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Advancing the Professional Development of Disadvantaged Young Artists at the Pre-College Level in All Artistic Disciplines


The Edward and Sally Van Lier Fund of The New York Community Trust provides support for talented, culturally diverse, minority, and economically disadvantaged young people who are seriously 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-college years.

We will award grants to a small number of organizations to provide two or more fellowships to 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 $90,000 for each organization, depending upon the number and size of fellowships covered. The Fund will contribute up to $10,000 a year per individual fellowship. (For example, an organization may request $80,000, $40,000 for each of two years to assist four or more fellows.) We will also cover a limited amount of organizational costs.

Proposals are due at The Trust no later than 12 p.m., May 7, 2014. Only complete proposals as specified in this Request for Proposals (RFP) will be considered. We will announce the grants in October 2014.

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 minority and disadvantaged artists.
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 further these goals. Sally Van Lier was a theatrical performer in the New York theater in 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. We make grants to arts organizations and training programs to provide education, training, or other support stages of development:

  • Pre-College—The period of training and self-development to prepare for college, conservatory, or advanced professional training.
  • Post-College—The first few years after completion of formal training when the artist seeks to establish a professional career.
We issue separate RFPs for each level of development. This RFP requests applications only from organizations serving young artists at the Pre-College Level 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. Priority will be given to small and mid-size groups with minimum budgets of $250,000. Applicant organizations 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.

Organizations with active Van Lier grants that conclude after November 2014 are not eligible to apply for this round. Additionally, The Trust will not support a program for six consecutive years. At that point, the agency must take a hiatus from the Van Lier Fund.

Qualifications of Fellowship Program

We will consider programs that provide fellowships or equivalent support at the pre-college and pre-formal training level. Grants will not be made to students 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 generally be of elementary, middle, or high school age, with demonstrated financial need. We especially encourage programs serving culturally diverse, minority, and economically disadvantaged populations, and groups that are underrepresented in the arts disciplines.

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; and funds for special clothing, equipment, and instruments, as well as for 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 up to a maximum of $90,000 ($45,000 per year for two years or $30,000 per year for three years) depending on the number and size of fellowships offered;
  • Sponsor two or more fellowships (a maximum of $10,000 per fellow, per year);
  • Extend for a period of two or three years.

The purpose of the award is to provide direct support to specific youth. 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 individual students 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

Factors considered in selecting grantees include:

  • Diversity of youth, disciplines, and geographic location of programs.
  • Quality of programs and services offered.
  • History of achievement in identifying and training talented, culturally diverse, minority and economically disadvantaged youth, especially those underrepresented in arts disciplines.
  • Likelihood that the proposed fellowship program will help culturally diverse, minority, and economically disadvantaged young artists.
  • 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. 
  • Soundness of the organization’s management and qualifications of staff. 
  • Effectiveness in involving the families of participating youth.
  • Scope of monitoring and tracking procedures.
  • Commitment and ability of the organization to continue the fellowship program after the term of The Trust’s grant.

Proposal Specifications and Support Material

Proposals should not exceed 5 pages exclusive of budget and support materials, and should cover at least the following topics:

  1. The organization’s current programs for talented, culturally diverse, minority, and economically disadvantaged youth, including: history; purpose; identification and recruitment procedures; disciplines covered; activities; numbers of students; measures of success; ethnic groups, ages, and special populations served; and geographic areas covered.
  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 activities, resources, opportunities, and support services to be provided to fellowship recipients, including 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. 
  6. The organization’s plan for monitoring each youth’s progress and artistic achievements both during and after the term of the fellowship.
  7. The organization’s plan for continuing the fellowship program after Trust support has concluded. 
  8. 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?
  9. 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 fellowships, and an itemization of the individual fellowships that shows the cost of each direct artist benefit, e.g., stipend, 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-College fellowships, on your stationery and signed by your director.
  2. New York Community Trust proposal cover sheet, available website.
  3. 501(c)(3) letter
  4. Most recent organization flyer, brochure, or annual report (if available)
  5. Annotated list of Board of Directors
  6. List of current funders
  7. Most recent Audited Financial Statement.
  8. Agency operating budget for the current year; and projected budget(s) for the period of the grant request.
  9. Affirmative Action Policy
  10. Brief bios of the organization’s artistic and professional staff.

>>>> Read or Download the 2014 RFP <<<<

Proposals must be delivered by 12 p.m., May 7, 2014, 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
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.