You may be thinking that grants and fellowships are meant for writers who are already published, but this source of funding is available to new and up-and-coming writers. People in this category are most likely to need help in their careers, and there are a number of sources of help available.
Who is Giving Away Free Money to Writers?
Professional freelance writers get paid for producing and selling their work. Grants and fellowships for writers are gifts of money that don’t need to be paid back.
A number of organizations offer this type of financial help. Look to foundations and institutions as sources of funding. The government may have some grant money available to writers as well.
Their motives for providing assistance are twofold: part of the reason is humanitarian. These institutions have an interest in promoting the arts, including the written word. The other motivation is that these organizations is promotional. The other reason for offering grants and fellowships is to promote the foundation or institution’s cause.
20 Grants and Fellowships for Writers
Barbara Deming Memorial Fund, Inc. offers support grants of $500-$1,500 to feminist women working on fiction and non-fiction projects. Read guidelines and submit work at the time and in the manner requested or it will be rejected.
Mesa Refuge offers two and four-week writers’ retreats in Point Reyes Station, CA. Three residents at a time are welcomed at a time, and they are provided with quiet, comfortable accommodation. This retreat is meant for journalists, screenwriters, naturalists, essayists, and writers specializing in writing about nature, social equity, and economics.
JM Kaplan Fund’s Furthermore program is not available to individual writers, but freelancers can apply for funding in partnership with a nonprofit organization. Applicants for these grants, which range from $500-$15,000, must be a 501(c)(3) organizations. This program is meant to support nonfiction book publishing.
North Carolina Arts Council Regional Project Grants to Artists provide funding to artists in any discipline of between $300-$5,000 to help purchase equipment and materials, pay for workshops, and the creation of new work.
Olive B. O’Connor Fellowship in Creative Writing is offered to writers of nonfiction or poetry who need a year to complete their first book. Fellows teach a creative writing course per semester at Colgate University and give a public reading from their work in progress. They receive a $37,000 stipend plus travel expenses.
SFFS/Hearst Screenwriting Grant is given to a screenwriter who has been writing for at least five years and has previously written at least one feature screenplay. U.S. writers whose project expresses a personal perspective and an artistic approach to a subject are welcome to apply.
Spirit of Writing Grant provides grants in amounts ranging from $500-$2,500. See grant requirements and application online.
The Gift of Freedom Award from the Room of Her Own Foundationwill help to bridge the gap between the recipient’s “financial reality and her artistic creation.” One fellowship of $50,000 is awarded biannually.
Sustainable Arts Foundation provides unrestricted cash awards of $1,000 and $6,000 to writers and artists with a child under the age of 18. See guidelines online.
Cintas Fellowships in the amount of $10,000 may be granted to artists of Cuban citizenship or direct descent. Awards are paid quarterly, and recipients can pursue their activities as directed on their application.
Canada Council for the Arts gives away grants to emerging, mid-career, and established writers ranging from $3,000.00-$25,000.00. See website for eligibility and program guidelines.
The Academy of American Poets has several awards and fellowships available in varying amounts. Visit website for guidelines.
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, also known as the Oscars, wants to encourage up-and-coming screenwriters by offering up to five, $35.000 fellowships each year. Get details on how to apply by visiting the website.
The Alliance for Young Artists and Writers recognizes talented teen writers. More than $250,000 in scholarships is awarded annually in partnership with leading colleges and universities. Scholarships range from $250 to full tuition. Most scholarships awarded are renewable every year for up to four years.
Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts provides grants to individual writers whose work “addresses contemporary visual art.” Amounts awarded ranges from $3,000-$50,000. Eligible categories are articles, blogs, books, new and alternative media, and short-form writing.
British Columbia Arts Council offers funding for creative writers. Professional writers are eligible to apply and up to $10,000 in funding is available.
Arts Council Literature Bursary Awards provide support to professional artists to give them time and resources to conduct research, reflect, and engage with their work. The award is open to practicing artists who were either born in or are living in the Republic of Ireland. The maximum amount of the award is €15000.
American Antiquarian Society provides visiting fellowships for historical research for writers, journalists and other creative and performing artists. Fellowships provide recipients with opportunity to conduct research, read, and participate in discussions at the Society in Worcester, Massachusetts. Three residential fellowships will be awarded annually. The stipend is $1,350.00.
The American Poetry Review/Honickman First Book Prize for new writers offers a $3,000 award, publication of a book of poems, and distribution by Copper Canyon Press.
Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators offers a a number of grants and awards to members. Visit the website for guidelines.
How to Increase Chances of Getting a Writing Grant
Find the current application form and the guidelines and read them through carefully. Application forms and guidelines are usually updated a couple of months before the program deadline.
Even if you have applied for funding from a grant in previous years, read through the guidelines to check for changes. If your proposed project does not fit with the grant program’s eligibility requirements, you may want to make a decision not to apply for it. Some applications require that applicants pay a fee, and all of them take time to prepare, and you will want to make the best use of both of them.
When you are preparing your grant application, keep in mind that you will need to break down the activities in your writing project into several stages. Look at the initial idea, research, marketing, and the time for writing as separate components. Depending on the program, you may be able to apply for specific financial help for a part of your project.
Don’t wait until the last minute to start working on your grant application. You’ll want to take your time to make sure that you are presenting yourself and your project well.
Some applications can be submitted online, while others must be sent by regular mail. Be sure to read the instructions so that you are sending yours in the correct manner. If you don’t follow the instructions, your application will not be considered.
Submit your application only during the application period. If it is postmarked too early or too late, it will not be considered.
Review and edit your submission before submitting it for consideration. You want to make sure that you are clearly pointing out how you could benefit from the grant or fellowship and why your project fits with the organization’s theme or goals.
The best advice we can give you to increase your chances of getting a writing grant is to apply, apply, apply. If you don’t apply for available funding, you have no chance of getting this type of financial help.
Want to see more options for free sources of funding? Check out these 19 Grants for Writers and other Creative Types.
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