Neighborhood Access Program

The City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) is currently accepting Idea Submissions for its new Neighborhood Access Program. The goal of this program is to support the cultural vitality of every Chicago neighborhood via grant programs and partnerships designed to be responsive to the complex needs of individual communities. Through its pilot year, this program will offer direct grants for all types of community-based arts and culture activities.

This program seeks to increase access to DCASE funding with expanded eligibility criteria and a revised application process.

There’s three ways that you can share your idea with us. You can either:

1)  Narrative: Provide a brief written narrative describing your idea.

2)  Recording: Provide a 5-minute video or audio recording describing your idea. (Video does not need to be highly edited. iPhone videos are fine!)

3)  PDF/JPEG file upload: Provide a PowerPoint or other presentation with images and text describing your idea.


We want to hear about:

•  Why you want to do this project

•  What you hope to accomplish

•  Who will be involved

•  When and where it might take place

Download the Program Guidelines (PDF)

Submit your idea through CyberGrants by 5:00pm on Friday, May 21.

Please try to submit your idea earlier than the stated deadline because we can’t accept late submissions.


Join us for one of our Neighborhood Access Program Info Sessions to learn more about this new program. Registration is required and space is limited. A recording will be available to view on this webpage soon after the session takes place.

View May 5 Info Session Recording


If you need assistance in another language, and/or if you are an individual with a disability and need a reasonable accommodation to apply, please contact for assistance.


Eligiblity Criteria

Projects must have these elements:

•  Projects must have a primary goal to serve residents of a specific neighborhood or community.

•  Projects must engage neighborhood residents as participants or audiences between October 1, 2021 and December 31, 2022.

•  Lead applicant’s primary residence/address must be in the neighborhood where this engagement will take place.


The following entities may apply for a Neighborhood Access Program grant:

•  Any nonprofit organization, Special Service Area (SSAs) or Chamber of Commerce with 501(c)(3) or 501(c)(6) status, including religious institutions that provide significant services to the community that are non-religious in nature.

•  National nonprofit organizations with a Chicago branch.

•  Individual artists, cultural producers or curators.

•  Individuals/collectives applying using a fiscal sponsor/agent that meets all eligibility criteria.


Timeline ***All dates are subject to change



Idea Submission Portal opens
April 20, 2021       
Idea Submission Deadline Friday, May 21, 2021 5:00pm CST - No Extensions will be granted
July 2021 - All applicants will be notified about if they have been selected as a finalist or not.
Finalists Interviewed July 2021
Full Proposal Deadline
August 2021 - For invited finalists
Final Notifications October 2021 - All finalists will be notified about if they have been selected for a grant or not.
Payments Disbursed December 2021 - Grants will be made in a single, one-time payment.
Grant Period January 1, 2021 - December 31, 2022. This is the time during which grant funds must be spent.