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Neighborhood and Downtown Activation Grant

This grant program supports community-focused arts and cultural activations in public spaces.

Application link for round two coming soon!

Application Process and Deadlines

We will review grant applications on a rolling basis. The application will be available online via Submittable. Funds will be available until exhausted. The due dates for applications in fiscal year 2024 (July 2023-June 2024) are below:

  • EXTENDED: July 9, 2023 by 11:59 p.m.

  • October 30, 2023 by 11:59 p.m.

  • January 29, 2024 by 11:59 p.m.

  • April 15, 2024 by 11:59 p.m.

Applications submitted after 11:59 p.m. on the due date will be added to the pool of applicants for the following due date. If you need accommodations or assistance with your application, please contact the grants team at or leave a message with Sam Fidler at 617-910-0048. Someone from the grants team will be in touch with you.

Background and Overview

The Mayor’s Office of Arts and Culture (MOAC) believes that creativity is necessary for our health and well-being. Everyone should have access to creative expression through lifelong programming. There should also be space to create in every neighborhood. This fund will support:

  • individuals,

  • nonprofit organizations,

  • collectives,

  • fiscally sponsored groups, or

  • businesses working in partnership with community partners to implement activations across a variety of scales.

We will focus on projects that occur in and with neighborhoods disproportionately impacted by COVID-19. Our goal is to foster joy and strengthen community wellbeing across Boston through arts, culture and creative programming. This grant is funded by the American Rescue Plan Act and Boston Planning and Development Agency Public Impact Contribution Funds. There is up to $5 million available for this grant, and we will award grants in the following amounts:

  • Level 1: Less than $50,000, one time grant

  • Level 2: $50,000 - $100,000, one time grant

  • Level 3: $100,000 - $500,000, multi-year grant up to 3 years

We encourage applicants to submit a budget that corresponds with their proposed activation. We will consider events and programs of all scales, including those with a budget under $10,000.

Eligibility and Timeline


Funds will support activations starting in Fiscal Year 2024 (July 2023). If selected, grantees can expect to receive the initial grant payment by the end of July or early August. All ARPA money must be in contract by the end of the calendar year 2024 and be fully spent by the end of calendar year 2026. Funds will be disbursed in one full sum for one-time grants. The three-year grants will be disbursed on a timeline that meets the fiscal spending of the selected organizations. A condensed process is as follows:

  • Submit application via Submittable

  • Initial review of application by grant review committee

  • Q&A / Conversation between applicant and grants team

  • Final Proposal and approval


Applicants need to meet all of the following criteria to be eligible:

  • Be an individual, non profit organization, collective, fiscally sponsored group, or business working in partnership with community partners

  • Be Boston residents, partnering with a Boston group/organization, or otherwise show that Boston residents are leading their project

  • Have a direct relationship to the community or area in which the activation or program is taking place. This can include being from that community, having spent a significant amount of time working and building relationships in that place, etc.

  • Have a concrete location(s) in which the activations will take place, even if those places are not yet confirmed. Project ideas that list entire neighborhoods will not be considered.

  • Activations need to take place in the City of Boston and be in locations that meet accessibility standards.

Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

An activation is an accessible arts and cultural event or creative experience that builds community. This includes many kinds of interventions with creative elements, cultural traditions, artists, and community engagement, such as (but not limited to):

  • performances,

  • community celebrations,

  • film screenings,

  • block parties, and

  • night markets.

Project Requirements
  • All projects and related programming must be located in Boston and be free and open to the public

  • All projects must have a community engagement plan that describes how residents, civic groups, businesses, and other local stakeholders will contribute to the vision and development of the project.

  • All events and programs funded by this grant must be accessible for people with disabilities under Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Additional accommodations must be made available upon request for anyone who requires materials, auxiliary aids, or other accommodations.

  • Grant recipients must work with MOAC on an evaluation plan as part of the grant agreement to document and communicate the impact of the program to the public.

Reporting Requirements

Grantee partners will meet with the grants management team at least three times. This includes meeting upon receival of award, at the mid-point of the project, and upon completion of the activation. Once the activation is complete, we will ask grantee partners to complete a final report form and a survey about the grant process. This will allow MOAC to improve our grantmaking processes in the future to better support community work.

We will prioritize projects that include some or all of these elements:

  • Placekeeping: Intentional efforts to sustain and nurture a community and its physical and social environment for the benefit of residents and local business owners and workers. Placekeeping focuses on the social fabric, traditions, and norms of a community.

We will prioritize activations that occur or include the following neighborhoods: Mattapan, Roxbury, Dorchester, Hyde Park, East Boston, and Chinatown.

  • Collaborations and Partnerships: Authentic partnerships and collaboration that bring segregated communities into conversation and foster cross-neighborhood collaboration.

We will prioritize applications from for-profit organizations that partner with nonprofits, artists, or community groups over applications from for-profit organizations that do not have local non-profit partners.

  • Public participation / co-creation: Going beyond the public as an audience and building opportunities for the public to contribute to the vision, creation, and enjoyment of the project and program.

We may prioritize proposals that take place in outdoor public places or indoor locations that are visible/accessible from the public way.

  • Youth participation and training: Integrating outcomes for young people (ages 14 to 24) into the project, facilitating opportunities for young people to inform and lead work. This includes opportunities to learn specific skills or gain career exposure.

The grant will not fund:

  • Fundraising events, advertising, or any activity that is primarily for the commercial benefit of one entity

  • Religious programs of any kind

  • Ticketed events that have an entry fee (ticketed free events are eligible)

  • Other foundations or grant-giving organizations

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