Grant Proposal FAQ

What kind of projects does the Ross McKee Foundation fund?
The mission of the Ross McKee Foundation is to support piano performance and education in nine San Francisco Bay Area counties. Toward this end, the Foundation supports piano-related expenses — typically artist fees, piano rental, moving and tuning fees — for performance organizations large and small in the Bay Area. Piano education is supported primarily through scholarship programs at San Francisco State University and the San Francisco Conservatory, as well as grants to other educational organizations.

When evaluating performance proposals, the following criteria are considered:

  • Does the piano feature prominently? All other things being equal, concerts featuring piano soloists would be preferred over concerts with collaborative pianists.
  • Will the Foundation’s contribution be significant? If funding for an artistic fee is requested, $2,000 should cover a substantial amount of the fee.
  • Does the proposal support piano culture in the Bay Area? This might be achieved through the development of new and/or underserved audiences, or through the funding of local pianists.

What are the proposal requirements and how does one submit a proposal?
You’ll find the application form here; it includes a description of required attachments, including the project budget, organization budget, and IRS forms.

If possible, proposals should be submitted in PDF format via email to the foundation’s Executive Director, Nicholas Pavkovic, at For large PDFs, or proposals that include mp3 recordings or videos, please use a file sharing service (such as or and send a link to the materials. Following your submission, please send an email, without attachments, requesting confirmation.

Alternately, physical proposal materials may be mailed to The Ross McKee Foundation, 317 Noe Street, San Francisco CA 94114.

How much should we request in our grant proposal?
Most Ross McKee grants are for $2,000 or less; some larger grants are awarded to organizations with extensive and established programs. The amount of your request should go toward line-item expenses directly related to piano performance and education. If you’ve provided a clear and accurate budget, the Foundation can then decide whether to fund your entire request or some portion thereof. It is most helpful if the ask amount corresponds to a line item in the budget (say, artist fee) or is the sum of line items (artist fee, piano rental, tuning).

When should we submit our proposal?
Proposals are reviewed by the Board on a quarterly basis; you should submit at least one quarter before you require funds. The quarterly deadlines are listed on the homepage; your proposal must be received by the date given.

You may, of course, submit a proposal well in advance of your funding period. In any given quarter, the Foundation typically evaluates proposals for the current and following year. If the current quarter’s resources do not allow a proposal of interest to be funded, the submitter may be asked to make revisions and reapply at a later date.

Proposals may be submitted more than once annually, but the Foundation will not fund multiple proposals for a given season, and frequently opts to fund organizations in alternate seasons.

What should be in the project budget?
Since the Foundation prefers to fund specific piano-related expenses, these should be carefully detailed in the project budget: artist fees, piano rental, piano moving, piano tuning, etc. If a pianist appears in a collaborative role, their fee should be separable from the total fee for the ensemble. If multiple performances are planned, the fees per performance should be clear.

Other expenses should also be provided: venue costs, marketing, box office services, travel, etc. The Foundation does not typically fund these expenses. The Board’s working musicians are well-aware of production costs at all major Bay Area venues; if your organization has a special arrangement that results in pricing that differs from a venue’s published rate sheet, please note this in the budget.

The budget should include projected revenues from ticket sales, grants and private support. The Foundation prefers to work with organizations that are proactive and innovative with regard to grants and audience building. It is unusual for the Foundation to award a grant to a project or organization for which it would be the sole funding source.

What should the project description contain and how long should it be?
The project description should not exceed one page, and should begin with a clear statement of the grant request amount and its intended use. Performers, dates, venues and the request amount are primary. Secondary information (for a performance) might include information about:

  • The program being presented (specific works and/or theme) as well as its relevance to the community and the mission of the presenting organization
  • The performance series in which the event occurs (if applicable)
  • Education, outreach or audience expansion initiatives related to the event
  • The event’s marketing plan

What other attachments should I include?
Performing ensembles often include a brief mission statement, a brochure for their season, the donor page from a program, relevant artist biographies, recordings/videos and excerpts from reviews. Concise information in all of these areas is very useful; the Board should be able to get a sense for the organization and its project by perusing just a few pages of material. For more extensive biographies, organization history, online reviews and videos, feel free to include links to relevant web pages. No primary information (performer bio, concert venue/program, etc.) should be referenced solely via URL.

Can individuals or for-profit organizations receive grants?
The Foundation rarely awards funding to individuals or for-profit organizations.

Does the Foundation fund education for individuals?
The Foundation funds piano education for individuals through its two Andrieu Memorial scholarships, which are administered independently by San Francisco State University and the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. Funds are also provided for piano students through a variety of organizations, including the Community Music Center (scholarships for low-income piano students) and summer music programs. Grant applications for individual educational funds are not accepted.

Does the Foundation fund community music performances and education?
The Ross McKee Foundation supports organizations of all sizes.

Does the Foundation fund composer commissions?
The Foundation has participated in the funding of commissioned works that prominently feature one or more pianos. Typically, the grant applications for such commissions come from performers or performance ensembles, and the project plan includes detailed information about the premiere. It is rare for the Foundation to be the sole funder of a commission. Funds are not awarded until the commissioned work is complete.

Is it possible to receive a grant for performances that have already occurred?
The Foundation does not provide funding for performances that have occurred prior to the date on which the proposals are reviewed. The proposal review date is typically a few weeks after the quarterly deadline for the receipt of grant proposals.

Does the Foundation fund startup organizations?
The Foundation is eager to support new piano-related initiatives in the Bay Area. However, the Board is unlikely to approve funding for speculative projects. Budgets, venues, soloists, concert dates and a marketing plan must be concrete. Artist fees for individuals performing in their own concert series are not eligible for funding, nor are general startup funds granted.

What piano-related expenses are not funded by the Foundation?
The Foundation does not fund the purchase of pianos or keyboards. Regular maintenance fees (i.e., the cost of tunings for a year at a music school) are not funded.

What kind of reporting does the Foundation require of its grantees?
A final report, issued 30 days after the event occurs (or funding period ends), is required. This report should include a final budget, detailing how the Ross McKee funds were used; in the case of a performance, information regarding attendance and ticket sales should be included.

What if we have more questions?
Contact Nicholas Pavkovic, at