Unfettering Artists' Productivity and Impact

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The 2023 application period is now closed.

The press release and complete list of the SCI Artist-Innovator Fund 2023 grantees can be found HERE.

The SCI Artist-Innovator Fund will offer ten grants of up to $8,500, for a total of $85,000, to individual artist-entrepreneurs with spinal cord injuries who are inspired to innovate by the possibilities and benefits that are offered through the experience of pursuing a creative practice and living with spinal cord injury. 

Center for Cultural Innovation (CCI) recognizes that having the unique perspective of living with challenging circumstances and applying a creative practice can yield meaningful solutions not only for the innovator but also 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.

This is the third round of the SCI Artist-Innovator Fund, which was first offered in 2019 and has since awarded $150,000 to 20 grantees with SCI. The 2023 funding round has increased the total award amount to $8,500 from $7,500. In addition, CCI has partnered with the Minneapolis College of Art & Design’s Entrepreneurial Studies program to provide SCI Artist-Innovator Fund grantees with opportunities to test their ideas, build their networks, and seek guidance from practitioners and peers. Grantees may participate in individual and group online coaching sessions with Minneapolis College of Art & Design (MCAD) faculty to address specific business needs and questions around their developing project. Grantees may also present their projects and solicit feedback/ideas from MCAD faculty and students from Entrepreneurial Studies (and potentially other programs). Participation is optional.


To be eligible for consideration, applicants must:

  • be an individual living with spinal cord injury. CCI uses the definition used by the program’s funder, the Craig H. Neilsen Foundation: We consider those with SCI to be 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 by your 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, artisanal, or cultural practice; and
  • have a positive social impact upon a specified place-based and/or identity-based community or population.

Priority will be given to entrepreneurs with a demonstrated need for capital, compelling projects backed by feasible business plans, and clear intentions for popularizing their innovation. The program also prioritizes projects that hold promise for improving the applicant’s financial sustainability; artistic, creative, or cultural practice; and social or end-user impacts. As a secondary-level consideration, we will also consider how projects may hold promise for shifting popular perception of those with disabilities positively.


Application Opens

April 4, 2023, at 9 a.m. PT

Application Webinar

Watch the recording HERE.

View the webinar slide deck HERE.

Application Deadline

Deadline Extended!

June 6, 2023 June 14, 2023 at 12 p.m. PT (Noon)

Funding Notifications

August 1, 2023, by 5 p.m. PT

Grant Period of Support

August 1, 2023 - July 30, 2024

Grantee Virtual Gathering

Early September 2023


The 2023 application period is now closed. 

pdf_icon.jpg Guidelines

pdf_icon.jpg Application Preview  logos/Word Doc Image Application Preview

pdf_icon.jpg Business Plan Matrix Template (Fillable PDF)  logos/Word Doc Image Business Plan Matrix Template (Word) 

pdf_icon.jpg Video Tips

logos/Excel Doc Image Sample Project Budget Template

pdf_icon.jpg Frequently Asked Questions

pdf_icon.jpg Examples of Competitive Applicants

pdf_icon.jpg Submittable Tips


Applications will be accepted online ONLY through CCI’s Submittable platform, and applicants MUST create an account in Submittable before they are’’ able to access the grant application.  

If you require an alternative format for the application process, please contact us at grants@cciarts.org.


CCI staff are here to help! For questions related to the grant guidelines or application, email us at grants@cciarts.org or give us a call at 415.288.0530 during our office hours on Wednesdays and Fridays from 10 am to 2 pm. (Office hour appointments are not required but encouraged! Find a time slot here.)

If you need technical assistance (e.g., password or upload issues), request support at: https://www.submittable.com/help/submitter/. Submittable’s business hours are 9 am – 5 pm MT. They aim to respond within 24 business hours.





The SCI Artist-Innovator Fund is generously supported by: 

logos/Neilsen Foundation logo

The Craig H. Neilsen Foundation’s funding is dedicated to supporting both programs and scientific research to improve the quality of life for those affected by and living with spinal cord injury.

CCI also wishes to thank program partner, the Minneapolis College of Art & Design.

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