Colorado Creates Grant

Program Summary

The Colorado Creates Grant helps organizations and communities create art and cultural activities through general operating support funding. Funds are distributed throughout Colorado with a focus on rural communities.

Grant awards are flat amounts based on your organization’s cash operating revenue for your most recently completed fiscal year. All successful applicants in the same revenue range will receive the same amount of grant funds.

If your cash operating revenue in your most recently completed fiscal year was:You request:
$1 million or more$10,000
$500,000 to $999,999$8,500
$250,000 to $499,999$7,500
$100,000 to $249,999$6,500
$25,000 to $99,999$4,000

If funds are available and you meet all of the requirements, you may receive a second year of funding.

Colorado Creates 2024 (FY25) applications are open March 1, 2024 to May 29, 2024

Grant Guidelines   Directrices del Programa de Subvenciones

Register for the Zoom info session on March 21 at 12 PM 


Type: Grant

For: Communities and organizations

Amount: $4,000 to $10,000 per application

Grant period: July 1 of the year you apply to June 30 of the following year

Next application period: March 1 - May 29, 2024

OEDIT division: Colorado Creative Industries

Your organization needs to:

  • be an arts-focused 501(c)(3) organization (see below) or an independent component of a program associated with a college, university, or unit of government (see below)
  • hold your primary business location in Colorado
  • have supporting the arts as your organizational mission, including but not limited to visual, performing, literary, and media arts organizations
  • have held public arts programs in Colorado for at least two years before the application deadline
  • have a cash operating budget of at least $25,000 for your last completed fiscal year
  • be registered in Good Standing with the Colorado Secretary of State and current with annual corporate reports and charitable solicitation registration
  • be current in reporting for other Colorado Creative Industries grants or programs
  • show collaboration, a mutual investment of funds or other resources to the activity, with other organizations

These organizations are not eligible:

  • organizations managing a state certified Colorado Creative District
  • organizations are required to sit out for one year after two consecutive years of Colorado Creates funding. View your ineligibility status.
  • an organization whose primary purpose is to channel resources — financial, human, or other — to an affiliated organization may not apply if the affiliated organization submits an application, even if both organizations have their own 501(c)(3) status. For example, if the ABC Museum applies for the grant, Friends of ABC Museum may not also apply.

Arts-focused 501(c)(3) organizations

A qualified nonprofit organization has a stated and board-adopted mission specific to visual, performing, media, and literary arts. Examples include art museums, ceramic studios, community arts councils, creative writing programs, dance organizations, film festivals, music festivals, opera societies, orchestras and choral societies, photographic studios, quilting and fiber arts organizations, theatre groups, tribal cultural organizations, and visual arts centers.

Organizations that have other goals but include some arts programming are not eligible, unless they program and/or present proportionally-significant artistic or cultural programming in an area, or to a specific community with limited access. Mixed-use organizations must contact CCI well in advance of the grant deadline if they wish to be cleared to apply.

Generally, history museums, botanic gardens, preservation organizations, economic development and planning agencies, and therapeutic and social service agencies are not eligible, even if they have 501(c)(3) status.

Independent components

An independent component is a program of an organization, college/university, or a unit of government that is both programmatically and administratively distinct from its parent organization. If your organization falls into this category, contact Sarah Harrison (contact details at the bottom of this page). 

To qualify as an independent component, your organization needs to: 

  • have a community-based independent board or advisory committee with substantial responsibility for oversight and management
  • have a distinctive and separate mission from the parent organization
  • have staff and volunteers explicitly for the independent component’s programs
  • have a budget separate from the parent organization, producing a distinct set of financials as a part of the grant application
  • provide programs or services open to the public
  • if affiliated with a university or college, document that the programs/services/activities serve 50% or more non-student or faculty audiences

These do not qualify as independent components:

  • academic departments or schools of colleges and universities
  • programs or projects of organizations, for example, “friends of” groups sponsored by the organization that are programs or fundraising bodies, not independent components
  • general city or county governments

For example, a university academic program that primarily serves students, offers a major or minor, and has little external funding is not eligible for the Colorado Creates Grant. However, if the university has an art museum, the art museum is eligible for the grant if the museum serves the public, possesses organizational permanency, has programmatic autonomy, is managed by staff explicitly for the museum, is fiscally independent of other academic units, and has its own advisory board.

This grant is for general operating support. The grant period is July 1 of the year you apply to June 30 of the following year. If you complete your mid-cycle report on time, you will be eligible for a second year of funding, which will have the same grant period of July 1 to June 30 for the following year. Part of the administrative costs directly associated with the proposed operations is allowed. Allowable operations and facilities expenses include:

  • facilities rent (home base of operations, not special program expenses)
  • operations costs
  • maintenance
  • insurance

Funds cannot be used for:

  • capital improvements
  • new construction
  • renovation
  • restoration
  • purchase of major equipment
  • debt and deficit reduction
  • re-granting of grant funds
  • indirect costs

The Colorado Creates Grant application opens every spring and has a deadline in late May or early June. We recommend that you register in the Colorado Creative Industries Grant portal several weeks before the application deadline. This will help you become familiar with the online grant system with plenty of time before the deadline.

You can serve as the lead applicant for only one application. A fiscal agent like a bank or lender cannot submit the application on your behalf.

Application process

The application process is:

  1. Verify your eligibility. If you have questions, reach out to the program manager before you start the application. You can read the full Colorado Creates guidelines.
  2. Register for a UEI number through Sam.gov. The federal government uses the DUNS number to track how federal money is allocated. Our National Endowment for the Arts funding requires us to collect this information.
  3. Apply for the grant through the Colorado Creative Industries Grant portal. Log in to your account or create a new account. Paste answers to the narrative questions.

Application materials

Application materials consist of:

  • narrative questions
  • financial materials
  • support materials

Since the Colorado Creates narrative is based on a customized version of the Colorado Common Grant narrative, it may help you to read the Common Grant Application User Guide and How to Write a Strong Application (PDF).

Upload attachments in the order listed with this file naming convention: Applicant name_descriptive file title

Narrative questions

The word limit for each narrative question is 350 words. Type your answers in a word processing program, check your word counts, then cut and paste the text into the online application.

Narrative questions are grouped into three categories:

  • Artistic excellence and merit
  • Community involvement
  • Implementation capacity

Artist excellence and merit (40%)

  • Goals: Describe the organization's current goals (how you will specifically achieve the organization's mission).
  • Current programs: Describe the organization's current programs. Include population/demographics and numbers served.
  • Artistic value or situational merit: Describe how your organization commits to high artistic, educational, and/or cultural standards.
  • Artist involvement: How do you involve professional artists in planning and programming decisions? Are they compensated equitably?

Community involvement and impact (40%)

  • Collaboration: Describe one or two specific, impactful, and preferably measurable collaborations with other organizations or community members. 
  • Community: (a) Define, in your own terms, the “community” that you are serving or strive to serve. (b) Are the people you serve (or hope to serve) also involved in leadership roles within the organization? (c) What data or survey information do you have about the community you serve? (d) What feedback do you have about the experiences you provide and how does your organization involve the people you serve in the decision making or feedback process(es)?
  • Inclusiveness: Discuss what diversity and inclusiveness mean to your organization. What are your organization's strengths and challenges concerning inclusiveness? How are you addressing the challenges? How are you measuring and addressing the challenges through your strategic planning or otherwise?
  • Volunteers: How does the organization involve volunteers (other than the board of directors) in a typical 12-month period? Include the number of volunteers and hours. 

Implementation capacity (20%)

  • Evaluation: Describe one or two specific measures (data or information collected) by which the organization evaluates its program and operations and measures its impact.*
  • Outcomes: Did you achieve the desired outcomes related to your goals? Summarize key evaluation results that demonstrate the organization’s progress toward its goals or desired impact.*
  • Board Structure: How many members serve on your board? Describe the role and responsibilities of the board of directors.
  • Planning: Describe the challenges and opportunities facing the organization in the next three years. Describe how the organization engages in planning.*

Financial questions

  • Describe your organization's current financial state.
  • How did you arrive at your budget estimates? ( explain any line items that are questionable or unclear).
  • If your organizational financials show large increases or decreases in line items, please explain. 
  • If you ended your most recent fiscal year with a deficit, describe the organization’s plan to eliminate the deficit and reach fiscal stability.
Financials materials

Your organization’s fiscal year is your organization’s budget year and usually starts at the beginning of a quarter or calendar year. Current year financials should be projections to the end of the current fiscal year, not financials year-to-date.

You will need to provide:

  • Income statement (with a line item for cash operating revenues) for the most recent fiscal year. The grant amount will be based on your Total Income/Revenue. 
    • Organizations over 500K will require the most recent fiscal audit or review report.
  • Form 990 for most recently completed fiscal year.
  • Current fiscal year budget projections.
  • Budget for next fiscal year.
  • Newly generated Certificate of Good Standing from the Colorado Secretary of State signed in 2023 or within 365 days of the application deadline. Please do not upload a Certificate of Registration or a screenshot of the summary. 
Support materials

You will need to include these support materials:

  • at least one artistic support material attachment
  • up to five additional work samples – reference each support item in the narrative so the panel understands why you included it

You will also include additional materials depending on your discipline. Choose items that show artistic excellence/merit, community benefit, and implementation capacity. Reference each support item in the narrative so the panel can understand why you included it. Quality is more important than quantity.

Requirements by discipline are:

  • Performing arts: provide at least one audio or video sample (up to three minutes) of performance. You may include photos to complement the samples, but do not substitute photos for live performance.
  • Visual arts or crafts: provide, in one PDF, up to 20 images of artistic work
  • Literary: provide, in one PDF, a sample cover or homepage, table of contents, and short excerpts from up to three print or online publications
  • Film and media: provide audio, radio broadcasts, or video or media samples (up to three minutes). Address your organization’s history of community involvement and the amount and quality of locally- or regionally-developed/produced content in your work.
  • Multidisciplinary: provide a balance of appropriate samples as described above – a variety of samples will help your application
  • Service: provide up to five examples of their services – can be in multiple formats and include agendas of workshops, instruction videos, bios of instructors, membership roster, or feedback from participants

Selection process

This is a competitive award program, and not all applicants receive funding. Colorado Creative Industries staff review grants by region and use the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) peer-review process. 

A panel of three to five peer specialists in a variety of artistic disciplines, education, nonprofit management, community development, and business will review, score, and rank the application and support materials. The Creative Industries Advisory Council will review the panel’s recommendations. The Council finalizes the selections about three months after the application deadline. You will receive a decision via email.

Panels use a Panelist Review Rubric, (PDF) to review applications on these criteria.

Haga clic aquí para ver la rúbrica en español.

Artistic excellence and merit (40%)

Panelists consider:

  • artistic samples 
  • mission and goals
  • artist involvement 

Community involvement and impact (40%)

Panelists consider:

  • collaboration
  • inclusiveness
  • accessibility
  • population served
  • community support and engagement

Implementation capacity (20%)

Panelists consider:

  • financial information
  • planning and management

Applicants that want feedback on their applications can make an appointment for a telephone debrief of panelists’ comments. We recommend that you take notes about how you could adjust future applications based on the feedback.

Award distribution

If your organization wins the grant, you will receive a:

  • email with a grant award letter
  • electronic funds transfer form
  • request for your W-9

No paper checks will be issued. You typically receive electronic payments in three weeks after you return your paperwork.

Applicants may appeal the Colorado Creative Industries Council's decision on an application if there is evidence that the:

  • stated review process was not followed
  • Council's conflict of interest policy was violated

A written appeal, describing the grounds for appeal and the desired remedy, needs to be sent to the Chair of the Colorado Creative Industries Council no later than three weeks after you receive a denial notice. The Council will reconsider its decision at its next regularly scheduled meeting. Unhappiness with a denial is not grounds for an appeal.

You need to include a Colorado Creative Industries logo in all announcements and promotional materials and publicly credit Colorado Creative Industries at any public events related to your grant-funded program and activities.  Recipients may also use the current National Endowment for the Arts logo if desired.

You need to submit a final report about how you met your organizational and project goals and the community impact of the activities. Final reports need to include a financial report for the funded activity clearly showing how you spent the money, numbers of people and communities served, and numbers of artists and youth the project engaged. Grant recipients who do not submit final reports are ineligible for further Colorado Creative Industries funding.

As a condition of the grant, Colorado Creative Industries requires the recipient of public funds to comply with all state terms (PDF) and federal terms (PDF). All material submitted regarding application for grant funds becomes the property of the State of Colorado and is subject to the terms of Colorado Revised Statutes 24-72-201 through 24-72- 206, Public Open Records. The State of Colorado has the right to use any or all information/material presented in reply to the Announcement, subject to limitations for proprietary or confidential information. Disqualification or denial of the application does not eliminate this right. Any restrictions on the use or inspection of material contained within the proposal shall be clearly stated in the proposal itself. The contents of the application will become contractual obligations if the project is funded.

Colorado Creative Industries can withhold, reduce, or cancel awards if a grantee:

  • misses deadlines for reports
  • does not notify the Colorado Creative Industries of significant management changes or instances of fraud or embezzlement
  • fails to comply with the grant award requirements
  • demonstrates inadequate financial management and oversight
  • does not properly credit support from Colorado Creative Industries

Colorado Creative Industries requires recipients of public funds to comply with all state and federal laws and regulations, including but not limited to:

  • Fair Labor Standards – Meet requirements for minimum wage and working conditions.
  • Nondiscrimination – Statutes prohibite discrimination on the basis of age, race, sex, color, creed, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity, ancestry or marital status.
  • Audit – All applications accepted for funding become official records of the State of Colorado and are subject to an audit. Colorado Creative Industries requires open access to accounting records for award funds spent for the purpose of audit examination, reference, or transcription.
  • Drug-Free Work Place – Comply to the extent applicable with the Drug-Free Work Place Act of 1988.
  • Fair Language – To comply with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, grant recipients need to take adequate steps to provide language assistance so people with limited English proficiency can meaningfully access programs, activities, and services.
  • Access for People with Disabilities – Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 prohibit discrimination against people with disabilities. All events funded by Colorado Creative Industries need to be accessible to people with disabilities including visual, hearing, mobility, and learning impairments. If you have questions about the Americans with Disabilities Act, contact Access Gallery at 303-777-0797.

Grantee agrees to send a letter to their state legislators, informing them of the importance of state funding. 

Mid-cycle report

Grant recipients need to submit a mid-cycle report to receive the second year of Colorado Creates Grant funding. Grant recipients who do not submit reports are ineligible for further Colorado Creative Industries funding.

Not applying for the FY25 grant? This is an excellent opportunity to become a review panelist for this cycle! As a reviewer, you will have the opportunity to network and gain connections, learn the ins and outs of the grant process from a different perspective, and make a difference in the Colorado creative economy!

Panelists include artists, arts administrators, and community leaders who represent diverse geographic, ethnic, philosophical, and aesthetic perspectives.

Learn about the panelist experience through video interviews with past reviewers. 

Panelists review Colorado Creates Grant applications with:

  • individual online reading and commenting on applications (10 to 20 hours)
  • an online virtual meeting with the panel to discuss funding recommendations (1 to 4 hours)

Apply to be a review panelist

Staff Contact

For questions regarding Colorado Creates, please email OEDIT_CreativeIndustries@state.co.us and a staff member will get back to you as soon as possible. 

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