National Young Arts Foundation: Grants for Visual Art

OVERVIEW: The National YoungArts Foundation (NYAF)'s mission is to nurture accomplished 15- to 18-year-old emerging artists in the areas of cinema, dance, design, music, photography, writing, theater, and the visual arts. The NYAF provides a variety of support in the way of mentorship and scholarship programs, master classes, national recognition, and other opportunities in order to further their learning and encourage their pursuit of careers in the arts. 

IP TAKE: The National YoungArts Foundation is one of the few organizations of its size that focuses strictly on the development of teens in the arts, but it's not a traditional grant provider. It selects 800 students each year to participate in its week long program of master classes and performance and showcase opportunities. From there, some students may receive additional cash grants.

PROFILE: Each year, about 800 students are selected out of a field of around 12,000 applicants to participate in NYAF's program. Participants gain access to "master classes with internationally renowned artists, workshops, interdisciplinary activities, performances and exhibitions." The recognition levels vary from "Merit" level, which receives a Certificate of Achievement, a Recommendation Letter, and possible invitation to participate in regional programs, to "Finalist," where winners are eligible for prizes of $1,000 to $10,000 (Gold $10,000, Silver $5,000, Level 1 $3,000, Level 2 $1,500, Level 3 $1,000). Honorable mentions are given a $250 award in addition to the same recognition of merit level winners.

All finalists are also eligible to be nominated to the U.S. Presidential Scholars Commission and be selected as a U.S. Presidential Scholar in the Arts. This includes an invitation to participate in National Recognition Week in Washington, D.C. for a medal ceremony and the possibility to "showcase their work in a performance at the Kennedy Center or an exhibition and presentation at the Smithsonian Museum of American Art."

Each discipline has specific portfolio requirements, which can be accessed through the application page. There is also a $35 non-refundable application fee for each category. Deadlines for applications are always toward the end of the year in mid-October.

Some of the YoungArts master teachers have included Mikhail Baryshnikov, Jacques d'Amboise, Plácido Domingo, Bill T. Jones, Quincy Jones, and Martin Scorsese. And some of their alumni include Vanessa Williams, Viola Davis, Kerry Washington, Raúl Esparza, Nicki Minaj, Chris Young, Terence Blanchard, Jennifer Koh, choreographer Desmond Richardson, visual artist Hernan Bas, and acclaimed multimedia artist Doug Aitken.

In addition to the national program, the Foundation features regional programs in MiamiNew York, and Los Angeles as well as an in-school presentation program. It also has a variety of affiliate programs with other organizations like the Educational Theater Association and the Music Teachers National Association, designed to develop cultural and educational connections and cross-promote other programs, events, and special opportunities.

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