Transformative Teaching Artist Award

New Sun Rising with support from The Heinz Endowments is pleased to announce this Request for Proposals as part of the Transformative Arts Process (TAP), a Heinz Endowments’ grants program focused on fostering the careers of teaching artists and bringing transformative arts experiences to youth.

Transformative Arts Process’s specific goal is to move towards a more Just Pittsburgh by invigorating the field of teaching artists and arts organizations that have a demonstrated practice of challenging structural inequities, bringing transformative arts centered experience to youth in and from African American/ ‘distressed’ communities.


Program Information

Interested applicants can determine their eligibility by reviewing the TAP Program Rationale and Allegheny County’s list of ‘distressed’ neighborhoods. Program Description, Application Guidelines, Support Information, and Complete Application Packet can be found below. The Transformative Teaching Artist Award peer panel looks forward to reviewing your application when received by the due date of May 10, 2017.



Transformative Teaching Artist Award Description

The Transformative Teaching Artist Awards recognize that quality teaching artists should be recognized for the important work they do in Pittsburgh’s African American and ‘distressed’ neighborhoods. Teaching artists play critical roles in the lives of the youth they serve, providing not only artistic skill building, but caring, support and mentorship.  Yet those teaching artists who have chosen this as their life’s work face great challenges in building teaching artist careers.  Most of our teaching artists are underpaid and under recognized; the delivery system for teaching artist instruction is fragmented; and arts instruction is often not assigned a high priority in public or out of school time programs.

The Transformative Teaching Artist Awards have been created to add another validation, strengthened networking and increased visibility for the artists who choose to do this work amazingly well.  It is our hope that these recognition awards can play a part in acknowledging teaching artistry designed to play a transformative role in the lives of youth living in African American and ‘distressed’ neighborhoods, as an important and recognized profession.  The Transformative Teaching Artist Awards program will provide ten teaching artists in the field with a cash award of $5,000, and a potential for an additional $1,000.  The awards are recognition awards which may be used in any way the recipient deems fit.  These awards will be offered in 2017.

Program Goals

  • Recipients have an increased sense of being appreciated and confidence in their work as a teaching artist.
  • Recipients will join the TAP network and build relationships with colleagues they did not know and strengthen their own practice in the process.
  • Local media will feature the work of recipients and highlight the importance of teaching art & culture in African American and ‘distressed’ neighborhoods.


Eligible applicants will be teaching artists who meet our definition of a teaching artist as noted in the cover sheet accompanying this RFP. That is, they have a track record of combining artistic skill and the complementary skills of an educator.  By track record we mean those teaching artists who have worked at least 1 day a week in an African American or ‘distressed’ neighborhood, for a period of at least 9 months each year for the last two years.

Selection Process

The decision making process for this program will feature two components.  In the first award component, the 10 applicants demonstrating the most transformative practice will be chosen by a local peer panel.   Each recipient will receive an award of $5,000 in recognition of their work as a teaching artist.

The criteria the panel will use for selection follows:

  • Love: Emanate love and dedication for children and have the ability to build relationships beyond the artistic training components.
  • Merit: Practice art, have engaging and effective teaching styles that reach students across diverse developmental levels, stimulate quality student work, possess a strong understanding of learning standards in the arts, and have substantial experience working in school classrooms or in out of school time programming.
  • Justice : Help youth deconstruct issues of oppression in ways that empower and enable them to avoid many of the traps of African American and “distressed” neighborhoods.
  • Preparation and Adaptability: Demonstrate professionalism, including the ability to plan with others, articulate goals and objectives, and adapt to varying student populations and school environments.

In the second award component, awardees themselves will be asked to participate in an exercise of peer review. Each awardee will review the work of his/her colleagues and through a voting process select five of the recipients to receive an additional $1,000 in recognition of the creative ways their work serves the TAP program principles. The goals of this part of the process are to strengthen the relationships among the cohort by facilitating their learning more about one another’s work, to strengthen the work of the teaching artist through the process of critical review from their colleagues and to test a different philanthropic approach that seeks to broaden the pool of decision makers in the awards by including awardees themselves in the process.  This model is inspired by the work of The Edge Fund, a funding organization based in London, England that supports grassroots groups working for justice and equality, giving them a say in where the money goes.

Application Guidelines

The deadline for this application will be May 10th, 2017. Applications can be submitted in writing, video, or audio.  In order to be considered, please include the following:

Letter of Support: Please include a letter of support answering the question: Why is this applicant a transformative Teaching Artist? . We advise that the applicant find this recommendation early in the process to make sure the materials are complete by the due date.

Proposal: While these questions are short, please answer them as fully as possible, so that your fellow teaching artists will understand your work.

  1. Are you eligible for this award? Please list the neighborhoods you work in.
  2. Describe the path you travelled to become a teaching artist.  Give us a sense of your artistic practice AND your teaching experience.
  3. Describe what motivates you as a teaching artist: What is your approach to teaching?
  4. Please describe your preparation before students enter the room.
  5. Please provide brief example of a time when student learning made you proud and another example of when it made you not so proud of yourself as a Teaching Artist.
  6. How would you assess yourself as a Teaching Artist? What are your strengths and where do you have room for growth?
  7. Whom or what inspires your artistic practice/artwork and why?                             

Work Samples: Provide samples of your work as a teacher, including lesson plans, examples of student work and ways you assess student learning (where applicable).

Resume or CV: Provide a copy of your resume or CV with your email, phone, and address


Submit your completed proposal (and/or attachments) by May 10, 2017 to Transformative Teaching Artist Awardees will be selected by a peer panel in consultation with The Heinz Endowments.

Applicant Support

The following information sessions are scheduled to support interested applicants.


April 26 // 7pm – 8:30pm

Covenant Fellowship

1300 Swissvale & Hill Avenues

Pittsburgh, PA 15221


May 3 // 7pm – 8:30pm

Level Up Studios

4836 Penn Avenue

Pittsburgh, PA 15224


Virtual (Google Hangout)

April 21 // 7pm – 8pm

Or: Phone Number: 857-216-4400 Pin: 01423

Virtual (Google Hangout)

May 4 // 10am – 11am

Or Phone Number: 857-216-4400 Pin: 01423


Questions about the award? 

Technical questions on applying? Contact Daniel Stiker at New Sun Rising

Awardees will be contacted by June 5th. Awardees must be present for Edge Fund day on June 24th 9am-4pm at a location to be announced. Check out New Sun Rising’s website for up-to-date information.