Unfettering Artists' Productivity and Impact

CALI Catalyst provides unrestricted grants of up to $7,500 to California changemakers who are creating tangible impact within the arts and culture sector, shifting power and influence to historically underrepresented voices.

The California Art Leadership Investments (CALI) Catalyst program launched in 2021 to provide financial support and validation to individuals whose frontline work to upend the status quo in the arts and culture sector is creating tangible change and moving the needle towards greater equity and inclusion. We can look to recent CALI Catalyst grantees and their work to see these ripple effects within the sector. In Sacramento, Genevieve Leighton-Armah is challenging capitalist notions of productivity by creating nourishing spaces for Black leaders to prioritize self-care, healing, and rest. Los Angeles-based Level Ground Collective is modeling what a non-hierarchical, cooperative 501(c)3 nonprofit structure led by artists of color can look like, creating a precedent for the sector, and actively sharing their learnings and model. Nationally, Rika Iino is collaborating with the Association of Performing Arts Professionals to create equitable contracting practices between artists and cultural institutions that prioritize partnerships and collaboration rather than deliverables. 

When individuals take bold steps to challenge the status quo, they risk sacrificing their jobs, social status, and reputation, and more often than not, their hard labor goes unpaid. CALI Catalyst recognizes that this is precisely the time when the arts and culture sector needs to support these changemakers who are ensuring historically marginalized communities—such as BIPOC, LGBTQIA+, and people with disabilities–don’t fall through the cracks. By speaking out and taking action, such as exposing discriminatory hiring practices or disrupting harmful philanthropic norms, these individuals make the arts and culture field better for everyone. The CALI Catalyst grant program aims to support such leaders financially, recognizing that the fear of financial risk can silence voices and discourage meaningful change.

To help ensure that the momentum for field-wide change continues undeterred, CALI Catalyst will support artists and arts workers who are on the frontlines of effecting greater inclusion, access, diversity, and equity in the arts and culture sector.


CALI Catalyst applicants can be individuals or teams of individuals.* To be eligible for funding consideration:  

  • Applicants must be artists or arts workers (e.g., arts administrators, cultural producers, culture bearers, creatives, cultural practitioners, teaching artists, or specialized technicians).
  • Applicants (including all team members) must reside full-time in California. 
  • Applicants’ change-making action(s) must have taken place or started (i.e., the action is still in progress) on or after January 1, 2020.
  • Applicant’s change-making action must have impacted the arts and culture sector at a local, regional, state, or national level in tangible and measurable ways.

*Only one application will be accepted per team (i.e., individual team members cannot submit separate applications that describe the same action). Teams will therefore need to select a single team member to apply, and if funding is approved, this individual will be responsible for fulfilling the grant requirements. Review the Frequently Asked Questions for more details.  

The following are ineligible for funding consideration: 

  • Organizations (e.g., nonprofits, for-profits, fiscally sponsored organizations) requesting funding to support their operations;* 
  • Individuals or teams of individuals who describe a change-making action that started or took place before January 1, 2020;
  • Individuals or teams of individuals who are requesting funding to support an organization;
  • Individuals or teams of individuals who have a conflict of interest (family or financial relationship) with the board, staff, or directors of the Center for Cultural Innovation; 
  • Requests for funding to support a project that is in the beginning or developing stages; and
  • Incomplete applications or applications with inaccessible (e.g., password-protected, broken links) attachments.

*Individuals and teams associated with an organization can apply. However, their change-making must have been influenced and driven by the individuals within the organization and align with the review criteria. Additionally, if awarded funding, individuals or teams should direct funds to the individuals rather than to the operations of the organization. Review the Frequently Asked Questions for more details. 


CALI Catalyst will offer two open application rounds in 2024:

Round #1

The application period for Round #1 is now closed. Notifications will be sent via Submittable on July 1 by 5 p.m. PT. 

Round #2

Applications will be accepted from June 12 to August 5, 2024, at 11:59 a.m. PT. Notifications will be sent via Submittable on September 30 by 5 p.m. PT.

Applications will be accepted online ONLY through CCI’s Submittable platform, and applicants MUST create an account in Submittable before they will be able to access the grant application. Learn more about using Submittable in the APPLY section below. 


CCI hosted an Information Session on April 3 at 12 p.m. (noon) PT. The session provided an overview of the application, helpful tips, and a live Q&A. 

Watch the 2024 Informational Session 

View the 2024 Informational Session Slide Deck


To support Round 2 applicants, CCI will host three virtual “drop-ins” where attendees can ask questions and receive answers from staff in real time. The drop-ins are not formal presentations and will not be recorded. To ensure everyone's time is used efficiently, please review the grant guidelines, application preview, and Frequently Asked Questions in advance. Registration is required. 


images/pdf_icon.jpg Guidelines 

logos/pdf_icon.jpg Frequently Asked Questions

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

images/pdf_icon.jpg Submittable Quick Tips

Applications for Round #2 will be accepted from June 12 at 9 a.m. PT through August 5, 2024, at 11:59 a.m. (morning) PT.



CCI staff are here to help and listen. Please email us at grants@cciarts.org (include CALI Catalyst in the subject line) or call 415.288.0530 for assistance. You may also schedule a time to speak here. For Deaf applicants and those with hearing loss, contact CCI using the California Relay Service—our staff are trained in making and receiving these calls.

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.


images/CALI_Directory_thumbnail.png   images/CALI Catalyst 2022 Visual Directory  

images/CALI Catalyst Grantee Directory Cover Page

Learn more about the 2021 and 2022 CALI Catalyst grantees by clicking on the images above or visit CCI's Past Recipients Directory


The CALI Catalyst grant program is made possible with support from: