Teens’ Artistic and Cultural Advancement

We believe that art and culture training programs can help young people achieve their educational and career goals, and catalyze change in their communities.

The Thriving Cultures Program therefore supports programs that successfully connect teens to artistically rigorous and culturally relevant programs that equip them with practical and life-enhancing skills. We value programs that prepare young, emerging artists to be creative and innovative leaders in their communities.

What we fund:

Overall, we seek organizations that have a proven and longstanding commitment to serving teens and that emphasize skill building. We seek funding opportunities that:

  • Provide high quality arts training that integrate life skills.  These skills include:  written and oral communication, problem-solving, critical thinking, and leadership development;
  • Encourage teens to connect to their cultural identity through art-making;
  • Provide young people with a well-developed, sequential curriculum that meets the increasing skills of participants;
  • Foster strong mentoring opportunities for artists with teens;
  • Employ accomplished faculty and guest artists who engage teens in art forms that reflect their cultural interests and community;
  • Use research and evaluation tools to track the progress of teens’ success over time;
  • Share best practices in regards to training and evaluation in order to strengthen the field of youth arts training.

We give preference to organizations that:

  • Embrace artistic and design excellence;
  • Find innovative ways to use arts and culture to make communities more just and sustainable;
  • Prioritize the needs of low-income communities and people of color in their work;
  • Maintain sound financial practices and management; and
  • Demonstrate a capacity and willingness to share best practices and knowledge with their colleagues and others in the field.

We do not fund:

  • Individuals;
  • In-school arts programs, including elementary or middle-school programs;
  • Projects that enhance in-school arts training (e.g. guest artists, professional development for arts faculty);
  • Specialized public arts high schools, arts-focused charter schools or community music schools;
  • One-time projects;
  • Organizations that solely provide arts-integrated learning (e.g. arts as a pedagogy for teaching other academic subjects or as a mode for health and social services delivery).

How to apply:

If you are interested in applying for a Surdna Foundation grant, please submit a letter of inquiry by clicking here. Please note: We can only support organizations that meet our guidelines listed under "What we fund."  

Program Related Investments

Surdna's Program Related Investment Fund supports the foundation’s mission by providing investment capital to fund innovations that use market-based approaches to address economic, cultural, and environmental challenges.

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