Unfettering Artists' Productivity and Impact

SCI ARTIST-INNOVATOR FUNDSCI Artist-Innovator Logo

 

This was a one-time grant program in 2019.

See below for Grantee announcement. 

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)'s first of its kind SCI Artist-Innovator Fund offered 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.

PROGRAM

The SCI Artist-Innovator Fund provided $75,000 in grants of up to $7,500 each to 10 individual artist-entrepreneurs with spinal cord injuries who were inspired to innovate by opportunity-based entrepreneurship. CCI recognized 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 was made possible by the Craig H. Neilsen Foundation whose founder lived with SCI and whose legacy is as an entrepreneur.

ELIGIBILITY

Eligible applicants had to demonstrate that they: 

  • Are an individual living with spinal cord injury. 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).  (SCI applicants may be part of a team, but only if the applicant is the primary owner or lead);
  • Live and work in the USA or its territories; and
  • Self-define as an artist, maker, creative, or culture bearer, or whose project reflects deep and sustained refining that reflects a craft, cultural, or artistic practice.

Eligible projects:

  • are a product, service, or innovation inspired from the applicant's SCI experience;
  • can be in the “idea phase” ready to come to life or a work-in-progress needing funding to move forward;
  • have the potential to develop into self-sustaining, revenue-generating activities;
  • enable the applicant to deepen an artistic, creative, artisan, or cultural practice; and
  • have a positive social impact upon a specified place-based and/or identity-based population.

Priority was 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 prioritized projects that hold promise for improving the 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.

THIS GRANT OPPORTUNITY IS CLOSED.

pdf_icon.jpg PRESS RELEASE: 2019 Grantees Announced

pdf_icon.jpg Guidelines

pdf_icon.jpg FAQs

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:

Liz Jackson, Founder of The Disabled List
Brittany Dejean, Founder of AbleThrive
Richard Bell, Artist
Judith Smith, Founder of AXIS Dance Company

Special thanks to Reveca Torres, CCI's Implementation Consultant: Fund for Creative Entrepreneurs with Spinal Cord Injury, for her contributions in developing and implementing this program!

This program was made possible with support from:

Neilsen Foundation logo

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).