Local org. announces $40,000 in microgrants to support Detroit youth artists

Oluwaseyi Akintoroye
Posted at 8:42 AM, Feb 01, 2024
and last updated 2024-02-01 08:44:19-05

DETROIT (WXYZ) — The Detroit Excellence in Youth Arts (DEYA) and the new Detroit Youth Arts Provider Network have announced a new microgrant initiative, the 'Launch Awards,' to help Detroit youth pursue their artistic development by filling funding gaps.

Through the Launch Awards, DEYA hopes to fulfill its mission of making youth arts education more equitable and accessible for Detroit youth.

Through the program, $10,000 will be distributed quarterly to selected youth — totaling $40,000 in 2024. Youth from 11 to 19 are eligible to apply up to four times for awards of up to $250 each and up to $1,000 throughout the year.

“From murals to music and so much more, the talent across the city of Detroit is undeniable,” said Nafeesah Symonette, co-founder of DEYA. “Unfortunately, Detroit’s dynamic youth arts sector is severely underfunded, leading to inequitable access to high-quality programming.” DEYA’s other co-founder, Rick Sperling, adds, “These microgrants are an important tool in removing roadblocks to the training, supplies or equipment needed to cultivate the next generation of creatives in Detroit.”

The initiative was created to help cover expenses not funded by scholarships or programs, like dance shoes, wardrobe materials, art materials, multimedia software, instrument maintenance or repair, online learning opportunities, travel costs and more.

“We are thrilled to partner with the DEYA and support the critical role they play in fostering the development and business possibilities for young artists in Detroit, a city which has become a leading creative hub,” said Rachel Stewart, president of Gardner White.

Inspired by Detroit-based visual artist and designer Mike Han, who created original art for a Gardner White event, asked that all proceeds from the sale be used to support career advancement of Detroit youth artists.

“Art has been an integral part of my life from an early age,” said Han. “I strongly believe art should be accessible, especially to young creatives exploring their talents through various forms of expression.”

The Launch Awards is funded by Gardner White, with support from SEE Eyewear and the Marshall Mathers Foundation.

Also eligible for the initiative are Highland Park and Hamtramck residents who are full-time students at Detroit schools.

The Launch Awards application is open now through February 22.

Community youth arts panels will make the final funding decisions.

For more information or to apply, visit