
  • reasonable operational costs associated with the project;
  • professional development and technical assistance costs associated with enhancing the organization’s capacity to successfully carry out the project.

Selection Criteria

The most competitive projects will satisfy one of more of the following criteria:

  • artistic quality
  • responds to a clearly demonstrated community need
  • demonstrates organizational capacity to meet those needs
  • offers programming that is culturally relevant to the constituency serve
  • track record of working effectively with the community/population to be served
  • presents a program budget that includes a variety of funding sources
  • demonstrate organizational health (i.e. active board of directors, commitment to professional development and continuous quality improvement, diverse and reliable income streams etc.)
  • articulates measureable outcomes

Applicant Process and Timeline

This funding cycle covers the final year of the Foundation’s five year strategic plan. The Foundation will be undertaking a strategic planning process between Fall 2013 and Spring 2014. Additional information about the planning process and timeline is forthcoming.

The application process for the 2014 cycle is by invitation only.

This will be a competitive process. Please review these guidelines carefully to determine if your program fits the parameters. Applications will be submitted through MCF's Grant Application Center, which enables completion and submission of all application materials online. Please note that first-time applicants must register with the Grant Application Center before the application can be accessed. This registration process takes one day to complete. The Grant Application Center can be accessed here.

Open Registration Date: September 3, 2013

Deadline for Full Proposal: September 30, 2013

Decisions announced: December 2013

Grant period begins: January 1, 2014

Please refer to this page of our website for more information on the Foundation’s Arts and Culture Community Grant area.

Approach B: Grantmaking, convening, and technical assistance to support audience development efforts.

Engagement with arts and cultural activities is an important aspect of an individual's personal development and quality of life and is a primary factor in fostering a sense of community, respect, and understanding of others. Many factors are undermining the effectiveness of the arts in building community: impediments to the public's awareness of arts and cultural opportunities; time constraints on individuals and families; competing sources of recreation; the segregation of audiences; and the continued economic pressure facing arts organizations. Arts and cultural organizations need improved understanding of the economic and cultural marketplace in Marin County and strategies to engage audiences more effectively.

Process for Approach B:

This area does not use an open competitive grants process. Only invited applicants will be able to apply for grants under this approach.

Approach C: Grantmaking, convening, and technical assistance to support a standards-based arts education demonstration project.

Arts education proponents and advocates firmly believe that understanding, learning, and appreciating the arts are vital components of every young person's education and development. Without meaningful opportunities for progressive skill-building in and through the arts across age and grade levels, Marin's students will not be fully prepared for healthy and productive participation in their adult lives and in their communities.

For several decades, however, funding for arts education programs has been progressively reduced or eliminated. MCF believes that the reversal of decades of marginalization of arts education will require systemic change. This change will only result from informed leadership among multiple stakeholders; professional development opportunities for school administrators and teachers; technical assistance and program evaluation to develop rigorous educational curricula and opportunities for high achievement in each arts discipline; investment of resources to develop and nurture programs where resources are currently lacking; and networking, communications, and advocacy to create and sustain effective arts education.

Process for Approach C:

This area does not use an open competitive grants process.

Organizations invited to apply can click on Arts Ed Demonstration Project to the right to download this cycle's guidelines. Deadlines are included in this document.

Approach D: Grantmaking, convening, and technical assistance to support standards-based in-school and out-of-school arts education

Public schools across Marin face enormous challenges in providing arts education for their students. While most schools face challenges in providing arts education as part of the core curriculum, some students in Marin County schools face even greater disparities in access to high quality arts learning opportunities. MCF defines underserved students as students of color; low-income residents; people who live in rural settings; members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender communities; and those who are institutionalized, isolated, or youth involved in the juvenile justice or child welfare systems. MCF will support the provision of arts education programs and activities in school districts other than those funded through the Arts Education Demonstration Project. This project is currently taking place in the Sausalito Marin City School District and the Larkspur-Corte Madera School District.

In addition, many students do not have equitable access to out-of-school arts education opportunities. Support will also be available for out-of-school arts education programs that work with underserved students.

Download detailed guidelines for Approach D.

Download instructions for letters of engagement.

Process for Approach D:

NOTE: This cycle of grants will be by invitation only. If your organization is invited to apply, log on to the Grant Application Center to complete the application process. This system enables you to complete and submit all application materials online. If you have already registered with the Grant Application Center, you do not need to do so again.

Open Registration Date: March 3, 2014

Deadline for Full Proposal: March 31, 2014

Decisions announced: June 2014

Grant period begins: July 2014

Go to the Grant Application Center.

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From the Resource Library

Program Director, Art, Social Justice & Interfaith Understanding

Program Director, Art, Social Justice & Interfaith Understanding

Larry Best

Program Director, Art, Social Justice & Interfaith Understanding


"The more I work with the MCF, the more impressed I am by the Foundation's professionalism, commitment to mission, and dedication to donor charitable intentions. MCF is an exceptional resource to our charitable community and provides much needed stewardship of donor assets. I am always very pleased to be able to refer clients to them."

Julia Sze, CFA
Managing Director, Sonen Capital, LLC, member of MCF's Investment Committee, and a donor since 2006