The Academy of American Poets has received what is believed to be the largest grant ever made by a philanthropic institution to support poets in the United States—$4.5 million from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The unprecedented grant will enable the Academy of American Poets to fund its Poets Laureate Fellowship program for the next three years.

“The Academy of American Poets was founded more than 85 years ago to support American poets at all stages in their careers. We’re thrilled that this extraordinary grant from the Mellon Foundation will help us continue to fulfill our mission and enable us to meaningfully fund poets who are involved in the civic life of their communities,” said Michael Jacobs, Chairman of the Academy of American Poets.

Today, hundreds of poets laureate positions exist throughout the country, and the number continues to grow. The majority of these positions, however, do not come with an honorarium, though there are expectations that the poet laureate will visit schools, give readings, and write poems for special occasions, among other responsibilities. By providing new funds, the Academy of American Poets, which has a many decades-long history of funding poets and promoting poets laureate,  hopes to spotlight and encourage poets’ important contributions to civic engagement. 

Applications from qualified Poets Laureate are open now and will be accepted until February 23, 2020. Guidelines for the 2020 Poets Laureate Fellowships are available here:

Read the full press release.