Whiting Foundation: Grants for Creative Writing

OVERVIEW: This funder provides $40,000 to $50,000 grants for ambitious creative fiction projects in a wide variety of subject areas. These grants are awarded to emerging writers so they can fully devote themselves to their literary work.

FUNDING AREAS: Creative nonfiction, poetry, and drama

IP TAKE: You can’t apply directly for these grants, but you may have an opportunity if you know someone influential in the industry. These are great awards for research-heavy, multiyear book projects.

PROFILE: Based in Brooklyn, New York, the Whiting Foundation has been supporting writing through fiction, poetry, and drama since 1985. Its support is based on the idea that creative fiction is essential to our culture but often comes at a great cost to writers in terms of time and resources.

It provides $40,000 to $50,000 grants to help promising new writers contribute to literary culture. What makes these grants unique is that they go to emerging writers, to provide an opportunity to fully devote themselves to the craft. Previous Whiting award winners have gone on to win the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Obie Award, and the MacArthur, Guggenheim, and Lannan fellowships.

The foundation made the following statement about its creative nonfiction grant:

"Its chief objective is to foster original, ambitious projects that bring writing to the highest possible standard. This grant is intended to support multiyear book projects requiring large amounts of deep and focused research, thinking, and writing at a crucial point mid-process, after significant work has been accomplished but where an extra infusion of support can make a difference in the ultimate shape and quality of the work." 

Keep in mind that the Whiting Foundation does not accept unsolicited applications or nominations. Instead, the foundation invites influential people from across the U.S. to recommend emerging writers that show promise for nominations. These expert nominators change each year and include professors, agents, booksellers, editors, and other professionals as well as writers. Nominators’ identities remain anonymous to prevent undue pressure and encourage candid discussions about the writers.

To be eligible for a Whiting creative writing grants, creative nonfiction writers must be under contract with a publisher and be at least two years into their contracts. The applications are typically due around May 1. Submissions about history, cultural or political reportage, biography, memoir, the sciences, philosophy, criticism, food or travel writing, personal essays, and other types of work are all considered.

In the past, Whiting’s creative writing awards have been announced in March in New York City. Up to six of these grants are typically awarded each year. These grantees are narrowed down from 15 finalists that are evaluated by a panel of four judges. A list of past grantees can be viewed here. In addition to creative writing, this funder also supports the humanities.  

General questions can be directed to the staff at (718) 701-5962 or info@whiting.org. A grantseeker’s best point of contact is Courtney Hodell, who is the director of the writers’ program. Questions about the submission project or grant eligibility can be sent to nonfiction@whiting.org. You can keep up with what this foundation is doing in its News & Reviews section.

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