Operating Support I

Organizations with budgets less than $300,000 annually


The Operating Support program provides an unrestricted investment in the general operations, administration and programs of eligible arts, science and history and heritage organizations. Operating Support partners demonstrably advance ASC’s mission of ensuring access to an excellent, relevant and sustainable cultural community for the Charlotte-Mecklenburg region. These investments are intended to supplement other revenue, both earned and contributed, generated by the organization.


Organizations must meet all criteria listed in order to be eligible for Operating Support I.

Mission and Programs

  • A primary mission of arts, science, and history/heritage programming.
  • Offer programs year-round/periodic in Mecklenburg County.
  • Regular programming presented consistently in Mecklenburg County over each of the past three years.
  • Offer programs that are accessible to all Mecklenburg County citizens regardless of race, color, sex, religion, age, national origin, marital status, sexual orientation, disability or any characteristic protected by law.
  • Show advancement in program excellence in all creative endeavors.


  • Current 501(c)(3) federal tax-exempt status with a primary place of business in Mecklenburg County.
  • Bylaws approved by the Board of Directors of the organization.
  • Professional qualified paid staff/contractors to ensure high quality programs to constituents.
  • An active and financially (including in-kind) supportive Board of Directors representing our culturally diverse community and operating under a Board-approved rotation policy with specified terms.
  • A Board of Directors that operates without conflict of governance, to include a provision that states that no Board or staff member who receives remuneration for services rendered to the organization can serve as a voting member of the Board.

Financial and Organizational Health

  • Evidenced by regular and timely submission of IRS form 990, both annual operating revenues and annual operating expenditures that averaged less than $300,000 in its three most recently completed fiscal years.
  • A demonstrated ability to match the ASC investment through generating sufficient earned income and securing other private support (including in-kind).


  • Proof of compliance with all local, state, and federal laws or requirements (i.e. IRS form 990, state auditor forms, NC solicitation license, etc.).

The following entities are not be eligible for ASC Operating Support Investments but may be eligible for ASC Project Support.

  • Institutions of higher education or individual departments of colleges and universities.
  • Organizations with a primary focus of during the school day programs for pre-K through 12th grade students.
  • After school programs and summer camps.
  • Public broadcasting media, radio and television stations.
  • Churches or church-affiliated programs receiving a significant portion of their base support from a church or religious organization.
  • Governmental institutions, i.e., public libraries, park and recreational facilities, schools, etc.

Application Deadline

Applications for FY19 (July 1, 2018 – June 30, 2019) Operating Support are due no later than noon on Friday, March 16, 2018.

Award Notification

Fiscal year 2019 applicants will be notified electronically on July 1, 2018 regarding the status of their request.

Grant Amount

Varies. Operating Support I awards will not exceed 25% of the Organization’s cash revenues, based on 3 most recently completed fiscal years.

How to Apply

All applicants are required to apply through our online application system. Organizations currently funded with an Operating Support I Grant will receive access to their application form by email no later than December 31, 2017.

Interested organizations who are not currently funded with an Operating Support Grant should email katherine.mooring@artsandscience.org to discuss eligibility and request access to the application. Note: Due to the time required to prepare a successful application for Operating Support, ASC will not consider requests for application access by new organizations received after noon on Friday, February 16, 2018.

Review Criteria

Panel members will evaluate all applications using the following criteria and ratings:

Excellence (30 points)

  • Create, foster, and evaluate innovative, distinctive and stimulating programs (10 points)
  • Attract and nurture high quality creative talent (10 points)
  • Provide local, regional and/or statewide programmatic leadership (10 points)

Relevance (30 points)

  • Offer accessible community programs to diverse constituency (10 points)
  • Attract and grow customers from the Charlotte Metropolitan Service Area (10 points)
  • Engage participants in a broad range of activities (10 points)

Sustainability (30 points)

  • Leadership (10 points)
    • Maintain professional & volunteer leadership that reflects Mecklenburg County’s diverse community to lead the organization
  • Financial Stability (15 points)
    • Demonstrated ability to achieve budgeted operating results (5 points)
    • Operating Surplus vs. Deficit (5 points)
    • Trends & fluctuations in individuals donors supporting the organization (5 points)
  • Financial Stewardship (5 points)
    • Evidence of an active board finance committee and the board’s level of assurance of financials (5 points)

Compliance with ASC Policies (10 points)

  • Marketing & Communication guidelines, timely submission of required paperwork, etc.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What assistance is provided to applicants?

A: If you have general questions about eligibility or review criteria, please email katherine.mooring@artsandscience.org. Those applicants who are interested may email a Draft of their Full Application for review by the ASC Cultural & Community Investment team. Drafts may be emailed by clicking the “Email Draft” button from inside the Full Application form online. Draft Reviews will be accepted between March 5 and 9 and should be directed to grants@artsandscience.org. Feedback will be provided by 5 p.m. Monday, March 12. Draft reviews will be accepted on a first come first serve basis and as time allows. Drafts emailed after 5 p.m. March 9 will not be eligible for feedback.

Q: What is the review process?

A: A panel consisting of local industry professionals and ASC Board Members will assess the strengths and weaknesses of the application against the criteria described above in the Review Criteria section.

Q: Will the panel visit my organization before the panel meeting?

A: No. Panelists will review the written application and work sample submission for each applicant.

Q: How are funding decisions made?

A: ASC relies on panelists who are free of Conflict of Interest to assess the application based on the above criteria. After the panel reviews and scores all applicants, the ASC Board Programs & Services Committee will make funding recommendations in consideration of panel scores and ASC’s strategic investment priorities. Funding recommendations are then sent to the full ASC Board of Directors for approval. Funding recommendations are not final until after a vote of the full ASC Board of Directors.