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

UP Designation

Application Process

Does your organization embrace inclusion, diversity, equity, and access ideals; provide training for your team and to educate the sector; engage user/experts* to facilitate program and policy development; and is willing to try new solutions to old problems?  Join the Universal Participation Network and apply for UP Designation.

The Mass Cultural Council will support and cultivate the network of UP Designated Organizations to foster idea sharing, collaboration, and effective practices. The Universal Participation Initiative aims to catalyze a community of leaders and innovators who believe life in all its variety is our collective good fortune and a vehicle for richer experiences.

With UP Designation, organizations will:

  • Tap into a wealth of knowledge and experience from the professionals within the UP Network
  • Be eligible for the Innovation Fund, a $3,000 access grant
  • Be eligible for an UP Professional Development stipend, a $1,000 grant to attend the Kennedy Center LEAD Conference in August
  • Be invited to participate in the Innovation Learning Network (ILN) workshops, expediting staff awareness and training
  • Be promoted by the Mass Cultural Council through social media platforms
  • Be eligible for an UP Award, which is both an esteemed recognition and $10,000 monetary award

*A user/expert can be anyone with a functional limitation or disability who has developed natural expertise in dealing with the challenges of our physical, information and/or communication environments.

New applications accepted each year from September to November.

How to Apply

  1. Create an organizational profile to access the online application.
    (Please note: Usernames/Passwords created for previously-submitted CIP-Gateway, CIP-Projects, Cultural Districts, Cultural Facilities Fund, SerHacer, MassFestivals, and/or YouthReach applications can all be used.)

  2. Complete the online application. Include the following supporting documents:

    An organizational resolution approved by the applicant’s governing board stating a commitment to learn, take action, and embrace inclusion as a core organizational value. If the board is not able to meet prior to the application deadline, the applicant should be able to provide the date that the board will meet to vote on the resolution.

    At least one testimonial from a visitor to your organization, which speaks to a specific situation in which the organization demonstrated its commitment to learn, take action, and embrace inclusion as a core organizational value.

  3. Click the “final submission” button of the online application. Your application will then be electronically sent to the Mass Cultural Council.

Program Guidelines

Massachusetts non-profits offering public programming in the arts, humanities, or sciences are eligible to apply for an UP Designation.

Participation Requirements
Organizations with UP Designation must be willing to share details of successful strategies in order that the field and the public benefit from collective knowledge.

  • Share innovations and outcomes with UP Network and the field at large.
  • Support other organizations by providing technical or experiential expertise to organizations taking part in the ILN.
  • Complete an annual reporting requirement for the Mass Cultural Council so the collective impact of UP Network can be measured.

Length of Designation
Every five years, UP Designated Organizations must reapply to the program and the organization’s governing board must re-approve their resolution to continue their commitment to Universal Participation.

Review Criteria
The Mass Cultural Council will review the application materials and award UP Designation to organizations that:

  • Demonstrate evidence of a commitment to learn, take action, and embrace accessibility as a core organizational value.
  • Demonstrate that organizational behaviors and culture reflect the aspirations of the Universal Participation Initiative. This means that the organization:
    • Provides training about inclusive culture and services
    • Engages user/experts to inform decision making and policy development
    • Coordinates and integrates a vision of inclusion throughout the entire organization
    • Innovates through trial and error and creative problem solving

Final Decisions
A panel of Mass Cultural Council staff and experts in the field of universal design and accessibility will review applications and make recommendations for final approval.

Applicants will be notified of the outcome the second week of December.

Reporting Requirements
In order to measure the collective impact of UP Designated Organizations and to continue to improve the program through participant feedback, an annual final report will be required. The final report will entail a 1-2 page self-evaluation, a short narrative, and the results of a survey. The final report will be due in December each year.

Failure to Meet Requirements
Organizations that do not meet the annual Final Report Requirement will lose their UP Designation.

The Mass Cultural Council also reserves the right to revoke UP Designation in cases where the Mass Cultural Council has concerns that an organization no longer represents the ideals of the Universal Participation Initiative. In such cases the Mass Cultural Council will first communicate its concerns to the organization and allow the organization the opportunity to respond and/or address the concerns in order to maintain its status. If an organization does not address Mass Cultural Council’s concerns it will lose its UP Designation.

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

Proceed to the Online Application

Back to Top