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Backstage tour of Boston Ballet's Nutcracker. Image: Liza Voll Photography

Innovation Fund

Application Process

The Innovation Fund offers annual grants to UP Designated Organizations to plan, implement, and evaluate accessible goods, services, programs, and policies. Building innovative solutions to address barriers are self-defined by the current practices of the UP Designated Organization. This funding looks to go beyond compliance to inspire direct actions and fresh ideas.

How to Receive Funding

  1. Read the program guidelines (below).


  2. Learn more about requesting an accommodation for accessibility or requesting translation services​.


  3. Register or check to see if you already have a user profile in the grants management system. See details under “Grants Management System” below.)


  4. Complete and submit the online application by September 27, 2023 at 11:59pm (ET). (The Innovation Fund “application” is a form to accept the terms of the grant. All UP Designated Organizations that complete this acceptance form will receive funding in FY24.)

If you have questions, contact Charles G. Baldwin, Program Officer.

FY24 Program Guidelines


The Innovation Fund is an annual grant to organizations with UP Designation. Providing an opportunity to build inclusive practices that address needs across multiple environments including, but not limited to, physical and digital places of assembly, healthy communities, employment and fair labor practices, and social, cultural, and communication barriers.


Organizations that are currently UP Designated are eligible.

Use of Funds

Funding must be allocated to improving or increasing access.

Access is defined broadly to include programmatic, architectural, physical, attitudinal, digital, social & communication environments. Consider development of institutional policies and practices, education/professional development for staff and stakeholders, working with people with disabilities as staff, consultants, critics, teachers, designers, and service providers, and/or instituting innovative solutions to barrier identification and removal. Examples include but are not limited to:

  • Education and training modules for staff, board, and volunteers on access practices and support services
  • Working with and engaging people with disabilities (user/experts) to steward, inform, and facilitate program and policy development
  • Incorporating new technological resources in communication or information strategies,
  • Implementing programs that support artists, patrons, or staff with disabilities
  • Collaborating with strategic partners. If partnering with other UP Designated Organizations, work plan should reflect the combined effort of both Innovation Fund grants.

Innovation Fund grants must be used for costs incurred during the grant funding period.

Grant Requirements

UP Designated Organizations must

  • Share innovations and outcomes within the UP Initiative and the field at large twice over the course of the grant period. Grantees can contribute to the developing Community of Practice via partnerships, collective actions, sponsored webinars, industry panels, Access office hours, lectures, convenings, or other public platforms.
  • Participate in at least one of the three Card to Culture programs.
  • Fulfill the reporting requirements for Mass Cultural Council, so that the collective impact of the UP Initiative can be measured.

The final report for this program will be folded into the organization’s annual reporting requirement to maintain UP Designation. Failure to complete the final report may result in loss of eligibility for this and other Mass Cultural Council grant programs until the report has been received. Mass Cultural Council has the right to withhold, reduce, or cancel grants if an organization is not in compliance with necessary grant requirements. As a condition of funding, all Mass Cultural Council grantees are required to follow the Accessibility and Non-Discrimination 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.

Funding Period and Award Amount

The grant funding period is from July 1, 2023 to June 30, 2024.

The grant award amount is $5,000.

Grant Timeline

Application Opens: September 6, 2023
Application Deadline: September 27, 2023
Grant Contract Due: November 1, 2023
Grant Payments: Payments are typically released within four weeks of receipt of the completed contract package.
Project End Date: June 30, 2024
Final Report Due: July 18, 2024

Grants Management System

All applicants should submit their applications through the online system.

  1. Check to see if you already have a user profile in the grants management system:
    • Go to the online application.
    • 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.
  1. If you do not already have a user profile, complete a registration in the grants management system:
    • Register as an Organization. You will select your organization using a search field. All the UP Designated organizations are already in the system.


Contact Charles G. Baldwin, Program Officer.

Proceed to the Online Application

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