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Oakland CARES Fund for Artists and Arts Nonprofits

Application cycle open through Friday, October 9 at 1 pm PDT

The City of Oakland has launched the Oakland CARES Fund for Artists and Arts Nonprofits [CARES Arts Fund]. Distribution of this Fund is through a partnership between the City of Oakland’s Economic & Workforce Development Department, Cultural Affairs Division and the Center for Cultural Innovation (CCI). The CARES Arts Fund is distributing $1,425,000 in the form of grants up to $3,000 for individual artists, and grants up to $20,000 for small arts nonprofits based on budget size. This is a reimbursement-based fund to mitigate COVID-19 related financial impacts suffered by individual artist and small nonprofit arts and culture organizations who are the backbone of the City’s diversity and vibrancy of cultural identity and expression. The CARES Arts Fund is made possible by federal funding from the United States CARES Act, which was allocated by the State of California to the City of Oakland.

The CARES Arts Fund is a response to the financial impact on professional artists and nonprofit arts organizations caused by the COVID-19 economic shutdown. The large-scale shutdown has been needed to slow the spread of COVID-19, and it has continued to put the entire arts sector on hold. Artists’ ability to earn income to pay necessary expenses has been disrupted, and arts organizations' ability to survive financially is threatened.

Given the widespread financial consequences of the COVID-19 economic shutdown, the CARES Arts Fund welcomes additional support. Please contact Laura Poppiti, CCI Grants Program Director, at laura@cciarts.org if you would like to help with a tax-deductible contribution. 



  • Must be an artist who makes their primary income as a freelancers or employees in the arts sector. This includes fine artists, including literary, visual, and performing artists; musicians; teaching artists; culture bearers; artist members of collective-based or cooperative creative social enterprises; and specialized artist workers (e.g., lighting or sound designers, fabricators, and the like).

  • Demonstrate proof: Provide documentation (a website or upload) that demonstrates applicant’s professional role in arts and culture. 

  • Must be a current, full-time resident of Oakland.

  • Demonstrate Proof: Must upload ONE proof of current residency. Proof is demonstrated by including a legible photo of a current state driver’s license or ID; or most-recent utility bill, health insurance statement, bank statement, or other similar type of document. The name and address must match that used in the application form.

  • Must make the majority (50%+) of individual income from the arts sector--any combination of sales of art, freelance work, and/or employment.

  • Must provide a detailed explanation of financial losses or incurred expenses due to COVID-19. While documentation of these losses or expenses will not be required initially, it may be required in the future. (See Guidelines for examples of eligible expenses.)

  • Must not have received funding from any other City of Oakland CARES-funded grants program. 

  • Can only apply once. 


  • Must demonstrate proof of 501(c)3 nonprofit status by providing one of the following:

  • 501(c)3 Tax Determination letter;

  • Form 1023 Application for 501(c)3 status; or

  • 990 Federal Tax Return from either FY18, FY19, or most recent fiscal year that ends before March 1, 2020--whichever is most recently completed.

  • If fiscally sponsored (fiscal sponsor can be non-local), organization must be based in and primarily serving Oakland. A sponsorship agreement letter on a letterhead, including verification from the fiscal sponsor that 75% or more of the sponsored organization’s activities benefit Oakland, with an Oakland address of the primary location in which organizational activities are performed, are required.

  • Must be located in and primarily benefit the residents of Oakland. There are no residency requirements for employees.

  • Must have a business address within the City (P.O. Box does not qualify).

  • Must identify an address, if not the business address, where the nonprofit, or fiscally sponsored entity, locates the majority of its public-facing services. (Examples include using the address of the rental venue most commonly used, an address on the street where the organization produces its annual street fair, the address of a cultural center most used for providing programming that reaches diverse audiences, or your primary business address if that is where the organization provides services.)

  • Must have an annual operating budget not exceeding $2.5 million. (Funding amounts will be based on the actual budget size of the most recently completed fiscal year using the following tiers: For budgets up to $999,999, grants will be up to $10,000; for budgets of $1 million - $1,499,999, grants will be up to $15,000; and for budgets of $1.5 - $2.5 million, grants will be up to $20,000). Organizational applicants must provide proof of budget size by providing an income and expense statement for the most recently completed fiscal year that ended prior to March 1, 2020. (Entities that are fiscally sponsored must provide their own budget and not that of the fiscal sponsor.)

  • Must not have received more than $20,000 through the Paycheck Protection Program, National Endowment for the Arts (CARES) award, or an award from any other City of Oakland CARES-funded grant program.

  • Can only apply once. 

All applicants will be notified of their status on Friday, October 30 by 1 pm PDT. *Please note that due to payment processing times and mail delivery, grant payments may take until November 20 to arrive. 

Application cycle open through October, 9, 2020, 1:00pm PT.

To access application and for more information, click here.

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