Posted by: Kathy Temean | February 2, 2015

Sustainable Arts Foundation Awards

Michelle bird
This cold blue bird was sent in by Michelle Kogan. Michelle teaches art, and in the summers spends a good amount of time painting plien air in gardens and nature venues in the Chicago area, including the Chicago Botanic Garden, Lurie Garden in Millennium Park, and the Lincoln Park Conservatory.

Are you a writer working in fiction, nonfiction, playwriting, or poetry or a visual artists practicing painting, sculpture, drawing, printmaking, mixed-media and photography and have a child living with you under the age of 18? If so, then here is a chance to win $6000 to use to work on your craft.

Here is How to Apply

2015 Spring Awards
Online application available January 15, 2015
Deadline to apply February 27, 2015 5 p.m., Pacific Time
Awards announced May 15, 2015

Please read these instructions carefully before you begin.

We strive to keep our application process as simple as possible. Please keep one thought in mind: the better we understand your work, the easier it is to evaluate it. The unfortunate reality is that the majority of applications go unfunded. Please know that regardless of the outcome, we greatly appreciate the time and effort you put into your application.

Our application is entirely online. It’s easier for us to process the volume of applications we receive and evaluate them online.


The foundation will award the following:

Sustainable Arts Foundation Award: $6,000
Sustainable Arts Foundation Promise Award: $2,000

We typically offer five of each award in each application round.


To be eligible, the applicant must have at least one child under the age of 18.


The foundation offers awards in two major categories: visual arts and writing.

We encourage writers working in fiction, nonfiction, playwriting, and poetry to apply.

Visual artists practicing painting, sculpture, drawing, printmaking, mixed-media and photography are encouraged to apply.

At this time we are not accepting applications in the performing arts, film/video, or music.


We seek to reward excellence. Your portfolio–which may (but need not) allude to your parenting–will assist us in evaluating your work. We’re also interested in hearing what your plans are, and how this award might assist you in attaining your goals.

The application is very straightforward, and consists of 3 major parts:

Contact Information

Very basic stuff. We need your contact information so we can keep you posted on the status of your application.

Personal and Artistic Information

This is your chance to tell us who you are as a person, an artist, and a parent. We’ve organized this into a few sections:

Who I Am: Biography

Please tell us about yourself. Remember that the Sustainable Arts Foundation’s unique trait is our focus on artists and writers who are also parents. If it’s relevant, we’d like to hear how your family life inspires or challenges your artistic career.

What I Do: Artist Statement

Please give us a concise description of your work and goals as an artist.

What I’ve Done: Curriculum Vitae

We’d like to know about the public presentation of your work. Please paste (or attach on the next screen) your current CV or resume, noting especially, if applicable, any grants, awards, or fellowships, plus your exhibitions or publications.

What I’d Like to Do: How I Would Use this Award

If you have specific needs that would be met by this award — child care, workspace, new equipment, research, travel — please outline them here. If you have a budget for a specific project, let us know. The more we know about you and your work, the easier it is for us to envision how this award would succeed.

If you already have nicely formatted versions of any of the above, please feel free to attach them as PDFs in the Portfolio section of the application.


Please supply samples of recent work. While you’re welcome to include or make reference to older works, please know that we’re particularly interested in the work you’ve produced since having children.

Submission Guidelines for Writers

  • Writers: 25 pages maximum. You may submit a single long sample or multiple shorter samples.
  • Poets: 10 poems, not to exceed 25 pages total
  • PDF format only, please. No Microsoft Word documents.
  • Please “blind” your attachments (no name or contact information on your attachments)

Submission Guidelines for Visual Artists

  • 10-20 images
  • Use highest resolution (we want to see your work at its best). Each individual image should be less than 5MB.

If the works have titles, please use the appropriate field on the application, and also note any additional description of the work (date created, dimensions, medium, etc.) If the work has been published or exhibited, please note that as well.

We strongly urge you to prepare your responses offline. Computers crash, internet connections hang. We’d hate for you to lose your work due to a technical glitch. After preparing your answers and the files you wish to upload, you can simply copy-and-paste them into our form in a matter of minutes.

Application Fee

As of 2014, we are charging an application fee. The fee is a modest one ($10), but we’re aware that many of you are applying for multiple awards and grants and we know these fees add up.

The response we’ve gotten to our award program has been staggering. One of the ways we ensure that all of our applications receive due consideration is to use jurors. Our jurors are previous award winners, so they are all parent artists and writers like yourself, and we pay them a modest fee for their time.

Given the number of applications we’ve received, however, our juror fees have become an unsustainably large portion of our budget (roughly 35% of our total awards). 100% of the application fee goes directly to pay these jurors for their time. By charging this fee, we can insure that at least two jurors will review each application.


If you have any questions about the application process, please don’t hesitate to contact us.


One final check before you begin:

  • Remember, for written portfolios or other supplemental documentation: PDF files only. No Microsoft Word documents, please
  • Your portfolio submissions should be blind and should not include your name. Your essays, CV, and supplemental information can certainly use your name.


Talk tomorrow,


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