Creative Engagement Grant Program

Part of the Creative Worcester Initiative (Pilot)

Greater Worcester Community Foundation is excited to partner with the Barr Foundation to support and elevate the creative community of Worcester. Through several new initiatives, we look to do our part to energize and elevate Worcester’s dynamic creative ecosystem by helping support innovative projects and thoughtful planning.

The Creative Worcester Initiative will support organizations and individuals in the creative sector, and those committed to strengthening the sector, to develop deeper engagement with our changing and diverse community. Our aim is to foster a city where artists and creative entrepreneurs are welcomed and supported, quality projects are expanded and emulated, the contributions of our diverse populations are celebrated, and the sector is supported as a key driver of vitality and well-being.

Values Guiding Our Work

Greater Worcester Community Foundation believes that we build a stronger community when we use our grants and other resources to:

  • Improve access to creative experiences for those who may have been traditionally excluded;
  • Celebrate the assets of a diverse community, address injustice, welcome newcomers, and incorporate the views of those who are intended to benefit from funded programs;
  • Foster dynamic collaborations among organizations and across sectors;
  • Adopt practices based on proven evidence and use data to drive decisions;
  • Help nonprofits improve their financial and management practices, and expand the base of community support.

About the Creative Engagement Grant Program

We believe that Worcester’s nonprofit cultural organizations can be supported to serve and engage with communities that represent Worcester’s changing demographics. Organizations engaged in the creative sector – those focused on the arts, culture, and humanities – are invited to apply for a grant that will enable the organization to have a greater impact on the community – in alignment with their strategic vision and our values.

Through the Creative Engagement Grant Program, we will direct financial and knowledge resources to empower Worcester’s nonprofit cultural organizations to develop innovative ways to increase engagement with diverse communities that represent Worcester’s changing demographics. 

Funds may be used for, but are not limited to: operating support, capital needs, personnel expansion, audience engagement efforts, donor development, etc. – whatever area(s) that the applicant organization feels will improve their ability to engage Worcester’s diverse communities in their programs, exhibitions, and/or services. 

Grant Range

One-time grants in the range of $10,000 - $70,000 will be considered. Factors that will be used to determine grant amount will include organizational budget size and strength of the proposal.


Applicants must be tax-exempt, nonprofit organizations as recognized by IRS code 501(c)(3) serving the City of Worcester and contiguous communities, and meet the following:

  • Have a meaningful strategic approach that aligns with our vision for community engagement, demonstrable through a formal strategic plan or proof that strategic thinking as it relates to your organization’s mission and operations is taking place.
  • Show how your organization is positioned to to increase access to, and engagement in, its programs and services by Worcester residents from traditionally underserved background.
  • Have a demonstrated track record of engagement efforts with underserved populations and a history of collaboration with others to amplify community impact.
  • Be an established nonprofit organization with a minimum of three years of successful operations, and validated financial stability (e.g. no structural deficit).
  • Demonstrate that evaluation is regularly integrated into the planning and execution of the organization’s programs and services.
  • Commit to participating in a cohort group with other grantees, sharing grant implementation progress and taking part in shared learning.

Terms and Conditions

  • As part of the application review process, applicants may be asked to participate in an interview with committee members.
  • Organizations chosen to receive Creative Engagement grants will be expected to have their 1-2 senior-most professionals actively engage in a Learning Cohort with other grantees. Expectations will include, but may not be limited to:
    • Participate in bi-monthly learning sessions coordinated by the Foundation in consultation with the Barr Foundation. The curriculum is intended to help organizations expand their understanding of the challenges and opportunities of deeper community engagement, and improve their delivery of programs and services. 
    • Provide feedback and support to other cohort members, future cohorts, and the Foundation in the vision and ongoing implementation of this pilot project.
  • Organizations chosen to receive Creative Engagement grants will not be eligible to receive a Community Grant this calendar year.


March 15, 2019

Application Forms & Instructions

The application form is online. The first time an organization applies to the Foundation through our online application system, it creates an Organization Account to use for each application going forward. Please use the same account you have previously used, or create a new one if this your first time applying online. You may contact Foundation staff to find out if your organization already has an account in our system.

Contact: Jonathan Cohen
Telephone: 508-755-0980 

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