Leonore Annenberg Scholarship, Fellowship, and School Funds: Grants for College Arts and Humanities

OVERVIEW: The Leonore Annenberg Scholarship, Fellowship, and School Funds are administered by the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania. Higher ed funding is awarded through two areas: scholarships and mentorships for high school juniors, and fellowships for visual and performance artists transitioning out of the university and into their professional lives.

IP TAKE: Funding through the scholarships and fellowships is generous, but highly selective, with only a handful of awardees each year. Unsolicited requests are not accepted.

PROFILE: Named for Leonore Annenberg, whose “lifelong commitment to the arts, her desire to provide opportunities for artistic growth, and her intention to strengthen American cultural life” are the source of its inspiration, the Annenberg Funds is a “three-part, 10-year philanthropic initiative” focused on supporting the arts in the form of College Scholarships, Arts Fellowships, and funding for Elementary Schools. The funds are managed by the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania, and millions of dollars have been awarded to date.

For those just entering the undergraduate realm, there is the highly selective Annenberg College Scholarship Fund. Each year, the fund gives out up to five awards to “high school juniors of uncommon intelligence, empathy, and drive who overcome challenging circumstances and demonstrate exceptional character and academic achievement.” In addition to covering each winner’s college tuition, housing, and other related expenses, each scholar also is assigned a mentor who helps the student with “selecting, applying to, and preparing for college,” and who “maintains contact with the scholar throughout the college years.” A full list of scholars can be found here, but it’s worth noting that 2013 is the last year for which awardees are listed.

Looking at the transition out of academia, there is also the Leonore Annenberg Fellowship Fund for the Performing and Visual Arts. This funding “makes investments in a limited number of exceptionally talented young dancers, musicians, actors and visual artists as they complete their training and begin their professional life.” In short, the fellowship helps young artists navigate their entry into the professional world, which they often enter with massive student debt, a lack of experience, and a challenging employment landscape.

How the program accomplishes this depends on the recipient. According to the foundation, the $50,000 grants—several of which extend for two years—can help young artists flourish by allowing them to, for example, complete projects, pay for time in the studio, or simply make a dent in their student debt. Flexibility is key.

Recently, the foundation selected nine fellows, spanning the fields of classical music, theater, and musicology (a full list of all fellows can be seen here). The fellows, who are selected from candidates recommended by major cultural institutions including the Juilliard School, the American Ballet Theatre, and the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, are assigned to work with mentors. In short, the program resembles a kind of career development office, with the assigned mentor acting as a guidance counselor to ensure that the funding award is spent as wisely as possible.

Note that the fund does not accept unsolicited requests, and that it works with a select group of organizations when soliciting award nominations.

PEOPLE:

  • Gail Levin, Director, The Leonore Annenberg Funds
  • Michael Rozansky, Director of Communications,  Annenberg Public Policy Center

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