Member Spotlight on The Heinz Endowments

For the month of April, GIA’s photo banner features work supported by The Heinz Endowments’ Transformative Arts Process (TAP) program. As an organization, The Heinz Endowments comprises two private foundations, the Howard Heinz Endowment and the Vira I. Heinz Endowment, that share a mission to help southwestern Pennsylvania thrive economically, ecologically, educationally, and culturally. The Endowments’ fields of emphasis include philanthropy at large as well as the disciplines represented by its five grant-making programs: arts and culture; children, youth, and families; community and economic development; education; and environment.

Within the Endowments’ arts program, the Transformative Arts Process is an experiment in grantee participation with the intent to increase the number and power of arts experiences for youth in African American and “distressed” neighborhoods. Most recently, TAP has opened to proposals for grants up to $15,000 to support young artists (ages 13-24) in these neighborhoods and invest money in their vision of an arts production — whether visual arts, multi-media, music, spoken word, theater, movement, design, fashion, or other creative expression.

The TAP program is informed by an advisory board which reflects a diverse and intergenerational composition of the stakeholder groups with which Heinz endeavors to contribute meaningful and sustained impact. Specifically, the TAP Advisory Board includes a mix of practicing artists, teaching artists, youth, arts funders, community leaders, arts practitioners, and members of Heinz’s Arts & Culture team.

Justin Laing, senior program officer at the Endowments, sees the program as an example of the value in community engagement in the grant design process. “I just know we would not have come up with this approach to put young artists in this kind of leadership role if it had not been for the youth members on the TAP advisory board coupled with the strong adult voices supporting them,” Laing remarked.

This recent RFP was inspired by an advisory board member in a moment during the TAP strategic planning process. Maria Searcy, representing the voice of parents, pointed out that the Endowments’ grants strategy was rooted in an assumption that the exchange of learning went only one way — from adult to youth — and overlooked the fact that some youth were already ready to share their art with other youth and adults.

“The comment made me see another opportunity and opened up a conversation with youth members of the board that I still remember,” said Laing. “I can’t wait to see what we learn about both grantmaking and art as a result of taking Maria’s advice.”

The Heinz Endowments has been a member of Grantmakers in the Arts since 2012.

Learn more about the organization and its grant programs.

You can also visit the photo gallery on our Photo Credits page.