The Shelley & Donald Rubin Foundation was founded in 1995, and is primarily committed to providing grants and programmatic support for:

  • Access to art for a broad audience

  • Art in the service of social justice

  • Art in the service of social change and discourse

  • Under-recognized artistic practice

The Foundation supports arts and cultural organizations through grants to catalyze collective action, promote equality, contribute to advocacy and policy change and develop capacity for greater civic engagement.  The Foundation is also interested in supporting organizations outside of the arts whose programs seek to engage communities through cultural activities.

Mierle Laderman Ukeles,  One Year’s Worktime II,  (2016). Courtesy of Foundation grantee The Queens Museum. Photo by Hai Zhang

Mierle Laderman Ukeles, One Year’s Worktime II, (2016). Courtesy of Foundation grantee The Queens Museum. Photo by Hai Zhang


Through its art and social justice mission the Shelley & Donald Rubin Foundation fosters dialogue, encourages diversity, promotes education, and nurtures and empowers communities. Through an annual grants program the Foundation supports ethical artistic practice that aims to broaden access in the five boroughs of New York City.

In recent years grants have ranged from $2,500 to $50,000; the Foundation is open to reviewing requests on a variety of scales.

For project support, applicants should indicate matching funds that cover at least half of the project costs. First time applicants are encouraged to apply for project support. Once an organization has received a project grant, applicants can apply for general operating support the following year. General operating support requests should not exceed ten percent of overall operating costs.

The audience at Theater of the Oppressed warms up together at a scene sharing workshop. Photo by Alex Woodhouse.

The audience at Theater of the Oppressed warms up together at a scene sharing workshop. Photo by Alex Woodhouse.


Through grant making the Rubin Foundation aims to support organizations that value creative, artistic and activist practices.

We are interested in supporting organizations that compensate individuals such as artists, activists, or cultural producers fairly. For Foundation programming delivered at The 8th Floor, we refer to the fee calculator at W.A.G.E. (Working Artists in the Greater Economy) for guidelines on fees to individual artists and cultural workers. We recognize W.A.G.E. represent a floor, in other words, a minimum. When possible organizations are encouraged to compensate artists, cultural

producers, and activists at a scale that is both proportional to programming budgets and contributes to a living wage.

Similarly, we are interested in understanding how grantee organizations facilitate greater access to ensure broad participation in funded programs. While we are aware that many organizations do not own their premises (and therefore may not have complete control over inclusive design), we ask that applicant organizations demonstrate how they address accessibility in their grant application. The City of New York Department of Design and

Construction in partnership with The Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities have produced this brochure called Universal Design New York that highlights inclusive design guidelines. For accessibility awareness that extends beyond architecture and physical design, we recommend referring to artist Carmen Papalia’s For a New Accessibility, which promotes a flexible but inclusive approach to programs designed to accommodate audience and participants on a more customized basis.

Eligible Applications

Only organizations with tax-exempt status under US Internal Revenue Code, or those with qualifying fiscal sponsors, will be considered. Organizations must be active in the five boroughs of New York City. Potential grantees must be organizations that supply one or more of the following to audiences:

  • Arts education*

  • Public art

  • Art in community and service centers

  • Artistic activism

  • Community-based museums

  • Art in the service of social justice or change

  • Promotion of under-recognized/emerging artistic practice

*The Foundation’s grants to educational institutions are for direct program expenses only; as such, no part of such a grant can be used for overhead or indirect costs.

Ineligible Applications

Projects completed before January, 2020. The Foundation does not support projects retroactively.

* Please note that grant monies can be applied to salaries but the Foundation will not be the sole supporter of any single staff position.

Funding will not be provided for the following:

  • Grants to individuals

  • Capital campaigns and building projects

  • Endowment funds

  • Scholarships or fellowships

  • Fundraising activities

  • Staff positions*

  • Multi-year grants

Site visit to the Laundromat Project at Kelly Street Collaborative in the Bronx

Site visit to the Laundromat Project at Kelly Street Collaborative in the Bronx


Open Call
On August 17, 2015, the Foundation’s first open call was launched, soliciting requests from eligible nonprofit organizations. Any organization whose mission and organizational status fits the criteria detailed in the Guidelines section can apply for funding.

After the application deadline, proposals are

reviewed by the Foundation staff with input from a team of advisors to the Foundation. Our advisory panel is an annually invited group of experts in the fields of visual and performing arts, education, social justice, socially engaged art, activism, etc.

The deadline for application in 2019 is September 13.

Each year a selection of grants are made at the discretion of the Trustees. We do not accept unsolicited grant proposals outside of the parameters of our open call.

Site visit to Weeksville Heritage Center

Site visit to Weeksville Heritage Center


  • The annual open call for Applications goes live on April 22, 2019.

  • Application forms for grants are available online from April 22 through September 13.

  • The deadline for receipt of applications in 2019 will be midnight, Eastern Standard Time, on September 13.

Applicants will be notified about the Foundation’s decision in January 2020.


Before submitting your application online, please read the guidelines to confirm that your organization qualifies for funding and include the following materials:
Provide any relevant supporting material including

  • resumes/qualifications of key personnel

  • a detailed budget with your application

  • an IRS tax determination letter with your EIN Number

  • visual documentation of your organization’s work as it relates to the request you are making to the Foundation. Applicants are strongly encouraged to provide such documentation.

If your organization received funding in 2019, you are required to submit an interim report when applying for funding for please submit your report as a pdf, including a narrative report, assessment of impact of the funded project, visual documentation, and a budgetary report indicating actual costs compared with your proposed project budget. This report should be 3 to 5 pages long.

The Rubin Foundation acknowledges that organizations operate on different fiscal calendars.

Grants are awarded for projects taking place between January and December 2020.

PLEASE NOTE that the foundation is unable to meet with applicants in advance of the deadline as we do not have the capacity to meet individually with each applicant organization.

PLEASE ALSO NOTE as of 2019, recent grantees going into their fourth consecutive funded cycle should be aware that priority will be given to new applicants, those who haven’t been funded so far, in order to level the playing field, and to encourage new applicants.

Questions about the application process can be directed to:


You can complete your online application form here.


Once grants are approved, grantees will be notified and subsequently paid upon completion of a written contract provided by the Foundation. Foundation staff members are available to consult with grantees by telephone and correspondence and will conduct site visits at the discretion of the Foundation. Due to limited staffing, site visits will not be arranged for organizations that are not current grantees. On completion of funded projects grantees are required to write a report

evaluating the project’s accomplishments. With the understanding that not all artistic and cultural programs can be evaluated in comparable ways, grantees should outline the metrics through which they plan to evaluate and measure the success of their work as a part of the grant application. Metrics should include the following baseline information, combined with anecdotal information to back up numeric data and to express impacts of the funded project on participants 

and audiences served.

  • The number of participants, audience, and attendees

  • Communities served (indicating demographics and geographic location)

  • Itemized actual budget with list of sources of income secured (public, private, and/or earned income) and a list of relevant costs incurred

Current & Past Grantees

View a list of Current Grantees here.

View a list of Past Grantees here.