Merola Career Grants

Since 1999, the Merola Opera Program has awarded grants to alumni of the Merola Opera Program. Grants are awarded by the Merola Board, based on the recommendations of the Merola Career Grants Committee, chaired by the Chairman of the Merola Board and composed of the Merola Executive Director and President (ex officio, nonvoting) plus an even number of Merola Board members (chosen by the Chairman and President), as well as the San Francisco Opera Center Director and the Director of Musical Studies for artistic input.  

The purpose of these grants is to assist in furthering the careers of young opera artists. 

Any expenditure that will further an applicant's opera career will be considered, e.g., voice lessons, language study, coaching, audition and/or competition travel, performance clothing, musical scores, and role preparation. 

Funds will not be granted for activities which have already been started or completed, and will only be granted for activities occurring before the end of the quarter following the deadline date. 

A Merola participant is eligible for grants in the 5 fiscal years following his or her participation in Merola. 

Up to $6,000 may be granted to each applicant in Merola’s fiscal year (10/1 to 9/30), and each applicant may submit a maximum of four applications, regular and emergency, during that fiscal year. There is a $12,000 lifetime maximum per participant.  

Application Procedure

The Merola Career Grants Committee meets quarterly and recommends grants to the Merola Opera Program Executive Committee for approval. 

  1. Before being considered, artists must complete the application, indicate the specific need(s) for which the funds are being requested, the time period during which the grant will be used, and include a proposed budget with specific known costs (in U.S. dollars).
  2. Application deadlines are December 1, March 1, June 1 and September 1 for projects that will take place within four months following the application deadline date
  3. Grant Applications must be RECEIVED in the office by the deadline.

Grants are typically made for one quarter at a time. The Committee may, in its discretion, act outside the quarterly time frame to consider unexpected opportunities, such as immediate travel to an audition or competition, for which the artist could not have planned in advance. The Career Grants Committee may recommend such urgent requests to the Executive Committee for immediate funding. 

Merola will inform the applicants of the decision approximately one month after the application deadline. If recipients wish, they may send a thank you letter to the Board of Directors.

If the funds granted cannot be used toward expenses for which the grant was requested and made, or if there are unused funds, in order to maintain eligibility for future grants, the recipient must either return the unused funds or get approval from the Career Grants Committee before using the grant for any other expenses.

In January of every year, a 1099-MISC will be sent to all recipients who have been awarded career grants which exceed the payment threshold for that particular year, currently $600.


All recipients are required to complete the Merola Career Grant Usage Report (which follows the application form online) within four months after the career grant application date and prior to any subsequent grant requests. This report must include a short written statement, as well as a comparison between the expenses in the budget submitted with the application and the expenses actually incurred. Please include receipts for expenses. Please note: additional grant requests may not be considered without the submission of a timely Usage Report with receipts confirming that the grant was used for the approved purpose(s). 

If a Usage Report is not submitted within four months after the career grant application date or if it shows that funds were used for purposes other than those requested, and approval was neither sought nor given, a Career Grant request may not be considered from that applicant for two or more grant cycles after the date the Usage Report is submitted.

Emergency Career Grants

Artists may apply for Emergency Career Grants if they are made aware of important career-building opportunities, but timing makes it impossible to apply and qualify within normal deadlines. If the applicant has received funds from a previous Merola grant within three months of an Emergency Career Grant application, a Usage Report must be submitted regarding the use of those funds up until the date of the Emergency Career Grant request. In addition, final Usage Reports must be submitted in a timely fashion for all grants. 

Applications must be accompanied by documentation from an outside source which shows that the requests are, indeed, emergencies. (A good example would be written acceptance during the middle of a quarter from competition or audition representatives requiring that the applicant pay for fees, travel, etc. to the competition or audition before the next Merola career grant cycle.)

Merola Opera Program