Grant Guidelines

SFCA Grant Guidelines

The Hawai‘i State Foundation on Culture and the Arts (SFCA) was established by the Legislature in 1965 as the official state arts agency of Hawai‘i. In this capacity, the SFCA administers State funding to culture and arts organizations statewide and also receives and administers federal funds from the National Endowment for the Arts. As stated in its Strategic Plan 2009-2013, the agency’s goals are to:

  • To develop and provide resources, leadership, advocacy and awareness in support of culture and the arts in Hawai‘i
  • To increase access to culture and the arts, especially to Neighbor Island and underserved communities
  • To focus on encouraging and enhancing Native Hawaiian culture and arts, artists and practitioners
  • To increase opportunities for arts education and experiences, especially for pre-K-12 grade level students
  • To develop the Hawai‘i State Art Museum as “the people’s museum” and fulfill its potential in furtherance of SFCA’s mission and priorities

Current Programs

The agency’s current programs include Art in Public Places, Biennium Grants, Arts in Education, and Folk & Traditional Arts.

The SFCA Biennium Grants Program is conducted on a biennial basis in accordance with the State budgetary process. Appropriations to fund grants are requested by the SFCA from the Legislature. Grant applications supporting projects and services throughout the state are received and reviewed during this process. Awards are made on the basis of peer panel ratings with the approval of the SFCA Commission.

Application Requirements & Eligibility

Eligibility criteria for receiving funds through the Hawaii State Foundation on Culture and the Arts (SFCA) have been established by the Hawai‘i State Legislature and are documented in the Hawai‘i Revised Statutes, Chapter 9, Sections 11-18. Eligibility is determined by the SFCA, the decision on which is final.

In order to be eligible for SFCA funding:

  1. An applicant must be a not-for-profit, or nonprofit organization, designated as exempt from federal income tax by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS); or a for-profit organization incorporated under the laws of the State of Hawai‘i.
  2. Each organization must have at least one year’s experience with the type of project proposed or in the project category in which the request is being made.

The SFCA may grant an exception to this policy where the requesting or proposing organization has demonstrated the necessary experience in the program area. Requests for such exceptions must be made in writing and obtained prior to the deadline for proposals.

First-time applicants seeking SFCA funding should contact the SFCA Contracts Officer prior to applying for grant funds, in order to assess eligibility. Organizations are encouraged to allow sufficient time to make any necessary changes to bylaws or adopt any policy statements that will allow the organization to be eligible for SFCA funding prior to the deadline for proposals.


Nonprofit organizations

A nonprofit organization must submit the following documentation at the time of application:

  1. A copy of the organization’s tax exempt status letter from the IRS; and
  2. The organization’s bylaws and required policy statements.

An organization’s bylaws or policy statements must include:

  1. Statements which establish a governing board whose members have no material conflict of interest and serve without compensation;
  2. A description of the manner in which business is conducted;
  3. A statement verifying that nepotism is prohibited; and
  4. Procedures for addressing potential conflict-of-interest situations.

For-profit organizations

A for-profit organization must submit a copy of its Articles of Incorporation under the State of Hawai‘i.

Organizations which have been funded by the SFCA within the current fiscal biennium (July 1, 2013-June 30, 2015) and have not revised their bylaws during the last two years, may submit the “Statement in Lieu of Submittal of Eligibility Documentation.”

If your organization was not funded in the last fiscal biennium OR if your organization’s bylaws have been revised within the last two years, you MUST submit current bylaws and policy statements for review by the application deadline or, preferably, prior to the application deadline.

All evidence of eligibility (bylaws, policy statements, IRS letter and documentation of one year’s experience in the discipline area of the proposed project) must be in writing and must be submitted with your application. Failure to submit any of the required documentation by the application deadline will result in rejection of the application. These documents are required for eligibility. There are no exceptions to this policy.


All Foundation Grants guidelines are subject to SFCA Commission policies.

  • Number of Grant Proposals/Applications An organization may submit up to two (2) project proposals OR one (1) “Basic” and one (1) project proposal. A government entity (i.e., a department of the government or of the state university system) may submit up to 2 proposals.
  • One-to-One Match All grants awarded by SFCA must be matched on a one-to-one basis from other sources, which may include State funds not from the SFCA. Up to 40% of the match may be in-kind, and the in-kind used for matching may include volunteer time.
  • Funding Limits All grant awards are subject to available funding. The minimum level of funding will be $1,000.
  • Any SFCA grant awarded will not exceed 5% of the grants budget allocated by the SFCA in the given year.
  • Administrative Costs Allowed For Funding
    1. No more than 10% of the funds requested from SFCA for a given project or program can be used for administrative costs by an organization with an annual operating budget of $1,000,000 or more.
    2. No more than 20% of the funds requested from SFCA for a given project or program can be used for administrative costs by an organization with an annual operating budget of $500,000 to $999,999.
    3. No more than 25% of the funds requested from SFCA for a given project or program can be used for administrative costs by an organization with an annual operating budget of less than $500,000.
  • Basic Proposals
    A “Basic“ proposal is a proposal in which funding for general operating support of an organization is requested. For the FY 2015-2016 and 2016-2017 biennium, “Basic” proposals only will be considered for organizations with operating budgets of less than $500,000.
  • Miscellaneous
    All miscellaneous expenses must be itemized. All grant awards are subject to available funding.


The SFCA will conduct a thorough review of all proposals received and reserves the right to determine which proposals receive funding.

The Review Procedure

SFCA staff conducts an initial review of all proposals received to determine eligibility. SFCA staff then review proposals preliminarily on the basis of the following criteria:

  • Completeness of application
  • Funding history at SFCA
  • Ability to carry out proposal as demonstrated by past performance on other activities and programs
  • Eligibility of project costs for funding
  • Applicability of project to agency’s current strategic plan
  • Project’s alignment with funding criteria

Following the staff review, the SFCA convenes peer review panels made up of community volunteers selected from a pool of applicants. Panelists then evaluate all proposals determined to be eligible for funding. After serious consideration and discussion, the review panels recommend to the SFCA those proposals that merit funding. The SFCA Commission has final approval of funding decisions.

Review Panel Criteria

  • The extent to which the proposed program or activity meets the goals established by the HSFCA in accordance with its legislative mandate and Strategic Plan 2013-2018
  • Clear, realistic objectives for the proposed program activities
  • Clearly and specifically described programs, activities, or services
  • The public purpose to be served and the need for the activity in the community as evidenced by:
    • the number of artists, administrators, and general public who are expected to benefit from the proposed activity,
    • the scope of the activity,
    • the target group(s) to be served, and the impact on the community if the project is not funded
  • Clear, quantifiable measures of effectiveness of the proposed program, activities, or services
  • Ability of the applicant to carry out the proposed programs, activities, or services as demonstrated by: a track record of successful projects and programs, organizational stability, and fiscal responsibility
  • Evidence of obtaining non-State financial support
  • Appropriateness, feasibility, and cost effectiveness of the proposed activities
  • Accuracy and appropriateness of the budget
  • Professional quality of management, staff, and artistic support to carry out the proposed programs, activities, or services
  • Artistic and professional excellence of the project, artist(s), and other professionals involved


Applicants submitting proposals will be notified of receipt of each proposal within 60 working days of submission.

The SFCA staff and panel review process is expected to be completed by March 31, 2015. The SFCA will notify all applicants of their proposal status subsequent to the SFCA Commission approval process.

Applicants whose proposals are to be funded will receive further information and contract forms from the SFCA. Refer to the contracting requirements for more detail.

Submission of Proposals

There are 4 program areas for FY 2015-2016 and FY 2016-2017 projects. The Presentation program area has two panel review options for Presentation/Performing Arts and Presentation other disciplines. Applicants are asked to select the area that best describes their organization’s proposed project. Choosing the most appropriate area will help to assure that a proposal is evaluated by a panel most familiar with the proposed program, activity, or service.


The SFCA is soliciting proposals from organizations which meet the eligibility requirements and qualifying standards listed in the Eligibility section. Projects and activities in the following program areas must begin no earlier than July 1, 2015, and end no later than June 30, 2017.


This subject area would accommodate proposals previously submitted to Arts in Education, and may be appropriate for projects in Literary Arts, Visual Arts, Music and Opera, Dance and Theater.

These projects will provide educational opportunities in the arts for life-long learning or for a targeted population, such as students, teachers or at-risk youth.

Proposals or activities must address one or more of the following criteria:

  • Encourage integrating arts into basic school curricula, preschool-12th grade;
  • Make professional artistic activities in all discipline areas available to students and artists;
  • Enhance the ability and skills of teachers, administrators, and artists to teach or direct arts education activities;
  • Encourage, acknowledge, and recognize the artistic creativity and talents of students, and enable students to participate in the arts; or
  • Provide arts education opportunities to the community as part of life-long learning.

The proposals may include but are not limited to:

  • Professional arts programs, concerts, productions, exhibitions, lecture-demonstrations, or related activities for students conducted by knowledgeable and experienced individuals;
  • Award programs, exhibits, displays, performances, or related activities which recognize and encourage artistic creativity and talent in students/individuals;
  • Workshops, classes or related activities in the arts disciplines conducted by professionally qualified individuals, which enable students and individuals to develop art skills;
  • Films, videos, slides, photographs, recordings, publications, or related activities for the benefit of students, teachers, or the general public, that seek to document, educate or increase understanding of arts education activities (see instructions on submitting proposals for film and video projects).

Requirements for Arts Education Proposals for K-12 in-school projects and activities:

The proposal description must state how the project/activity aligns with one or more of the Hawai‘i Content & Performance Standards II (HCPSIII) in the fine arts (visual arts, music, drama/theatre, and dance). The fine arts content standards (HCPSIII), adopted 2005, may be viewed on-line at This can be further discussed with the SFCA Arts in Education Program at (808) 586-0768.


Community Arts proposals include activities, services, or programs that will:

Encourage public awareness, access, appreciation, and participation in a wide variety of culture, arts, and humanities activities within a particular geographic region or among a targeted population.

Proposals may include but are not limited to:

  • Exhibitions, displays, performances, readings, programs, presentations, or other related activities, conducted by knowledgeable and experienced individuals for the general public in a specified geographic region, rural community, or for a specified targeted group;
  • Workshops, lecture-demonstrations, classes, or related activities conducted by knowledgeable and experienced individuals which enable the general public or a specified targeted group to participate in arts activities and/or learn the cultural practices and art forms of Hawaii’s various ethnic groups;
  • Programs, projects, or activities involving or targeting a selected group, such as senior citizens, institutionalized persons, or persons with disabilities;
  • Community newsletters, notices, or informational publications on culture, arts, and humanities activities and events distributed to interested members of the general public.


This subject area would accommodate proposals previously submitted to Ethnic Heritage and History and Humanities.

Proposals should be well grounded in the culture and uphold high standards of quality and authenticity. Funding for projects that preserve, perpetuate, interpret, increase understanding and/or enhance the rich history, heritage, and traditions of Hawai‘i. Proposals may include:

  • Documenting, archiving, conserving and/or translating of Hawaii’s heritage, cultural practices, oral history, and traditional arts for historical preservation, public access and research;
  • Presenting of historical interpretations and traditional art forms such as exhibits, festivals, or performance series;
  • Building awareness and appreciation of history, humanities and traditions through educational classes, workshops, radio programs, audio recordings, video documentaries, etc.
  • Cultivating and encouraging the work of artists, practitioners, performers, and living history projects that keep traditions and culture alive in our island communities;
  • Cultivating and encouraging the work of local historians, interpreters and humanities specialists to recount Hawaii’s history and heritage.


This subject area would accommodate proposals previously submitted to Dance, Music and Opera, Presenting, Theater, Visual Arts and Literary Arts. Applicants should designate which panel should more appropriately review their proposal(s). The Presentation panel reviews Visual Arts and Literary Arts and the Presentation/Performing Arts panel reviews Dance, Music, Opera and Theater. Presenting applications may select either panel according to the appropriateness of the project’s arts discipline.

Proposals include programs or activities that will provide support to organizations that present artists in performance, exhibition, and/or in residency settings. Proposals will:

  • Provide opportunities for the public to experience and appreciate a wide variety of professional artistic and cultural events;
  • Recognize and encourage local artists;
  • Encourage and develop audiences for the arts.

Project examples:

  • Tours or single presentations, productions, concerts, performances or related activities sponsored by organizations experienced in offering performing arts venues;
  • Projects which strengthen the touring and presenting capabilities of artists and presenters such as workshops for presenters, consortia meetings, participation in booking conferences;
  • Residencies by artists as part of a touring activity or single presentation;
  • Presentations, productions, concerts, performances, exhibitions, programs, tours, workshops, readings, lecture-demonstrations or related activities by artists or companies of international, national, regional, or local professional stature;
  • Concerts, performances, productions, presentations, exhibitions, programs, demonstrations, or related activities conducted by knowledgeable and experienced individuals;
  • Recognition programs, competitions, performances, exhibitions or related activities that seek to provide opportunities for local artists to be recognized and perform or exhibit before audiences;
  • Noncommercial publications of works featuring local writers and literary translators.

Ineligible for Funding

  • Building, renovation, maintenance of facilities, or other capital expenditures
  • Activities completed prior to the project period
  • Fellowships, scholarships, theses, or dissertations
  • Fund raising
  • Grant management fees or indirect cost rates
  • Commissioning visual artists to execute professional works of art
  • Costs for food and/or refreshments
  • Perquisites
  • Equipment purchases and/or long-term rentals for more than one year of any two year biennium
  • Foreign travel
  • Subgrants or regrants
  • Interest payments, insurance, or similar finance costs
  • Utilities costs (water, electricity, or telephone)
  • Unitemized miscellaneous
  • Audits
  • Maintenance costs of any kind
  • Technology-related expenses, including but not limited to computer hardware or software, Internet, website, or E-mail, or contracted assistance to design or maintain such services


APPLICATIONS FOR FY 2015-2016 AND FY 2016-2017 MUST BE SUBMITTED ONLINE BY 4:30 PM (HST) ON NOVEMBER 30, 2014. Hard copies and faxed copies will not be accepted.

Applicants are required to either enclose eligibility documentation with their applications or to submit it separately prior to the deadline. It is highly recommended that the applicant confirm eligibility prior to submitting an application.

All applicants must send a signed original certification (hard copy) to the HSFCA office postmarked not later than November 30, 2014. Also required is a signed certification of eligibility with the eligibility documentation or a signed Statement In Lieu of Submittal of Eligibility Documentation form if documentation is currently on file with the SFCA. This form must also be postmarked not later than November 30, 2014. Other than these certificates, the application process does not require submittal of hard copy.

Upon completion and submittal of the proposal online, applicants will receive an online acknowledgement of receipt of the proposal. After a proposal is submitted, modifications to the proposal are not accepted.