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20 Great Grants for Writers, Plus Tips for Applying

by | Oct 5, 2020

We update this post once a year, so you may find some deadlines have passed or been affected by COVID-19. Click through to each opportunity to find the most recent application information straight from the source.

When you find yourself with a big, time-consuming writing project to pursue, your love of words alone might not pay the bills.

That’s when grant money can swoop in to save the day (and your budget).

Plus, if you find you enjoy writing grant applications, grant writing can be a lucrative niche as well.

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Writers grants for women, poetry and more

Ready to apply for money to fund your writing?

Here are 20 great grants for writers based in the United States.

1. Leeway Foundation Art and Change Grants

These grants of up to $2,500 are available to women and transgender artists and cultural producers based in Greater Philadelphia, whose work emphasizes social change. That means, “social change must be integral to the ideas, beliefs and goals that are woven throughout your [writing] and your process of creating and sharing your art,” and should positively engage the community.

Keep in mind that one key to success for this grant is securing a “Change Partner”: an individual, business, or organization that is connected to your work, and who will endorse your project.

If you are at least 18 years old and live in Bucks, Camden, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery or Philadelphia counties, you are eligible to apply. However, full-time art students are not eligible. All genres are welcome. Applications must be received by the biannual deadlines (March 1 and August 1 in 2020), and you can only apply once per grant cycle.

Check out this page for all the details.

2. Grants for Artist Projects (GAP) Awards 

If you are a resident of Washington state, 18 years or older and not currently enrolled in a graduate or undergraduate degree program, this is the grant for you.

The Grants for Artists Project (GAP) awards up to $1,500 annually to 50+ practicing literary and visual artists. Grant money can support the “development, completion or presentation of new work.”

The organization also connects artists to an array of services, including career development, legal support, residencies and continuing education — just to name a few. Application dates for the next round of grants have yet to be announced for 2021, so keep your eye out for the details here

3. Bard College Fiction Prize

This writer-in-residence award is an amazing opportunity for an emerging writer under the age of 39 to devote a semester to a fiction project.

The recipient is required to give one public lecture on the campus and to informally meet with Bard students, but the rest of the time is dedicated to their writing project. Besides a sizable $30,000 cash award, the winning writer also gets to be a writer in residence at Bard College for one semester.

This grant for writers is awarded annually, though the 2021 application period closed on July 30; check this page in a few months to learn about 2022 deadlines. The application process is very straightforward; no lengthy FAQ pages here.

Applicants should have published at least one book, three copies of which must be submitted with a cover letter explaining their next project and their C.V.

4. Arts Writers Grant Program

If contemporary visual art is your writing area of expertise, you’re in luck. This grant funds writers who are passionate and knowledgeable about contemporary art and whose work will broaden the arts writing audience.

Both emerging and established writers can apply for a grant ranging from $15,000 to $50,000 in one of three project types: articles, books and short-form writing. Keep your eye out for the application period to reopen in spring 2020.

Details are available here.

5. Sustainable Arts Foundation Award

This “annual unrestricted cash award” stands out from the crowd because it’s awarded to artists and writers with at least one child under the age of 18, though parents of older children with disabilities or special needs may also be eligible. The foundation strives to support parents who are trying to balance their creative work with the demands of child-rearing — this year, 20 artists and writers with children received $5,000 each.

Interested applicants should submit a sample of their work, along with the answers to the questions found here. Writers are welcome to submit work within 10 different genres, but the requirements for each varies, so be sure to check the portfolio requirements before applying. The 2021 award application will be open to the public starting February 1.

6. Arizona Artist Research and Development Grant

Arizona writers who want to “advance their artistic practice, expand their creative horizons and deepen the impact of their work” may want to try their luck with this grant, which will be awarded to up to 30 artists across all disciplines this year. The grant’s amount goes up to $5,000 depending on funding.

Applicants whose projects emphasize the “new” — new techniques, new strategies, new ways of engaging communities — are primed for success. Writers should also explicitly state in their applications how their project will impact not just their own artistic practices, but also benefit the larger Arizona community.

The application has numerous demanding parts, so be sure to give yourself time to delve into the guidelines. The 2021 grant is currently accepting applications! The deadline is Thursday, October 15, 2020. 

7. Minnesota Artist Initiative Grant

Minnesota-based writers of poetry and prose should keep an eye on this grant, awarded in amounts of $2,000 to $10,000.

If you’ve been a resident for at least six months and are 18 or older, the Minnesota State Arts Board will consider your application for this grant, which supports the “career-building and creative development” of Minnesota artists across eight mediums.

Public engagement is key for successful applicants; all projects must include a community component such as a reading or open workshop. Find the full details of last year’s application process here. The grant program has been suspended for 2021, so be sure to check back for the 2022 update before applying.

8. Kansas City Inspiration Grant

Kansas City writers in the metropolitan area may be awarded between $1,000 and $2,500 for professional development and other budding projects. The regional arts council notes that the highest priority for the grant is to fund projects that significantly advance career development or an artist’s capacity to complete their work — not to fund “business as usual.”

A full proposal, which includes up to six samples of work, is only submitted after an applicant passes this initial phase.

Note that if you request more than $1,500 for your project, matching funds may be required. As of August 10, 2020, Inspiration Grants are not available currently, but will be open for applications soon. 

Check out the Inspiration Resources page for more information.

9. RISCA Project Grant Projects for Individuals

As with most other state arts council-based grants, this Rhode Island grant is available to writers who ultimately plan to share their work with the public through a reading, performance or another open event. The emphasis on public value is strong with the RI Arts Council, so this grant will best serve socially-minded writing projects.

Submit applications twice per year, on April 1 and October 1; although, fall grant applications have yet to open, so bookmark the grants page to stay up-to-date with new information. Individual applicants can request up to $3,000, but be mindful that grants may be only partially funded. If your request is especially sizeable you might consider providing proof that other organizations or individuals have financially invested in your project.

Find application details here.

10. North Carolina Artist Support Grant

North Carolina writers at any stage in their careers are invited to apply for grants to fund new or existing projects, with statewide awards ranging from $300 to $5,000. (Grant amounts vary by region.)

Application procedures and deadlines vary depending on your county, so make sure you reach out to the office designated on this page for specific regional details. The guidelines are fairly open-ended, which is good news for writers who want to use the funds for a variety of professional development needs.

11. Awesome Foundation Grant

This grant is as awesome as it sounds.

Winners receive $1,000 with “no strings attached” to pursue their incredible projects, and the foundation and its donors have no say in the finished project.

Chapters of the foundation organized by region or subject review applications and select the grantees. The process is almost unsettlingly simple, but don’t be deterred — this really is a great opportunity.

Check the website for specific information about the application requirements and deadlines for your chapter.

12. The Regional Arts Commission’s  Artist Support Grant

This grant, funded by the Regional Arts Commission, provides “direct funds for an individual artist’s projects, needs, or creative opportunities in all artistic disciplines.” The grant ranges from $500 to $3,000 and can be used for project completion, conference fees, rental space, materials, and any other resources that contribute to an artists’ development. 

You’ll be eligible for this grant if you’re 19 years or older, a resident of St. Louis City or County and have been for at least one year, and if you’ve created and presented or performed original work to the public.

This year, the Fall 2020 Artist Support Grants has been postponed, so check back periodically for updates about important dates and eligibility details.

13. PEN/Phyllis Naylor Working Writer Fellowship

Since 2001, this annual grant of $5,000 has been awarded to an author of children’s or YA fiction. “It has been developed to help writers whose work is of high literary caliber and assist a writer at a crucial moment in their career to complete a novel-in-progress.” 

To ensure total impartiality of the judging process, your submitted novel-in-progress will be judged blindly, so be sure not to put your name anywhere on your manuscript.

Among other requirements, eligible applicants should have published at least one children’s or YA fiction novel, and it must have been published by a U.S. trade publisher. Though the current grant cycle has closed, keep an eye out for next year’s deadlines.

14. Karen and Philip Cushman Late Bloomer Award

If you’re a writer over the age of 50 and your work has yet to be traditionally published in the children’s literature field, this one is all yours.

Karen and Philip Cushman and the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) established this grant for writers in 2013. Cushman considered herself a late bloomer, as her first children’s book wasn’t published until she was 53. This grant is meant to celebrate and encourage writers just like her.

Recipients receive $500 and free tuition to an SCBWI conference anywhere in the world. Plus, the requirements are a breeze: you must be a member of SCBWI and an unpublished writer of 50 years of age or older. This year, submissions were accepted from March 1 to April 15.

15. Massachusetts Artist Fellowship 

Artists in Massachusetts specializing in various disciplines can apply to receive a $1,500 award, funded by the Mass Cultural Council, which considers “the work of individual artists to be an essential part of our vital communities.” 

The fellowship is only open to artists who are 18 years or older and have been a resident of Massachusetts for at least two years. You must also be prepared to present original work; no interpretations or translations, please. 

Once open, the 2021 grant cycle will accept work under the dramatic writing category. Stay tuned for more information about application dates, deadlines and final award amounts.

16. The Arkansas International Emerging Writer’s Prize

Unpublished writers, apply to this grant for the chance to receive $1,000 and have your submitted work published. 

Your entry should be a double-spaced single prose work with no more 7,500 words — or poem packets of up to five poems — and it’ll be judged by only one person: Deb Olin Unferth, an established published author. Accepted categories are fiction, nonfiction, poetry, essays, comics and works in translation.

The application fee is $20, which includes a one-year subscription to The Arkansas International. This grant sets itself apart by allowing multiple entries within one grant cycle, but it’ll cost you a new application fee each time. This year’s deadline is November 8, 2020.

17. The George A. and Eliza Gardner Howard Foundation Fellowship

If you need to set aside some time to focus on your writing, this opportunity might be what you’re looking for.

Administered by Brown University, this fellowship was created with the intention to “provide artists, scholars, and writers with time to complete their work.” The 2021-2022 fellowship of $35,000 will be awarded to nine mid-career individuals in the fields of Creative Nonfiction and History.

You’ll be eligible if you’ve achieved recognition for one major project, and if you can answer “yes” to these questions. Applications will be accepted until November 1, 2020. If your genre isn’t a field of focus this cycle, try again next year — fellowship applications are available from July 1 to November 1, then awarded in the spring.

18. The Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence

This award “is now in its 14th year and has become nationally recognized in its role of enhancing the visibility of emerging African-American fiction writers while also expanding the audience for this literature.” The $15,000 cash prize will support the writer as he/she focuses on writing. 

To be eligible, you’ll need to be an African-American U.S. citizen with a published work of fiction, and you should be willing to attend the award ceremony in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. During your stay, participation in community engagement and educational outreach activities are also expected.

The deadline for the 2020 grant cycle has passed, so be sure to check the site soon for updates about 2021. 

19. Artists 360

Designed to elevate greater Northwest Arkansas artists, Artists 360 provides $7,500 grants “to support creative projects, learning opportunities to develop entrepreneurship skills and build sustainable creative practices, and connections to a dynamic regional artist network.” The four artistic disciplines accepted are visual arts, performing arts, literary arts and traditional arts. 

To be eligible, be an artist with an active and current artistic practice, have specialized training in your field, and show you’ve succeeded in the arts through high-quality work and/or contributions to the field.

There’s still time for this one, writers: The application deadline for the 2021 grant cycle is October 16, 2020. Find more details here

20. Saratoga Arts Individual Artist Grants

Writers in the upstate New York State region — Fulton, Montgomery or Saratoga counties, specifically — this grant is for you. Funded by the Saratoga Arts, the Artist Grant focuses on individual artist work to enhance career development, skills and broaden exposure, “while fostering creative, resourceful and inspiring connections between artists and a community.”

Grants of $2,500 will be awarded to artists to create new work and share their creative process with the community. Funding can support art-related supplies and materials needed for the execution of the program, artist fees and other outreach costs.

For the 2021 grant cycle, these are the deadlines you need to know: the letter of intent deadline is September 25, 2020; the application review deadline is October 16, 2020; and the application deadline is November 6, 2020. Eligible artists from all artistic disciplines can apply via Submittable.

Looking for more great grants and funding options? Check out C. Hope Clark’s fantastic list of opportunities at Funds for Writers

The original version of this story was written by Kristen Pope. We updated the post so it’s more useful for our readers.

Photo via Tero Vesalainen / Shutterstock