Design Innovation Grant

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

Design Innovation Grant (DIG) supports a designer to continue work on an innovative project, idea, or service that marries art and design for public impact. 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, artistic excellence, and innovation in a design field. Each year, RISCA awards one $5,000 Design Innovation Grant to a designer whose proposal combines art, design, and public impact.

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


The deadline to apply for the Design Innovation Grant is 11:59pm on October 1st.

If a deadline falls on a weekend or holiday, the revised deadline will be 11:59 PM on the next business day. Late or incomplete applications will not be reviewed.


  • You must be a United States citizen or Green Card holder and a current, legal resident of the State of Rhode Island.
  • You must have established legal residence in Rhode Island for a minimum of twelve consecutive months prior to the date of application and you must be a current legal resident of the State of Rhode Island at the time that grant funds are disbursed. Rhode Island State Law (§44-30-5) defines a “resident” as someone “who is domiciled in this state” or “who is not domiciled in this state but maintains a permanent place of abode in this state and is in this state for an aggregate of more than one hundred eighty-three (183) days of the taxable year. If an individual selected for a grant award is no longer a resident of the State of Rhode Island when funds are to be disbursed, the grant award may be withdrawn.
  • You must be at least eighteen (18) years of age.
  • Students attending high school or students pursuing undergraduate or graduate degrees in an arts discipline or an arts-related subject area at the time of application may not apply.
  • You may apply for the Design Innovation Grant and a Project Grant for Individuals at the same deadline.

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

Fellowship grant 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). Past recipients of RISCA funding may not reapply for support unless all final reports for previous awards have been submitted according to grant contract guidelines.

Funding Conditions

The following conditions for funding apply to all Design Innovation Grant applicants:

  • One $5,000 grant will be awarded annually. The Council reserves the right to increase or decrease either the amount or the number of awards granted in any given year.
  • If you receive a grant, you must credit RISCA on all marketing materials. Grants awarded by the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts are provided by the Rhode Island State General Assembly and the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency, on behalf of the citizens of Rhode Island. For that reason, grant recipients must credit the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts on all printed material where funders and supporters are listed and on all printed programs (see Grant Award Requirements below for details).
  • 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. For example, any delays in the passing and signing of the state budget will affect the timing of grant notifications and the award being processed.
  • Grant applications are considered on a competitive basis. No applicant is guaranteed funding at any level, even if all basic criteria have been met.

Review Process

Once the application deadline passes, no alterations or additions may be made to your application. Applications are reviewed by a peer panel based on the contents of your application only. Late applications will not be accepted.

  • Review of applications by RISCA staff. RISCA staff reviews each application for compliance with eligibility and submission requirements. If RISCA staff detects issues, they may call upon applicants or grantees to furnish proof of their eligibility.
  • Review of grant applications by panel. A panel consisting of three experts in the specific discipline- chosen for their expertise, diversity in artistic style and practice, and accomplishments in the art field – reviews each application on their own, in advance of the in person panel day.
  • In-person panel review. The panel meets in person at RISCA offices to discuss each application and select the recipients. Panels are strongly encouraged to recommend awards, but reserve the right to decline to make a recommendation if they feel that no application warrants the Design Innovation Grant.
  • Council review of panel recommendations. The panel’s recommendations are presented to the Governor-appointed Council which oversees RISCA for approval.
  • Notification of grant awards. Notifications will be made approximately 3 months after the application deadline. Be aware that there is no guarantee that the process will move according to this schedule, as RISCA’s grant awards are dependent on both federal and state funding.

Once a grant has been awarded, applicants should understand that the grant processing procedure is lengthy. In many 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 Critera

Please note that an entirely new panel is convened each year, and panelists can only serve on any RISCA panel once every three years.

Design Proposal (50%)

  • The application clearly states:
    • The need or issue being addressed.
    • What the process, product, or service being proposed consists of and how it will function.
    • Current development phase.
    • Clear next steps for the project.
  • The proposed project has importance to the art and design field.
  • The proposed project is relevant and addresses the identified need or issue in an appropriate and impactful manner.
  • The project and design idea is innovative and serves a public good.

Artistic Merit (50%)

  • Evidence of artistic excellence.
  • Project has relevance to the community it will serve.
  • Support materials are relevant to the application, excellent quality and present a high level of artistic product.
  • Evidence of ability for the applicant to move their project to the next phase, as described in the application (reminder: a full realization of this design idea/proposal is NOT a requirement of this grant).
  • The proposal incorporates art and design in a meaningful way.

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.

How to Apply:

Applicants must submit a completed Design Innovation Grant application form via

Applicants are strongly encouraged to discuss their application with Mollie Flanagan in advance of submission, she can be contacted at or 222-3881.

Support Materials

Support materials should directly relate to and support your application, with a focus on the three review criteria. They should be professionally formatted, easy to read, and uploaded to the online application. 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 applicant may submit the same piece as support material at this deadline or in any future RISCA application. Applicants can submit the same support materials for a DIG grant and a Project Grant for Individuals if they are applying for both.

You can upload up to 8 images as jpegs or pdfs to the online grants system. Each image may be as large as 2 MB. We recommend that you size your files as close to 2 MB as possible without going over that size limit. Large digital files (such as CAD drawings) may be attached as pdfs. For video and audio submissions that are too large to attach to the online application:

  • Send via Vimeo:
    • Send password, if necessary
    • Select the option that allows the work to be downloaded
  • Create a google drive folder and share it with, with full permissions. The google drive folder name should include your name and which category you are applying for.
  • Drop off at RISCA offices by 4:30pm on the date of the deadline.

Please note that all support materials must be received prior to the deadline. Materials that arrive in the office via mail, in person drop off, or electronically after 11:59pm on the day of the deadline will not be included in the application when it is sent to the review panel.

Design Innovation Grant Award Requirements

  • You must acknowledge RISCA support in a prominent manner in all materials and announcements, both audio and visual, related to the grant program. Grant recipients must also display, in a prominent manner, the RISCA logo in association with that acknowledgment. Further detail regarding acknowledgement can be found at
  • You must submit a final grant report to RISCA. All grantees are required to submit a final report detailing their grant-related activities no later than the July 31 following the grant cycle. You will not be able to apply for another RISCA grant if you have an overdue final report. This form is submitted online through the grant portal.
  • You must keep records of receipts and expenditures related to the funded activity. Be prepared to make your records available to RISCA if requested by RISCA. 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 the grant period.
  • RISCA reserves the right to use any submitted materials for promotional purposes. This includes any text, photographs, audio, or video submitted as part of funded grant applications for limited non-commercial educational or promotional use in publications or other media produced, used or contracted by RISCA including, but not limited to: brochures, invitations, newsletters, postcards, websites, etc.

Benefits for Grantees

  • RISCA wants to help promote you! If you have a public event, receive press or accolades for your work, or other exciting news, submit information to RISCA via this Event and Publicity Submission Form: This will allow RISCA to post and promote your event via RISCA’s social media platforms and (possibly) email newsletter.
  • RISCA wants to support you in this – and future! – projects. If you have any questions about your grant, or your panel comments, please feel free to reach out RISCA staff. If you run into any issues in executing your project, please also feel free to reach out to RISCA staff. We want you to succeed – and we know things happen. We can help you troubleshoot and come up with solutions

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.