LIFT: Early Career Support for Native Artists – 2023 Program Eligibility, Application Process, Criteria, & FAQ

The LIFT grant is closed for applications in 2024. Please check back in early 2025 for information about the next open call.


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, evaluation, and communications/marketing support. 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 its partner organizations that are designed to provide education around project management, small business development, career advancement, and artistic development.
  • Culturally Appropriate Evaluation: Support from NACF to develop project deliverables, outcomes and internal/external NACF program reports.
  • Communications and marketing support.


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 US 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 in the application form.
  • 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 an emerging artist or early in their artistic career. NACF defines “emerging” as:
    • an artist with less than ten years of experience.
      • Please note that changing artistic disciplines does not “restart” a career. Career includes any and all artistic practices in aggregation. For example, if an artist has been a musician for 12 years but has only recently started to create film, the artist is not considered emerging because they are working in a different discipline.
    • age is not a determinant – 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.
    • other ways “emerging” may be defined: an artist who has yet to develop a large body of work or who has limited or no experience with exhibiting or presenting their work to the public.
  • NOT BE enrolled in a degree-seeking program at a university or higher-education institution during the 12-month award period (September 1, 2023 – August 31, 2024).
  • Propose a new project that can be developed and presented within one year of the award, or prior to August 31, 2024.

Learn more about the LIFT program here.

Learn more about the program here.


January 18, 2023
Application open for submissions
March 14, 2023
DEADLINE for applications
July/August 2023
Notification to applicants
Fall 2023
Public announcement of award recipients
September 1, 2023 – August 31, 2024
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 remainder of the application.
  2. Applicant Contact Information: If eligible, you will be asked to provide your best contact information.
  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) short project description; (2) background or context for the project; (3) project themes; (4) project activities and the role of the artist applicant; (5) your previous work; (5) plans for community engagement or public presentation of the project; (6) a twelve-month timeline for the project (to be completed by August 31, 2024).
  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 $3,000 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) artist work samples; (2) artist website(s), if available; (3) artist’s resume or CV, (4) artist’s bio; (5) one letter of recommendation; and (6) documentation of 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 fifteen artists will be selected to receive support. Notifications will be sent via email in July/August 2023.

Panelists will review applications using the following criteria:

Project Explorations
Applicants will describe the work’s style, format, themes and process of creation. Projects must involve the development of new work. Public presentation of the work is required. 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 $3,000 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 US-based 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 and Indigenous communities outside the US 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 2021 are 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.

Can I apply if I am currently a student and/or enrolled in an education program?
You are not eligible to apply if you will be enrolled during the award period (September 1, 2023 – August 31, 2024).

What if I accidentally submitted my application before it was completed?
If you submitted your form in error, please email Amber Ball, Executive Office Coordinator and Special Projects Liaison, at You may request to edit your submission up to 24 hours prior to the deadline or no later than March 13, 2023, at 5:00pm Pacific Time.

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 the online application form, click the “Technical Help” button on application webpage or complete Submittable’s support request form, here: You may also contact Amber Ball, Programs Specialist, at or 971-417-4835 Ext. 435.

For inquiries about the LIFT program eligibility or content, please contact Laura (Cales) Matalka, Associate Director of Programs, at

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