CAREFULLY REVIEW the information on this page and return to it as needed while completing your application. We wish you the best with your application. Thank you for your time and energy to submit.

We encourage artists who are shaping their practices and for whom the award may serve as a launching point in their career to apply.


The LIFT – Early Career Support for Native Artists program will provide critical support to early career Native artists with one-year awards to develop and realize new projects. The program encourages artists to uplift communities, advance positive social change, point courageously toward environmental sustainability, and foster communal meaning making. The program will consist of a suite of activities that includes grantmaking, artist professional development, and artist convening. The primary objectives of this opportunity are to support artists who are developing their voices and for whom the award may serve as a launching point in their career.


  • Grantmaking: One-year awards of $10,000.
  • Professional development: Artist awardees will participate in trainings facilitated by NACF and designed to provide education around project management, small business development, career advancement, and artistic development.
  • Convening: Bringing current recipient artists together to share best practices, develop relationships and in subsequent years, bringing together artists from each of the award cycles.
  • Culturally Appropriate Evaluation: Support from NACF to develop project deliverables, outcomes and internal/external NACF program reports.
  • Communications and marketing support.
  • In response to a pandemic environment, some of these services will be offered in virtual environments, as needed or possible.


In order to be eligible for the LIFT program, applicants must:

  • Be 18 years or older;
  • Currently reside in the United States;
  • Be an enrolled member or citizen of a federally-recognized or state-recognized American Indian tribe or Alaska Native corporation, or of Native Hawaiian ancestry. Applicants will be asked to provide documentation of their Native citizenship or ancestry.
  • Be an individual practicing artist working in the disciplines of dance/choreography, fiction/poetry writing, film/video, multi-disciplinary arts, music, performance art, theater and screenplay writing, traditional arts or 2D + 3D visual arts.
  • Be early in their artistic career with ten years or less experience. Early career may be defined as an artist who is 18-30 years old, or who is more than 30 years old, but who started their arts career later in life.
  • Not have received a singular award of $10,000 or more in their artistic career;
  • NOT BE enrolled in a university or higher-education institution during the 12-month award period.

Learn more about the program here.


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Watch the video below for an overview of the LIFT program and a look inside the online application form.


January 19, 2021
Public announcement
March 16, 2021
DEADLINE for applications
May 2021
Notification to applicants
Summer 2021
Public announcement of award recipients
July 1, 2021 through June 30, 2022
Award period


Please allow for plenty of time to complete the application.

The LIFT application includes six sections:

  1. Eligibility: You will answer a list of questions to determine your eligibility for the LIFT program before proceeding to the full application.
  2. Applicant Contact Information: If eligible, you will be asked to provide your best contact information (Name, Address, Email, Phone).
  3. Survey Questions: The information collected in this section is for demographic purposes and has no bearing on individual applications. All survey answers are maintained in strict confidence. The demographic information compiled from the survey will help inform NACF to advocate more effectively for Native artists.
  4. Project Narrative:  In this section, you will be asked to provide a written description of your proposed project, which includes: (1) Overall project description, (2) How the project relates to your past work, (3) Plans for community engagement or public presentation of the project; (4) Twelve-month timeline for the project (to be completed by June 30, 2022).
  5. Project Budget: In this section, you will complete a budget form showing how you will allocate the $10,000 award funds towards your proposed project. Note that a minimum of $2,500 of the award funds must be allocated directly to the artist, for their benefit and wellbeing.
  6. Work Samples and Supporting Materials: In this section, you will provide the following: (1) 7 to 10 artist work samples, (2) artist’s resume or CV, (3) artist website (if available), and (4) documentation of documentation of their Native citizenship or ancestry.


NACF staff will review each application for eligibility criteria, adequacy of work samples, and application completeness, and then invite art peers and professionals in relevant art fields to review and make recommendations for the NACF Board of Director’s approval. Up to twenty artists will be selected to receive support. Notifications will be sent via email in late May 2021.

Panelists will review applications using the following criteria:

Project Explorations
Applicants will describe the work’s style, format, themes and process of creation. Public presentation of the work is required and depending on the pandemic environment, virtual presentation will be considered. Applicants will describe the issue(s) to be addressed, its significance to the community or communities, and the impact the project will have in addressing the issue(s).

Artistic Experience
Artistic experience is demonstrated through technical skills, originality, innovation, inspiration and the distinctive niche of the artist(s), as indicated by work samples; training, apprenticeships, and/or education.

Financial Capacity
Financial capacity is demonstrated by the viability of the project budget. If the project budget is more than the maximum $10,000 grant amount, artists must demonstrate other support for the project (for example: other grants, in-kind contributions, earned income etc.). Note that a minimum of $2,500 of the $10,000 must go the artist as a stipend. Remaining funds may be spent on production, presentation, engagement, supplies, etc.


Can a Native artist from outside the US apply? 

  • Artists must be an enrolled member or citizen of a federally-recognized or state-recognized American Indian tribe or Alaska Native corporation, or of Native Hawaiian ancestry. Applicants will be asked to provide documentation of their Native citizenship or ancestry.
  • Artists must also demonstrate US residency.
  • Artists from US territories are not eligible to apply.

Can I submit more than one application?
NACF will only accept only one submission per applicant.

Can I apply if I have already received a NACF award in previous years?
All previous awardees who have received support from NACF prior to 2020 are eligible to apply. Recipients of the 2020 Native Arts Emergency Support Project (pandemic relief) are also eligible to apply. However, please note that artists who received a single award of $10,000 or more at any point in their artistic career, from NACF or other funders, are not eligible to apply.

What if I accidentally submitted my application before it was completed?
If you submitted your form in error, please email Laura Cales at You may edit your submission prior to the deadline.

Will I receive feedback about my application?
Due to the large number of applications we expect to receive, we will not be able to provide individual feedback.

For more information, please visit the LIFT homepage.

For technical support with your online application, email or click the “Technical Help” button on the application webpage. You may also contact Laura Cales, Program Coordinator, at or 360-334-7285.

For inquiries about the LIFT program eligibility or content, please contact Reuben Roqueñi, Director of Transformative Change Programs, at or 503-388-3720.