Frequently Asked Questions
Application & Process
How do I apply for a grant from the Foundation?
Our entire application process is online. Create an online account here.
What should I do if I misplace my password information?
If you created an account in the past but cannot recall the password, you can reset it by clicking on the “Forgot your Password?” link on our online login page.
Can I submit an application via regular mail?
No. All grant requests must be submitted online. If this creates a significant obstacle, please contact Cullen Foundation.
What is your timeline for upcoming open grant cycles?
Cullen Foundation will run two open responsive grant cycles each year. The winter grant cycle will begin in January and the summer grant cycle will begin in July. See key deadlines for the next open grant cycle.
How may I be notified of the next grant cycle?
Join our mailing list (located at the bottom of the website) to be notified of upcoming grant cycles.
Are there any requirements prior to starting a grant application?
Prior to filling out an LOI or Application for Cullen funding in Foundant , organizations are required to have a Pre-LOI call with a Cullen staff member. If you are applying for Education funding, please contact Education Program Officer, Corey Bower at [email protected]. If you are applying for Performing Arts funding, please contact President, Florine Luhr at [email protected].
Can an individual apply for funding?
No, Cullen Foundation does not fund individuals. To apply for funding an organization must meet all the required eligibility criteria, including being a 501(c)3, have audited or reviewed financials, and have a mission and service(s) that aligned with our guidelines and mission.
Does Cullen Foundation fund multi-year grants?
Yes, grant requests may be made for one, two or three years of funding. However, multi-year requests are only approved when the Foundation believes that the nature of the request is essential to the project's success.
What is the maximum amount that can be requested per year?
The maximum amount that can be requested is $100,000 per year. Awards for this amount are rare and only approved if the Foundation feels that there is a strategic alignment between our mission and your program's outcomes.
Will I have an advantage by submitting a request sooner than the deadline date?
Submitting a request before the deadline will not guarantee approval but it is beneficial to applicants. LOI’s are accepted on a rolling basis so that once an LOI is approved, the applicant may proceed to the Full Application phase. This will allow the applicant more time to complete the Full Application. In addition, application review meetings are granted on a rolling basis so applicants who submit their application early will have preference for available review meetings.
It's highly recommended that applications are submitted 2-3 days in advance of the deadline in order for staff to review and verfiy that the LOI/application is completed accurately and sufficiently. If information is missing and/or the submission is incomplete, it will be sent back to the applicant to be completed in its entirety prior to the 5pm deadline.
Who decides if a grant will be made?
The Board of Trustees reviews all qualifying applications and determines if they may be funded.
When will I be notified of the Foundation's decision regarding my application?
You will receive a phone call and/or written notification of the Foundation Board's decision within 7 days of the relevant monthly board meeting.
What are the reporting requirments for a grant?
Reports are available to view in your Foundant profile once your grant is approved. Multi-year grants have a progress report due at the end of each year with a final report due at the completion of the final grant year. One-year grants have a final report due at the completion of the grant year. Progress Reports are due one month prior to your next grant payment. Final Reports are due one month after the completion date of your grant. For any questions related to reporting please contact our Grants Manager, Nick Schifano at [email protected].
Eligibility & Requirements
What are the minimum requirements to apply for a Performing Arts Responsive Grant?
The focus on performing arts programming must be reflected in the organization’s mission statement. The organization must be Erie County, NY based and physically headquartered in WNY. The total 501(c)(3) must be dedicated principally to performance, and/or presentation of performing arts programming. Additionally, all other Cullen eligibility requirements and criteria must be met.
What is the Performing Arts “Action Grant” opportunity and how do I know if I’m eligible to apply for that category?
Cullen’s Performing Arts “Action Grant” enables past performing arts grantees (since 2015) to apply for up to $7,500 through a streamlined, one-step application process (i.e. no LOI). Applications are accepted on a rolling basis and will be processed within six (6) weeks of receipt; requests can be made for one to three years of funding; and fund disbursement is expedited. All other Cullen eligibility requirements and criteria must be met. Applicants may not have an open grant with Cullen to apply and be considered for this grant.
Are there geographic restrictions for funding eligibility?
Erie County is our primary geographic service area with the following exceptions:
• Education programs not located in Erie County must serve at least 80% Erie County residents.
• For performing arts requests, Cullen Foundation limits funding opportunities to Western NY-based performing art organizations that directly benefit Erie County’s (NY) residents. All applicants should be based in WNY and all Cullen funds will be used toward programs that directly serve Erie County (NY) residents. Neighboring county-based performing arts organizations may apply but must demonstrate with reliable audience data that they serve a large number of Erie County residents (i.e. > than 50% of the organization’s audience members). Organizations traveling to WNY to perform for Erie County residents must partner with and apply through a WNY-based organization with all additional Cullen eligibility criteria in effect (i.e. one open grant per organization).
How important is it to have audited or reviewed financial statements?
Cullen Foundation requires that your organization submit audited or reviewed financials prepared by a CPA as part of the Letter of Intent (LOI) and that statements are for the most recently completed fiscal year. Please click here
for more information on types/levels of financial reviews (this link will take you to a brochure made available on the website of the American Institute of CPA's).
Does Cullen Foundation offer individual scholarships?
The only scholarships provided are through our Cullen Scholars program. See Cullen Scholars
for more information on the program.
Does Cullen Foundation fund event sponsorships?
No, Cullen Foundation does not fund and/or sponsor specific events including galas, luncheons and fundraising events, conferences, or travel opportunities including those hosted by or to benefit local education and/or performing arts groups.
Can an organization apply to Cullen Foundation for travel costs related to an opportunity to perform outside of WNY?
No, Cullen Foundation does not fund this type of activity.
My organization has received support from Cullen in the past. Are we eligible to apply for another grant?
Grantees may not apply for additional grant funding from Cullen Foundation until all previous grant requirements from the Foundation are fulfilled and the grant is closed. A grant is closed when all funding is disbursed and all grant requirements, including the Final Report, are fully executed, complete and approved by our staff. The steps to close out a grant are detailed in the Reporting Guidelines
which are also sent to grantees with the grant award letter.
Grantees are on an 18-month cycle. For example, if an organization applied in January 2016 and received a one-year grant award in June 2016, the next eligible grant cycle is Summer 2017 (July 2017). If an organization applied in July 2016 and received a one-year award in December 2016, the next eligible grant cycle is Winter 2018 (January 2018). To confirm your eligibility before you begin an LOI, contact Nick Schifano at [email protected].
How long will it take my organization to complete your application?
Past applicants have indicated that they spend approximately 9 hours or more on our grant process (Pre-LOI Call, LOI, application and application review meeting).
Does Cullen Foundation make available a copy of its Annual Returns (IRS 990 abd Form 990-T)?
A “Public Inspection Copy” of Cullen Foundation’s Form 990 and Form 990-T are available to anyone who requests inspection of our Annual Returns. For more information or to make an appointment to inspect a copy, contact us at [email protected] .
Can I call the Foundation with questions?
Yes! We encourage you to call the Foundation at any stage to talk with a staff member.