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2016 The New York Community Trust Van Lier Fellowship Program

Advancing the Professional Development of Young Artists from Historically Underrepresented Populations at the Pre-Professional Level in All Artistic Disciplines.

The New York Community Trust’s Edward and Sally Van Lier Fellowship Program provides support for talented young people from historically underrepresented populations who are dedicated to a career in the arts.

Grants from this fund will provide assistance to arts groups in all disciplines that identify, train, and support young artists in their pre-professional years. 

We will award a small number of grants for organizations to provide fellowships to two or more talented young people for training and related costs for up to three years. The purpose of the fellowships is to help young artists achieve a significant career development milestone, such as acceptance into a conservatory, a professional company, or another advanced training program. Grants will range up to a maximum of $150,000 for each organization, depending upon the number and size of fellowships covered. A limited amount of organizational costs are allowable in the budget.

Proposals are due at The Trust no later than 12 p.m., May 23, 2016.  Only complete proposals as specified in this Request for Proposals (RFP) will be considered.  We will announce the grants in October 2016.

Background and Purpose of the Van Lier Fund

Two major goals of The Trust’s Arts and Culture Program are:
  • Promoting diversity, equity, and access in the arts; and
  • Developing talented, young artists from historically underrepresented populations. 
The Edward and Sally Van Lier Fund, created by the will of Sally Van Lier, gave The Trust the opportunity to establish a fellowship program for younger artists to promote and advance these goals. Sally Van Lier was a theatrical performer in the New York theater during the 1920s and appeared in the original production of Showboat. Throughout their lives, she and her husband, Edward, were avid visitors to the City’s museums, concerts, and plays, and introduced many young people to the arts. To honor our donor’s intent, we make grants to arts organizations and training programs to provide education, training, or other supports to help two stages of development:

  • Pre-Professional—the period of training and self-development to prepare for college, conservatory, or advanced professional training.
  • Young Professional—the period when artists between 18 and 30 years-old seek to establish a professional career.
We issue separate RFPs for each level of development. This RFP requests applications from organizations serving young artists at the Pre-Professional Level only in all artistic disciplines. 

Qualifications of Organizations

Grants will be made to tax-exempt, 501(c)(3) organizations in New York City administering educational or fellowship programs that provide training and support to talented youth in all artistic disciplines. Applicants should have a minimum annual operating budget of $250,000. Applicants must request support for at least two young artists, and may request more than that number. 

The fellowship activities and support may be provided directly by the sponsoring organization or in cooperation with another group. In all cases, the grantee organization will be responsible for: recruiting and selecting fellowship recipients; assuring that resources are provided; monitoring the young artists’ progress over the term of the fellowship and tracking professional career developments after its completion.

Groups with active Van Lier grants that conclude after November 2016 are not eligible to apply for this round. Additionally, The Trust will not support a program for more than six consecutive years. At that point, the agency must take a one-year hiatus from the Van Lier Fund. Groups on hiatus may apply to The Trust in other program categories as per the guidelines on our website.

Qualifications of Fellowship Program

We will consider programs that provide fellowships or equivalent support at the pre-professional and pre-formal training level. Grants will not be made to agencies to help fellows enrolled in college, conservatory, or advanced training programs.

Fellowship activities must take place in New York and will be awarded to youth who reside in New York City. Recipients should:
  • Be between the ages of 6 and 18.
  • Demonstrate financial need. The ways in which recipients’ financial need is determined is left to the organization’s discretion. Past grantees in the program have used the following strategies: ask parent(s)/guardian(s) to select their  income bracket from a list of options on an application; ask parent(s)/guardian(s) to indicate whether their student qualifies for free-or-reduced lunch on an application; conduct interviews with applicants’ parent(s)/guardian(s) to learn more of their background and what the Van Lier fellowship would do for their student; or ask parent(s)/guardian(s) to indicate whether they are recipients of other federal or state benefits (e.g., SNAP, SSI, WIC) on an application.
  • Come from historically underrepresented populations in the arts disciplines, such as African, Latino(a), Asian, Arab and Native American artists, artists with disabilities, and LGBT artists. Gender also may be used as a lens to determine underrepresentation. 
Fellowships should include a comprehensive set of classes and support services to prepare youth from families with limited resources to compete artistically, academically, and personally for scholarship places in advanced training programs. The quality of instruction should be of the highest order and, to the extent possible, provided by mature artists whose careers offer inspiration and who can be role models to young artists. Fellowships may cover appropriate services needed to ensure artistic development, such as: individual and small group classes; repertoire development; audition training; mentorship; and funds for special clothing and supplies, travel, and costs associated with parent involvement. We will consider grants where the primary purpose is to benefit the educational and artistic development of the fellowship recipient, rather than the sponsoring organization.

Terms of Award

Grant awards will:
  • Range from $25,000 to $150,000 for periods of two or three years (for example, a grant of $150,000 may be awarded as $75,000 per year for two years or $50,000 per year for three years) depending on the number and size of fellowships offered;
  • Sponsor two or more fellowships;
  • Extend for a period of two or three years.
The purpose of the award is to provide direct support to specific youth within arts disciplines (e.g., filmmaking, theater, music, visual arts). Requests to support graphic design or media post-production will not be considered. Funds may be used to support or expand an existing effort, or to begin a new program. Grants are intended primarily to cover fellowship costs; however, a limited amount of organizational costs attributable to the fellowship program may be included in the total amount requested. Supplemental grants and funds from other sources are encouraged.

The program should be of sufficient duration and intensity to ensure that participating youth will attain a significant career advancement milestone, such as admission to a college, conservatory, or other form of more advanced training, or acceptance into a professional company. Since the intent is to assist individuals over a period of several years, except in special circumstances, fellowship funds may not be shifted to other students during the term of the grant. Organizations should ensure selected youth are first-time Van Lier fellowship recipients. Fellowships may not be awarded to youth who have previously received Van Lier fellowships at your or other organizations. 

The Trust will require grantee organizations to submit periodic reports on the program as a whole and on the status of each fellowship recipient; generate line item budgets that demonstrate how the grant money is spent; and establish procedures for tracking recipients’ artistic development following the completion of the fellowships. 

Review Criteria
Proposals are reviewed by staff then recommended to the board for funding. Factors considered in selecting grantees include:

  1. Diversity of youth, arts discipline(s), and geographic location of programs.
  2. Quality of programs and services offered.
  3. Achievement in identifying and training talented youth from historically underrepresented populations in arts disciplines.
  4. Likelihood that the proposed fellowship program will help historically underrepresented populations in the arts disciplines.
  5. Depth of understanding of the support and services needed for youth to obtain admission to professional level programs—e.g., college, conservatory, or professional company.  
  6. Soundness of the organization’s management and qualifications of staff. 
  7. Effectiveness in involving the families of participating youth.
  8. Scope of monitoring and tracking procedures.
  9. Commitment and ability of the organization to continue the fellowship program after the term of The Trust’s grant.

Proposal Specifications and Support Materials

Proposals should not exceed five pages exclusive of budget and support materials, and should cover at least the following topics:
  1. The organization’s brief history, mission, and program for advancing talented youth from historically underrepresented populations. 
  2. The methods used to identify and select fellowship recipients, including how financial need will be determined.
  3. The number of fellowships to be provided, length of expected support, and name and profile of the intended recipients. (Note: Youth who have previously received Van Lier fellowships from your organization or another arts training organization are not eligible.)
  4. A detailed description of the arts discipline(s) activities the fellows will receive, including hours of instruction, public performance or exhibition opportunities, other resources and support services, and any direct financial support. If another organization will be involved, describe its role and provide information on its qualifications for this role.
  5. The organization’s approach to helping fellowship recipients select and apply to higher education and professional training institutions, if applicable.  
  6. The system used to monitor each fellow’s progress and artistic achievements both during and after the term of the fellowship.
  7. A strategy detailing how the organization will continue the fellowship program after Trust support has concluded. 
  8. A plan for informing recipients of their Van Lier fellowship and promoting the fellowship internally and externally. 
  9. Previous Van Lier grant recipients should include a description of how Van Lier support has affected the organization overall. For example, did the Van Lier program help attract new, non-Van Lier culturally diverse students or help reinforce the organization’s commitment to diversity? How did previous fellows benefit and how have their careers progressed?
  10. Provide an overall budget for the fellowship program that includes The Trust’s contribution, along with other sources of support, if applicable.
The expense budget should indicate the total cost of the fellowship program, and an itemization of the cost per fellowship. It should break-down the cost of each direct benefit to the young artists, e.g., stipend, instruction, costumes, space rental, supplies, etc.; and an itemization of organizational costs to implement the program, if applicable. (A limited amount of these costs is allowable.)

The income budget should indicate the total requested from The Trust, specifying the amount requested for each fellowship; and, if applicable, other resources that the organization will commit to the program, including grants and funds from other sources, and in-kind contributions. Please distinguish confirmed and pending funding.

Support materials should include:
  1. A cover letter requesting support from the Edward and Sally Van Lier Fund of The New York Community Trust for Pre-Professional fellowships, on your stationery and signed by your director.
  2. New York Community Trust proposal cover sheet (available through our grant portal,
  3. Annotated list of Board of Directors.
  4. List of current funders.
  5. Most recent Audited Financial Statement.
  6. Agency operating budget for the current year; and projected budget(s) for the period of the grant request.
  7. Affirmative Action Policy.
Proposals must be delivered by 12 p.m., May 23, 2016, to the office of The New York Community Trust, 909 Third Avenue, 22nd Floor, New York, NY 10022. Faxed and emailed proposals are not acceptable. Please note that this is not a postmark deadline. Proposals received after the deadline will not be considered.

Contact and Program Administrator

Representatives of organizations interested in responding to this call for proposals may telephone The New York Community Trust for further information and answers to questions. All inquiries and applications should be addressed to:
Ms. Kerry McCarthy
Senior Program Officer for Arts and Historic Preservation
The New York Community Trust
909 Third Avenue, 22nd Floor
New York, NY 10022
(212) 686-0010 Ext. 520

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The New York Community Trust is a 501(c)3 public charity.