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


Application Process

Please note: There are changes coming to the Cultural Investment Portfolio grant program (4/6/22)


Applications to this program have been suspended for FY22, as we conduct a program review. The guidelines below are from FY21-22 application.

FY22 Gateway Grantees: Watch a presentation and download the slide deck (PDF) explaining FY22 annual reporting requirements.

Gateway grants provide support to Massachusetts-based organizations and programs that offer public cultural programming in the arts, humanities, and interpretive sciences. As a two-year grant program to provide operating support, Gateway grants are $3,500 per year for a total of $7,000 distributed over two years.

Questions? Contact Sara S. Glidden, Program Manager, at 617-858-2710.

Program Guidelines

Gateway grants are two-year operating support grants for organizations and programs with public cultural programming that benefits Massachusetts residents. Gateway grants are designed to be the entry, or gateway, to ongoing, formula-based, unrestricted operating support through Portfolio grants in our Cultural Investment Portfolio.

Please note: Eligible organizations may also submit applications to both the Gateway and Projects in the same year, but can only receive one grant. Applications for each program are reviewed independently.

Applicant Eligibility

Fully-cultural organizations and Cultural Affiliates may apply for Gateway grants. Each entity must meet the eligibility requirements, and all criteria according to the entity’s organization type described below.

A fully-cultural organization must be a Massachusetts recognized 501(c)3 organization. The organization’s primary mission must be to promote access, excellence, diversity, or education in the arts, humanities, or sciences.


Cultural Affiliates are semi-independent programs that operate under a parent organization. The primary mission of a Cultural Affiliate must be to promote access, excellence, diversity, or education in the arts, humanities, or interpretive sciences. The Cultural Affiliate must meet all eligibility requirements, plus additional requirements that apply exclusively to the Cultural Affiliates.

The parent organization for the Cultural Affiliate must be one of the following:

  • A Massachusetts recognized non-fully cultural 501(c)3 organization.
    For example, a literary magazine or art museum 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 provides cultural programming.

To be eligible to apply, all applicants 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 that has provided public cultural programming for the past two consecutive years.
  • Offer public cultural programming in Massachusetts and maintain year-round operations in Massachusetts.
  • Have minimum cash expenses of $50,000 for each of the two years before the application.
  • For Media organizations (such as community access television stations): Over 50% of programming time must be arts, humanities, or sciences programming produced by or for the applicant. This includes original creative content, original documentary content, original arts and culture programming. Calculation of eligibility should only count the original broadcast, not re-broadcast.

Cultural Affiliate Requirements

These requirements only apply to programs with a parent organization.

Cultural Affiliates also must:

  • Manage your own budget.
  • Have at least one full-time (min. 30 hours per week) compensated administrative staff position dedicated solely to the operation of the cultural entity. Having several employees whose cumulative 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.

Note: The above eligibility criteria must be maintained each year to maintain Gateway support or to be moved into the Portfolio.

Grant 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 the 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)

Award Amount and Funding Period

The anticipated grant award amount for each fiscal year is $3,500.  As a two-year grant program, a total of $7,000 is distributed over two state fiscal years.

  • Year 1: Funding period July 1, 2020 – June 30, 2021
  • Year 2: Funding period July 1, 2021 – June 30, 2022


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), and/or proceeds from the sale of collections.

All funding is subject to the annual State budget appropriation, recommendations of Mass Cultural Council’s Grants Committee, and the final approval of the Mass Cultural Council.

Grant Requirements


All Gateway grantees are required to engage in two advocacy activities each year. Grantees attest to completing their annual advocacy activities via the CIP Management Tool. Learn more about Advocacy Requirements.

Policy Requirements

For FY21 Gateway grants, every grantee will be required to attest to the following:

  • Your organization has a policy on Sexual Harassment,
  • Your Board of Directors annually approves an organization policy on ethics and best practices for boards. This needs to be formally approved by your board, and you need to provide the date that the board voted to approve it.

FY19/20 Gateway grantees will attest to having the Polices as part of their FY20 Annual Report. New Gateway grantees for FY21/22 will provide the attestation as part of their FY21 grant contract package.

Reporting Requirements

Organizations that are awarded a Gateway grant 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 each year during the month of May. Through the CIP Annual Report, Gateway grantees confirm your ongoing eligibility for a grant.

The CIP Annual Report includes the organization overview, and attesting to fulfilling the Policy, Advocacy and 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.

Gateway Reporting Penalties

  • If you complete the DataArts and CIP Annual Report requirements after May 31 at 11:59:59pm, there will be a 25% penalty to your grant for the following year.
  • If you still do not complete this reporting 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.
  • If you are suspended from Gateway funding, an organization may re-apply for future cycles after outstanding compliance requirements have been addressed, and all requirements are met prior to your next application. However, the suspended cycle will not count towards the Portfolio requirement. Please see the contracts page for details.

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.

Additionally, the Mass Cultural Council has the right to withhold, reduce, discontinue funding, or apply restrictions to the use of Gateway grant funds if a grantee:

  • Intentionally misrepresentation of finances, programming, or other eligibility requirements.
  • Does not notify the Mass Cultural Council of significant organizational changes, cannot carry out the stated mission, or if it demonstrates inadequate financial management and oversight. The notification must be made in writing and must provide reasonable advanced notice. In cases where a Gateway grantee experiences serious organizational capacity issues, the Mass Cultural Council will work with that organization to address the challenge.

Reclassification into the Portfolio

To qualify to move into the Portfolio, you must receive Gateway funding for a total of four years over 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 to the overall program allocation.

Optional Staff Visit: As a funded Gateway organization, we suggest that you schedule a visit with the Gateway Program Manager during the two-year funding cycle.  The visit is an opportunity 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. However, the staff visit is not a requirement for funding.

Acknowledgement of Funding

Grant recipients are required to credit the 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. The Mass Cultural Council will not fund any organization or program that discriminates on the basis of these attributes. We strive to reflect diversity in all activities, programs, and services removing any barriers to accessibility. The Mass Cultural Council and its grantees are expected to be in compliance 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 Application Instructions

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

Part 1: Gateway Online Application with 3 required documents uploaded as supplemental materials.

  1. Gateway applicant Board of Directors chart (use this template)
  2. 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.
  3. Current year budget and most recent fiscal year preliminary financial report (See the application for more detail.)

Part 2: SMU|DataArts Cultural Data Profile (CDP)

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. You only need to submit one year of data for this application.

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

Please note: Due to scheduled site maintenance, the SMU|DataArts platform and the Cultural Data Profile (CDP) survey will be unavailable from 8pm (ET) on December 13 to 8pm (ET) on December 15, and from 8pm (ET) on December 20 to 8pm on December 22.

Part 1 and Part 2 must be submitted by 11:59:59 PM EST on January 31, 2020 for your application to meet the deadline. Incomplete applications will not be reviewed.

Part 3: Gateway Applicant Site Visit: As part of the grant application process. Gateway Applicants will host an evaluative Site Visit for a member of the reviewing panel and a Mass Cultural Council staff member.

For eligible applicants, site visits will be scheduled after January 30, 2020. Site Visits for FY20 will take place February through May 2020. Please see the Gateway FAQs for more information about the Site Visit.

Application and Grant Timeline

Grant Application Opens: November 20, 2019, 10am EST

Application Deadline: January 31, 2020 11:59:59pm EST

Site Visits to Eligible Applicants: February – May 2020

Grant Announcements: September 2020

Final Reporting Deadlines: May 31, 2021

Future Application Deadlines: Winter/Spring 2022 and 2024

 Support & Resources

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

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

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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