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CAC Launches New Pilot Program for Small Grants: Ohio’s Largest Public Arts Funder Seeks to Expand Access to Nonprofits

Photo Credit: Bob Perkowski

Cleveland (April 7, 2011) - At its April meeting, the Cuyahoga Arts & Culture board of trustees approved a small-grants pilot program for the 2012 funding cycle. A part of CAC’s Project Support (PS) grant program, the pilot simplifies the application process for nonprofit organizations seeking grants of $5,000 or less.

The standard PS grant has an upper limit of $50,000 and requires a rigorous application process, including detailed financial and participant data, and a 1-to-1 cash match for each dollar of CAC funding. The pilot simplifies the amount of financial data required and allows for 25 percent of the match to be made up in “in kind” professional donations.

According to CAC Director of Grant Programs Jill Paulsen, a number of smaller organizations, particularly those that rely on volunteers to run them, found it difficult to comply with grant application requirements. “We listened to what our partners in the nonprofit arts and culture community were saying,” said Paulsen. “We want to make sure we’re not putting up obstacles, and this small-grants program should help us expand access to arts and culture more broadly across the county, while ensuring careful stewardship of this important public resource.”

CAC hopes more organizations will take advantage of the small grants program; staff will monitor it over the 2012 cycle to determine if it is achieving its goal of expanded access, while ensuring prudent use of public funds. “CAC was created to benefit all county residents,” said Executive Director Karen Gahl-Mills. “In many communities, a well organized program that costs a few thousand dollars can have as much impact as a much larger one, and we want to encourage people to take advantage of this new opportunity.”

Nonprofit organizations that wish to undertake an arts- or culture-focused project during 2012 will be able to download the grant guidelines in mid-April; interested organizations can then submit an “intent to apply” beginning June 1. Grant applications will be reviewed by a public panel in the fall and awards will be made at CAC’s November board meeting.

CAC is a political sub-division of the State of Ohio that collects a dedicated tax on cigarettes sold in Cuyahoga County, to fund local arts and culture organizations. Established by county-wide ballot initiative in 2006, CAC has awarded nearly $65 million to hundreds of Cuyahoga County-based nonprofit organizations that provide accessible public programming. For information about meeting schedules or about CAC’s grant programs, call 216.515.8303 or visit

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CAC Staff