Angell Foundation: Grants for Visual Arts

IP OVERVIEW: The Angell Foundation has been working to use art as a means to lift young people out of poverty since the foundation’s inception in 1996. Angell donates generously to arts nonprofits that help disadvantaged youth discover art and find personal vocations in the arts.

IP TAKE: Arts education programs, after-school workshops, and scholarships for aspiring art students are a few examples of what it likes to fund. It is a very picky funder, though: grant seekers must get a prior invitation to apply and must work in either California or New England.

PROFILE: Founded in 1996, the Angell Foundation was established by David Angell, a creator and executive producer of the sitcom Frasier, and his wife, Lynn, before their deaths on September 11, 2001. The foundation “invests in transformative opportunities, cultivates compassionate leaders, and partners with organizations committed to creating a more equitable world.” It prioritizes 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 west coast, the Angell Foundation’s grantees include Inner-City Arts, a nonprofit that organizes school programs and public art endeavors. In the past, Angell donated $100,000 over a three-year period for school children in Los Angeles’ Skid Row neighborhood.

Ryman Arts, another California-based nonprofit, recently received a $100,000 grant 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.

In New England, the arts nonprofit Providence City Arts for Youth received 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 to help them develop their own art portfolios.

Angell’s grants are invitation-only. The foundation constantly researches communities and the organizations working within them. It looks for “organizations with accountable leadership and caring staff who treat people with compassion and respect,” and it prioritizes “organizations that have a clear mission and clear goals, as well as an explicit commitment to maintaining a healthy internal culture.” When it finds an organization that looks promising, it will send it an invitation to apply for funds.

Again, funding requests are by invitation only and the foundation does not accept unsolicited proposals. However, Angell does allow grant seekers to introduce themselves and “send a brief description of their work that is aligned with the Foundation’s priorities to info@angellfoundation.org.”

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