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More about the Community Engagement Grants

Creative Forces Grants

Have questions about the Creative Forces Community Engagement Grant program? These answers may help.

What are you looking for in successful applications?

The primary focus of the grant program is improving the health, well-being, and quality of life for targeted military-connected populations. Every group of military-connected individuals served through Creative Forces has distinct needs, different access to resources, and varying characteristics that should be taken into consideration during project design and development. Many factors such as age, branch of service, and availability of community resources impact the needs of targeted military-connected participants. Therefore, the ideal Creative Forces Community Engagement Grant project is developed and implemented with the participation and representation of the military-connected individuals it intends to serve.

In successful applications, we will be looking for projects that leverage existing resources and organizations and are not duplicative of existing programming within the community. Studies commissioned by Creative Forces have noted the importance of collaboration and connections between service providers, local programs and resources, and other community-based organizations. The studies encouraged partnerships between arts organizations and other organizations to widen the range of available services for targeted military-connected participants.

What type of organizations are expected to apply for this funding?

The grant is open to nonprofit, tax-exempt 501(c)3, U.S. organizations, a unit of state or local government, or a federally recognized tribal community or tribe located in the U.S. (including the District of Columbia and all U.S. territories as well as the Native nations that share that geography) with a minimum of three years experience programming for/with military communities and/or presenting/producing arts-based projects.

As the projects should focus on providing non-clinical arts engagement to military-connected individuals and be responsive to the needs of the community it serves, we anticipate organizations vested in their defined community (geographic and/or affinity-based) to apply for the grant. As these grants ultimately serve military-connected individuals, in addition to community-focused arts organizations such as local arts agencies, local theatres, art centers, museums, and performing art centers, we also anticipate organizations focused on serving military and/or veterans populations to apply for this funding. Other types of anticipated applicants include academic intuitions or social service organizations, whose constituents include military-connected individuals.

Your organization should be prepared to benefit from implementing this grant. Entities with an existing mission focused more on arts engagement should be ready for a new or reinforced commitment to working with the military and increased capacity serving the military-connected community (including cultural competency). Those with an existing mission that engages military-connected communities should be ready for improved interactions and collaboration among arts organizations, as well as increased community awareness of the benefits of the arts.

What if an organization already has an arts-and-military program in place? Are they eligible to apply? If they wanted to utilize the grant program as an opportunity to expand their reach are there resources available that might help them with expansion?

Organizations with existing arts and military programs in place are absolutely eligible to apply for the grant. The grant has two tiers that organizations may apply—Emerging and Advanced. The advanced tier is designed to provide support to organizations with established non-clinical arts engagement programs. Expanding reach and depth of engagement are supported in the advanced tier. During the grant period of performance, Creative Forces and M-AAA will provide technical assistance to all grantees focused on performance measurement, evaluation for continuous process improvement, and outcomes measurement.

Who are the participants that are being served by these programs?

This grant program serves military-connected participants. For the purposes of the grant program, this includes Active-Duty Service Members, Guardsmen, Reservists, Veterans, Military Families (spouse/partner, children, parents, siblings, non-traditional family members, chosen family members), Caregivers, and Health Care Workers.

Can our organization use funds we received from the Small Business Administration (SBA) as cost share/match for an Arts Endowment grant?

No. Federal funds are not allowed to be used as cost share/match for federal grants (2 CFR §200.306). In addition, the Arts Endowment’s enabling legislation does not allow any federal funds to be used as cost share/match for its grants. This includes the Paycheck Protection Program from the SBA, as well as other federal funding, including funding from:

  • Corporation for National and Community Service (e.g., AmeriCorps)
  • National Endowment for the Humanities
  • National Park Service
  • National Science Foundation
  • US Department of Agriculture
  • US Department of Education (e.g., 21st Century Community Learning Centers)
  • US Department of Housing and Urban Development
  • Or an entity that receives federal appropriations such as the Corporation for Public Broadcasting or Amtrak
How should my organization formulate its project if we’re not sure when in-person gatherings will be possible due to COVID-19? Will it be possible to make project changes if needed later in the process?

You should do your best to complete the information within the application to the best of your knowledge. The narrative you present in your application should reflect the best-case scenario (in person) that is foreseeable for your project. If your application is selected for an award, it will be possible to make changes later in the process. Please communicate with Mid-America Arts Alliance to alert us of any changes to your project due to COVID-19.

We missed the application deadline. May I submit a late application?

No. We urge you to submit your proposal early to ensure your materials are properly received. The application portal can slow down during high traffic periods, such as the days preceding the deadline. Please submit early.

Will you contact me if my application is missing anything? If my application is determined to be incomplete, may I add the missing item(s) and resubmit the application?

Mid-America Arts Alliance is not able to contact every applicant regarding incomplete applications. However, if you have submitted your application and wish to reopen it, please contact creativeforces@maaa.org with your request. The application portal will provide a copy of your completed application at the time of submission for your records.

My organization provides clinical creative arts therapy services, are our programs eligible to apply?

Yes. Organizations that provide creative arts therapies are welcome to apply. However, while proposed activities may be informed by medical knowledge, practice, or theory, support from this grant program cannot include direct involvement with medical research, clinical therapy, or treatment delivery or involve Protected Health Information. Proposed community engagement projects may have elements that might be considered therapeutic, but a client’s experience should be focused on participation in art or artmaking.

For more information, please review this basic glossary for definitions of clinical and community arts engagement terms.

My organization serves as a 501(c)3 fiscal agent for a university/college, can I apply on behalf of the institution we serve?

Yes. Organizations whose primary purpose is to channel resources to an affiliated organization are able to apply on behalf of the organization with which they are affiliated. However, only one application may be received per applicant, so this application would be the only one that can be received by the entity or its fiscal agent.

I run a small organization that is not yet incorporated, is my organization eligible to apply? If not, can we apply using a fiscal agent?

No. While unincorporated organizations are not eligible to apply and cannot apply through a fiscal agent, your organization may be a great fit as a partner for another arts or military serving organization in your area. We encourage your organizations to seek out partnerships.

The guidelines say that this is a 1:1 matching grant, what does that mean?

A 1:1 matching grant means that your organization must match one dollar of non-federal funds for every dollar of federal funding requested. For example, if your organization requests $20,000 in grant funds, your organization must allocate $20,000 worth of resources to the same project for a total project budget of $40,000. Matching contributions can be cash or in-kind. In-kind contributions are non-cash contributions such as property or services that benefit the program and are not funded by another Federal award. Examples of in-kind contributions include equipment, supplies, rent and utilities.

Matching contributions cannot include other funds received from MAAA, the NEA, or any other Federal agency. For more information on cost matching, please refer to the Uniform Guidance at 2 CFR 200.306.

Photography courtesy of Creative Forces Community Engagement Grants and Dancing Well: The Soldier Project.