Applicant Resources

If you are a first-time applicant or you've applied before but need a refresher on the application process, visit our YouTube Help Playlist of workshops and other help resources from the last cycle. Among the helpful videos are a recording of a grant application workshop; How to Make a RISCA Budget with Jori Ketten; and application walk-throughs for our grants.

If this is your first time applying for a grant from a RISCA, here are some things we want you to know before you get started:

  • RISCA staff are here to help you throughout the grant process. We provide several grant support options, from one-on-one meetings to grant workshops (in person and online) to drop-in hours for last minute application support. Information about them can be found on each individual grant page. We also have pre-recorded grant workshops from past cycles and other helpful videos on our YouTube Channel.
  • If possible, reach out to RISCA staff early if you would like one on one grant support. You can always reach out to RISCA staff for one-on-one grant! As you can imagine, we get a high volume of requests and have a limited time for one-on-one meetings, particularly the week prior to the grant deadline. We recommend reaching out to the program director for the grant program you are interested in applying to early if you want to meet one on one. Program directors typically start scheduling meetings early February for the April deadline, and early August for the October deadline.
  • We recommend you read these grant guidelines more than once, as they will answer 95% of your questions. That way, if and when you do talk to a program director, you can spend your time together focusing on your application. There are many exceptions to this piece of advice: if you need in a different language or are unable to read or process these guidelines due to a learning disability, then please feel to reach out the grant program director and they can assist you.
  • If you have a disability or are not comfortable writing or communicating in English, you may request accommodations. Applicants who need assistance completing an application should contact the relevant program director in advance of the deadline. They can provide or coordinate whatever assistance you require. For individuals with learning disabilities for whom writing a grant is prohibitive, RISCA program directors can arrange for transcription support if an applicant discloses their needs. For individuals who are not comfortable writing or communicating in English, program directors can arrange for the provision of translation support for your application. To allow for timely completion of your application, we recommend you notify the program director with your accommodation requests at least three weeks prior to the application deadline.
  • Our number one piece of grant writing advice: follow the directions and answer the questions asked directly. The questions being asked in the grant applications are directly tied to the evaluation criteria and the evaluation rubric panelists will use when reviewing applications. This sounds obvious, but about half of the applications we receive don’t do those two things.
  • RISCA staff can provide support beyond grants. Managing grants is just one facet of what the program directors do at RISCA. We are charged with stewarding the arts and culture ecosystem in Rhode Island and responding to needs in the field. You can feel free to reach out with questions you have or ideas you want feedback on at any time. As a state arts agency, we offer learning programs and coordinate events and convenings to connect people together. Check out our calendar of events.

Click here to download the pdf: Information for First-Time Applicants.

RISCA staff members are not involved in any decision-making for our grants. Grant awards are determined by panelists, who have expertise in arts and culture. Most panelists are from Rhode Island, but some programs incorporate out of state panelists. These programs are: General Operating Support for Organizations, General Operating Support for Artists, and Folk Arts Fellowships & Apprenticeships.

If you are interested in serving on a grant panel, fill out this form. Read more about our panel-process.

The Decision-Making Steps Are:

  1. Staff recruits panelists for programs based on representation requirements.
  2. Applications are submitted by the grant deadline. Once the application deadline passes, no alterations or additions may be made to your application. Applications are reviewed by the grant panel based on the contents of your application only.
  3. Applications are reviewed by staff for completeness and compliance with eligibility and submission requirements. If any issues are detected, staff will contact you; ask you to update your application; and give you a deadline.
  4. Staff members provide orientation and training to panelists. Panelists receive applications to review after completing a two-part panel training. Part 1 focuses on implicit bias. Part 2 examines the logistics of being a panelist, including a review of the applications and rubrics. 
  5. Eligible applications are forwarded to the grant panel for review.
  6. Via the rubric, panelists evaluate the assigned applications and score them. Panelists have between four and six weeks to review applications and pre-score them by using the rubric. This occurs prior to their panel meeting.
  7. Panelists meet either virtually or in person for an all-day panel review and make funding recommendations. Panelists spend from 10 to 15 minutes discussing each application.
    1. Note: A staff member facilitates the discussion, but do not participate in or influence the discussions. After each discussion, panelists have the option of privately adjusting their pre scores.
    2. At the end of the panel day, panelists make funding recommendations using their collective rankings as a guide.
  8. A staff member writes panel comments for every applicant based on the panel’s discussion, regardless of whether they are funded. The panel comments provide feedback for each application, including ways applicants can make improvements for future applications.
  9. Our Governing Council reviews and approves panel recommendations.
  10. Applicants are notified as to whether they have received a grant award.
  11. Awardees must create an account and upload their W-9 to the state payment system, and sign and email back to RISCA their grant award agreements. 
    1. The Agency will not be able to process your grant payment without a signed grant agreement form and processed W-9. You must register with the State’s Oceans State Procures (OSP).
    2. Once those things have been done, applicants can assume it will take up to 120 days to receive their grant payment. In many cases, grant funds may not be received prior to the start of a project. Applicants should be aware of this possibility and plan accordingly.
  12. Staff will reach out to applicants and see if they want to discuss their panel comments. Applicants can also reach out to staff at any point after grant awards have been announced and schedule a time to discuss panel comments.

As a grantee, you are required to register with Ocean State Procures (OSP) at Ocean State Procures’ online registration where you will become a Vendor with the State of Rhode Island. Ocean State Procures is used by the state for all vendors including any one receiving grant awards from RISCA. Use the Vendor Self-Registration Guide for complete details on how to fully register and create a login to access your secure Vendor Portal. 

Note the 2-step process:

  1. Create Vendor Profile - After completing Vendor Self-Registration Guide “Submit Registration”, your login credentials and the login link will be emailed to you with the subject line: “Welcome to WebProcure!”
  2. Upload W-9 - Once you have registered (including uploading a W-9) and been approved by OSP, we can process your award payment.

Need vendor help? For questions related to OSP registration, contact WebProcure Technical Support at 1-866-889-8533 or webprocure.support@perfect.com.

The federal government requires all organization have a System of Award Management Unique Entity Identifier (SAM-UEI). Organizations applying for grants from us will need a SAM-UEI to submit your application. We recommend you request a SAM-UEI as soon as possible to ensure you have it by the application deadline.

To request your SAM-UEI, visit the sam.gov website for the latest information and instructions on how to obtain a SAM-UEI.

Note: the registration is free – but there are many scammers out there. Make sure you are doing this process through a .gov website and only trust communications that come from sam.gov regarding registration and annual renewals.

Under Construction