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Youth program at Central Square Theater

STARS Residencies


FAQs for the 2022-2023 school year will be available by late August 2022.

Applicant/Residency 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 this school year?
No. Each school may submit one grant application for STARS Residencies funding per school year.

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.


Is there an application deadline?
Yes. The online application will close at 11:59pm (ET) on October 22, 2021.

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 will start and end.

When can a residency start?
Eligible residencies may start on or after August 30, 2021. 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.

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 afterschool program. The residency must be completed by June 30.

New Grants Management System

User Accounts/Registration

Can I use the same login username/password as last year?
In the new grants management system, your email address is your username. When you set up your account, an 8-digit password is required. You may set your new password using your existing password if that password meets the new security requirements.

What should I know about registering for the first time and filling out a new user profile?
We have a new online grants management system with a new process for creating your application.

Register as an Organization. What does that mean?
When you register as the school’s primary contact, you will register as an Organization. Once you are connected to that organization, you are using the system on behalf of the organization. Any application you submit is for funding for the organization you are connected to. Whether you are registering on behalf of a school, cultural organization, non-profit, city or town, or unincorporated group, you will register as an Organization.

When applying for STARS in the new grants management system, the School is the applicant, primary contact, and grantee and can invite their cultural partner to serve as co-applicant. As a co-applicant, the cultural partner can help complete and edit the application. Either the school or the cultural partner can submit the application when it is ready.

How do I register as a school, and what will I see?
As the primary contact for 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 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.

Register as an organization:

    • Go to our new grant management system
    • Click “Register”
    • Select “Organization:
    • Organization Name: Search for the school name in the organization name, then look up and provide your contact information, and submit. 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. If you cannot find your school, contact Diane Daily. Contact for assistance with login.

What if I am working on behalf of a cultural organization? How do I register, and what will I see?
If you are connected to a cultural organization when you register,  select “Organization” when it asks you what you want to do? The same registration steps should be followed.

If you cannot find your organization in the list, you must register the organization manually using the link Organization Instruction. 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.

Cultural organizations are not eligible primary applicants, so the STARS Residencies grant is not listed as a funding opportunity. The school may elect to invite a cultural organization as a co-applicant sending an invitation through the grants management system. If the invitation is accepted, then the STARS application is displayed under “Applications” in the “In Progress” section. You will be able to edit the application.

What if I’m an independent teaching artist, scientist, or scholar? How do I register, and what will I see?
If you are a teaching artist, scientist, or scholar (who is not connected to an organization), then you are registering as an individual. Select “Individual” when it 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, and then will submit your registration.

As an individual, you will not see STARS Residencies on the funding opportunities page because only schools can apply. However, a school can invite you to their application as a co-applicant, and you will get an email notification and then will be able to see the application under “Applications” in the “In Progress” section. As a co-applicant, you can edit and submit applications if authorized to do so by the school.

Working with a Cultural Partner/ Co-Applicant

What is a “cultural partner”?
A “cultural partner” is the teaching artist, scientist, or scholar who will be doing the residency. A cultural organization is not the cultural partner – 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 teaching 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 group of students (see “Residency Design” below). The application must show that cultural partners will plan together both before and during the residency.

How do I invite our cultural partner to be a co-applicant?
After completing 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.

The co-applicant can be an individual or a contact at an organization. If the co-applicant is not yet registered in the grants management system, they will need to register in order to access the application. If the co-applicant is an individual teaching artist, scientist, or scholar, they should register as an Individual. If the co-applicant is a cultural organization, then the person you sent the invitation to should register as an Organization.

The co-applicant can only edit the application. The school is the actual applicant to the program and the school is the grantee if the application is funded.

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 application becomes available for you to edit. The person who logs in first can edit, while the other person(s) can only view the application until the record is unlocked. ​

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 new 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.

Grant Application

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

How do I start the application?
The primary contact for the school is responsible for starting the grant 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 Home page – Welcome “Your Name” –  then click “Funding Opportunities,” The number of opportunities that are currently open is listed.
  3. Find STARS Residencies Funding opportunities. The grant is only listed when the application is open.
  4. Click “Apply” to start a new grant application.
  5. Use the “Open” button to create an application record. (FY22-RES-####) When the application opens for the first time, click Save Draft before answering any questions. You can open the opportunity and start an application. If you would like, you can invite a cultural partner to your application, and they can work on it with you.

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.

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. Your completed application must be submitted by 11:59pm (ET) on October 22, 2021.

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, 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 apprears “Applications” section under “Submitted/Declined”.

 What is the “Withdraw” button for? What do I do if I clicked on it by accident?
If you started or submitted an application, but no longer want to submit it for 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 (FY22-RES-####) in your request.

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.

What happens if my answer goes over the character limit?
If the number of characters in your response is more than the number of character permitted for the question. The words, punctuation, and spaces that go over the limit are not saved. If you exceed the character limit the character count is displayed as a negative number in red font. The character counter displays the number you have left to use. For example, If the character limit is 250 characters and your answer has 350 the number (-100) is negative number in red font. This means that 100 characters have to be removed for your answer to save.

We recommend that you develop your narrative in word processing software, and then copy and paste your response into the appropriate narrative boxes as plain text once the online application opens. Save the document for your records as a text file.

After pasting the text into an answer field, click “Save Draft” at the bottom of the screen to make, then use the Application Summary button to make sure your response are complete and displayed the way that you want.

Always remember to click the “Save Draft” button frequently. It is located at the bottom of each page. Note: If you click “Save” instead of “Save Draft,” the application will close.

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, 2022 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 teaching artist, scientist, or scholar work with their 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 30-75 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. 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?
Yes, culminating events are required this year for residencies of five days or more.

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.

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).

Grant Review Process

Will applications be reviewed on a first-come, first-reviewed basis this year?
No. Once the deadline has passed, eligible applications will be reviewed as follows:

  • We will review all eligible applications received by the grant deadline.
  • Applications will be scored by outside reviewers using the review criteria and rubrics listed in the guidelines.
  • Applications that receive the highest score will be funded first. For applications that receive the same score, a random selection process will be used to determine the order in which the applications will be funded. We will fund down that list until all funds are allocated.


How large a grant can we receive?
The maximum grant award is $5,500. Your maximum grant amount is determined by the number of sessions with students and the cultural partner plus the mandatory planning time.

How much is the planning stipend?
Each grant will include a $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 has been updated to $150. A 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 spend 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 residency as described in the approved application. The grant cam be used to pay for 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 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 3, 2021 as to whether their application has been approved or not. Be sure your email is set to receive messages from Mass Cultural Council (

Contracts and Payments

When is our contract due back?
Your contract is due back to Mass Cultural Council’s Fiscal Office by February 10, 2022.

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: 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: Phillip Dunn at BPS.

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

Do we have to have a signed contract with the cultural partner before we apply?
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 begins 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 15, 2022.

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. 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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