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Youth program at Central Square Theater

STARS Residencies

FAQs

What is new or changed about the STARS Residencies program this year?
Mass Cultural Council has made important changes to the STARS Residencies as part of the agency’s commitment to equity, access, and inclusion across all programs. Starting this year:

  • Cultural Partners can now apply! For the sake of greater access, cultural partners – teaching artists/scientists/humanists or non-profit organizations – can now apply directly for the grant. This means that grant funds would be paid to the cultural partner. NOTE: The cultural partner must have a school partner for the application to be eligible. As always, schools may apply directly and must have a cultural partner.

 

  • We have increased the minimum grant amount from $700 to $2500. We’ve made this change in recognition of the time and work required to prepare an application and to improve access.

 

  • To improve equity, we will prioritize applications from:
    • First-time applicants or applicants that have not received funding from Mass Cultural Council in the last three fiscal years (FY20, FY21, FY22).
    • Schools that are located in cities and towns that are below the state’s median household income and below statewide educational attainment (the percentage of adults who have attained at least a bachelor’s degree).
    • Schools with student populations that are 50% or more Black, Indigenous, and/or People of Color (BIPOC) as reported by DESE. (Data Source (2021-2022.)
    • In order to ensure that as many applicants as possible can receive funding, if necessary, we may prioritize applicants not receiving other FY23 Mass Cultural Council funding and/or we may prioritize applicants that submitted only one application.

Applicant/Residency Eligibility

Who can apply?
Any Massachusetts school (public, private, or charter school) serving grades K-12, independent teaching artists/scientists/humanists, and non-profit organizations may be the applicant and apply directly for STARS Residencies funding. Grant funds would be paid to the applicant.

Is there a limit to the number of residencies and applications per school?
Schools may host only one residency per school year. This means a school may be involved in only one STARS application per school year, whether they are the applicant or not.

What if two applications are submitted for the same school?
If two applications are submitted involving the same school, the school principal will be contacted and asked to identify the one application the school will support. The other application will not be reviewed.

Is there a limit to the number of applications per cultural partner?
There is no limit to the number of applications that cultural partners – teaching artists/scientists/humanists and non-profit organizations – may submit or be involved in. However, if we are not able to fund all applications, we may need to prioritize applications from cultural partners with one application in order to fund as many applicants as possible.

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

Timeline

Is there an application deadline?
Yes. The online application will close at 11:59pm (ET) on October 25, 2022.

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 estimation of the residency start and end dates.

When can a residency start?
Eligible residencies may start on or after September 1, 2022. 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 – teaching artists, scientists, scholars, and non-profit organizations – need to be paid for their work. No applicant should assume that their residency will be awarded a grant.

Can residencies take place afterschool or in the summer?
Afterschool programs that are operated by the school are eligible to host a residency. This residency will count as the one residency the school may host during the 2022-2023 school year. Summer programs are ineligible – all residencies must be completed by June 30, 2022.

Working with a Cultural Partner

What is a “cultural partner”?
STARS residencies are a partnership between schools and cultural partners. Cultural partners can be either independent teaching artists, scientists or humanists, or a non-profit organization that provides the teaching artist, scientist, or humanist to lead the residency.

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 teaching artist, scientist, or humanist who will lead the residency has the experience and expertise needed to engage the students in a successful creative learning experience.

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

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

Grants Management System

Please read the information below. If you need further assistance, contact the grants help desk.

User Accounts/Registration

Can I use the same login username/password as last year?
Yes. Your email address is your username. You can log in with the same password you used last year. If you have moved to a different organization or school, you will need to create a new registration connected to your new organization/school.

I’ve forgotten my password. How do I find out what it is?
If you forget your username and password, from the grants management landing page, click “Forgot Password” and follow the instructions.

  • Check to see if you already have a user account in the grants management system.
    • Go to our grants management system.
    • 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.

What should I know about registering for the first time and filling out a new user profile?
You will either register as an organization or as an individual to apply. See below:

Register as an Organization. What does that mean?
As a contact person at an organization, when you register, you will be acting on behalf of the organization and any applications submitted will list the organization as the applicant and you as the primary contact for the application.

To register as an organization:

  • Go to our grant management system.
  • Click “Register”.
  • Select “Organization”.
  • Organization Name: Search for the organization name in the organization name field, select your organization, provide your contact information and submit.
  • If you cannot find your organization in the search field, you will need to register it manually using the link at the top of the page. The manual registration form will ask you about the organization and ask for your contact information.
  • After clicking the submit button, you should receive an email with a link to activate the user account and create a new password.

How do I register as a school, and what will I see?
As the primary contact for the application on behalf of the school (i.e., teacher, principal, department head, etc.), when you register, you will select “Organization” when it asks you which type of registration you will be completing. You will then search for your school name in the field at the top of the registration page.

All schools with Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) identification numbers have been imported into our system. When you register, be careful to make sure you are connecting yourself to the correct school. For example, there are many Lincoln Elementary Schools. Make sure you are selecting the school in the right city or town, which will also be displayed along with the name of the school.

To register as a school, follow these steps:

  • Go to our grant management system
  • Click “Register”
  • Select “Organization”
  • Organization Name: Search for the school name in the organization name field, select the school, and provide your contact information, and submit. NOTE: You MUST be an employee of the school to be listed as the school contact person. Schools with a DESE Identification number have been populated on this list. If you cannot find your school, contact Diane Daily.
  • After clicking the submit button, you should receive an email with a link to activate the user account and create a new password.

Need assistance? Contact the grants help desk.

What if I can’t find my non-profit organization on the list?
If you cannot find your non-profit organization in the list, you must register the organization manually using the the link at the top of the registration page. NOTE: It may take up to 2 business days for your registration to be reviewed so Mass Cultural Council staff can give your organization a category to ensure you see the funding opportunities that the organization may be eligible for. This means that you will need to begin your registration at least three business days before the STARS application deadline.

Where do I find the STARS Application?
After you complete your registration, you will see “STARS” in the Funding Opportunities page of our grants management system. Click on that to access the STARS application.

What if I’m an independent teaching artist, scientist, or humanist? How do I register?
If you are a teaching artist, scientist, or humanist who is  not connected to an organization, then you are registering as an “Individual”. Select “Individual” when the system asks you which type of registration you will be completing. You will provide your name and contact information as well as answer some optional demographic questions. Then submit your registration.

I’m registered as an Individual. Where do I find the STARS application?
Individual teaching artists, scientists, and humanists can now complete and submit the STARS application (you must have a school partner). After you complete your registration, you will see “STARS” in the Funding Opportunities page of our grants management system. Click on that to access the STARS application.

What is a Co-Applicant?
Because STARS residencies are a partnership between a school and a cultural partner, the application allows both partners to work on and submit the application and the final report. One partner is the applicant who receives the grant, the other can be the “co-applicant.” Having a co-applicant is not required, it is an option for you to use so more than one person can work on the application and reporting.

If you are the applicant and want your residency partner to be able to work on the application and Final Report, you, as the applicant, need to invite the partner to be a co-applicant. This must be done during the Application preparation phase. You cannot invite a co-applicant after the application has been submitted (for example, to help later with the Final Report.)

How do I invite our residency partner to be a co-applicant?
The co-applicant can be an independent teaching artist/scientist/scholar or a contact at a school or an organization. The co-applicant must be registered in the grants management system before they can get the invitation to access the application. See “Grants Management: User Accounts/Registration” above for information on how to register.

Once you complete the eligibility quiz successfully, you can proceed to the application form. The first tab of the form is called “Applicant Information.” On that tab, there is a section called “Co-Applicant Invitation”. In that section, you will see a teal button with an envelope on it. If you hover over it, you can see the text “Invite”. Click the Invite button, and a new window will open. To add the co-applicant to the invitation, click on the teal “plus” button at the top left.

Then you can enter the co-applicant’s first name, last name, and email address, and you will select the “Role of Co-applicant” from the drop-down. Then click on the teal “Invite” button. This will send the invitation to the co-applicant.

I’m trying to edit the application but get a message that says “This record is locked. Checked out by another user (showing the date and time)”.  What do I do?
Only one user can make edits at a time. If you are working on an application with a co-applicant and see this message, then your colleague is actively working in the application. When the other user has logged out, then the application becomes “unlocked” and available for you to edit.

What do I do if my email address has changed?
You can log into the system with your old email address and then change your email address to the new one in your account profile. After that, you can log in with the new email address.

Grant Application

Can I see the application before creating a user profile?
Yes. A sample application (PDF) is available.

How do I start the application?
To start a new STARS grant application:

  1. Go to the grants management system. Log in with your email address and password.
  2. Go to the Home page – Welcome [Your Name] – then click “Funding Opportunities.” The number of opportunities that are currently open is listed.
  3. Find the STARS Residencies Funding opportunity. The grant is only listed when the application has officially opened (September 28, 2022).
  4. Click “Apply” to start a new grant application.
  5. Use the “Open” button to create an application record. (FY23-ED-RES-####) When you open the application for the first time, click Save Draft before answering any questions. If you would like, you can invite your residency partner to your application as a co-applicant and they can work on it with you. Note: you can both see the application, but only one of you can work on it at a time. See “What is a Co-applicant” instructions above for how to invite your residency partner to be a co-applicant.

Can I save my application and come back later to make changes?
Yes. Be sure to click “Save Draft” frequently while you work and again when leaving the page. You can continue to make changes until you hit the “Submit” button or until the grant deadline. Your draft application can be found on your home page in the Applications section under In Progress.

Where will I see my saved application?
Login to the site with your email address and password and scroll down until you find the “Applications” section. Under “In Progress”, a list of all of your draft applications is displayed. You can reopen the application and continue working on it until you are ready to submit it or until the deadline. Your completed application must be submitted by 11:59pm (ET) on October 25, 2022.

What happens if I hit “Submit”?
If you hit the “Submit” button, the status of the application changes to submitted, and the application is locked. You may view the application, but no further changes can be made. Do not click submit until you have completed your application and are ready to submit it to Mass Cultural Council. If you discover an error and need to correct something before the application deadline, or accidentally hit “Submit”, you may contact Diane Daily to reopen it for you (if time permits). You must then re-submit the application before the deadline for it to be considered on time and eligible for review.

How do I know my application was successfully submitted?
After you submit your grant application, an email notification with a copy of your submitted application is attached as a PDF for your records. When you log into your portal, the application appears in the “Applications” section under “Submitted/Declined”.

 What is the “Withdraw” button for? What do I do if I click on it by accident?
If you started or submitted an application, but no longer want to have it reviewed, you can click “Withdraw” to close the application. Applications that have been withdrawn are not reviewed for funding. If you clicked “Withdraw” by mistake, contact Diane Daily and request that she change the application status back to “Draft”. Please reference the application id (FY23-ED-RES-####) in your request.

Narrative Questions

What should I know about filling out the narrative questions?
Look at the sample application – coming at the end of September – for the questions and character limits. Character limits include spaces and punctuation.

What happens if my answer goes over the character limit?
If you exceed the character limit, the character count is displayed as a negative number in red font. If you try and submit an application and you have exceeded the character count for any of the questions, you will see an error message. If you click on the message it will take you to the field that needs to be corrected.

We recommend that you develop your narrative in word processing software and check the character count. Then copy and paste your response into the appropriate narrative boxes. Always remember to click the “Save Draft” button frequently. It is located at the bottom of each page.

Residency Design

Where can residencies take place?
The residency can take place anywhere the school and cultural partner agree on.

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 teaching artist, scientist, or humanist work with their group of students for a minimum of one session on three separate days. While we set a maximum grant amount of $6,100 to be able to fund as many residencies as possible, 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 30-75 minutes contact time with the same group of students. A class 80-120 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 group of students. Each cultural partner, however, is required to meet with their group of students for at least one session on at least three separate days. All cultural partners must be working on the same, unified residency.

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).

Are culminating events required this year for residencies of five days or more?
No, culminating events, such as exhibits or performances of student work, are not required this year for any residency. However, culminating events, can provide important opportunities for students to share their learning with other students, teachers, families, and the community. Culminating events also help the families and the community understand the value of creative learning.

Note: Culminating event sessions can be included in the grant calculation only if the cultural partner will be present.

How can we make sure the residency is a valuable creative 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.
  • Ask the teacher to 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 in-person or remote.
  • After the session or at the end of the day, have the school and the cultural partner talk about what worked and what could be improved for the next session.

Grant Review Process

Will applications be reviewed on a first-come, first-reviewed basis this year?
No. We will review all eligible applications received by the grant deadline. Each application will be reviewed and scored by outside reviewers using the review criteria and scoring rubrics listed in the guidelines.

How will funding decisions be made?
Funding decisions will be made using a combination of the following factors:

  • Funding priorities
  • Reviewer scores

If we cannot fund all eligible applications, applications that receive the highest rating using the two factors above will be funded first. For applications that receive the same rating, a random selection process will be used to determine the order in which the applications will be funded. We will fund down the list until all funds are allocated.

What are the funding priorities?
To support equity, access, and inclusion, we will prioritize these applications:

    • First-time applicants or applicants that have not received funding from Mass Cultural Council in the last three fiscal years (FY20, FY21, FY22).
    • Schools that are located in cities and towns that are below the state’s median household income and below statewide. educational attainment (the percentage of adults who have attained at least a bachelor’s degree). A full list of under-resourced communities is available. Schools with student populations that are 50% or more Black, Indigenous, and/or People of Color (BIPOC) as reported by DESE. (Data Source (2021-2022.)
    • In order to ensure that as many applicants as possible can receive funding, if necessary, we may prioritize applicants not receiving other FY23 Mass Cultural Council funding and/or we may prioritize applicants that submitted only one application.

Funding

How large a grant can we receive?
The maximum grant award is $6,100. Your maximum grant amount is determined by the number of sessions with students and the cultural partner plus the planning stipend.

How much is the planning stipend?
Each grant will include one $250 stipend (total) to pay the cultural partner(s) for time spent planning with the school before and during the residency.

What is the per-session rate?
The per-session rate is $150. One session is 30-75 minutes contact time with the students. A double session is 80-120 minutes.

If we work with more than one cultural partner in each classroom, do we receive additional funds per artist?
No. You will receive $150 per session to support the implementation of the residency – cultural partner fees, materials, technology, etc., (but not teacher salaries).

Can we use grant funds to fund technology?
Yes, 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 must be used to fund the one residency described in the approved application.

Do we need to come up with a match?
No. There is no match required for this grant. However, the applicant (whether that is the school or the cultural partner) is responsible for all residency costs that exceed the grant award amount.

How soon will we hear whether we will receive a grant?
We will notify applicants by email by December 13, 2022 as to whether their application has been approved or not. Be sure your email is set to receive messages from the grants management system: MassCultural_noreply@smartsimple.com

Contracts and Payments

When is our contract due back?
Your contract is due back to Mass Cultural Council’s Fiscal Office by February 10, 2023.

We submitted our contract but have not yet received our payment. Where is the money?

Independent teaching artists/scientists/humanists and non-profit organizations: The funds will be sent electronically as a direct deposit 2 to 4 weeks after we receive the completed contract.

Schools:  If a school was the primary applicant on your application, 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: If the residency is in a BPS school, you must work through the BPS standard contracting and payment process. Note: there are several steps to this process that schools and cultural partners must follow. Contact: BPS Executive Director for the Arts Anthony Beatrice.
  • Worcester Public Schools: Contact Linda Nowosacki at the WPS Grant Office at 508-799-3112.

Do we have to have a signed contract between the school and the cultural partner before we apply?
No, a signed contract is not required for the application 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 starts to enable all parties to know what is expected and agreed-upon.

How can I check the status of our payment?
Login to the system and in the portal under “Applications” you will see a section called “Payments” which will have information about when a payment was made.

Final Report

Do we have to complete a final report? When is it due?
Yes, every grantee must complete a 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 14, 2023.

Grantees that fail to submit a final report will not be eligible to apply for another Mass Cultural Council STARS 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. Once you log in you will find reporting information at the bottom of the portal page, in the section called “Requires Attention” under “Pending Reports”.

Other Questions?

Contact Diane Daily at 617-858-2709.


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