Design Innovation Grant

To apply, click here to access the RISCA grant portal for individuals.

Design Innovation Grants (DIG) supports a designer to continue work on an innovative project, idea, or service. RISCA recognizes that Rhode Island is home to a wealth of talented design professionals who are skilled innovators, entrepreneurs and problem solvers. The DIG program seeks to encourage these professionals to develop plans and concepts that represent a high level of creative problem solving and innovation in a design field. The DIG grant is a cash award for Rhode Island designers who demonstrate excellence and innovation in their field.

Proposals should be highly creative and show potential for innovation and/or implementation, and address one of the following goals:

  • Innovation of a specific kind of design, process or application
  • Creation of a product or service that has a potential public benefit

Awards are based upon samples of past work and proposals for future work. Award recipients are expected to pursue the next phase of their project such as meeting with potential partners, creating more detailed schematics, creating a project development plan, etc., regardless of whether the project is ever fully realized.

Grant Amounts

One $6,000 grant is awarded annually.


  • October 1, 11:59pm

If the deadline falls on a weekend or holiday, the deadline will be 11:59 PM the next business day. Any hard copy support materials must be received at the RISCA offices by 4:30 pm of the appropriate day. Postmarks do not apply; materials postmarked by the deadline date but received on a later date will not be counted as part of your application. Late or incomplete applications will not be reviewed.


Mollie Flanagan, Individual Artists Program Director, 401-222-3881.


To receive this grant you must meet these requirements:

  • 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 (more information available here).

You may apply for Design Innovation Grant, a Fellowship and/or a Project Grant for Individuals at the same deadline.

DIG recipients will be ineligible to apply in the same category for two deadlines following receipt of an award (example, if you applied on October 1, 2017 and received a fellowship, you may not apply again until October 1, 2020). Recipients of Merit Awards may apply at subsequent deadlines. Prior recipients of RISCA funds may not apply unless all past due final reports for previous grants and Fellowships have been submitted.

RISCA staff, Council members, and their spouses and immediate relatives are ineligible to apply for RISCA funds.

Funding Considerations

All RISCA grant awards are contingent upon the availability of funds from the Rhode Island State General Assembly and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Grant applications are considered on a competitive basis. No applicant is guaranteed funding at any level, even if all basic criteria have been met.

The Council reserves the right to increase or decrease either the amount or the number of awards granted in any given year.

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.

Review Process

The application review process follows approximately this schedule:

  • Applications are due.
  • Applications are checked by staff for accuracy, completeness and, determine compliance with eligibility and submission requirements. RISCA staff may call upon applicants or grantees to furnish proof of their eligibility. Staff then prepare the application for review by an advisory panel.
  • A panel consisting of one in-state member, one out-of-state member, and a third regional (not to exclude Rhode Island) member reviews each application and scores it based on the review criteria.
  • The panel meets in person to make a final decision.
  • The panel will recommend a Design Innovation Grant recipient.
  • Notification of grant awards will be made approximately three months after the application deadline.

Be aware that there is no guarantee that the process will move according to this schedule, and it may take more time to review and award grants at certain times of the year.
Once a grant has been awarded, applicants should understand that the grant processing procedure is lengthy. In some cases, grant funds may not be received prior to the start of a project. Applicants should be aware of this possibility and plan their cash flow accordingly.

Review Criteria

Design Proposal (50%)

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. Please include at least one line describing what phase your project is currently in (i.e. concept, draft, fundraising has begun, production and marketing have begun, etc.) and what the next phase of the project would ideally consist of.

Artistic Merit (50%)

Past work and participating artists are of high artistic quality. Support materials are of excellent quality and present a high level of artistic product.

Access for People with Disabilities

Applicants who need assistance completing an application and/or require an interpreter should contact RISCA well in advance of the deadline. LARGE PRINT GUIDELINES ARE AVAILABLE UPON REQUEST.
Persons with disabilities have the right to access all RISCA-funded programs. Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act states, in part, that “no otherwise qualified person with a disability … shall solely by reason of their disability be excluded from the participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.”

How to Apply

Applicants must submit a completed Design Innovation Grant application form via

Support Materials

Support Materials will be reviewed in the order they are submitted, which should match the Support Materials List. In the Support Materials List, include the title, medium, dimensions, and year of completion. 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 can submit the same support materials for a DIG grant and a Project Grant for Individuals if they are applying for both.


  • All text documents as PDFs
  • Sound files as MP3s
  • Visual images as JPEGs
  • Videos as MP4s


For submissions of video or audio that are too large to attach to the online application use one of these options

  • Mail or drop off a flashdrive to Mollie Flanagan, RISCA, One Capitol Hill, 3rd Floor, Providence, RI 02908 by 4:30 pm on the day of the deadline
  • Send via Vimeo (send password if needed, allow for work to be downloaded)
  • Share a google drive folder named with your name and the category you are applying for with with full permissions.

Grant Award Requirements

Recipients must acknowledge their RISCA support in a prominent manner in all materials and announcements, both audio and visual, related to the performance, exhibition, etc. mounted as a result of their support from RISCA. Recipients must also display, in a prominent manner, the RISCA logo in association with the acknowledgment. Guidelines and logos here.

Final Report

All Fellowship and Merit Award recipients are required to submit a final report providing an overview of their activities during the year of their grant award by no later than July 31 the year following their award. For example, if you received an award at the April or October 2017 deadline, your final report is due July 31, 2018.

All grantees are subject to periodic audit or review by RISCA or the State of Rhode Island and must retain fiscal records for a period of seven (7) years following completion of the grant period.

Tax Liability

RISCA recommends that individuals concerned about tax liability regarding their grant award follow the advice of their accountant. You will not receive tax documents from RISCA for this award.

Limits of Liability

The Rhode Island State Council on the Arts is not responsible for damage or loss of materials submitted to its office, whether or not such damage or loss is caused by negligence of the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts, its employees, or agents.

All supporting materials submitted must be duplications of work. No original or single editions of works will be accepted.

Hard copies of support materials will be mailed back to an applicant only if a self-addressed, stamped envelope with sufficient postage is provided (with the exception of manuscripts which will not be returned). Support Materials from applications without a self-addressed stamped envelope will be held for sixty (60) days following the award decision and may be picked up during normal business hours, 8:30 am – 4:30 pm, at the Council offices. See the Assurances section at the end of the application for additional information on RISCA’s use of support materials from funded projects.