First Step Grants

The First Step grant program is designed to support partnerships between schools and arts organizations who are working together to develop, implement, and evaluate high quality arts learning programs for students in K-12 schools, as part of the regular school day. These grants can also support professional development for arts education providers, or foundation-building initiatives such as community-wide surveys or curriculum development. This program does not support extra-curricular arts education, or programs that provide one-time exposure to an arts event. Grant amounts are expected to range from $1,000 to $5,000; matching funds from the applicant are required.

Goals of the First Step Grants

The key goals of First Step grants are to:

  • Engage school and district leadership, arts organizations, and community members in support of arts education as part of basic education for students in grades K-12.
  • Encourage and support newer and/or smaller arts education partnerships, so that the partnership foundations will be strengthened and work can be sustained into the future.
  • Support initiatives that are working toward long-term, participatory, and meaningful arts learning experiences for all students, rather than programs that focus on one-time exposure or enrichment activities, or short-term projects with limited student engagement.
  • Support identification and implementation of the most needed “first steps” towards this vision of high quality, sustainable arts education programming.

Application Information

Applications for FY20 are now open! The application deadline is March 20, 5:00pm, 2019.


First Step Application Guidelines
FY20 First Step Guidelines

First Step Evaluation Criteria 
FY20 First Step Evaulation Criteria

Equity and Access Resources
Equity and Access Resources

Tips for Developing the Application Narrative & Budget
Grant Writing Tips and Budget Sample

Additional Arts Education Research and Resources
Research and Resources

APPLY ONLINE: Applications are accepted via ZoomGrants, our new online application portal. Be sure to read the Guidelines prior to beginning the online application process. Applications are now closed for FY20.

*Please note, we recommend using Firefox, Chrome, or Safari for accessing ZoomGrants. We do not recommend using Internet Explorer.

WEBINAR: On February 19 2019, we held a FY20 Grant Application Webinar. To access the recording, click here. The Webinar covers key components of the application guidelines, the review criteria, and the application process, along with how to access and use the ZoomGrants system. 

Sample application

As a point of reference, we are sharing one exemplary application from a recent application cycle. The applicant information page has been removed; otherwise, it is the complete PDF of the application from the San Juan Islands Museum of Art, submitted in March, 2015. Note that an important characteristic of our Arts in Education grantees is that they are all quite different. This example is here to demonstrate alignment with grant requirements and criteria, but is not meant to suggest that the particular means and approaches of this one grantee are the “right” approaches for other applicant. Also note that guideines and criteria have changed since this application was submitted.

See San Juan Islands Museum of Art FY2015 First Step Grant Application.

Final Reports

All Arts in Education grants require a final report. The deadline for FY19 grants is July 31, 2019. 
Please read more about the final report requirements here. 

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