It is not our differences that divide us. It is our inability to recognize, accept, and celebrate those differences.
— Audre Lorde

Applications for the Could Be Fund are now closed.

If you’d like to see all submitted proposals, head here.


  1. Connectivity: Connect three of New Haven’s neighborhoods by activating public spaces with creative projects.

  2. Inclusivity: At every step in the process (leadership, outreach, selection, and installation) we aim to prioritize inclusive practices.

  3. Civic Empowerment: Creating a city made with and through the vision of its occupants.

  4. Joy: Make places where everyone can work safely and have fun.

  5. Place: Focus on relationship-building and build off the work already happening in neighborhoods. Also, work to redefine spaces to feel more safe, welcome, and positive.


The Could Be Fund invites you — artists, entrepreneurs, and other creatives — to submit a proposal for how to link three of New Haven’s fast growing neighborhoods to each other and surrounding neighborhoods. For this fund, a project of the Elm City Innovation Collaborative, these areas are 9th Square/Downtown, Science Park/Newhallville, and Upper State Street/East Rock/Fair Haven (see map below).

We welcome proposals that include the creation of public art, infrastructure, and design to make spaces more inviting, fun, and inclusive. The Could Be Fund is responsible for overseeing $152,000, and all grantees will be required to secure a 1-to-1 cash match. Cash match means that for every dollar you raise, the Could Be Fund can match your dollar 1-to-1. In order for us to support your proposal, you will need to raise those matching dollars. We are here to support you — with advice, suggestions, etc. — is raising these funds. We do not want funding to stand in the way of incredible proposals.

Our goal is to prompt people to dream about what New Haven could be if our communities, economic sector, and neighborhoods strengthened the connections to one another that make us a  part of a larger whole. We strongly encourage all residents to submit a proposal — including youth/students, residents from every single neighborhood, non-artists, etc.

The Could Be Fund team will help guide teams in their proposal.  Applications are available online and in print.



We encourage applicants to submit as soon as they are able. For a document of the full application, click here.

DECEMBER 3, 2018: Application opens.

DECEMBER 20, 2018: Application review begins. Decisions will be made on a rolling basis.

MARCH 1, 2019: Application for first project cohort closes at 11:59 p.m. EST.

MAY 13, 2019: Final notifications to all grantees (who have not heard from us yet).

JANUARY 1, 2019 – JUNE 30, 2020: Funds available for 2019 grantees


  • How well does the project Proposal address the goals and values (above) 50%

    • Connectivity: Show how the work will enhance connections as an experience. For example by brightening a passage or gateway between neighborhoods, or collaboration.

    • Inclusivity: Tell us how your project and process is inclusive. How do you listen, how do you show this in your art?

    • Civic Empowerment: How does your project make a difference?

    • Joy: :)

    • Place: Show what is great about your site and why your art belongs there.

  • Creativity and Originality of Concept 15%

  • Well documented, clear description and illustration of concept 15%

  • Demonstration of capability such as prior experience, project team, budget, schedule, permissions required 15%

  • Neighborhood resident bonus! 5%


  • Grants will be given in two sizes: Please be specific about your financial needs

    • Under $2000

    • $2,000-$25,000

  • All grants are matching funds. (i.e. we will provide up to 50% of funding for your project)

  • All projects must take place in one of three areas of New Haven:

    • Science Park/Newhallville

    • Upper State Street/East Rock/Fair Haven

    • Ninth Square/Downtown

Application Office Hours

We want to be sure you feel supported in writing your proposal. Head to one of our Office Hours slots:

Idea/Vision Office Hours with Matt Fantastic, Agora/Elm City Games
Need support on building your broader vision for your idea? Need a burst of creativity? Meet with Matt during his Office Hours.
• Monday, January 28th, 3-5pm
• Tuesday, February 5th, 11-1pm
• Thursday, February 14th, noon-2pm
• Sunday, February 24th, noon-2pm
All sessions at Agora (760 Chapel Street) in New Haven, CT
Email Matt to reserve a slot at mattloter@gmail.com.

Technical/Application Support Office Hours with Michael Harris, Elm City Innovation Collaborative
Have questions about your application? Need support with cash match? Meet with Michael during his Office Hours.
Email Michael to coordinate a time at mharris@ecicnewhaven.com.


Want to get public feedback on your idea or suggest an location? Submit a location on SeeClickFix here. See all submitted requests here. Note: These requests are both already submitted proposals (we will be posting proposals as they come in) as well as simply suggested locations folks feel could use a project.

Have a question you don’t see answered here? Email the Could Be Fund team at couldbefundnhv@gmail.com