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ADA Access Improvement Grants

Grants to Twin Cities Area, Minnesota Nonprofits to
Improve Access to Arts Programs for People with Disabilities

Agency Type:

Foundation / Corporation

Funding Source:

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VSA Minnesota

Deadline Date:

05/01/18 5:00 PM Hand Delivery or Postmarked or Emailed by date


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Grants of up to $7,500 and grants of up to $15,000 to Twin Cities Area, Minnesota nonprofit organizations to make arts facilities and activities more accessible to individuals with disabilities. Eligible applicants offer ongoing arts programs in Anoka, Carver, Dakota, Hennepin, Ramsey, Scott, and Washington counties.

Organizations may apply for one of these options:

1) Up to $15,000 for project activities with potential for significant or long-term impact in involving more people with disabilities as participants or patrons in your programs, and that advance the mission of your group.

2) Up to $7,500 for shorter-term projects to build audiences from the disability community. (This option is available only to groups traditionally eligible for funding from the Metro Regional Arts Council – with annual operating expenses under $400,000.) While these projects may not meet the “significant or long-term impact” criteria, they may begin a relationship between patrons with disabilities and arts organizations that has been missing because some services essential to appreciating the art haven’t been provided. For instance, program-based accommodations that pertain to only one year’s programming, or other activities for arts groups who do not have their own facility but wish to engage more people with disabilities with proactive, good quality services.

This grant may fund:

- Projects to improve facilities with ramps, elevators, lifts, signage, accessible seating that increase accessibility for patrons, staff or artists with disabilities.

- Projects to buy, install and maintain equipment for assistive listening, audio description, captioning, Braille, recorded audio described art gallery tours, etc. (NOTE: the Guthrie Theater Access Office loans portable audio description equipment for $25/year; VSA Minnesota loans a portable caption unit; both are among providers that make Braille copies at minimal cost.)

- Projects to buy computer hardware and software with accessibility features for patrons or staff with vision, hearing, tactile or other disabilities.

- Projects to hire American Sign Language interpreters, DeafBlind tactile interpreters, Deaf coaches, audio describers or captioners for performances, meetings, rehearsals and special events. (NOTE: the grant is intended to help groups reach, involve, build and maintain an audience that needs these services – not just to pay for these services IF someone shows up.)

- Projects to hire consultants to advise or train the organization on accessibility- related customer service, outreach, advisory committees, website design, etc.

- Projects to pay costs for staff, board, volunteers or the group’s accessibility coordinator (the point person on addressing ADA compliance) to attend conferences that will help the organization address specific accessibility needs.

- Projects to collaborate with artists or groups of individuals with disabilities.

- Projects collaborating with one or more other nonprofits, so long as one group serves as the primary applicant responsible for funds and reporting.

GrantWatch ID#:

GrantWatch ID#: 181052

Estimated Total Program Funding:


Estimated Size of Grant:

Maximum grant size is $15,000.
Guidelines do offer an option for shorter-term projects with a maximum grant of $7,500.

Term of Contract:

The earliest project start date is Friday, June 15, 2018.

Additional Eligibility Criteria:

Eligible applicants are:

- Incorporated nonprofit arts groups located in the Twin Cities seven-county metropolitan area with annualized operating expenses less than $5 million.

- If incorporated as a nonprofit in Minnesota but without IRS tax-exempt status, you must apply using a nonprofit, tax-exempt organization as a fiscal sponsor (see definition, page 9 of the guidelines).

Additionally, a nonprofit non-arts organization with annualized arts programming expenses may be eligible if:

- It has independent and sustained* arts programs (see definition, page 9 of the guidelines), and

- It can demonstrate clearly that the sustained arts program serves people with disabilities (see definition, page 9 of the guidelines) in the community and that the proposed project is primarily intended to increase the participation by people with disabilities in their programs.

- An “independent and sustained” community arts group that meets other eligibility requirements may use a fiscal sponsor.

- A non-arts organization must get written approval of eligibility from VSA Minnesota before applying.

Not Funded:
- Individuals.
- Applicant groups located outside the seven-county metro area.
- Applicant groups that do not have a board-approved ADA Access Plan.
- Group 1 organizations (budget of $5 million or higher in FY2018) funded by the Minnesota State Arts Board.
- For-profit organizations.
- Educational institutions or projects (public, private, alternative, charter and home schools) that take place as part of Pre-K–16 general education activities.
- Previous ADA Access Improvement Grant recipients who have not fulfilled final reporting requirements.
- A nonprofit non-arts organization with less than a two-year history of arts programs/services.
- Administrative support (paid staff time) for Group 2 organizations (budget of $830,000 to $5 million in FY2018) that receive general operating support from the Minnesota State Arts Board. (An ADA Access Improvement Grant may fund other project expenses, however.)
- Projects to buy land or buildings, build endowments, fund debt reduction or add to cash reserves.
- Projects costs for fund-raising events.
- Projects that engage in political lobbying, serve the religious socialization of participants, or discriminate against persons or groups.

Pre-proposal Conference:

Applicants are invited to contact VSA Minnesota for an individual appointment or staff/volunteer training.

Applicants are invited to attend an information meeting about the grant program, as well as accessibility-related workshops conducted by VSA Minnesota. You are also invited to contact VSA Minnesota for an individual appointment or staff/volunteer training. If you need an accommodation (such as an American Sign Language interpreter), please make the request a week before the meeting you wish to attend.

Pre-Application Information:

For every $4 requested, an organization must provide a cash match from other sources of at least $1 (a $15,000 grant requires a match of at least $3,750).

Round 17 Timeline:
Application Deadline: December 8, 2017
Panel Review: January 22, 2018
Award Notification: January 29, 2018
Earliest Project Start Date: February 1, 2108

Round 18 Timeline:
Application Deadline: May 1, 2018
Panel Review: June 1, 2018
Award Notification: June 8, 2108
Earliest Project Start Date: June 15, 2018

Application Forms and Resources:

Contact Information:

Before starting your grant application, please review the funding source's website listed below for updates/changes/addendums/conferences/LOIs.

You may mail or deliver application materials to:
VSA Minnesota
at Cowles Center for Dance & the Performing Arts
528 Hennepin Avenue, Suite 305
Minneapolis, MN 55403

Or you may email application materials to:
In the Subject line, indicate: ADA App: (Your Organization Name)

If you have questions or wish for our staff to review part of your application before
submission, contact Jon Skaalen, access program coordinator, at the above email address, or call at 612-332-3888.

URL for Full Text (RFP):

Geographic Focus:

USA: Minnesota: Anoka, Carver, Dakota, Hennepin, Ramsey, Scott, and Washington Counties