Design Innovation Grants

Are you a FY2018 grant recipient who needs to submit your final report by July 31? Click here to access the RISCA grant portal for individuals.

Rhode Island is home to a wealth of talented design professionals who are skilled innovators, entrepreneurs and problem solvers. The Design Innovation Grant program encourages these design professionals to develop plans and concepts that represent a high level of creative problem solving and innovation.

The Design Innovation Grant is a cash award for Rhode Island design proposals that:

  • Innovate a specific design, process or application; OR
  • Create a product or service with potential public benefit;

Awards are based upon samples of past work and proposals for future work. Grant recipients are not required to pursue implementation of winning design proposals nor completion of design projects. They will be asked, however, to take their design to the next phase. They should, for example, meet with potential partners, create more detailed schematics, or project development plans.

Grant Amounts

One grant of $6000 will be awarded each year.


October 1, midnight.


  • At least eighteen years of age.
  • Not a high school, undergraduate or graduate student studying art or arts-related subjects.
  • United States citizen or Green Card holder.
  • Legal Rhode Island resident from at least a year before the application date to when grant is made (see more information here).


Mollie Flanagan, Individual Artists Program Director, 401-222-3882.

What RISCA will  and will not fund

Council support may be used for expenses related to a specific project, such as production, presentation, marketing, and reasonable administrative expenses necessary for carrying out the project.

Council support may not be used for:

  • Bricks and mortar activities and capital improvements, or for the purchase of permanent equipment.
  • Eliminating or reducing existing debt, or for contributions to an endowment fund.
  • Fundraising efforts, such as social events or benefits.
  • Prizes and awards.
  • Hospitality expenses, such as food and beverages for openings or receptions.
  • Under no circumstances will the purchase of alcoholic beverages be supported.
  • Expenses incurred or activities occurring prior to July 1 or after June 30 in the fiscal year in which the grant has been awarded.
  • Applications where the purpose is to “regrant” or award funds using some or all of the RISCA grant funds.
  • Activities which are part of a graduate or undergraduate degree program, or for which academic credit is received.
  • Applications for projects that proselytize or promote religious activities, or which take place as part of a religious service.
  • Performances and exhibitions not available to the general public, or which are inaccessible to people with disabilities.

How to Apply

All applications including support materials must be submitted online.

Application Support Materials

All support materials must be submitted on disc and/or online. No original or single editions of works will be accepted. We encourage applicants to upload images as png or jpgs, sound files as mp4, and text documents online. Individual files cannot be larger than 2MB.
Large digital files (such as CAD drawings) may be attached as pdfs. You also have the option of sharing digital
files via DropBox, GoogleDrive or Vimeo. Files may also be brought to the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts offices on disc (4 copies).

The applicant must submit work that has been created within the
three years prior to the date of application. The applicant must be the primary creative force behind the work. Consequently, no other artist may submit the same piece as support material at this deadline or in any future RISCA application. Artists may submit the same support materials for a Design Innovation Grant and Project Grant for Individuals if they are applying for both.

Please be aware that work will be viewed one image at a time,
in the order you have designated. Images should be numbered and arranged
according to the Support Materials Sheet and according to the order
submitted online. For each item please list on the Support Materials
Reference Sheet and within the Description field online the title,
medium, dimensions, year of completion.


  • Up to eight images.
  • A proposal, 3 pages maximum that includes:
    1. Problem statement: what is the need or issue that your design
      project seeks to address?
    2. Stage of Development: How far along is the project? e.g. concept; draft; fundraising has begun; production and marketing
      have begun, etc.
  • Background or planning process: how did this problem come to your
    attention and how did you approach finding a solution?
  • Description of the design concept or project: how it will function? what are the parts?
    what would be the next phase of development? .. .
  • How this proposal is new and innovative and/or has a potential
    public benefit.
  • Desired outcomes: would you like to present your
    proposal at a design conference? Do you feel that your project could
    be realized with the proper resources?
  • Applicant’s resume or CV.
  • A Support Materials sheet with a numbered list of support materials,
    including titles, years of completion, dimensions, materials, and any
    other information that will help the panel to understand visual materials.

Application Review Criteria

  • 50% – Quality of the design proposal. Applicants are advised to explain why or how their design idea is innovative and/or beneficial.
    to the public. Panels will also be most interested in funding projects that are in their very early stages.
  • 50% – Artistic Merit of the applicant. Applicants are advised to submit samples of past work within the past three years that is of the highest quality.

Application Review Process

  • Staff review: All applications are reviewed by staff to determine compliance with eligibility requirements. Council staff may call upon applicants or grantees to furnish proof of their eligibility.
  • Panel review: A panel consisting of one in-state member, one out-of state member and a third regional (not to exclude Rhode Island) design professional will review all eligible applications on the basis of artistic merit, creativity, innovation, and project feasibility. The panel will recommend one Design Innovation Grant Award Winner. Panels are strongly encouraged to recommend awards, but reserve the right to decline to make a recommendation if they feel that no applicant displays sufficient quality to warrant receiving a grant.
  • Council Approval: The panel’s recommendations are presented to the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts for approval.