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

Fiscal Year 2019: The application deadline was March 20th, 2018; all First Step grants have been awarded for the period of July 1, 2018-June 30, 2019.

Please review to the materials below to develop an understanding of the grant requirements and the application process. Updated materials for Fiscal Year 2020 will be posted by January, 2019.



First Step Application Guidelines
FY19 First Step Guidelines

First Step Evaluation Criteria 
FY19 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. When you are ready to apply, click here to start your application. 

WEBINAR: For new applicants, or those who wish to walk through guidelines, review criteria, and the application process, we will hold a Grant Application Webinar on Monday, February 12th, 1:00-2:00pm. Click here to register.

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 FY18 grants is July 31, 2018. 
Please read more about the final report requirements here. 

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