Grant Writers

A roster of Bay Area grant writers with contact info. Reach out to them about their grant writing services.

Laili Gohartaj

She/her

Laili has worked in the Bay Area arts community for 10 years as a fundraiser, operations manager, board member, and grants panelist. She is passionate about equity and access especially in the performing arts field and is committed to pushing funders to acknowledge and dismantle white supremacy in philanthropy. Laili crafts proposals that transform an organization’s vision into writing. She has written grant proposals to Zellerbach Family Foundation, William & Flora Hewlett Foundation, Center for Cultural Innovation, City of Oakland, California Arts Council, City of Berkeley, Clarence E. Heller Charitable Foundation, East Bay Community Foundation’s Fund for Artists, The Kenneth Rainin Foundation, The Wallace Alexander Gerbode Foundation, The Fleishhacker Foundation, Bernard E. & Alba Witkin Charitable Foundation, The Bernard Osher Foundation, Kinder Morgan Foundation, and Union Bank Foundation.

Areas of expertise:

  • BIPOC individual artists and organizations
  • Performing arts organizations especially symphonies and dance companies
  • Arts education programs including those with standards-based curriculum
  • Commissions and new work especially those addressing social justice
  • Familiarity navigating application and compliance processes with government funders in the East Bay, the California Arts Council, and National Endowment for the Arts
  • I bring my background as an operations professional to development work and will happily help evaluate, recommend, and implement systems to streamline portfolio management. I have lots of experience with Salesforce and Basecamp, have dabbled in Trello, Asana and other project management tools

Learn more about Laili

Michelle Marie Robles Wallace

She/her

Michelle helps individual artists, artist collaborations and arts organizations craft compelling grant applications. A former arts writer,Michelle brings her interviewing and storytelling skills to her grant writing and creates continuous narratives from the artist or mission statement through to the project proposal. She situates proposed projects within a larger social contexts, adding a sense of urgency to the project. Michelle offers coaching to teach a client how to write a grant application or can write the application herself. She has extensive knowledge of grants opportunities and has written applications for Zellerbach Family Foundation, Center for Cultural Innovation, San Francisco Grants for the Arts, San Francisco Arts Commission, Whiting Award, Black Rock Arts Foundation, NEA, microgrants, as well as a variety of residencies and fellowships.

Areas of expertise:

  • Focuses on crafting compelling narratives about the artist/org and their work
  • Shapes each application so the artist’s/organization’s narrative fits what the granting organization is looking to sponsor
  • Organizes artists/organizations to prepare in advance to apply to grants (this is especially important when an applicant is missing a qualification or two, such as public event or publication)
  • Works with writers, visual + performing artists, dancers, musicians and artists who blend disciplines into innovative pieces, as well as the organizations who support them
  • Works with BIPOC, LGBTQ+ and disabled artists
  • Artist coaching

Learn more about Michelle

Erin Merritt

She/her

Erin has over 20 years experience in grant writing, including 3 years as AIDS Health Project’s Contracts and Grants Manager ($3 million portfolio) and 12 years as the sole grant writer for her own theater company. She recently wrote grants for Magic Theatre and TheatreFIRST, with an excellent funding return rate. Erin has written grant proposals to the Zellerbach Family Foundation, William & Flora Hewlett Foundation, Center for Cultural Innovation, California Humanities, San Francisco Arts Commission, San Francisco Grants for the Arts, City of Oakland, California Arts Council, Walter & Elise Haas Fund, Bernard Osher Foundation, and too many more to note, in arts, everything from microgrants to NEA, and all the major new-plays orgs. She has experience writing grants/contracts for project support, education programs, operating support (including new positions), accessibility projects and more as well as 3 years experience writing NIH and other medical funding. She’ll help you select your best funding matches and tailor your message for each funder.

Areas of expertise:

  • Broad knowledge of the range of granting opportunities available, from microgrants for artists and tiny companies to CAC and NEA, and who your competitors for these funds will be
  • Concierge service re: brand-assessment and guidance on which funding sources are most likely matches for you or your company
  • Organizational support (as well as project support), including expanding programs
  • Specializing in new work, education programming, and social justice-focused work
  • Associated experience with guerrilla marketing/funding strategies and fundraisers for small to mid-sized companies
  • Long relationships with some funders such as Walter & Elise Haas Fund and Zellerbach Family Foundation

Learn more about Erin

Idris Ackamoor

He/him

Idris has been a grant writer and arts administrator for over 40 years. The organization that he founded in 1979, Cultural Odyssey, is one of the oldest African American performing arts organizations in the State of California. He is currently providing free arts business consultations funded by a California Arts Council grant. The focus of his consultation is DIY (Do It Yourself) grant writing to guide and instruct others in the art of grant writing. He has written grant proposals to the Zellerbach Family Foundation, William & Flora Hewlett Foundation, Center for Cultural Innovation, San Francisco Arts Commission, San Francisco Grants for the Arts, California Arts Council, Fleishhacker Foundation, Kenneth Rainin Foundation, and San Francisco Foundation.

Areas of expertise:

  • Performing artists and arts organizations
  • BIPOC artists and arts organizations
  • Individual musicians and musical organizations
  • Theater groups and organizations

Learn more about Idris

Jennifer Daly

She/her

Jennifer has worked for two decades, on staff and as a consultant, for arts and education organizations. She has developed and written successful proposals to government agencies, private foundations and corporate funders. Having also administered programs in theater and visual arts, she understands the program staff perspective. She can help translate a creative vision into a practical and compelling proposal. Jennifer has experience writing grant proposals to the Zellerbach Family Foundation, William & Flora Hewlett Foundation, Center for Cultural Innovation, California Arts Council, National Endowment for the Arts, U.S. Department of Education, California State Library, San Francisco Foundation, Kimball Foundation, James Irvine Foundation, Marin Community Foundation, and Walter & Elise Haas Fund, among others.

Areas of expertise:

  • Arts and education
  • Youth development and asset-based models
  • Arts and social justice
  • Curriculum standards-linked programs (particularly CA frameworks and national model standards)

Learn more about Jen

Lenore Naxon

She/her
A lifelong arts administrator, Lenore is a prodigious problem solver. She directed a successful $85 capital campaign and worked with funders to secure grants $1,000 to $6,000,000 on a wide variety of projects from fiscally sponsored initiatives to major community collaborations. Lenore has written grants to the Zellerbach Family Foundation, William & Flora Hewlett Foundation, Center for Cultural Innovation, San Francisco Grants for the Arts, California Arts Council, Fleishhacker Foundation, and Gerbode Foundation.
 

Areas of expertise:

  • Working with small projects and 501c3s
  • Helping individual artists and their projects garner increased capacity
  • Keeping funders abreast of changes and improvements of projects over their course
  • Long relationships with foundation grant officers
  • Foundation research expertise
  • CAC grant panelist (2X)

Learn more about Lenore

Rome Hamner

She/her

A 20+ year veteran of the arts world, with significant experience in grant writing and grants management; program development, implementation, and evaluation; teaching, performance, and facilitation; and internal and external communications. She’s written over 1,000 grants to foundations, government, and corporate funders and has a career success rate of 72% (industry average ~30%). Rome has written grants to the William & Flora Hewlett Foundation, Center for Cultural Innovation, California Arts Council, City of San Jose Office of Cultural Affairs, Fleishhacker Foundation, Creative Work Fund, Walter & Elise Haas Fund, David and Lucille Packard Foundation, Applied Materials Foundation, Silicon Valley Community Foundation, Silicon Valley Creates, and Shortino Family Foundation.

Areas of expertise:

  • Performing artists
  • Arts education
  • Well-versed in the differences between government vs foundation grants
  • Experience with BIPOC artists and organizations
  • Skilled in developing and refining programs to leverage funding success
  • Experience in program evaluation and assessment in the arts

Learn more about Rome

Leigh Henderson

She/her
As a practicing theater artist as well as the Managing Director of Teatro Visión, a small non-profit theater company, Leigh knows the importance of supporting individual artists and small arts organizations. She has written grants for Teatro Visión, Cashion Cultural Legacy, Mexican Heritage Corporation, and Madison Repertory Theatre, to funders such as the William & Flora Hewlett Foundation, Center for Cultural Innovation, California Arts Council, City of San Jose Office of Cultural Affairs, Alliance for California Traditional Arts, Applied Materials Foundation, Castellano Family Foundation, Creative Works Fund, Shortino Family Foundation, Silicon Valley Community Foundation, Silicon Valley Creates, as well as offered workshops and advise for individual artists. 
 

Areas of expertise:

  • Performing arts, especially theater
  • Experience working with Latinx arts organizations
  • Commitment to supporting small arts organizations and individual artists, particularly BIPOC artists and arts organizations based in communities of color
  • Familiarity with local funders, particularly in Santa Clara County

Learn more about Leigh

Camella Bontaites

She/her

Camella has 20 years of experience as a grant writer, most recently for the Chabot Space & Science Center. During her 13 years at Chabot, Camella spent 6 years as Grants Manager, followed by 7 years as Creative Content Producer in their exhibits department, during which time she continued to write for multiple departments. She wrote successful grant applications and reports for K-12 education programs for underserved youth, special youth projects, arts and science projects, and general organizational support. These included government, foundation and corporate proposals, including (but not limited to): NASA, National Science Foundation, USAirForce, IMLS, Kaiser Permanente, Wells Fargo, Morgan Stanley, Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, Hewlett Foundation, Fleishhacker Foundation, Creative Work Fund, San Francisco Foundation, and Bernard Osher Foundation. She helped design an Arts-themed gala, created Chabot’s ArtPiece in Residence Program, and piloted their Artist in Residence program. Camella was focused on bringing the arts and sciences together and helped create classes, community projects, and exhibit pieces to explored this.

Areas of expertise:

  • Arts/science intersection
  • Residencies
  • Curriculum and arts/science youth programming

Learn more about Camella

View her website

Tova Lobatz

She/her
Tova has worked with artists for over ten years in the Bay Area. The last 2+ years she has focused on writing grants for artists and Bay Area arts organizations. As a consultant, her goals are to provide economic sustainability for nonprofits and artists. She helps with fundraising strategies, prospect research, and formulating thoughtful and precise proposals. Tova is currently creating grant writing workshops focusing on helping artists navigate grant writing. She has experience writing grant proposals to the Zellerbach Family Foundation, William & Flora Hewlett Foundation, Center for Cultural Innovation, San Francisco Grants for the Arts, and San Francisco Arts Commission.
 

Areas of expertise:

  • Working with BIPOC artists and arts organizations
  • Helping emerging and mid-career visual artists write proposals
  • Working with BIPOC artists on submitting RFPs for public art sculptures
  • Working on submitting government grants with BIPOC arts organizations
  • Finding funding opportunities for BIPOC artists and arts organizations

Learn more about Tova

Melody Hernandez

She/they

Melody has worked with numerous arts organizations in the Bay Area including The Contemporary Jewish Museum, Kultivate Labs, Kearny Street Workshop, Bindlestiff Studio, SOMA Pilipinas, Each One Reach One (now a part of Success Centers), Mutak Festival, and East Oakland Youth Development Center. In addition, Melody leads a series of workshops for artists under the name Demystifying Grants and also oversees a small grants program on behalf of the City of San Francisco. Melody’s focus is social justice and organizations that are working to directly address system inequities. Melody has written grant proposals to Zellerbach Family Foundation, William & Flora Hewlett Foundation, California Humanities, San Francisco Arts Commission, San Francisco Grants for the Arts, City of Oakland, and California Arts Council.

Areas of expertise:

  • Social Justice
  • Working with BIPOC artists and arts organizations
  • Teaching grant writing skills
  • Working with LGBTQ+ artists and organizations
  • Reviewing proposals, artist statements, and work samples and providing feedback

Learn more about Melody

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