Don't Take That Advertising Job Quite Yet: The Jerome Foundation Aids Emerging Writers

We all know that grants for creative writing are hard to come by, especially for those writers who have yet to hit the big time (whatever that means these days).

That's why the recent rounds of grants and fellowships from the Jerome Foundation are so interesting. The Jerome Foundation is one of the few organizations that provide support for writers early in their careers and they've been doing this for 50 years now.

The Jerome Foundation is all about supporting emerging artists in dance, film and video, and literature. All worthy fields of endeavor, of course, but the scribblers out there who are seeking monetary support know that there are far more grant opportunities in dance, film and video than in literature.

Being a writer can be a solitary life, but it's not so fun when the grant options mirror the lifestyle. So let's introduce some company. Earlier this year we wrote about some of the Jerome Foundation's filmmaking grants. Now let's meet some of the happy recipients of some of their writing grants.

In recent months the Jerome Foundation has awarded a number of different grants and fellowships to emerging writers. In June, the foundation announced its travel and study grants. These are given in dance and film/video as well as literature. The grants range from $1,000 to $5,000 and are given to 36 emerging artists in order to support "periods of travel for the purpose of study, exploration, and growth."

This year, 17 writers received the award, including Sarah Dohrmann, who will use the money to travel to Paris to investigate the lives of migrant Moroccan women in order to inform the creative nonfiction book she's working on, and Rio Cortez, who will travel to the parish in Louisiana where her family members were owned as slaves to inform a series of poems drawn from the experience.

In July, the Jerome Foundation also announced their Beyond the Pure Fellowship for Writers (formerly the SASE Jerome Grants for Emerging Writers) and their VERVE grants.

The VERVE grants are particularly interesting because they constitute the one and only grant for spoken word poets nationwide. These grants provide a small amount of funding for spoken word poets who are "interested in artistic advancement and leadership in their communities."

This year there were six winners, including Gabriella Anais Deal-Márquez, who is a community organizer and musician in addition to being a spoken word poet.

The Beyond the Pure Fellowships are awards of up to $4,000, given to four to six emerging writers and includes "approximately 20-hours of required program activities, including a program orientation, cohort meetings, a program photo shoot, and a public literary reading." The catch is that both the VERVE grants and Beyond the Pure Fellowships are open only to Minnesota writers (there had to be a catch, right?).

Lastly, in collaboration with the Center for Fiction, a group of nine early-career writers were awarded the 2014 NYC Emerging Writers Fellowship. This fellowship includes a grant of $4,000, a space in The Center’s Writers Studio, a Center for Fiction membership, an option for mentorship with a selected freelance editor, and an opportunity to meet with agents who represent new writers, among other things.

This year almost all the recipients are freelance writers of some sort (aren't we all?), and included Lisa Armstrong, who has contributed to the NY Times and The Atlantic, and Su-Yee Lin, whose fiction has appeared in Fairy Tale ReviewA Cappella Zoo, and Interfictions.

There's also a catch with these awards, which is that you have to be a resident of NYC (hence the name of the award), but the good news is that Staten Island counts. For more info on all these grants and fellowships you can check out the application page at the Jerome Foundation.