Angell Foundation: Grants for Visual Arts

IP OVERVIEW: Art as a means to lift young people out of poverty—it’s a vision that the Angell Foundation has been pursuing since its inception in 1996. Angell donates generously to arts nonprofits that help disadvantaged youth discover art and find personal vocations in the arts. Arts education programs, after-school workshops, and scholarships for aspiring art students are a few examples of what it likes to fund. It’s a very picky funder, though: You must get a prior invitation to apply, and you must work in either California or New England.

IP TAKE: If your arts organization is in California or New England, Angell might be the patron you are looking for. Just wait to hear from them first.

PROFILE: David Angell and his wife, Lynn, left the world two lasting legacies before their deaths after the 9/11 attack. One was the sitcom Frasier, for which David Angell was a creator and executive producer. The second was the Angell Foundation, which the couple founded in 1996 to coordinate their already extensive philanthropic efforts. Unlike the sitcom, their foundation is still in business. From its headquarters in Los Angeles, Calif., it doles out grants to programs that help the economically disadvantaged to attain self-sufficiency and well-being. And it’s got a particular interest in programs that help people improve their lives through the arts.

Schools and the art associations that host programs in schools form a significant chunk of Angell’s grantees. The foundation focuses on school districts that are economically underserved or that have higher than average numbers of low-income students, e.g., schools that are hard-pressed to offer students adequate opportunities to explore the arts. It also looks for any chance to fund programs that expand young people’s access to the arts, such as after-school arts workshops, apprenticeships, and art school scholarships for disadvantaged youth.

Its grantmaking is limited to New England and Southern California. This makes sense when you consider that David Angell attended Providence College in Rhode Island and, afterwards, he and Lynn Angell both lived most of their adult lives in Los Angeles. The focus on the arts is very much in the spirit of the late couple, too: David Angell’s career was in show business, while Lynn Angell volunteered her free time at the local library and jumpstarted a new reading program for children.

On the left coast, the Angell Foundation’s grantees include Inner-City Arts, a nonprofit that organizes school programs and public art endeavors. Angell recently gave it $100,000 over a three-year period for the Learning and Achieving in the Arts education program, for school children in Los Angeles’ Skid Row neighborhood.

Ryman Arts, another California-based nonprofit, recently received a $100,000 grant Angell for an arts education in “Title 1 schools” (a government term for schools in which a high percentage of the student body is near or under the poverty line). Many grantees will get recurring awards in the years following. And those back-to-back awards can substantially add up.

Over in New England, the arts nonprofit Providence City Arts for Youth recently won a $50,000 grant to fund a community youth arts and after school arts program for disadvantaged youth. Another $50,000 went out that same year to the Rhode Island School of Design for its Open Door program, which teaches art to high-school students and mentors them on how to develop their own art portfolios.

Angell’s grants are invitation-only. The foundation constantly researches communities and the organizations working within them. When it finds an organization that looks promising, it will send it an invitation to apply for funds.

If your organization happens to get the invitation, you may then submit a letter of inquiry. Further correspondence and a call for a complete proposal may follow.

None of the above happens, however, until you first receive that initial invitation. Don’t even try to send an unsolicited letter of inquiry or grant request, let alone a proposal, before then. Angell’s website is emphatic on this.

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