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Youth program at Central Square Theater

STARS Residencies


Applicant Eligibility

Who can apply?
Any Massachusetts school (public, private, or charter school) serving grades K-12 may submit one grant application for STARS Residencies funding per school year.

Can we apply for a second STARS Residencies grant in this school year?
No. Each school may submit one grant application for STARS Residencies funding per school year.

Can residencies take place afterschool or in the summer?
Afterschool residencies are eligible. Afterschool programs that are operated by the school are eligible to participate. The school must apply on behalf of the after-school program. The residency must be completed by June 30.

Usernames/ Passwords

Can I use the same login username/password as last year?
Yes. The same username and password may be used if your username is associated with the same school listed in the organization profile. If you are applying on behalf of a different school, then you need to create a new organization profile associated with the new school.

I’ve forgotten my username and/or password – how do I find out what it is?
If you forget your username and password, from the Login tab within the Online Grant Application, click the Remind Me or Reset Password links and follow the instructions.

Organization Profile

In the user profile, who is the “Organization”? The cultural partner or the school?
The SCHOOL is the organization in the user profile, even if you are a cultural partner filling out the application for the school.

What should I know about filling out a new user profile?
Create a user profile at by clicking “Yes, I agree”, then by selecting ‘Organization’ at the top of the next page. (If you select ‘Individual’ by mistake you will need to create a new profile to be able to access the STARS application once it’s open.)

  • Primary Contact Information: This is the information for the person in charge of the project who Mass Cultural Council can contact.
  • Applicant Information: This is the information about the SCHOOL, which is the legal applicant:

Legal Name: Enter the SCHOOL’s name.


  • Public Schools: Enter 00-0000000
  • Private and Charter: Enter the 9-digit employer ID number for your school

Organization Type: Select “Elementary,” “Middle,” or “Secondary” school

Applicant Status:

  • Public Schools: Select “Gov’t – Municipal”
  • Private and Charter Schools: Select “Organization – Non-Profit”

Applicant Discipline: Select “Multidisciplinary”

Grantee Race: Choose the selection that reflects the race of the school’s students.

Grant Application

Can I see the application before creating a user profile?
Yes. You can preview a sample application (PDF).

Can I make changes to my application?
You can make changes to your application any time up until you hit “Submit.” After you hit “Submit,” your application will be closed.

Is there an application deadline?
Yes. The online application is open until 11:59pm (ET) on February 3, 2021.

Will applications be reviewed on a first-come, first-reviewed basis this year?
No. This year we will review applications as follows:

  • If the total of all funding requests for eligible applications received is less than or equal to the STARS program budget, we will review all eligible applications.
  • If there are more applications than we can fund, we will use a random selection process to determine the order in which successful applications will be funded.

Can we apply if we don’t know yet exactly when the residency will take place?
Yes. When filling out the application, just make your best guess as to when the residency will start and end.

When can a residency start?
Eligible residencies may start on or after September 1, 2020.
Note, however, there is no guarantee that the residency will be funded, regardless of whether it was funded in previous years.  This means that if you start your residency before you hear about funding from us, you need to be sure that the residency can be paid for through another source of funds if it does not receive a STARS grant.  This is very important: cultural partners need to be paid for their work and schools need to be able to work within their budgets.  No one – schools or cultural partners – should assume that their residency will be awarded a grant.

Narrative Questions

What should I know about filling out the narrative questions?
Look at the sample application (PDF) for the questions and character limits – which include spaces and punctuation.

We recommend that you develop your narrative in word processing software, and then copy and paste it in the appropriate narrative boxes once the online application opens. This will speed up your application preparation. Save the document for your records.

Before you copy and paste responses from word processing software into the online application, save the file as “text only.” After you’ve entered the text,” Save Your Work”, then be sure to click “View PDF” at the bottom of the screen to make sure your narrative looks the way you want it to and is a complete response.

Always remember to click the “Save Work” button frequently, it is located at the bottom of each page.

Cultural Partner(s)

What is a “cultural partner”?
A “cultural partner” is the artist, scientist, or scholar who will be doing the residency. A cultural organization is not the cultural partner – the artist, scientist, or scholar working for the cultural organization is the cultural partner.

How do we find a cultural partner? Do we have to work with a Mass Cultural Council-approved cultural partner?
You can work with whomever you choose. Be sure that the artist, scientist, or scholar has the experience and expertise needed to engage the students in a high-quality learning experience.

Many schools find their cultural partners through recommendations from colleagues at other schools. For additional options to get started, you can visit

Can we work with more than one cultural partner?
Yes, a residency may involve multiple artists, scientists, or scholars; however, the cultural partners must collaborate on the same, unified residency. Each cultural partner must meet the three-day minimum with their core group of students (see “Residency Design” below). The application must show that cultural partners will plan together both before and during the residency.

Residency Design

Do all residencies need to be remote this year?
The residency can be remote, partially remote/in-person, or fully in-person, depending on what is agreed upon by the school and cultural partner. However, ALL applications must include a plan for delivering the residency as fully remote. This is so the residency can be completed by June 30, 2021 in the event that the school no longer allows in-person sessions.

Is there a minimum length for a residency or a limit on how long it can be?
To be eligible, a residency must have each artist, scientist, or scholar work with their core group of students for a minimum of one session on three separate days. There is no limit to how long a residency can be under this program. We encourage schools to design residencies that provide as in-depth and meaningful a creative learning experience for students as possible.

How long is one “session”?
One session is 30-60 minutes contact time with the same group of students. A class 90-120 minutes long counts as two sessions.

Our residency will involve more than one cultural partner. Does each one need to meet with ALL the students involved in the residency?
No. Each cultural partner can work with their own core group of students. Each cultural partner, however, is required to meet with their core group of students for at least one session on at least three separate days. And all cultural partners must be working on the same, unified residency.

Are Culminating Events required this year for residencies of five days or more?
No, due to the pandemic, we are not requiring Culminating Events with families and the community this year. However, we encourage you to create a capstone lesson or experience for your students to serve as a learning goal and to give students an opportunity to demonstrate and celebrate their learning with each other.

How can we make sure the residency is a high-quality learning experience?

  • Be sure to choose a cultural partner with the right experience and expertise for your learning objectives. Ask for a resume and references from previous residencies.
  • Meet with the cultural partner before and during the residency to discuss learning objectives, connections to the curriculum and extensions, and how best to engage the students.
  • Stay in the in-person or virtual classroom. This signals to students that the residency is an important learning opportunity. It also helps with classroom management – whether remote or in-person. After the session, talk with the cultural partner about what worked and what could be improved for the next session.

Do we have to have a signed contract with the cultural partner before we apply?
A signed contract is not required for the application or to be eligible for a grant.  However, Mass Cultural Council encourages schools and cultural partners to enter into a contract for the work to be performed before the residency begins to enable all parties to know what is expected and agreed-upon.

Can a residency involve more than one grade?
A residency may involve more than one grade; however, all grades must work on the same, unifying theme and explore the same content (adjusted for grade level).

Several schools in the district are working with the same cultural partner. Can we submit a joint application?
No, each school must submit its own application. However, you can indicate that the schools are collaborating on the same project.


How large a grant can we receive?
The maximum grant is $5,000. Your grant amount is determined by the number of sessions with students and the cultural partner.

What is the per-session grant amount?
In recognition of the additional work required to create and deliver a remote residency, the per-session grant amount this year is $200.

If we work with more than one cultural partner in each classroom, do we receive additional funds per artist?
No. You will receive $200 per session to spend any way you wish to support the residency – cultural partner fees, materials, technology, etc. (but not teacher salaries).

Can we use grant funds to fund technology?
If the technology is needed to create or deliver the residency, grant funds may be used to cover the cost.

Can we use the grant to fund more than one residency in the school?
No. Grants may be used to fund only one residency per school so that we can fund residencies in as many schools as possible.

Do we need to come up with a match?
No. There is no match required for this grant. However, schools are responsible for all residency cost that exceed the grant award amount.

How soon will we hear whether we will receive a grant?
We will notify applicants by email by March 5, 2021 as to whether your application has been approved or not. Be sure your email is set to receive messages from the Mass Cultural Council (

Final Report

Do we have to complete a Final Report? When is it due?
Yes, every grantee must complete the online Final Report on the grant activities and expenditures. The report is due within 30 days after the residency is completed or no later than July 15, 2021.

Schools that fail to submit a Final Report will not be eligible to apply for another Mass Cultural Council grant in a future school year until the report has been completed or until two years have passed.

Where do I find the Final Report?
The Final Report is accessible from the same site as the application.You must use the same login name and password as you used to create the application.

Contracts and Payments

When is our contract due back to Mass Cultural Council?
Your contract is due back to Mass Cultural Council’s Fiscal Office by March 20, 2021.

We submitted our contract but have not yet received our payment. Where is the money?
Your grant funds will be electronically transferred within 45 days after we receive your completed contract. The funds will be sent electronically as a direct deposit as follows:

Public schools: Grants are sent to the town treasurer. Please keep a copy of your signed contract. Your town treasurer will likely need it for their records and to help them get your school’s reimbursement onto a warrant. You must contact the town treasurer to access your funds.

Charter schools, schools within a regional school district, or private schools: Grants will be sent directly to the school or school district.

Boston Public Schools: Grant payments are transferred to BPS and processed through the normal BPS contract and work processes. Note: their are several steps to this process that schools and cultural partners must follow. Contact: Phillip Dunn.

Worcester Public Schools: Contact Linda Nowosacki at the WPS Grant Office at 508-799-3112.

Other Questions?

Contact Diane Daily at 617-858-2709.

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