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2023-24 Tacoma Creates – Impact Funding

Tacoma Creates is a voter-approved initiative to increase access to arts, culture, heritage, and science experiences throughout Tacoma by reducing barriers to access and expanding offerings, particularly for underserved youth. Eligible non-profit arts, culture, heritage, and science organizations may apply for funding that helps them expand equitable access to public programs, increase opportunities in neighborhoods throughout Tacoma, expand educational options for youth, and build sustainability for continued services. Contracts for funding will go to organizations that demonstrate specific support and benefits for people and communities in Tacoma, based on the questions and evaluation criteria described in the Application Guidelines.

This category is open to organizations that meet all five eligibility requirements, or that meet the eligibility exceptions, as described in the Eligibility for Funding section below. Organizations that apply in this category may request a minimum of $3,000, and up to $60,000 per year. Applicants in this category may propose a single program or multiple programs throughout the year. Applicants may propose general public programs (open to adults or all ages), or youth education programs, or both, and must demonstrate a commitment to Tacoma Creates’ vision for vibrant, equitable, and inclusive cultural programs. The funding request may be up to 50 percent of the total cost of the proposed programming; applicants must demonstrate at least a 1:1 match of other resources to support the work, which may include volunteer time, and donated materials and space. 


New in 2023 – There are two application forms within the Impact Funding category:

  • Level A: for organizations requesting between $3,000 and $19,999, or for organizations only proposing Beyond the Bell / Club Beyond classes
  • Level B: for organizations requesting between $20,000 and $60,000

The application review panel will consider funding for Level A and Level B applications separately, to better support newer and smaller organizations, and those that are proposing programming that is smaller in scope.  Both levels have the same overall application components and the same evaluation criteria. 

What Tacoma Creates Funding Can Support
Tacoma Creates funds can support a wide variety of public programs that advance arts, culture, heritage, and science, that take place within Tacoma city limits. This includes, but is not limited to: presentations, workshops, exhibitions, events, festivals, and educational programs for all-ages. Programming may be presented in person  and/or virtually/online. Programs must generally be open to the public, with the exception of Public School Cultural Access Programs that are specifically for Tacoma Public Schools / Chief Leschi Schools students or teachers, or education programs for court-connected youth. Tacoma Creates funding can also support general organization expenses and capacity building efforts that are connected to the public programming work.

Tacoma Creates has specific eligibility requirements, based on Washington State and City of Tacoma regulations, which you can read more about here. There are five primary eligibility areas, and organizations that meet all five may apply for either Impact Funding or Comprehensive Organizational Support. Organizations that do not meet all five, but do meet the exceptions listed below, may apply in the Impact Funding category.

Here is how to see if your organization is eligible to apply:

  • Primary Purpose
    Your organization’s primary purpose – meaning your overall mission and the majority of your activities –  must be to advance and/or preserve arts, culture, heritage and/or science, using the definitions listed on page 2.
  • Exception: Business District Associations and Neighborhood Councils recognized by the City of Tacoma may be eligible in the Impact Funding category (see Special Categories below).
  • Non-Profit Status
    Your organization is a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation, incorporated under the laws of Washington State and recognized by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
  • Exception: if your organization does not have this non-profit status, but meets the requirements for Primary Purpose, Location, and Program Delivery, you may apply for Impact Funding using a Fiscal Sponsor that is a non-profit organization. You can find more information about Fiscal Sponsorship on this document. You will need to submit a letter of commitment from your Fiscal Sponsor in order to apply. Your organization must be a group of people working together towards a specific mission or purpose, and you must have an organizational bank account and a City of Tacoma business license.
  • Location
    Your organization’s official business address is within Tacoma city limits. This is confirmed by the address registered with the IRS, and on your City of Tacoma business license. 
  • Exception: if your organization’s official business address is outside Tacoma, but within Pierce County, you may still be eligible. If your organization provides at least 65 percent of your public programming in Tacoma, and you meet all of the other eligibility requirements listed here, you may apply in the Impact Funding category.
  • Program Delivery
    Your organization must directly provide cultural programming or experiences to the general public within Tacoma city limits
  • There are no exceptions to this requirement. Please use this link to verify programming locations, as there are some locations that use “Tacoma” in their address that are technically outside of Tacoma city limits. 
  • Track Record
    Your organization has a two-year history of providing cultural programming or experiences to the general public in Tacoma.
  • Exception: if your organization does not have a two-year history, but meets all other eligibility requirements listed here, you may apply in the Impact Funding category.

There are two additional types of organizations that are eligible to apply for Impact Funding:

  • Business District Associations and Neighborhood Councils
    Active Business District Associations and Neighborhood Councils recognized by the City of Tacoma may apply for funding for neighborhood-based arts, culture, heritage, and/or science programs or events, especially fairs and festivals, but must have a Fiscal Sponsor that is a 501(c)(3) organization in Tacoma that meets the Primary Purpose criteria of advancing or preserving arts, culture, heritage, and/or science.

Affiliate Cultural Programs within a larger non-profit
Established and distinct cultural programs that meet the Primary Purpose, Location, and Program Delivery criteria, and are part of a larger non-profit, public-serving organization, may apply if the following additional eligibility criteria are met:

  • Independent mission: Have a published mission statement independent of the parent organization
  • Independent board: Have a board or steering committee that guides the program, independent of the parent organization’s board
  • Independent budget: Have a distinct, balanced budget, independent of the parent organization
  • Track record: Five years providing public programming in arts, culture, heritage, and/or science
  • Staff: Have dedicated, paid staff, equal to at least one full-time employee
  • Matching Funds: Provide a 1:1 cash match for Tacoma Creates funds
  • The parent organization must:
      • Be a public-serving 501(c)(3) or 501(c)(6) non-profit organization
      • Be based within Tacoma city limits
      • Retain no more than 10 percent of any Tacoma Creates funding to support administrative services
      • Submit a completed Affiliate Organization Agreement, which can be found here
Exclusions from Eligibility
Certain kinds or organizations are not eligible for any category of Tacoma Creates funding, based on Washington State legislation (RCW 36.160). Excluded from eligibility is any agency of the state or any of its political subdivisions; any municipal corporation; any organization that raises funds for redistribution to multiple cultural organizations; and any radio or television broadcasting network or station, cable communications system, internet-based communications venture or service, newspaper, or magazine.

Application Support
These free workshops will cover how the application process works and how to develop a strong application. All applicants are encouraged to send a representative to one of the three workshops. Each workshop will have a different focus: we encourage you to attend the one that best matches your organization’s situation, but we will cover the basics at all workshops so you may attend whichever one fits your schedule. A recording of the workshop held via Zoom will be posted at tacomacreates.org/application-assistance.

You do not need to sign up in advance for either of the in-person workshops, though space is limited and we encourage you to arrive a few minutes early. For the virtual workshop, you will need to register through the link provided below.

We encourage applicants to read the complete guidelines in advance of attending the workshop, and come with questions.

Wednesday, February 8, 2023, 12:30-2 PM
  • We recommend that you plan to attend via laptop or desktop computer, so that you will be able to see the slides shared during the workshop.
  • Focus: New applicants in either funding program – new organizations and/or new staff with returning organizations 

Wednesday, February 15, 2023, 11 AM-12:30 PM

  • Focus: Comprehensive Organizational Support 

Wednesday, February 22, 2023, 4:30-6 PM

  • Focus: Impact Funding

Tacoma Creates is partnering with Communities Rise to offer free technical assistance in developing applications for Tacoma Creates – Impact Funding.

Organizations are eligible for this opportunity if they:

  • Have operating budgets of $200,000 or less
  • Serve communities impacted by systemic oppression, which includes communities of color, immigrant and refugee communities, LGBTQIA+ communities, persons with disabilities, low-income communities
  • Meet all funding eligibility requirements for Tacoma Creates; contact tacomacreates@cityoftacoma.org with any questions about eligibility)

This opportunity is open to organizations that have been funded by Tacoma Creates in the past, as well as organizations that have not yet applied to, or received funding from Tacoma Creates.

Communities Rise can provide up to two, 45-60 minute sessions of free consultation to support understanding of the application process and requirements, and/or to offer feedback on draft proposals. Consultants can help by explaining the Impact Funding application guidelines, brainstorming how to respond to the application prompts, or editing a draft application. Please note: consultants cannot write the application.

To request this consultation support, visit this web page, where there is a short form to complete. We encourage you to request this support as soon as possible, and no later than March 14th, in order to allow time for scheduling and to give you the most amount of time to work on your Impact Funding application. 

If you have any questions about the support from Communities Rise, contact Zoë Erb, cbclinics@communities-rise.org.  

About Communities Rise
Communities Rise is a non-profit organization that fosters movements to build power in communities impacted by systemic oppression. A core focus of their work is to provide tools and trainings that build capacity for small non-profit organizations that work in and for historically marginalized or resource-limited communities. Learn more at www.communities-rise.org.


Application Deadline

March 27, 2023, 11:59 PM


Funding Application Guidelines
Download the 2023-24 Tacoma Creates Impact Funding guidelines (PDF) for complete funding information, including eligibility.

How to Apply
Applications must be submitted through our online application form. Go to tacomaarts.submittable.com/submit and select the 2022-2023 Impact Funding form.

You are welcome to contact Tacoma Creates staff at any time:

Lisa Jaret, Tacoma Creates Program Manager:

ljaret@cityoftacoma.org or (253) 591-5161


Clarissa Gines, Tacoma Creates Coordinator: cgines@cityoftacoma.org or (253) 591-5174


Rico Lastrapes, Tacoma Creates Program Technician: rlastrapes@cityoftacoma.org or (253) 591-2038


Panel Interest Form

What is a Panel?

A panel is a group of individuals pulled together by staff to review applications or nominations for Office of Arts & Cultural Vitality managed programs or opportunities. Panel members use published review criteria to evaluate applications and make recommendations about who gets grant funding, public art projects, roster appointments, etc.

Panelists are selected for a variety of reasons which can include: their connection to community, knowledge of relevant subject matter, and the diversity of perspectives and experiences they bring to the group overall. For each opportunity, we assemble a unique panel of three to nine people to make collective recommendations about which applicants should receive funding or commissions through our office. Those recommendations generally go to the Tacoma Arts Commission or the Tacoma Creates Advisory Board for final approval.

Why be a Panelist?

The Office of Arts & Cultural Vitality (OACV) is deeply appreciative of the time and expertise community members invest in serving on panels. Serving on a panel is a proactive way to impact how public funds are spent in Tacoma, and panelists receive valuable professional development as well as insight into how the application review process works from the inside.

OACV provides panelists with free parking and food during meetings, in addition to offering a monetary stipend.

The length and number of meetings needed for a selection process vary based on the project. Depending on the application, some panels will require a small amount of prep work in advance, one to two hours, and some panels may require extensive reading and evaluation work in advance of the in-person panel meeting, anywhere from 10-50 hours. Community members will be offered a stipend for their service as follows:

  • $50 – quarter day meeting (1 – 2 hours)
  • $100 – half day meeting (3 ‐ 4 hours)
  • $200 – full day meeting (6 – 9 hours)
  • $100 – pre‐meeting work to digitally read and score applications (only when requested)

Members of a City‐appointed commission or board are volunteers and are not eligible to receive a stipend for their service on a panel. City of Tacoma employees and project staff are not eligible to receive a stipend for their service on a panel.

Submit a Panel Interest Form

Please complete the online form to be considered for a position on an upcoming OACV panel: www.surveymonkey.com/r/tacomapanels 


Staff will take into account many factors when putting together panels, and may not be able to use the services of all qualified individuals who submit. If an individual is offered a position on a panel but is unable to participate because of scheduling or conflict of interest, OACV will continue to consider them for future panels. Panel Interest Forms will be saved and reviewed periodically for up to three years from the submission date.


If you have questions, please contact Naomi Strom-Avila at nstrom-avila@cityoftacoma.org or (253) 591-5191.
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Naomi Strom-Avila

(253) 591-5191