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A Creative Scholarship And Community
By The Editors
If education is power, then a scholarship can be Excalibur in the hands of the right student. Quail Bell founder Christine Sloan Stoddard felt stranded not long after college graduation. She knew what her dream was: running Quail Bell Press & Productions, including creative projects like Quail Bell Magazine. But the path to get there seemed like a labyrinth, despite a few early successes. Christine could not have prepared for a devastating family tragedy that took place just months before her wedding to her college sweetheart. Already poised to move to New York City, Christine did so with start-up contracts in hand. Then a string of lay-offs took place. As each start-up collapsed or downsized, she found herself losing contracts, clients, and what seemed like possibilities. Out of necessity, Christine then took a full-time job as editor-in-chief with 25A Magazine and Metropolitan Magazine, owned by the deceptive publisher Chase Backer. To this day, Chase, who goes by various aliases, owes Christine money. (You'll get the full story here at Quail Bell Magazine soon—promise!) Christine quit the job with a small claims lawsuit in process.
It was time to re-group.
Christine went looking for graduate programs that would give her the space and opportunity to work on videos, books, and other projects for Quail Bell Press & Productions. The answer was the M.F.A. in Digital & Interdisciplinary Art Practice at The City College of New York-CUNY in Manhattan. Christine applied there and only there. She got in with a studio, laptop, and scholarship offer. Then she kept applying for outside scholarships to make a debt-free education possible. (Especially after the Chase Backer episode, she could not take another hit!) Fast forward a year. Christine is wrapping up her second semester in her M.F.A., staying focused on her creative work and winning awards along the way. She sees a call for a scholarship from Support Creativity, a non-profit in the NYC Tri-State area. Still eager to finish her degree and inspired by the founder's story, she applies—and wins one of the scholarships! She and the other winners show their work at the Nuyorican Poets Cafe in August 2018. The celebration features everything from a career panel to a group painting and more. It's an occasion to remember.
Now that Christine is in her last semester of graduate school and making exciting progress with Quail Bell, we thought it would be the right time to interview one of the people who helped get her there: Support Creativity founder Steve Ortiz Lucin! Here are the questions we asked Steve about the organization, the scholarship, and even what it takes to win:
How would you describe Support Creativity in one sentence?
Support Creativity is an organization dedicated to providing scholarships and resources to passionate creatives.
How has Support Creativity developed over the years?
Every year is an iteration process. It started with the idea of one scholarship, then two scholarships, then three, and now we've been giving out four scholarships per year. A few years in I realized that these students didn't just need money, they need a support system. And so I started to reach out to more colleagues to help me grow the idea. Recently the idea of providing a "palette" to these students has emerged. The palette consists of these "colors": scholarship, mentorship, professional and personal development, networking, and internships/work opportunities. If we can provide these colors to the students, the students can then paint their own masterpiece, which is their life. And so little by little, I have tried to go towards fulfilling this idea. We've implemented a Guardian of Creativity program which brings in consistent revenue for the scholarships. At first, I just mailed out the scholarship check to the school. Now we host an Art Awards Show for the top applicants so that they can have an opportunity to showcase their work in New York City. And the network of creatives and supporters keeps growing year by year. The dream, though, is to create a school or center where all creatives can come together to learn and practice their craft, for free. Free creative education is the goal.
How do you fund the scholarships?
Mostly from friends, family, and my fraternity brothers. I fundraise every year with at least one creative fundraising event. One of the most memorable ones was a Virtual Reality Paint Party at Jump into The Light VR Playlab that we hosted. It brought the community together while making us all feel like creative kids again. As I mentioned, the Guardian of Creativity program helps tremendously. Anybody can support for just $10/month. One of my fraternity's arms is our fiscal sponsor, La Unidad Latina Foundation. They have empowered us to go for some more "corporate" money.
Which scholarships are available this year? How can our readers apply?
The Undergraduate Scholarship ($1,000), The Graduate Scholarship ($1,000), and the World Scholarship ($1,000). The world scholarship is made for citizens of the world, therefore they do not need to be a U.S. citizen. All of the scholarships are for passionate creatives go to college or grad school. There is no GPA requirement. They do need to be attending a school in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, or Pennsylvania. This is so that they can be physically connected with our network (especially during the Art Awards Show). Readers can apply at wesupportcreativity.org/scholarship. Deadline is May 1st, 12 a.m., 2019.
What makes a bomb Support Creativity scholarship submission?
There are three main things that we look at: the essay, the project, and the financial need. In the essay we are looking for a very compelling story and for the student to show us that they are very passionate about their creative field. In the project, we are looking for fluency in their medium and for a very impressive, creative piece of work. And for financial need, they need to communicate to us that they need this scholarship due to a hardship of some sort.
What advice do you have to anyone hesitant about applying for the scholarship?
Why are you hesitant? Just do it! You'll at the very least be part of a community that can lead to future opportunities.
What plans are in the works for this year's scholarships? Will there be another art show?
We initially had the scholarship be nationwide, but then I did not get to connect with some of the earlier scholarship winners. This is why I decided to make it NYC Tri-State based. This year we decided to expand to Pennsylvania. It's a bit more further out, but if a student wins, they can still get to NYC for the Art Show. Every year we try to make the art show memorable. This year, we might mess around with Augmented Reality.
What do you want potential donors to know?
I'd like potential donors to know that their contributions help change the lives of passionate creative students. As a creative, we all crave some sort of recognition that our craft is worth something. This scholarship and art show takes the good ol' "nice job!" to a whole other level. The boost of confidence that the students receive is incredibly empowering. And so, your contribution empowers a student to keep moving forward and pursue their creative dreams. Plus, you become part of a growing community that cares about creativity and education.
How can our readers donate or volunteer?
It's super easy. Just go to wesupportcreativity.org/volunteer and become part of the community!
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