Don’t just give.
Solve. Today and forever.

2015 Edward & Sally Van Lier Arts Fellowships Request for Proposals

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


The New York Community Trust’s Edward and Sally Van Lier Fund provides support for talented, culturally diverse, economically disadvantaged young people who are seriously dedicated to a career in the arts.

This round of grants will provide assistance to arts groups and training programs in all disciplines to help individual artists at the post-college level make the transition from formal training to professional careers. Grants will provide education, training, or other support for young people from New York City.

We will award grants of up to three years to a small number of arts groups to sponsor two or more artist fellowships. The purpose of the fellowships is to help young working artists achieve a significant professional credit that can lead to future career opportunities. Grants will range up to a maximum of $150,000 for each organization, depending upon the number and size of fellowships covered. The Fund will contribute up to $25,000 a year per individual fellowship. (For example, a group might request $150,000, $75,000 for each of two years, to assist three or more fellows.) We also will cover a limited amount of organizational costs.

Proposals are due at The Trust no later than 12 p.m. April 21, 2015. Only complete proposals as specified in this Request for Proposals (RFP) will be considered. We will announce the grants in October 2015.

Background of the Van Lier Fund

Two major goals of The New York Community Trust’s arts program are:

  • Promoting diversity, equity, and access in and to the arts; and
  • Developing talented young, culturally diverse, 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 young 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 were avid visitors to the City’s museums, concerts, and plays, and introduced many young people to the arts. We make grants that carry out the Van Liers’ legacy by supporting arts groups and training programs to provide education, training, or other support at two 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 for efforts to serve young artists at the Post-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 promote the professional development of talented young people in all artistic disciplines. Grants will not be considered for agencies with annual operating budgets less than $250,000 (as demonstrated by an audit or the form 990) nor for agencies carrying an accumulated deficit.

Applicants must request support for at least two 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 will be responsible for recruiting and selecting fellowship recipients; assuring that resources are provided; monitoring the artists’ progress over the term of the fellowship and tracking professional career developments after its completion.
Groups with active grants from The Trust’s Arts program that conclude after October 2015 are not eligible to apply for this round. Additionally, The Trust will not support a Van Lier fellowship program for more than 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 post-college and post-formal training levels. Fellowship activities must take place, and help artists who reside in, New York City. Recipients should generally be age 30 or younger, with demonstrated financial need. Priority is given to agencies that will assist young artists from populations historically underrepresented in the arts, especially underrepresented racial and ethnic groups. Grants will not be made to provide fellowships to students enrolled in undergraduate or graduate programs. Applications that focus solely on regranting will not be considered.

Fellowship activities should be appropriate to both the art form and the development needs of the individual artists. We support a broad range of activities and related costs, such as advanced training and coaching; equipment, instruments, and supplies; commissioning; mentoring; rehearsal and work space; opportunities to create, produce, perform, or publish; professional conferences; and travel and living expenses. We will consider grants only where the primary purpose is to benefit the professional development of the fellowship recipient, rather than the sponsoring organization.

Terms of Award

Grant awards will:

  • Range up to a maximum of $150,000 ($75,000 per year for two years or $50,000 per year for three years) depending upon the number and size of fellowships offered;
  • Sponsor two or more fellowships (agencies may request up to $25,000 per fellow, per year, and may request less than that amount);
  • Extend for a period of two or three years.

The purpose of the award is to provide direct support to specific young artists with particular attention to artists from historically underrepresented populations in the arts, especially underrepresented racial and ethnic groups. 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 administrative costs attributable to the fellowship program may be requested. Supplemental grants and funds from other sources are encouraged.

Groups may choose to support either the same artists over the term of the grant, or different artists for shorter periods. The size and duration of each fellowship should be based upon the activities involved, and the resources and time needed for the artists to achieve a significant professional credit that will advance their careers.

The Trust will require grantees 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 the artistic achievement of recipients following the completion of the fellowships.

Review Criteria

Factors considered in selecting grantees include:

  1. Diversity of artists, disciplines, and geographic location of programs.
  2. Quality of programs and services offered.
  3. History of achievement in programs serving culturally diverse populations traditionally underrepresented in the arts.
  4. Likelihood that the proposed fellowship program will help artists from target populations.
  5. Program design and the probability that it will advance a young artist’s career.
  6. Extent of knowledge about the issues involved in helping young artists begin professional careers.
  7. Soundness of the organization’s management and qualifications of staff.
  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.

Proposed Specifications and Support Material

Proposal narratives should not exceed five pages and should cover at least the following topics:

  1. Description of the applicant’s current programs for individual artists, including history; purpose; arts disciplines covered; activities; measures of success; outreach procedures; numbers served annually; ethnic groups, ages, and special populations served; and geographic areas covered.
  2. Methods used to identify and select fellowship recipients, including determination of financial need.
  3. Number of fellowships to be provided, including the name of the recipients if known, or of prototypes to be selected.
  4. Description of the activities, resources, opportunities, and support services to be provided to fellows, including any direct financial support.  If another organization will be involved, describe its role and qualifications.
  5. Approach to helping fellowship recipients identify career goals and establish plans to achieve them.
  6. Plan for monitoring each artist’s progress and for tracking the artist’s career development after the fellowship ends.
  7. Strategy for continuing the fellowship program after Trust support has concluded.
  8. Previous Van Lier grant recipients should note how Trust support has affected the organization overall.  For example, did the Van Lier program help attract new culturally diverse artists or advance the organization’s commitment to diversity among its staff and board? How did previous fellows benefit and how have those careers progressed (cite specific examples)?

The multi-year project budget should indicate the annual and total cost of all fellowships; include an itemization of the costs per artist (e.g., stipend, space rental, supplies, administration, etc.); indicate the total requested from The Trust specifying the amount requested for each fellowship; and, if applicable, note other confirmed and projected funding sources.

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 Post-College fellowships, on your stationery, signed by your director.
  2. A copy of The New York Community Trust proposal cover sheet that you have submitted online via the Grantee Portal:
  3. Brief bios of artistic and professional staff.
  4. 501(c)(3) letter.
  5. A list of the Board of Directors
  6. Latest audited financial statement, or if not available, the Form 990
  7. Agency operating budget for the current year and projected budget(s) for the period of the grant request.
  8. Affirmative Action Policy.
  9. Most recent organization flyer, brochure, or annual report (if available).

Proposals must be delivered by 12 p.m., April 21, 2015, to the offices of The New York Community Trust, 909 Third Avenue, 22nd Floor, New York, NY 10022.  Faxed and emailed proposals will not be accepted. Please note that this is not a postmark deadline. Proposals received after the deadline will not be considered.

Contact and Program Administrator

Please direct all inquiries and applications 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) 686-2578


909 Third Avenue | New York, NY 10022 | P (212) 686-0010 | F (212) 532-8528 |
Contact Us | Staff | Westchester Community Foundation | Long Island Community Foundation

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