The spinal cord injury (SCI) community is abundant with out-of-the-box thinkers, hackers, problem solvers, and individuals creatively tackling challenges. Center for Cultural Innovation (CCI) launches the first ever SCI Artist-Innovator Fund to offer artists, innovators, inventors, makers, and entrepreneurs financial capital for social-impact oriented, creative entrepreneurship projects.
Recent statistics show that self-employment rates in the US are higher among disabled people than non-disabled people (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2017). However, there is limited funding dedicated to developing entrepreneurial capabilities of disabled artists that would provide pathways for financial independence. In addition, these programs assume that disabled people are driven to become entrepreneurs primarily as a result of barriers in other sections of the workforce. CCI challenges these assumptions and recognizes that the spinal cord injury (SCI) experience brings a unique perspective to innovation.
The SCI Artist-Innovator Grant will offer 10-12 grants of up to $7,500, for a total of $75,000 in grants, to individual artist-entrepreneurs with spinal cord injuries who are inspired to innovate by opportunity-based entrepreneurship – in other words, by the possibilities and benefits that are offered through the experience of pursuing a creative practice and living with spinal cord injury. CCI recognizes that having an underserved perspective, living with challenging circumstances, and applying creative practice can yield important solutions for not only the innovator but for the benefit of society. This opportunity to recognize the powerful combination of SCI populations, craftsmanship and creative practice, and positive social impact is made possible by the Craig H. Neilsen Foundation whose founder lived with SCI and whose legacy is as an entrepreneur.
To be eligible for consideration, applicants must:
Priority will be given to entrepreneurs with demonstrated need for capital, with compelling projects backed by feasible business plans, and with clear intentions of how to popularize their innovation. The program also prioritizes projects that hold promise for improving applicant’s financial sustainability; artistic, creative, or cultural practice; and social impacts and, as a secondary-level consideration, that hold promise for shifting popular perception of those with disabilities positively.
Applicant Profiles As this is the first year of the program, these are some examples of potential applicants and their innovations.
Webinar: SCI Artist-Innovator Fund Overview & Insights - May 15, 2019
Thank you to the many people who helped shape this program, and a dedicated group of friends who contributed to the design and implementation of the SCI Artist Innovator Fund:
This program is made possible with support from:
The Craig H. Neilsen Foundation supports programs that enhance participation and independence for people living with SCI but does not designate funding to individuals. Thus, prioritization for acceptance in programs hosted by grantees will be made at the sole discretion of each granting/hosting institution. The Program Officer is available to clarify any questions with regard to SCI qualification criteria, i.e., individuals with neurological and functional impairment due to traumatic SCI, degenerative disease primary to the spinal cord (transverse myelitis) or damage to the spinal cord due to tumors and surgery. Individuals with spinal dysfunction, paralysis or pain syndromes caused by other disorders are not eligible (e.g., multiple sclerosis, ALS, Chiari malformation and other developmental disorders, primary orthopedic disorders and peripheral nerve injury).