Creative Learning

Three young African America men are singing on a city street. One is playing the guitar. Photo by Sean Means

Overview

The Heinz Endowments' Creative Learning initiative is a coordinated, cross-sector strategy to cultivate an equitable creative arts and cultural learning network, improve access to transformative learning experiences for young people, and support meaningful professional opportunities for teaching artists in Pittsburgh's out-of-school-time (OST)* ecosystem. For the purpose of this initiative, creative learning will be defined as high-quality arts education in OST settings, with equitable access for the social, emotional and creative development of children and youth.

The Endowments aims to support the work of existing and new grantees in this space; improve their effectiveness; and create a more powerful network of programs, organizations and teaching artists. Creative Learning grantees will go beyond arts exposure to inspire deeper, generative, transformational and participatory learning for young people with an emphasis on racial equity in the learning ecosystem. 

The Endowments’ core strategies for this work are:

  • Support provider organizations that work directly with young people.
  • Support intermediary organizations that improve conditions for providers, teaching artists, and young people.
  • Support teaching artist field-building and professional development.
  • Support young artists.
  • Center equity in terms of race, resources and reach.

The Endowments developed this initiative through a diligent process that engaged OST provider organizations, teaching artists, researchers, practitioners and funding colleagues for more than two years. The 2019 Creative Learning in Pittsburgh report from the University of Pittsburgh summarizes our process and findings, and serves as a starting point for our current initiative. We acknowledge the prior investments of time, expertise, funding and practice that preceded Creative Learning at the Endowments: the Transformative Arts Process (TAP), Culturally Responsive Arts Education (CRAE), and the community processes that led to the creation of the Arts Education Collaborative and APOST.

*We use the abbreviation "OST" as shorthand for the field of practice that is alternately referred to as out-of-school-time, expanded learning, informal education, enrichment and after-school. Creative Learning in the Pittsburgh region will support an ecosystem of OST providers and teaching artists focused on creative youth development – with programming delivered to children and youth in a variety of settings, including community learning centers, cultural spaces, arts facilities, parks, museums, libraries and schools.

Creative Learning Funding Opportunities

Creative Learning grants are awarded for program or general operating support. Creative Learning grantees will be aligned through a shared set of values. Grant decisions and program evaluation will be guided by criteria that support these values and align with best practices in the field of creative youth development. Grant size and type will be determined by The Heinz Endowments' program staff and are subject to the final approval of the President and Board of Directors. 

Download the complete funding program guidelines, values, and criteria for Creative Learning. 

Eligibility and Qualifications

In addition to meeting The Heinz Endowments’ standard eligibility criteria, organizations qualified for support will have demonstrated experience in:

  • Leading creative arts and cultural education programming for young people up to age 26
  • Understanding anti-racist principles and applying these to the organization and its programs
  • Supporting teaching artists as essential cultural workers
  • Collaborating with individuals and organizations to accomplish more together as a network
  • Managing effective fiscal, staffing, and governance practices

For essential context, prospective applicants are strongly advised to read and interpret the University of Pittsburgh's Creative Learning in Pittsburgh report.

How to Apply
Applications for Creative Learning funding are reviewed twice annually, with occasional exceptions for rapid response needs. In a typical calendar year, the spring deadline is March 1st for funding decisions in May; the fall deadline is August 1st for funding decisions in October.

In the proposal narrative, applicant organizations should provide a description of their programs and/or operations, the proposed purpose of the grant, details about partnerships, and relationship to the regional creative learning ecosystem. Applicants should also be prepared to contribute to the evaluation process by keeping track of and periodically reporting data relevant to several indicators the Endowments will use to help gauge the progress of the initiative. Examples include setting goals and measures of success for this request in the context of Creative Learning's values of quality, youth-adult partnerships, anti-racism, teaching artists, and collective action.

In addition to the narrative questions, a complete application requires program and/or organizational budget(s), project timeline(s), and organizational details including demographic data for staff and board.

The final proposal must be submitted using the online form here.  Select "Creative Learning" as the strategic goal area. Organizations may request draft application review or consultation with a program officer up to two weeks in advance of the deadline, with some exceptions.

Questions?

For Heinz Endowments staff assistance, please contact Mac Howison at 412-338-2651 or mac@heinz.org.