Advancement Grants

Advancement Grants (AG) are available to non-profit arts and humanities organizations located in Montgomery County, MD, that have annual cash expenses of at least $50,000 for the most recently completed fiscal year. Advancement Grants for FY21 cover activities occurring from July 1, 2020 through June 30, 2021.

The award amounts for Advancement Grants range from $10,000 to $100,000. Organizations applying for $25,000 to $50,000 MUST submit an FY19 audit, or a review of FY19 financial statements if an audit is not available. Requests for over $50,000 require an FY19 audit.

By awarding Advancement Grants, the Arts & Humanities Council of Montgomery County (AHCMC) seeks to:

  • Assist arts and humanities organizations in maintaining fiscal stability and long-term viability;
  • Support arts and humanities organizations in their long-term planning, planning for capital improvement projects, and/or technology improvements critical to their mission; and
  • Encourage the use of intentional strategies for achieving equity, diversity, inclusion and access in the field

*Please note that in FY21, to check eligibility, organizations will be required to submit a budget worksheet provided by AHCMC indicating allowable and non-allowable income and expenses. The worksheet should be completed based on the organization’s FY19 financial statements. This form will be available in FluidReview and below under the “Application” tab.

Back to Grants Homepage


Friday, February 21, 2020 - 11:59 pm

AHCMC Grants Team

Karen Judson
Grants Program Manager
(301) 565-3804
Ana-Alicia Feng
Grants Program Coordinator
(301) 565-3805 x21
Takenya LaViscount
Grants Director
(240) 839-4519
Dates + Deadlines

FY21 Submission Deadlines

  • Guidelines Released – Monday, December 23, 2019 11:59 p.m.
  • Application – Friday, February 21, 2020 – 11:59 p.m.
  • The FY21 submission deadline has passed

First-time applicants are highly encouraged to contact Grants Program staff. Applications and all relevant materials must be submitted online. Late applications and relevant materials will not be accepted.

Applications will be accepted for activities occurring from July 1, 2020 through June 30, 2021.

Additional Dates Post-Application

  • Panel Review (conference call)
    • Friday, April, 17, 2020 (GOS I) 9:30 p.m. – 1:05 p.m.
    • Friday, April, 24, 2020 (GOS II) 3:00 p.m. – 3:40 p.m.
  • Award Announcement – late June 2020
  • FY21 Mid-Year Report Due – January 2021
  • FY21 Final Report Due – July 31, 2021
Workshops + Webinars

Workshops at AHCMC

  • Monday January 27, 2020 from 4:00 – 5:00 p.m.
  • This event has passed


  • Friday January 24, 2020 from 11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
  • This event has passed

    All AHCMC webinars will be hosted through the Zoom platform. Go to our Workshops and Webinars page to see all upcoming workshops and webinars.


    Workshops and webinars allow grant-seekers to ask AHCMC grants staff specific questions about the grant guidelines, application, and FluidReview online grant portal. At each workshop and webinar, grants staff will review major eligibility requirements, present an overview of the grant category, and offer technical assistance for the application process and use of the FluidReview online grant portal.

    Guidelines + Eligibility


    Click here to view the full FY21 AG Guidelines

    Proposal Eligibility Requirements

    To be eligible, the Advancement Grant proposal must meet the following requirements:

    • Contributes to the organization’s fiscal stability and long-term viability
    • Addresses long-term planning, planning for capital improvement projects, or technology improvements critical to an organization’s arts or humanities mission
    • Heightens the applicant’s ability to provide services that directly benefit Montgomery County constituents

    Required Application Materials:

    1. Completed Narrative
    2. Organizational Support Materials
      • IRS Letter
      • List of Board of Directors
      • List of key staff
      • Strategic plan (if available)
    3. Project Support Materials
    4. Financial Support Materials
      • FY19 990 (must be received by AHCMC no later than June 1, 2020)
      • FY19 audit (must be received by AHCMC no later than June 1, 2020)
      • Financial statements (Profit & Loss and Balance Sheet) for the most recently completed fiscal year
      • Current fiscal year operating budget with actuals year-to-date
      • Budget worksheet provided by AHCMC
      • Documentation of pledges of financial support
      • Projected FY21 budget (if available)
    5. Programming Support Materials
    6. Work Sample(s)

      Eligibility Requirements

      Read the guidelines for full eligibility requirements. An organization has to have met ALL the following criteria for at least the previous three consecutive fiscal years immediately prior to the application deadline:

      • Has its primary mission the exhibition, presentation, production or performance of, and/or education in, an arts and/or humanities discipline; and/or provides support services for artists and/or scholars and for arts and/or humanities organizations;
      • Has a balanced budget and annual documented cash operating expenses/income of no less than $50,000;
      • Demonstrates 501 (c)(3) status through one of the ways stated in the guidelines on page 4;
      • Has its primary office in Montgomery County, as demonstrated by the IRS Letter of Determination;
      • Is governed by an independent, legally liable Board operating under a mission statement for the organization;
      • At least 40% of the applicant’s board members reside and/or work in Montgomery County as of the grant application deadline;
      • Has at least one paid staff person working a minimum of 5 hours a week to support the organization’s Board, comply with the grant requirements, and maintain ongoing programming. Requests over $25,000 require at least one paid staff person working a minimum of 20 hours a week to support the organization’s Board, comply with the grant requirements, and maintain ongoing programming;
      • Offers at least 51% of its programs and services in Montgomery County, as demonstrated by previous, current, and projected years’ activities/programming

      Information about Audits and Financial Reviews

      Obtaining an independent audit means a certified public accountant (CPA), not employed by the organization, conducted an examination and provided an unbiased opinion regarding the nonprofit’s financial statements. The auditor conducts his or her examination in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP). An audit requires a much higher level of scrutiny and analysis as compared to a financial review.

      A financial review is also conducted by an independent CPA, however as a financial review is more limited in scope than an audit, the assurance is more limited. A financial review provides assurance that the organization’s financial statements have been reviewed by a CPA and are materially accurate.


      The application deadline has passed.

      We are no longer accepting applications for this year.

      If you are a grantee, all grant agreements, mid-year reports, and final reports must be completed on the FluidReview application portal. Click HERE to login.

      Guides for FluidReview:

      Previous Grants Awarded

      FY20 Advancement Grants

      $340,565 awarded for July 1, 2019 – June 30, 2020

      Advancement Grants assist arts and humanities organizations in attaining fiscal stability and long-term viability. Grants support long-term planning, and technology improvements critical to an organization’s arts/humanities mission. Eight organizations were awarded in FY20.

      Review Advancement Grants from previous fiscal years and all of our grants awarded from any grants category HERE.

      Adventure Theatre MTC

      Glen Echo, Maryland ($22,500)

      Grant funds will be used to upgrade theatre technology and displays. Upgrades include replacing aging production equipment, improving theatre lighting, and enhancing customer experience and safety. These infrastructure projects are designed to collectively improve both artistic presentations and management operations.

      Gandhi Brigade Youth Media

      Silver Spring, Maryland ($16,000)

      Grant funds will be used to develop and implement a plan to help guide Gandhi Brigade Youth Media as the organization expands programming in its new space at the Silver Spring Library. The move into the Library offers the organization a unique  opportunity to both expand and diversify programming. Gandhi Brigade will hire consultants to assist in developing a plan that will guide funding, staffing, and programming decisions.

      KID Museum, Inc.

      Bethesda, Maryland ($84,150)

      Grant funds will be used for the exhibit design and development process for KID Museum’s new home. KID Museum will issue an RFP to select the exhibit design firm and contract exhibit developers. At the end of the project, KID Museum will have conceptual sketches for key exhibit areas, formative evaluation on exhibit prototypes, and exhibit fabrication documents.

      New Orchestra of Washington

      Rockville, Maryland ($10,455)

      Grant funds will be used for the development of a strategic branding plan over the next several seasons, as the organization embraces its mission of building a positive, inclusive, and inspired community around New Orchestra of Washington’s (NOW) artistic brand. The strategic branding plan will create effective messaging and an organizational narrative to implement marketing priorities, strategies, action items, evaluation tools, and set the stage for a new period of growth for the organization in the next decade.

      Olney Theatre Center

      Olney, Maryland ($88,000)

      Grant funds will be used to advance two planning processes essential to the success of Olney Theatre Center’s (OTC) long-term goals and part of a five-year capital campaign. First, OTC will undertake an engineering analysis and entitlement process to build a dedicated education center for youth and life-long learners, a ring road to improve patron safety, and housing for guest artists. Second, funds will support market analysis to inform long-term program planning for the new education center to ensure that the new facility effectively meets the needs of county residents, including MCPS and local communities facing barriers to equal arts access.

      Round House Theatre

      Bethesda, Maryland ($92,000)

      Grant funds will be used to upgrade the theatre’s technology to provide patron-focused service through a new customer relationship management software platform, integrated website interface, and ticket scanning equipment. The technological upgrade will allow Round House to better tailor communications to different patron constituencies, respond to patron needs in real time, generate reports that offer feedback on fundraising, marketing activities, and to increase return on investment.

      Story Tapestries, Inc.

      Germantown, Maryland ($14,340)

      Grant funds will be used to engage  a nonprofit consultant to help guide organizational capacity building activities, to diversify fundraising strategies, and to engage a technical consultant to help improve donor tracking and reporting tools. Working with the consultants will strengthen Story Tapestries organizational capacity and position the organization for long-term sustainability. Grant funds will also support Board member attendance at courses offered by Nonprofit Montgomery and the Bridge Conference.

      Young Artists of America at Strathmore

      North Bethesda, Maryland ($13,120)

      Grant funds will be used to create a growth plan for Young Artists of America at Strathmore’s (YAA) successful Summer Performing Arts Intensives (SPAI) program, which is approaching capacity at its current location, and is the most rapidly expanding revenue source in the organization’s budget. YAA will hire a consulting team with the requisite skills to conduct the necessary research and analysis to help staff and Board create a growth plan that lays out the best possible direction for SPAI’s next phase. This complements the recent completion of a strategic plan reflecting YAA’s future vision of the organization as a whole.

      FY20 Information

      Click here to view the full FY20 AG Guidelines

      Applicable ONLY to FY20 grantees.

      All grant agreements, mid-year reports, and final reports must be completed on the FluidReview application portal. Click HERE to login.

      Remaining FY20 Dates

      • Grant Change Request Deadline – Friday, May 15, 2020
      • FY20 Final Report Due – August 31, 2020 – 11:59 p.m.
      Has your project changed? Fill out and submit the Grant Change Request Form before May 15, 2020 for approval.

      Applicants are required to complete this form to request permission for a project change. We understand the urgency of change requests however, the length of time required to review each change request will vary, and is dependent upon the complexity of the proposed change, and the detail provided by the grantee justifying why the change is necessary.

      Change requests lacking information will take longer to process. Please allow one month for AHCMC Grants staff to review your request.