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Visitors to the New England Aquarium watch tropical fish swimming through a Pacific Coral exhibit. (Photo: S. Cheng)


Application Process

The next Gateway application deadline is January 31, 2020. Check back on November 20, 2019 for new guidelines. The description below is for general information purposes.

Program Description

The Gateway program provides unrestricted operating support to organizations and programs with public cultural programming that benefits Massachusetts residents. If your organization receives a Portfolio grant, you are not eligible for this program. You may submit applications to both the Gateway and Projects in the same year, but could only receive one grant. Applications for each program are reviewed independently.

Gateway is a two-year grant program, designed to be the entry, or gateway, to long-term funding in the Portfolio.

Gateway grantees receive $3,000 per year for a total of $6,000 distributed over two years. Gateway applications are accepted every other year. Organizations are moved from Gateway into the Portfolio based on the re-classification policy (see below). All grants are subject to the funds allocated to the program by the Mass Cultural Council. This is based on the agency’s annual legislative appropriation.


Fully-cultural organizations: You must be a Massachusetts recognized 501(c)3 organization. Your primary mission must be to promote access, excellence, diversity, or education in the arts, humanities, or sciences.

Cultural Affiliates: This is the name that we give to semi-independent programs that operate under a parent organization. The primary mission must be to promote access, excellence, diversity, or education in the arts, humanities, or sciences. The parent organization is one of the following:

  • A Massachusetts recognized non-fully cultural 501(c)3 organization. For example: a literary magazine or art museums at a college, or an arts program in a social service organization.
  • A department of a federal, state, or local/municipal government. For example: a Local Cultural Council that does its own programs.


To be eligible to apply, you must meet all of the following requirements:

  • Be legally recognized as a 501(c)3 non-profit organization in good standing in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
  • Be a ‘fully-cultural’ organization, or a Cultural Affiliate (both are defined above).
  • Offer public cultural programming in Massachusetts every year, including the two most recent years, and maintain year-round operations in Massachusetts.
  • Have minimum cash expenses of $50,000 for each of the two years before the application.
  • You must maintain eligible in each year to remain in the Gateway program or to be moved into the Portfolio.

Cultural Affiliates must meet these additional requirements

  • Manage your own budget.
  • Have at least one full-time (min. 30 hours per week) compensated administrative staff position dedicated solely to operation of the cultural entity. Having several employees whose time totals 30 hours per week does not meet this requirement.
  • Have your own advisory board that meets regularly to discuss policy, strategic direction, and resource development plans to ensure long-term sustainability.

Be in compliance with state and federal regulations which bar discrimination on the basis of race, gender, religious creed, color, national origin, ancestry, disability, age, or sexual orientation, and which require accessibility for persons with disabilities. Specifically:

How to Apply

The Gateway application consists of two separate online components. Both parts of the application must be complete and submitted by the deadline for your application to be considered.

  1. The Application Narrative, with 2 required attachments
    • Gateway applicant Board of Directors chart (use this template)
    • Gateway applicant Organization chart (provide your own chart)
      • An Organization chart is a diagram that shows the structure of an organization and the relationships and relative ranks of its parts and positions/jobs. You can find templates in Microsoft Word, or on the internet
  1. DataArts Cultural Data Profile

You must complete the DataArts Cultural Data Profile Survey for your most recently completed fiscal year AND submit the CIP Funder Report to “Gateway Applicants for FY21/22” as part of your application. If you are subject to a review or audit, you should report on your most recent audited/reviewed fiscal year. You must include a balance sheet in your profile, even if you are not audited.

It can take several days to input the data, so make sure that you start at least a week prior to the application deadline.

EVERYTHING must be submitted by 11:59:59 PM EST on January 31, 2020 for your application to meet the deadline and to be given to the panel for review. Incomplete applications will not be reviewed.

In addition to the online application and the DataArts CDP Survey requirement, applicants will also host an evaluative Site Visit. This visit consists of a member of the reviewing panel, as well as a Mass Cultural Council staff member. We will be in touch to schedule your Site Visit after applications close on January 31, 2020. Site Visits for FY20 will take place February-May 2020.

Review Process

Your Gateway application will be reviewed by an independent panel. It will be scored according to the following criteria:

Public Value (60 points total)

  • Core programming and relevance to mission (20 points)
  • Community engagement (20 points)
  • Efforts and success in reaching out to diverse or underserved communities. This can include ethnically and economically diverse, rural, elderly, veterans, and people with disabilities. (10 points)
  • Participation of Massachusetts artists, scientists, and/or humanists (10 points)

Organizational Capacity and Sustainability (40 points total)

  • Financial health (10 points)
  • Appropriate program staff to develop and implement programming (10 points)
  • Ability of your staff and/or governing board to manage (10 points)
  • Success in planning and evaluation. (10 points)

Grant Requirements

If you get a Gateway grant, you must complete the annual reporting requirements to be eligible for the second year of funding:

Gateway grantees are required to enter financial data into the DataArts Cultural Data Profile each year, and then generate a CIP Funder Report based on this data. The CIP Funder Report functions as:

  • A final report for the first year of the Gateway grant
  • An application for Gateway funding for the second grant year

You need to fully complete the CIP DataArts Requirement by the deadline in your grant contract to be eligible to receive full Gateway funding for the following year.

CIP Annual Report
You are required to complete the CIP Annual Report during the month of May. The CIP Annual Report confirms your ongoing eligibility for a grant. It includes the organization overview, and attesting to fulfilling the Advocacy  and the  Credit and Publicity requirements.. It also includes a few statistical data points which the National Endowment for the Arts requires the Mass Cultural Council to collect from you. Grantees can access the CIP Annual Report online.

All Gateway grantees are required to engage in two advocacy activities each year. Advocacy must be completed by May 31, 2020 (11:59PM ET). Grantees attest to completing their annual advocacy activities via the CIP Management Tool. Learn more about Advocacy Requirements.

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

Gateway grants are subject to a 1:1 Match Requirement. Matching funds may include earned revenue or private funds donated to your organization. The following may not be used as matching funds: In-kind contributions, other sources of public funding (i.e.: Local Cultural Council grants, Mass Humanities grants).

Staff Visit
We suggest that you schedule a visit from the Gateway Program Manager during the two year funding cycle.  The visit is a chance to build on your existing relationship with Mass Cultural Council, ask any questions about the Cultural Investment Portfolio, and think about ways to address the challenges and opportunities that you are facing.

The Mass Cultural Council and its grantees are contractually committed to abide by state and federal regulations which bar discrimination on the basis of race, gender, religious creed, color, national origin, ancestry, disability, age, gender identity, or sexual orientation, and which require accessibility for persons with disabilities. The Mass Cultural Council’s grantees sign a contract certifying that they will comply with ADA and Section 504. The Mass Cultural Council aims to help grantees understand their obligations and recognize the opportunities that increasing access can provide for both the public and the grantee.  Resources and additional information about accessibility are online.

Contract Holds, Penalties, and Restrictions
The Mass Cultural Council may apply a contract hold, penalty, or restriction if you are not in compliance with grant requirements. There may be cuts applied to your future grant amounts, or you may be suspended for funding in future grant years. Please see the CIP Glossary page for definitions and all requirements.

If you are suspended from Gateway funding, you may re-apply for future cycles if you catch up on all remaining compliance requirements, and meet all requirements prior to your next application. However, the suspended cycle will not count towards the Portfolio requirement. Please see the contracts page for details.

Reclassification into the Portfolio

To qualify to move into the Portfolio, you must receive Gateway funding for a total of four years out of a six year period (two cycles out of three). We will only move you into the Portfolio if Mass Cultural Council’s funding levels allow an increase the overall program allocation.

Application and Grant Timeline

Final reporting deadline for FY21/FY22 grants: May 31, 2019

If you complete the DataArts and CIP Annual Report requirements after May 31at 11:59:59pm, there will be a 25% penalty to your grant for the following year.

If you still don’t complete this requirement by June 7, at 11:59:59 pm, you will be suspended from the Gateway program and will not receive a Gateway grant for the following year. Also, this grant will not count towards the requirements to move into the Portfolio.

Future Application Deadlines: Winter/Spring 2020, 2022, 2024

Reconsideration Policy

You may request reconsideration of a Mass Cultural Council decision if you can show that the Mass Cultural Council did not follow published guidelines and procedures. Dissatisfaction with the denial of an award is not grounds for reconsideration. You must send a written request to the Mass Cultural Council’s Executive Director within 30 days of the date of notification of the decision. Any request will be reviewed by the Mass Cultural Council Grants Committee and the Council.

The CIP staff is available as a resource to answer questions about eligibility, requirements, deadlines, and compliance.

Support & Resources

Sara S. Glidden, Program Manager, 617-858-2710

DataArts Support Center: Staff at the Support Center is employed by DataArts, not the Mass Cultural Council. They cannot answer questions about Gateway compliance. Contact the Support Center at 1-877-707-DATA (877-707-3282) or, Monday-Friday, 9am-8pm.

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