NYSCA Independent Projects

2021 New York State Council on the Arts Grants Sponsorship

Please note: these guidelines have been produced specifically for the NYSCA 2021 grant cycle. Because the application process is subject to change each year, applicants should be sure they are always reading the most up-to-date information and instructions. Guidelines for previous years may contain information that is not applicable to this grant opportunity.

The Architecture + Design Program of the New York State Council on the Arts (NYSCA) awards project grants for professionals in the architecture, design, and historic preservation fields through its Independent Projects category. Individuals may only be associated with one application per year and must apply through a nonprofit fiscal sponsor. The Architectural League welcomes all applicants and will sponsor the first 25 eligible individuals in the order we receive their request for sponsorship.

Grants of up to $10,000 are available. Independent Projects grants support creative exploration or research that contributes to a broader understanding of design and advances the fields of architecture, landscape architecture, community-centered design, historic preservation, fashion, graphic, industrial, and/or interior design. Individuals or teams can apply. The category seeks projects that are innovative and emphasize artistry and design excellence; design must be at the core of any project. Projects may, for example, lead to the creation of design prototypes, provide new ideas in community design, research a topic in design or architectural history, or engage in critical or theoretical analysis. The grant may support a complete project or a part of a larger project.

Only New York State residents are eligible to apply and each applicant must supply two distinct proof of residency documents. Each applicant must be a professional in architecture, design, and/or historic preservation. Architectural and design historians qualify. Visual artists, even if their work references the built environment, are not eligible for support. This grant cannot support past work or current work for a client. Awarded funds must be spent during calendar year 2021. NYSCA funds cannot be used for out-of-state travel expenses.

Student projects are not eligible for support. Currently matriculated students must document that their projects are not related to the completion of a degree. Faculty in architecture or design schools are welcome to apply. However, their proposed projects must not be part of a course curriculum. Research-based studios may be eligible if the applicant can clearly make the case that the work is not related to a university curriculum.

Submission Deadline & How to Apply

Please note that the League maintains internal deadlines distinct from deadlines stated in the NYSCA program guidelines. This is necessary to allow us time to process, review, and upload your applications. Applicants agree to observe the League’s deadlines as a condition of sponsorship.

We strongly encourage you to read all information on the NYSCA website, including the program guidelines, application manual, and eligibility requirements.

NYSCA has produced a series of informational webinars for the 2021 grant cycle, which can be viewed here. We encourage all potential applicants to watch the Architecture + Design webinar with special attention to the segments on the Independent Projects category. Note that the other webinars on this page do not apply to this grant opportunity and are not supported by the League.

During the month of February, NYSCA has also scheduled grant seminars for potential applicants throughout the state. We encourage applicants to attend these sessions for the opportunity to walk through the application process and ask questions directly to NYSCA staff. A calendar of dates and locations with registration links is available here.

The Architectural League will not provide editorial or curatorial consultation on your project. We are happy to discuss eligibility or technical questions on how to apply and what types of projects are appropriate for this opportunity. If you have any questions on the grant opportunity or how to frame your project, please contact Nanase Shirokawa, Program and Membership Assistant, at 212.753.1722 x10 or at shirokawa@archleague.org. You may also contact Kristin Herron, NYSCA program director, at 212.459.8825 or at kristin.herron@arts.ny.gov to discuss your project. NYSCA staff may answer substantive questions about your project before the grant period begins on January 28, and technical questions until the final submission deadline on March 12 at 4:00 p.m.

We are no longer accepting requests for sponsorship at this time. 

The League will sponsor a limited number of projects on a first-come, first-served basis provided they meet the requirements and spirit of the grant program. The League reserves the right not to sponsor any project that does not meet eligibility requirements. The League additionally reserves the right to withdraw sponsorship of any applicant should they fail to meet the deadlines and requirements below.

Applicants will be notified in a timely manner if they are invited to submit a full proposal. All sponsored applicants will need to submit their final materials to the League by 4:00 p.m., February 27, 2020.

Upon confirmation of sponsorship, applicants will be given full details and instructions on how to submit materials. Major application requirements will include the following:

Project and Applicant Material

  • Completed answers to the Independent Projects Questions 1IP–6IP, viewable on page 12 of the Architecture + Design Guidelines here.
  • 1-page résumé or biographical statement for each applicant. You do not need to include résumés for general team members or non-essential collaborators. If you have a collaborator or consultant who will make crucial contributions for the success of the project, please include their résumé.
  • Up to 12 relevant images that represent recent work and/or your proposed project. All images must be identified with brief captions. High resolution images are not necessary. Web links to images or portfolios are not acceptable and will not be considered.
  • For projects intended for installation in public spaces in 2021: you must include documented permission to use the site from an appropriate authority.
  • For projects involving a publication: you may provide a 1-page outline and no more than 3 pages of sample text and illustration.

Proof of New York State Residency

  • Each applicant must provide two different documents proving New York State residency. Residents of New York State are eligible without regard for legal status. Please redact any personal information (except name and address) from these documents. The addresses on the two documents must be identical. All documentation must be valid and current through the end of the grant cycle (December 31, 2021). A list of acceptable documents can be found on page 5 of the Architecture + Design guidelines.


  • Outline your project expenses up to $10,000. A further $750 administrative fee for sponsorship will be added to your budget. The maximum request for the grant is $10,750. The League expects applicants to request the maximum amount; a lower grant request will not increase your chances for funding. If your project’s budget is over $10,000, please clearly indicate the expenses to be paid by the NYSCA grant funds as well as all additional sources of funding (including self-funding). Grant funds can be used to support an individual’s time for research or production.

Additional Information

For further information about this funding opportunity, see the Architecture + Design Program’s Independent Projects Category on the New York State Council on the Arts website. The catalog of NYSCA’s funding of The Architectural League, including past Independent Projects awards, is publicly documented here. As you consider your application, you can find answers to some frequently asked questions on our NYSCA FAQ page here.

Important Dates

January 22:

  • The League begins accepting requests for sponsorship at 12 p.m.
  • Sponsorship is confirmed with selected applicants on a rolling basis.

January 28:

  • Application period officially begins; NYSCA grants portal opens.

February 27:

  • Final materials are due to the League no later than 4 p.m. on February 27.
  • Review begins; The League provides comments and solicits revisions.

Until March 12:

  • The League finalizes applications and confirms all requirements are met.
  • The League uploads and submits all applications by 4 p.m. on March 12.


These guidelines are subject to change and amendment. Please check back frequently for the latest information.

Download these guidelines as a PDF