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STARS Residencies

Application Process

STARS Residencies invest in students and teachers working with artists, scientists, and humanists. The program provides grants of $2,500-$6,100 to support creative learning residencies in the arts, sciences, and humanities.

Además, usted también puede solicitar la traducción de los materiales de la aplicación y que estos se le sean enviados digitalmente. Este proceso tardará de 5 a 10 días hábiles.

Mass Cultural Council is happy to offer alternative formats, auxiliary aids, translation, interpretation, and other services necessary so that any individual can participate in Mass Cultural Council’s programs and services. Contact staff for helpTo facilitate your request in a timely manner, please contact us at least three weeks before any Mass Cultural Council event or grant deadline.

How to Apply

  1. Review the program guidelines (below), FAQs, and a sample application form for individuals and schools & organizations (PDF).


  2. Register for and attend an information session at 4pm (ET) on September 29, October 5, or October 13, 2023.


  3. Learn more about requesting an accommodation for accessibility including translation and interpretation services.


  4. Register in our grants management system (or check to see if you already have a user profile).


  5. Complete the online application which opens September 21, 2023 and submit it by 11:59pm (ET) on October 24, 2023.

Questions? Contact Amy Chu at 617-858-2735.

Program Guidelines

Program Description

STARS Residencies seeks to provide creative learning opportunities in the arts, sciences, and humanities where K-12 students can uncover hidden talents, discover and express their own ideas, build confidence, explore the natural world, and connect to their history and community. The residencies are led by teaching artists, scientists, and humanists.

Who Can Apply?

STARS eligible residencies are a partnership between schools and cultural partners.  Either the school or the cultural partner will be the applicant for the residency.

We encourage you to apply if you are:

  • A School – Any Massachusetts public, charter, or private school serving grades K-12. The school must be recognized by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) with a 2023-2024 DESE School ID.


  • A Cultural Partner – Cultural partners must be applying to work with a school recognized by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE). A Cultural Partner can be:
    • An independent teaching artist/scientist/humanist residing in Massachusetts that is not currently employed by the school hosting the residency.


  • A Massachusetts organization that names a teaching artist/scientist/humanist who will be leading the residency.

Only one residency per school will be considered.

Eligible Residencies

The residency is eligible if it:

  • Starts no earlier than September 1, 2023 and ends no later than June 30, 2024. Residencies that start prior to award announcements do so knowing there is no guarantee of funding.
  • Is approved by both the school principal and the teaching artist, scientist, and/or humanist leading the
  • Is one unified residency that focuses on the arts, sciences, and/or
  • Includes a minimum of one (1) session between the teaching artist, scientist, or humanist and their students on three (3) separate days (see definition of “Session” below).
  • Includes planning time between the cultural partner and school representatives prior to and during the residency. (Each grant includes a $250 one-time stipend to pay the cultural partner for this planning )
  • Has a residency plan with a Learning Objective and a Youth Voice Objective (more information below).

Application Components

Schools, nonprofits, and individuals can apply using our online application. New applicants will need to register with our grants management system. Instructions are at the end of the program guidelines.

The application focuses on two main areas: residency design and sessions.


Incorporating Learning Objectives

Learning Objectives should be developed together between the classroom teachers and the Cultural Partner leading the residency. The application will ask for description of the residency and its goals.

A Learning Objective describes which skills, knowledge, and/or understandings you want students to develop through their residency experience.

A Youth Voice Objective is a skill, knowledge, and/or understanding that connects the student to themselves and the world around them (their school, community, place etc.)

These answers will not be scored, though they will be read for eligibility.

A “Unified” Theme

Some residencies work with one teaching artist. Some residencies are designed with multiple teaching artists and across grade levels. In the case that the residency works with different teaching artists and different groups of students, the residency must be unified by a common theme or topic.

Multiple Teaching Artists/Scientists/Humanists

  • Every teaching artist/scientist/humanist does NOT need to work with EVERY student in the school.
  • Each MUST work with their group of students for at least one session on at least three separate
  • Each MUST have sufficient co-planning time.

Multiple Grades

  • Each grade MUST receive the same learning experience, adjusted for grade level.


Definition: A residency session is the creative learning time the cultural partner shares with students.

  • A single session is 30-75 minutes long.
  • Double sessions are 80-120 minutes long

Calculating the Grant Amount

(Number of Sessions X Session Rate) + $250 for Planning = Grant Amount

Session Rate: This program calculates grant amounts with a flat rate per residency session.

  • The rate for each 30-75 minute single session is $150.
  • The rate for an 80-120 minute double session is $300.

Planning Stipend: Each grant will include one stipend of $250 to pay the cultural partner(s) for time spent planning with the school before and during the residency. This is a flat rate stipend to acknowledge the valuable time spent in preparation for contact time with students.

Minimum – Maximum Grant: The grant is $2,500 – $6,100 for all approved applications. If your grant amount comes out lower than $2,500, then it’ll be bumped up. If it comes out higher than $6,100, you will need to find additional funding from other sources. We have a maximum grant amount so that we can fund more residencies, but there is no limit to how long your residency can be. It will not affect the grant decision.

Culminating Event: Culminating events, such as performances and exhibits of student work, are optional. They are a way for students to share their learning with other students, teachers, families, and the community. They can be counted as sessions in the grant amount. The cultural partner MUST be present for the event to count as a session. Culminating events do NOT count towards the three minimum sessions for a residency.

Location: Sessions may be in-person, remote, or hybrid (part in-person, part remote) as requested by the school. In-person sessions can take place either at the school, and/or at the cultural partner’s site (for example, at an artist’s studio or a museum), and/or at another site selected by the school and the cultural partner.

Review Process

After the application deadline, Mass Cultural Council staff review all applications to confirm eligibility. Mass Cultural Council will make every effort to ensure accuracy by contacting applicants for clarification but cannot be held accountable for missing or incorrect information in the relevant sources.

Funding Prioritization

Mass Cultural Council envisions a diverse creative and cultural sector that is valued as essential in the Commonwealth. Therefore, priorities have been established to support programmatic practices that advance equity, diversity, and inclusion through our services to the sector. If Mass Cultural Council cannot fund all eligible applications, the following funding priorities will be used to make funding decisions.

Please note that Funding Prioritization is different from Eligibility. If you meet the Eligibility requirements listed in Residency Eligibility, you are still encouraged to apply, even if you do not meet all, some, or any of the Funding Priorities.

If the review process results in tied scores that cannot be resolved using the above review process and prioritization, Mass Cultural Council reserves the right to break ties using geographic distribution and/or a lottery-style, random selection.

Payment and Spending

The grant award will be paid to the applicant. The applicant is the grantee, whether that is the school, the independent teaching artist/scientist/humanist, or the nonprofit organization.

Grant funds may be spent on any residency expense – fees for teaching artists/scientists/humanists, materials, equipment, technology, etc. It may NOT be applied to the classroom teacher’s salary.

Schools that have not submitted a final report for a STARS Residencies Grant for School Year 2022-2023 are not eligible for funding until they complete their prior report. If you need help finding and completing a report, please contact Amy Chu.

Grant Requirements

Contract Package

The contracting process is new for FY24 and it is slightly different for organizations/school grantees verses individual grantees.

An Organization’s/School’s contract package consists of:

  • W-9 and Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT) form — a DocuSign document
  • Contractor Authorized Signatory Listing (CASL) Form — a DocuSign document
  • Standard Contract Form — a DocuSign document

An Individual’s contract package consists of:

  • W-9 and Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT) form — a DocuSign document
  • Contractor Authorized Signatory Listing (CASL) Form — a form to be downloaded, printed, notarized, and then snail mailed back to Mass Cultural Council
  • Standard Contract Form — a DocuSign document

You can read detailed instructions about the Agency’s contracts, as well as contract Frequently Asked Questions.

Final Report

Grantees will be expected to complete a straightforward final report describing the use of their grant funds by July 19, 2024, for legislative reporting and advocacy purposes. The report asks you to report on the successes and challenges of the residency. The online final report form will be accessible to grantees and co-applicants only after the grantee returns their contract.

Modifications and Cancellations

Grantees are expected to notify Amy Chu as soon as possible if a residency will be scaled back, significantly altered, or will not take place. If it is anticipated that the grant funds will not be spent in full on the residency project, grantees must notify the Amy Chu and return all unexpended funds to Mass Cultural Council, no later than May 3, 2024. Failure to do so, may jeopardize eligibility for future funding opportunities.

Legal and Other Requirements

Acknowledgement of Funding

Grant recipients are required to credit Mass Cultural Council for funding. Attachment D of your Contract Package and the online Credit and Publicity Kit have more details.

Accessibility and Non-Discrimination Policies

Mass Cultural Council is committed to ensure that all personnel and service programs, policies, and practices will be formulated and conducted in a manner which will ensure equal access for all people and prevent discrimination not only as a matter of law, but also as a policy designed to encourage the participation of all segments of the Commonwealth’s population in Mass Cultural Council programs and services.

Mass Cultural Council is happy to offer applicants/grantees alternative formats, auxiliary aids, and services necessary so that any individual can participate in the Mass Cultural Council’s programs and services. Contact our staff for help.

Mass Cultural Council is dedicated to creating a workplace, programs, and services that welcome, respect, and value people of all races, color, age, sex, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, religions, creeds, ancestry, national origin, disability, and veteran status. Mass Cultural Council will not fund any organization or program that discriminates based on these attributes. We strive to reflect diversity in all activities, programs, and services removing any barriers to accessibility. Mass Cultural Council and its grantees are expected to comply with:

Mass Cultural Council’s grantees sign a contract (see contract requirements) certifying that they will comply with ADA and Section 504. Mass Cultural Council aims to help grantees understand their obligations and recognize the opportunities that increasing access can support both the public and the grantee. Additional information about Mass Cultural Council’s Accessibility Requirements and Compliance Tools for Grantees are located in our Access Policy.

Reconsideration Policy

An applicant may request reconsideration of a Mass Cultural Council decision on their application if the applicant can demonstrate that the Mass Cultural Council failed to follow published application and review procedures. Dissatisfaction with the results of a review does not constitute grounds for reconsideration.

The first step in the reconsideration process is to consult with the appropriate Program Staff to discuss the review process that concluded in the Mass Cultural Council’s decision. If the applicant wishes to pursue a reconsideration, a request must be sent to the Mass Cultural Council’s Executive Director, in writing, within 30 days of the Mass Cultural Council’s notification to the applicant of its decision.

Grant Timeline

Residencies must take place between September 1, 2023 and June 30, 2024.

Application Opens: September 21, 2023
Information Sessions: September 29, October 5, October 13, 2023 (4pm ET)
Application Deadline: October 24, 2023 (11:59pm ET)
Applicant Notification: November 2023
Contract Sent: Early December 2023
Contract Due: February 9, 2024
Final Report Due: July 19, 2024

Grants Management System

All applicants should submit their applications through the online system. To create a profile in the system you must have an email address, which will be your username.

If you have previously applied for a Mass Cultural Council grant using your email address, you may have a profile in the system already. Here’s how you can check to see if you already have a user profile:

  • Go to the online system and click “Forgot Password”.
  • Once you submit your email address, you will receive an email with a temporary password and a link to the site.
  • Copy the password to use on the login page, you will then be prompted to create a new password.
  • If you do not receive an email, you do not have an account and you should create one (see below), or you can contact the grants help desk for assistance.

If you have not applied to Mass Cultural Council before and/or do not already have a user profile, complete a registration in the grants management system.

Schools and Nonprofit Organizations

  • Go to the online system and click “Register”.
  • On the next page select “Organization” to register your school or organization.
  • Your organization may already have a record in the system. Use the Organization name field to find and select your school or organization, then provide your contact information.
  • If your school or organization’s name is not listed, click the link at the top of the page to register your school or organization manually. There you will also provide your own contact information as well.
  • After completing the registration, you should receive an email to activate your account. The account must be activated within 24 hours. After clicking the activation link, you will be prompted to create a new 8-digit password.

Independent Teaching Artists/Scientists/Humanists

  • Go to the online system and click “Register”.
  • On the next page select “Individual”.
  • After completing the registration, you should receive an email to activate your account. The account must be activated within 24 hours. After clicking the activation link, you will be prompted to create a new 8-digit password.

Proceed to the Online Application

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