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Alumni Leadership Grant FAQs

  • The Alumni Leadership Grant is generously funded by the Howard and Geraldine Polinger Family Foundation.

What kind of projects will this grant fund?

I would like to apply for this grant but I'm not sure where to start.

In the application, you will be asked to articulate a detailed plan for your project that addresses your vision, timeline, and credentials. Before you start, you may want to consider these questions:

  • What is the goal(s) of this project?
  • Who or what will benefit? What is the value of the project for the community/population being served? What skills/experience will you gain by providing leadership to the project?
  • What are the service aspects of the project?
  • Are there projects already in existence similar to the one being proposed? How is this project different?
  • What is the project timeline?
  • What steps have you already taken to make the project happen?
  • What additional sources of funding have you considered or obtained to make this a viable project?
  • What obstacles might present challenges for you in doing this project?

I have an idea for a project but am not sure if it would count for this grant.

Eligible projects for this grant should be designed to:

  • Reflect concern for civic responsibility as artists
  • Expand the professional skills and capacity of the applicant
  • Include a collaborative community engagement component, particularly with a community or group in need of assistance
  • Incorporate a plan for a continuing relationship with the community being served

We invite applicants to interpret these criteria and make a strong argument for their project.

A wonderful example of the scope of projects we’re seeking can be found in From the Top alum Thomas West’s story.

Our Arts Leadership Library contains examples of smaller scale projects that could provide inspiration for your idea.

I am already working on an ongoing project. May I put these funds toward that project?

Yes, though it should be clear in the application how these additional funds will significantly enhance your work or increase its impact. Grantees must also be able to identify and evaluate particular events or activities between June 1, 2020 and May 31, 2021 that constitute their “project.”

I am planning on working on a long-term project that will continue beyond May 31, 2021. Is my project still eligible?

Yes! Grant funds must be used between June 1, 2020 and May 31, 2021, but the project may extend beyond that point. Grantees will be asked to evaluate and report on activities between June 1, 2020 and May 31, 2021, but we hope that a successful project will incorporate a plan for a continued relationship with the community served.


Who is eligible?

From the Top alumni ages 18-26 who have appeared on the From the Top radio show, taken part in the From the Top’s See the Music videos, or have participated in The Center for the Development of Arts Leaders (Boston) are encouraged to apply for this grant. Applicants must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.

I am not an alum of the From the Top radio show, See the Music videos, or Center for the Development of Arts Leaders, but have a project idea that would fit this grant. Can I still apply?

If you are interested in applying for this grant but are not an alum of any From the Top program, let us know of your interest and project idea by contacting us directly at artsleadership@fromthetop.org.

Can I apply with my music ensemble?

Small ensembles (of 2-4 musicians) are welcome to apply but will need to designate one primary applicant who will be responsible for fulfilling all grant requirements.

What are the selection criteria for grant applications?

Applications will be reviewed by a committee of From the Top staff, board members, and radio alumni.

Applications will be evaluated on:

  • Strength of proposal
  • Potential impact to community and arts leader(s)
  • Applicant’s demonstrated initiative, leadership, and commitment to community
  • Viability/feasibility of timeline and budget

Where can this project take place?

Projects must take place in the domestic U.S.

Filling out the application

What should I include in my purpose statement?

See the Application Checklist for a list of purpose statement prompts.

Here is an example of a successful Purpose Statement from a 2017 grantee.

What should I include in the timeline?

Please see an example timeline here.

How do I build a budget?

Use this template to build your budget.

Who should I ask to write my recommendation letters?

Your recommenders should be people who can speak to your abilities as a leader, communicator, and collaborator. They should be familiar with your leadership and management styles and have seen you carry out an initiative from start to finish. They may include private teachers, classroom teachers, colleagues, supervisors, and community partners. Please, do not have family or close friends write your recommendation letters.

What should my recommenders talk about in their recommendations?

In their letters, recommenders should address the following:

  1. Discuss your relationship to the applicant and provide your observations on their abilities as a leader, communicator, and collaborator.
  2. As a leader and facilitator, in what areas would the applicant need the most guidance and support?
  3. What obstacles could you foresee to the applicant’s success with an independently driven project?

Documenting your project

What are the expectations for documenting the project?

Grant recipients must document their projects, both in progress and at project culmination. This can include photos, videos, written reflection from recipients, project participants, or community partners, and any marketing material or press coverage acquired throughout the project.

Your From the Top advisor is available to help you figure out how to properly document your project.

Grant recipients may be required to present their projects utilizing this documentation for an audience of From the Top staff and grant funders within two months of project completion.

Financial questions

How many grants will be awarded?

From the Top will offer 2-3 grants of up to $5,000 each to alumni arts leaders who meet established criteria through a juried selection process.

What can I spend the money on?

Eligible expenses include

  • artist/performer honoraria
  • supplies
  • transportation
  • travel and lodging
  • audio/visual services
  • photography or video recording/editing
  • venue and equipment rental
  • marketing/design
  • printing
  • postage

Ineligible expenses include

  • staff/teacher salaries and/or stipend (including yourself)
  • artist commissions
  • tuition
  • school fees

If you are unsure if an expense is eligible, please contact us at artsleadership@fromthetop.org.

Are the grants renewable?

No. These grants are one-time awards for projects taking place between June 1, 2020 and May 31, 2021. Please note: Past recipients are eligible to re-apply for the grant.

How will funds be dispersed?

Upon acceptance, grantees will be paired with a member of the From the Top education staff to advise them throughout the granting period. With their adviser, recipients will regularly review their budget and upcoming expenses, as well as check in on project status and documentation. Any changes to your project budget must be submitted in writing and approved by your advisor.

Note the following guidelines:

  • For grants to individuals, From the Top will pay vendors directly when at all possible to reduce your tax implications
  • For grants to projects that are part of an organization, From the Top will pay the organization directly
  • A petty cash fund will be allotted in advance to account for smaller expenses
  • All expenses must be tracked and accounted for in the final project report
  • All grant recipients and vendors must submit a W9 to receive funding