Virginia P. Vieser Fund

Created in memory of Virginia P. Vieser in 1994, the Virginia P. Vieser Fund Supporting Arts in Education began with a gift from her estate. It continues to grow through gifts from members of We Spark the Arts, a giving network established by Erie Arts & Culture. Members of this group, like Virginia Vieser, realize the value and impact of arts in education projects.

It was the wish of Virginia Vieser to annually fund one Erie County non-profit arts organization that is undertaking a new and innovative arts in education project, with preference given to projects that have committed matching funds. The Vieser fund awards one $4,000 grant.

Grants are awarded through a competitive application process. Projects that align with at least one of Erie Arts & Culture’s strategic priorities will be prioritized:

  • Increase the capacity and impact of creative and cultural sector in the NWPA region
  • Fund opportunities for the arts in lifelong learning
  • Preserve, enhance and promote diverse cultures
  • Facilitate placemaking initiatives

Erie Arts & Culture will only consider applications and projects that are grounded in commitment to Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Accessibility (IDEA).

Note: Requests to cover ongoing operating expenses are ineligible for funding


  • Application Opens: January 1, 2024
  • Application Closes: March 15, 2024
  • Grantee announced and funds disbursed: May 31, 2024
  • Grant activity period: June 1, 2024 - May 31, 2025

    -Beginning in 2024, administration of this program will begin in January, with a grant activity period of May-April.


  • Requests should be in support of new initiatives.
  • Projects showing matching funds from other sources shall be prioritized.
  • Projects that do not receive state or federal education grants shall be prioritized.
  • Though in support of arts in education, projects can take place in any setting that exposes students of any age, whether youth or adults, to either the visual or performing arts.

What is a project?

The Virginia P. Vieser Fund awards one project-based grant. A project is defined as a limited, one-time effort that is intended to achieve a specific deliverable, or output, whereas programs are administered on a recurring basis, central to an organization's operations, and involve a number of related projects and other activities over time.


  • Applicants must be a 501(c)3 non-profit organization whose primary focus is providing high-quality arts experiences including arts engagement activities and/or arts education.
  • Individuals, local municipalities, local education agencies (school districts), institutions of higher learning, community development corporations, and non-profit organizations with primary missions outside of the arts are ineligible for the Vieser Grant.
  • The applicant’s principal office/activities must be located in Erie County, PA.
  • Applicants must not discriminate on the basis of age, race, color, religion, national origin, handicap, sexual orientation, marital status, gender or gender identity.
  • Applicants must be in good standing with Erie Arts & Culture and its program requirements.

Funding Criteria

The Vieser Grant strictly supports a new and innovative arts in education project in Erie County. This means grant funds should not be requested in support of recurring programs or capital improvement projects. Projects seeking funding shall meet the following requirements explicitly:

  • Project deliverables must be intended to provide an artistic or social benefit to stakeholders of Erie County.
  • Any events or activities supported through this grant program must be open to the public.
    • Open to the public does not necessarily mean free to the public.
  • No activities supported through this grant program may have a religious or political purpose.
  • This grant program is not designed to provide financial support as reimbursements for expenses incurred outside of the grant activity period.
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How to Apply

Apply via Submittable here


  • Application Opens - January 1 - March 15
  • Grant activity period: May 2024 - April 2025

Application Requirements

  • Background
    • Submit your mission statement and organization history
  • Project
    • Describe the project. What is the “big idea”? What artistic discipline(s) does your project rely upon? What needs or curriculum will you address?
    • What are the project activities and what is your timeline from start to finish?
    • In what ways do you integrate Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, Accessibility (IDEA) into project planning and implementation?
    • What strategic priorities of Erie Arts & Culture is your project aligned with?
    • What is your budget for this project? (budget form provided)
    • Please provide three examples of past work relevant to this project in discipline and scope.
  • Impact
    • Does this project fill a gap in Erie County? (ie, the proposed events or activities of this project are not already occurring or offered in Erie County)
      • If no, what makes your events or activities different or unique when compared to other options in Erie County?
    • Is this project intended to be one-time or recurring?
      • If recurring, what is your plan to sustain this project after the grant cycle ends?
    • What knowledge-based and/or social emotional objectives are you pursuing? Additionally, describe what you expect participants to be able to do at the conclusion of this project.
      • How will you measure success?
  • Stakeholders
    • Who are your internal stakeholders? Include key individuals, partners, and collaborators.
      • Who is leading this project? How will their time, talents, and resources be leveraged?
    • Who is your core group? Identify the estimated number, age, and type of individuals who will participate in this project.
      • What is your existing relationship with these stakeholders?
        • If these stakeholders are new to you, how will you cultivate your relationship?

Application Assistance

A hybrid virtual and in-person information session will be held. Location and time TBD.

“You speak, I write” approach will be available for applicants who request assistance.

Evaluation Criteria (out of 100 total points)

Project (50 points)

  • Project is well planned and appropriate for the identified core group of participants. (15 points)
  • Project is informed by the principles of IDEA. (15 points)
  • Budget is appropriate for the project’s scale and scope. (10 points)
  • Project aligns with at least one of Erie Arts & Culture’s strategic priorities. (10 points)

Impact (25 points)

  • Project is not currently offered by others, fills a gap in Erie County’s existing artistic activities. (5 points)
  • Project uses the arts to advance knowledge-based and/or social emotional growth. (10 points)
  • Evaluation methods will help the applicant know to what degree success was achieved. (10 points)

Stakeholders (25 points)

  • Project builds upon existing relationships or activates new relationships with external stakeholders. (15 points)
  • Internal stakeholders are qualified and lend new perspectives and/or professional expertise to the project. (10 points)

Review Process

All applications will be reviewed by Erie Arts & Culture staff for eligibility. Staff will conduct a preliminary review using an objective checklist to ensure eligibility, and eligible applicants will be forwarded to Erie Arts & Culture’s Programming Committee for review. The Programs Committee will present final grantee recommendations to the Board of Directors for approval.


In lieu of written reports, Erie Arts & Culture staff will host a brief interim check-in call with the grantee. In addition to tracking progress towards grant goals, this informal interim report will help Erie Arts & Culture identify the grantee’s needs outside of funding, and determine what approach, if any, Erie Arts & Culture can take to help see these needs met. At the end of the 12 month grant cycle, the grantee will be invited to a small peer group (assembled based on common feedback from interim calls), which will meet to discuss their projects in a round table, oral report.

Sample Application


Join us for an Info Session

Join us for an information session on February 8th 1-2pm

Register Here


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Please contact Casey Corritore, Program Officer of Capacity Building: [email protected].

Erie Arts & Culture

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