Sierra Arts Foundation established the Grants Endowment when an anonymous donation of $140,000 was gifted to solely award funds to arts organizations and artists. Available funding varies year to year based on the amount of interest earned on monies in the program and Grants Endowment. Sierra Arts began awarding grants in fiscal year 1986-1987, when it awarded a total of $32,208 to arts organizations and artists. In fiscal year 1993-1994, the Board of Trustees voted to change the program to award monies to professional and student artists of all disciplines living within a 100-mile radius of Sierra Arts Foundation in Reno, Nevada.
The Grants to Artist program currently provides resources to artists with the intention to encourage artist growth from concept to completion. SAF offers $1,000 grants to professional artists at any stage in their career and $500 to high school and college artists through the John and Rose Ascuaga Grant and the George Hutchison Grant. These grants support artistic excellence, creative development, and the pursuit of new concepts. Occasionally, an artist is chosen to receive the Rosemary MacMillian Award for lifetime excellence in the arts in the amount of $5,000. Funds may be used in any manner that will help support artists in their endeavors. Artists receiving grants may reapply every three years unless they’ve received the Rosemary MacMillan Award, at which time they become ineligible for future grants.