Announcement of Grant Opportunity: Field Studies by Arts Service Organizations Rooted in Communities of Color


​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​LETTERS OF INTENT DUE: June 9, 2022
PROPOSALS DUE: August 19, 2022​

Across the nation there are thousands of arts organizations that were founded by, for, and with communities of color.1​ These organizations span the visual, performing, media, and literary arts and include arts education organizations, community-based organizations, and numerous supporting organizations. Although there is more variation than likeness across these organizations—involving a  range of factors including artistic focus, community served, location, purpose, organizational culture, and  mission— research suggests that many have, in their founding missions and continuing practices, and at ​​​​the core of their organizational strategy, a deep and intertwined commitment to excellence in artistic ​​​​practice and production along with a strong community orientation (Hally & Valdez, 2000; Voss & Voss,  2021). “Community orientation” has been described, across the literature, as preserving or presenting the artforms of a particular racial, ethnic, or tribal group, supporting artists from the focus community/ies, developing the cultural workforce of that community, and advocating for the community within broader socio-political contexts, among other activities. 

Arts service organizations rooted in communities of color play essential roles in the arts ecosystem as they connect, resource, advocate on behalf of, strategize with, and otherwise support arts organizations of color. They represent and advocate for their communities’ cultural workers, organizations, artistic disciplines, and practices in broader national arts and culture conversations and make the case for ​​​​​​​​the critical contributions of arts organizations of color to the field. These organizations also play central roles in documenting the scope, scale, focus, and contributions of their member or affiliated organizations (Bowles, 1993; Matlon et al., 2014; cf Driver, 2020).

As a part of The Wallace Foundation’s five-year initiative intended to support arts organizations rooted in communities of color as they explore strategies for achieving organizational resilience (ability to adapt and thrive) while retaining their relevance (mattering to their communities), the Foundation invites arts service organizations serving and prioritizing such arts organizations to propose research projects that answer important questions related to the arts communities they serve. As used here, we define arts service organizations as organizations, networks, collectives, or associations that were founded by and for arts and culture communities of color, and which play a role in advancing the interests and practices of those constituencies. This opportunity is not inclusive of arts service organizations focused on primarily supporting youth-serving programs or organizations, or focused on arts education more bro​​adly, which will serve as the focus for a separate Wallace initiative expected to launch in 2024. ​

Proposed studies should address key issues of importance to the work of the arts service organization while also providing important learnings about the field of arts organizations founded by, with, and for communities of color. Proposals may be submitted for one of two types of studies:

  1. A research planning and implementation grant of up to $250,000 to work with a research partner to develop a research plan and conduct a research project involving data collection, analysis, and reporting. Organizations that are awarded these grants will also receive advice from research methods advisors and arts service organizations of color mentors on research design.
  2. A research expansion grant of up to $500,000 to work with a research partner to scale up or refine an existing robust research design and implement an expanded research project. These proposals should include a detailed research plan, along with the rationale for the project and its expansion in terms of scale, depth or additional components, how results will be used, and how they will be disseminated.

Selected research partners should possess demonstrated expertise in the subject matter and methods relevant to the questions the service organization seeks to answer.

Topics of research projects could include, but are in no way limited to:

  • Structural and contextual features that impact organizations, associations, networks, and collectives founded by and for artists and arts communities of color
  • Histories and strategies of arts service organizations rooted in communities of color, and their role in the arts ecosystem
  • Indigenous organizational models and arts ecologies
  • Cooperative fundraising, organizing, and economic models used by arts organizations of color
  • Forms of and approaches to assessment of organizational impact by arts organizations of color
  • Cross-sectoral work being conducted by arts organizations of color, such as organizational strategies and collaborations intersecting with the fields of education, community development, and public health

Detailed information on proposal requirements, deadlines, selection criteria and process may be found on the Request for Proposals​. Proposals are due Friday, August 19 at 11:59 PM ET.

If you intend to submit a proposal, we ask that you email us a statement of intent on or before June 9, 2022. We will share with those who notify us of their intent any subsequent relevant information, including clarifications that emerge through responding to questions from the field. Send emails (no attachments) to declaring your intention to submit. Your email should further include: (i) the names, organizations, and emails of any persons who you would like us to send future information to related to this RFP; (ii) the type of research grant (planning and implementation or expansion) you intend to apply for; and (iii) any questions you have ​about the RFP or initiative. You are welcome to share ideas about what you plan to propose if you would like preliminary feedback from Wallace.

Please note that submitting such a statement is not required in order to submit a subsequent proposal. However, we encourage you to submit these letters so that we can share additional information that may assist you in preparing a successful proposal. If you submit a statement of intent by June 9, you will also receive notification on how to sign up for office hours to discuss your proposed project with a member of the Wallace Research team. ​

Review Timeline

We anticipate funding a first round of field studies by fall of 2022. The 2022 RFP timeline is as follows:

The Letters of Intent (LOI) and inquiry period for the Field Studies grant program has now closed. Please note that LOIs are not required for this arts research funding opportunity, and full proposals that meet the eligibility criteria will be accepted until the August 19 deadline. 

​For additional information on this grant opportunity, please see the following: 

  • Frequently Asked Questions​ on the Field Studies grant program
  • ​May 25 Field Studies informational webinar recording, which may be accessed here​ using the passcode B$n6&@tz ​​

Download th​e RFP



Based in New York City, The Wallace Foundation is the philanthropic legacy of DeWitt and Lila Wallace, founders of the Reader’s Digest. Wallace is one of the nation’s 60 largest independent, charitable foundations. Our mission is to foster equity and improvements in learning and enrichment for young people and in the arts for everyone. We are a national foundation, supporting work across the United States without a focus on any one community or region.

The Wallace Foundation takes an unusual approach for a private foundation. Most of our work is carried out through large-scale, multi-year initiatives designed to accomplish dual goals. The first is to support our grantees (such as arts organizations) to create value for those they serve by developing and strengthening their work at the local level. Our second goal is to add value to the field as a whole by designing initiatives that address important unanswered policy and practice questions, commissioning researchers to document and analyze what is learned by Wallace grantees as they participate in the initiative, and then sharing these findings with practitioners, policymakers and influencers in order to catalyze improvements more broadly. In this way, we aim to use the development of research-based insights and evidence as a lever to help institutions, beyond those we fund directly, enrich and enhance their work. 

Our three focus areas are the arts, K-12 education leadership, and child and youth development. We conceptualize our initiatives as learning collaborations among the grantee organizations, researchers, technical assistance providers, and Wallace staff who together explore questions with implications for practice, policy, and research.

1. The Wallace Foundation recognizes that no one umbrella term can accurately represent the plurality and diversity of arts organizations that serve communities of color, including Black, Indigenous, Middle Eastern a​​nd Arab American, Latinx, and Asian American and Pacific Islander communities.