New York, NY (January 31, 2024)—The Academy of American Poets, a leading champion of poets and poetry in the United States, has received its largest philanthropic award ever to support the work that civic poets undertake across communities and to help sustain literary ecosystems that are committed to collaboration, inclusivity, and diversity. These two grants from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation totaling $5.7+ million will enable the Academy to continue to fund Poet Laureate Fellowships and serve as the fiscal administrator of the Poetry Coalition for the next three years, expanding the reach and impact of both programs across the country.
“Throughout history, poets have helped us examine ourselves and our responsibilities to each other,” said Ricardo Alberto Maldonado, President and Executive Director of the Academy of American Poets. “The Academy believes that poetry is best served by a wide range of national and regional actions, and includes a spectrum of voices that speak directly to the communities of which we are a part. We’re grateful to the Mellon Foundation for its commitment to the collective work of poets laureate and literary organizations across the U.S.”
“We are so pleased to continue supporting the Academy as it furthers its vital mission through the Poet Laureate Fellowships and the Poetry Coalition,” said Elizabeth Alexander, Mellon Foundation President. “These are programs that uplift poets and their work across the United States, creating opportunities for learning and community among readers of multiple generations and cultures. This renewed funding will help to ensure that all of us can access the beauty and wisdom found within the rich and enduring practice of poetry.”
“At the Academy of American Poets, we believe that access to literature is vital, especially now that censorship is calling into question who gets to be read and shared in communities across the country. Partnering with the Mellon Foundation, we’re grateful to continue supporting that sacred dialogue between poet and reader, turning to each other for connection, understanding, and empowerment,” said Tess O’Dwyer, Academy Board Chair.
The Academy’s Poet Laureate Fellowships, established in 2019 with support from the Mellon Foundation, have funded the work of 104 laureates in 92 communities, transforming the role of local and state poets laureate across the nation, and provided $370,000+ in matching grants to 48 501(c)(3) non-profit organizations, foundations, libraries, and businesses amplifying the reach of laureate projects. The fellowship program has also encouraged the creation of more than 40 new laureate positions across the U.S. With the renewed and increased funding from the Mellon Foundation, each year for the next three years the Academy of American Poets will provide $50,000 fellowships to selected poets laureate of states, cities, towns, counties, Tribal nations, and U.S. Territories; match up to $10,000 in grants and in-kind support to local or state 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations sponsoring the laureates’ programs; convene fellows along with leaders at government institutions; promote the fellows’ work through targeted media campaigns and partnerships; document their projects for the Poets.org archive; and continue to advocate for laureate positions through outreach to humanities councils.
Applications to the 2024 Poet Laureate Fellowships are open to qualified poets laureate beginning today, January 31, through April 8, 2024 at 11:59 p.m. ET. To submit an application, visit: https://poets.submittable.com/submit/286773/2024-academy-of-american-poets-laureate-fellowships.
The panelists adjudicating the 2024 Poet Laureate Fellowships are Asari Beale, Executive Director of Teachers & Writers; Nora Halpern, art historian, museum director, and curator advocating for art, artists, and social justice; Airea D. Matthews, Philadelphia Poet Laureate and 2023 Poet Laureate Fellow; Olivia Morgan, founder of National Student Poets; and Porsha Olayiwola, Boston Poet Laureate and 2020 Poet Laureate Fellow.
Since the Poetry Coalition was launched in 2016 with support from the Ford Foundation, the network has expanded to include 30+ nonprofit organizations across the country presenting community-wide poetry programming. These programs, reaching more than 30 million individuals annually, have cultivated diverse communities of readers, writers, and arts participants; addressed issues of injustice; and transformed the lives of poets and people from all backgrounds. With the renewed and increased funding from the Mellon Foundation, the Academy of American Poets will continue to serve as administrator for the Poetry Coalition. The funds will expand the capacity of the coalition and member organizations, enabling annual in-person planning meetings and online convenings focused on archival and fundraising practices; ensure annual programming across the coalition; and extend the program’s affiliate membership and fellowship program for emerging administrators who are interested in gaining skills in literary arts programming and administration. The coalition remains dedicated to insuring that the next generation of nonprofit leaders guiding the organizations and institutions serving poets and readers reflects both poetry’s readership and our nation.
About the Academy of American Poets and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation
Celebrating its ninetieth anniversary in 2024, the Academy of American Poets is a leading publisher of contemporary poetry across the country. The organization annually awards $1.3+ million to more than two hundred poets at various stages of their careers through its prize program. It also produces Poets.org, the world’s largest publicly funded website for poets and poetry; established and organizes National Poetry Month each April; publishes the Poem-a-Day series and American Poets magazine; provides free resources to educators; hosts an annual series of poetry readings and special events; and coordinates a national Poetry Coalition that promotes the value poets bring to our culture. To learn more about the Academy of American Poets, including its staff, its Board of Directors, and its Board of Chancellors, visit https://poets.org/.
The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation is the nation’s largest supporter of the arts and humanities. Since 1969, the Foundation has been guided by its core belief that the humanities and arts are essential to human understanding. The Foundation believes that the arts and humanities are where we express our complex humanity, and that everyone deserves the beauty, transcendence, and freedom that can be found there. Through our grants, we seek to build just communities enriched by meaning and empowered by critical thinking, where ideas and imagination can thrive. Learn more at https://www.mellon.org/.