Compton Foundation: Grants for Creative Writing

OVERVIEW: This funder supports creative writing that's focused on the intersection of art and social and environmental change. It is open to creative journalistic approaches, new ways of sharing data, and training organizations in strategic ways to tell their stories.

FUNDING AREAS: Storytelling, creative writing

IP TAKE: This isn’t a funder to approach about writing your romantic novel. But if you have a message about social or environmental change, you could have an opportunity with Compton.

PROFILE: The Compton Foundation’s creative writing support comes in the form of storytelling funding. They're based in San Francisco but award grants nationally. The funder believes that that there is a need for creative writing and stories about who we are, how we should live, and our purpose on this planet.

For example, one past storytelling grant went to Split This Rock for an Eco-Justice Poetry Project to curate poetry and to host poetry readings, writing workshops, and collaborative actions. Another grant went towards general support for the Arctic Cycle: this group’s artistic engagement efforts focus on supporting the writing, development, and production of a cycle of multiple plays.

Past writing grants have been around $20,000 each. A full list of past grants can be viewed here. Towards the end of a recent year, the foundation had awarded approximately $4.6 million in grants. It has recently reported over $56 million in assets.

This is a funder that provides both general support and funding for specific projects. In addition to creative writing, this funder supports telling stories through visual art, drama, film, and creative social media. Other areas of interest are leadership and women, peace and security.

Make sure that your creative writing idea focuses on the intersection of art and social or environmental change. Practically speaking, that could mean any of the following: directly supporting professional artists working toward social or environmental change, funding organizations that bridge artistic disciplines and activism, or groups exploring art as an organizing methodology. In terms of writing format, Compton is open to creative journalistic approaches, new ways of sharing data, and also training organizations in strategic ways to tell their stories.

However, keep in mind that traditional journalistic pursuits are not supported here. Also, this is not the funder to go to for healing or empowerment storytelling or for telling the stories of a single organization.

Although Compton does not accept unsolicited proposals, it does have an open inquiry process for prospective creative writing grantseekers. This funder often sustains long-term grantees with ongoing support, so new opportunities are limited. New inquiries should be submitted online. Compton has five or six grant dockets of 10 to 15 grants each per year. It does a docket about every two months, starting with applications due in January.

The foundation is run by a staff of six and a board of directors. General questions can be directed to the San Francisco-based staff at 415-391-9001 or via email at Keep up with the foundation's activities and interests on its “Updates from the Foundation” news page.


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