Google-owned YouTube has announced a $5 million fund called YouTube Partner Grants that will identify and reward promising online clip makers.

“We’re starting with proven partners, partners with the most views,” YouTube bizdev guy George Strompolos told AdAge. “We’ll be evaluating proposals based on their projected viewership, their marketing plan, distribution, everything. A lot of these folks have built up big audiences on YouTube, but they may be cash-constrained and not able to take their operation to the next level. That’s what our fund is for.”

Strompolos expanded in a post on the Official YouTube Blog today: “Funds from YouTube Partner Grants will serve as an advance against the partner’s future YouTube revenue share. This additional funding can allow partners to invest in better cameras, achieve higher production quality, expand their marketing efforts, expand their staff, or just hire more talent.”

Notably, YouTube hasn’t yet specified the size of the grants. But videos shot for YouTube benefit from the site’s culture of low-tech, low-res and low-budget clips. It’ll be fun to watch and see what happens when a production team like, say, the folks behind Auto-Tune the News get more money to do their shoots. Here’s my unsolicited input: Hire a real TV star. People click on them.