A Closer Look at The Robert Rauschenberg Foundation Fund Grants

The Robert Rauschenberg Foundation firmly believes in using the arts as a mechanism for affecting social change. What's more, the foundation applies this vision at both the micro and macro levels of society.

At the micro level, the foundation supports individual artists. Just last month, it announced the winners of its "Artist as Activist" fellowship, a two-year grant designed to support the growing body of independent artists who are leveraging art in service of larger social purposes.

And today brings news on the foundation's work at the macro—i.e. organizational—level. In 2014, the Robert Rauschenberg and Southwest Florida Community Foundation (SFCF) forged a granting partnership with the aim of creating a vibrant grant program to "enable and support critical social innovation in the region of Southwest Florida." These Robert Rauschenberg Foundation Fund Grants will infuse $250,000 into the Southwest Florida community.

The SFCF's job in this partnership is to oversee and execute a granting process that culminates in a portfolio of vetted projects and programs for the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation’s consideration. And though the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation makes the final determination of awards, the vetted recommendations supplied by the SFCF provide Rauschenberg with a kind of strategic roadmap.

The SFCF also rolled out what can be called an educational application process. Applicants were first required to participate in a daylong workshop called iLAB, open to anyone wanting to learn more about collaborative program design. The event was developed to prepare nonprofits to be more competitive for this and other grant opportunities, and to expose regional leaders to great ideas and best practices. According to the SFCF, "Participants learned how to design a collaborative project with peer institutions as well as how this collaborative approach can lead to both additional funding and community change."

The takeaway here is simple. Even if an nonprofit organization is subsequently passed over, they at least learn a great deal in the process.

Which brings us to the winners:

  • $46,350 to the Laboratory Theater of Florida for its Give Youth the Stage program.
  • $48,800 to the Sanibel Captiva Conservation Foundation for its Combining Arts and Sciences to Improve Water Quality in Southwest Florida.
  • $46,325 to Goodwill Industries of Southwest Florida, Inc. for its Community-Based Bicycle and Walking Audit program.
  • $32,000 to the Human Trafficking Awareness Partnerships, Inc. to enhance its ARTREACH program.
  • $26,500 to Jewish Family Community Services for its Music Makes Memories program.

Click here for more information on the grant and eligibility requirements.