To experience this site in your native language, click below.

Para visitar este sitio web en su idioma nativo, haga clic a continuación.


Para experimentar este site em sua língua nativa, clique abaixo.

Mass Cultural Council logo
Backstage tour of Boston Ballet's Nutcracker. Image: Liza Voll Photography

Innovation Fund

Application Process

The Innovation Fund offers $3,000 grants to UP Designated Organizations to plan and implement new, innovative solutions to accessibility challenges within their organization. These innovative solutions are self-defined by the current practices of the UP Designated Organization. This grant looks to go beyond reasonable accommodations and compliance to inspire fresh ideas.

How to Apply

  1. Read the program guidelines (below).


  2. Log in using your organization’s username/password to access the online application beginning on February 2, 2021. Then select “Current Programs and Applications” and enter the invitational code provided to UP Designated Organizations by Charles G. Baldwin. Lastly, scroll down to the link for “FY21 UP Innovation Fund“.

  3. Complete and submit the online application by February 26, 2021 at 11:59pm (ET).


If you have questions or would like feedback on a draft application, contact Charles G. Baldwin, Program Officer, at 617-858-2739.

Program Guidelines


This year, the Innovation Fund grants offer UP Designated Organizations a unique opportunity to apply for projects that help the organization recover, rebuild, and renew in the face of multiple crises: the COVID-19 pandemic, the resulting economic collapse, and systemic racism and ongoing injustice.  Applicants are encouraged, but not required, to propose programs that speak to these areas and that align with the Universal Participation Initiative.

The Innovation Fund provides funding support for arts, humanities, or science projects and programs that are designed to:

  • Create new training modules for staff, board, and volunteers about access practices
  • Identify new methods of engaging people with disabilities (user/experts) to steward, inform, and facilitate program and policy development
  • Incorporate new technological resources in communication or information strategies
  • Facilitate expanded learning pedagogies
  • Implement new programs that support artists, patrons, or staff with functional limitations


Non-profits that offer public programming in the arts, humanities, or sciences in Massachusetts that are currently UP Designated Organizations may apply to request funding for one Innovation Project.

Note: Applicants interested in implementing a project in collaboration with other eligible organizations are encouraged to do so, provided that each organization completes and submits a separate application. The budget and workplan should reflect the combined efforts. For example, two organizations can work together on a project with a budget of $6,000 or more.

Project Eligibility

To be considered for funding, the proposed Innovation Projects must:

  • Clearly connect to arts, humanities, or science programming.
  • Be implemented between January 1, 2021 and June 30, 2021.
  • Projects that are primarily focused on providing reasonable accommodations in order to achieve ADA compliance are NOT eligible.

Innovation Project Categories

Institutional Vision. The project takes a new approach to promote the organization’s shared sense of purpose to ensure “access” is woven into the fabric of the organization – from marketing, planning, budgeting, and fundraising to program design and hiring practices.

Staff Training. The project supports a new approach to increasing or supporting the engagement of board, staff, volunteers, designers, educators, or others taking part in the work of the organization.

Engaging Users/Experts. The project expands upon the organization’s practice of engaging various users who can offer insights into what fails and what works as a reliable means of continuous improvement.

Innovation. The project demonstrates a willingness to engage in trial and error based on new ideas, fresh insight, and creative problem-solving. Projects in this category should be unique and innovative to the field of access and inclusion more broadly.

Review Criteria

Innovation Fund grant applications are reviewed by a panel of Mass Cultural Council staff.

Applications will be scored according to the following criteria:

  • How clearly the proposed project aligns with one of the Innovation Project categories as described above (33%)
  • How well the project demonstrates innovation within the organization or the field (33%)
  • How effectively the applicant plans to measure outcomes and evaluate processes (33%)

In event of a tie for the final grant(s), funding will be awarded in the order in which the applications were received.

Grant Awards and Funding Period

The grant funding period is from January 1, 2021, to June 30, 2021.

The grant award amount is $3,000.

Through this competitive application process, Mass Cultural Council expects to award 15 grants in FY21.

UP Designated Organizations will receive no more than one Innovation Fund grant per fiscal year.

Use of Funds

Innovation Fund grants must be used for costs incurred during the grant funding period for expenses directly related to implementing the organization’s approved Innovation Project unless specified below.

Innovation Fund monies must not be used to pay for refreshments, including food, beverages, and alcohol.

Grant Timeline

Application Opens: February 2, 2021
Application Deadline: February 26, 2021
Award Notification: March 8, 2021
Grant Contract Due: April 5, 2021
Grant Payments: Payments are typically released within 4 weeks of receipt of the completed contract package.
Projects must be completed: June 30, 2021
Final Report: July 25, 2021

Grant Requirements

UP Designated Organizations that are awarded Innovation Fund grants are required to complete the following activities:

  • Plan and implement the approved FY21 Innovation Project between January 1, 2021, and June 30, 2021.
  • Share processes and outcomes of the project with the field through a newsletter, webinar, event, workshop, or other formats to be determined and scheduled in collaboration with UP Program Officer.
  • Complete a Final Report detailing the processes and outcomes of the project by the specified deadline.

Failure to complete the Final Report may result in loss of eligibility for Mass Cultural Council grant programs until the Final Report has been received. Mass Cultural Council has the right to withhold, reduce, or cancel grants if a project is not in compliance with necessary grant requirements. As a condition of funding, all Mass Cultural Council grantees are required to follow the following policies described below.

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. 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. 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.


Contact Charles G. Baldwin, Program Officer, at 617-858-2739.

Proceed to the Online Application

Back to Top