By the Numbers: Six years of The Sachs Program student grants

This week, The Sachs Program for Arts Innovation announced its latest round of spring grants for students, and Penn Today offers a by-the-numbers look at the Program’s investment in students to date.

A cargo truck with a bed of flowers and ferns.
Tayeba Batool, a Ph.D. candidate in Anthropology and 2023 student grantee, will produce Memories of a Forest City: Ecological Encounters and Affect in Islamabad, an online multimedia archive of oral histories, images, and artwork that captures the transformation and affective politics of urban nature in Islamabad, one of South Asia's premier post-colonial planned cities. (Image: The Sachs Program for Arts Innovation)

From undergraduates to MFA students, filmmakers to creative writers, The Sachs Program for Arts Innovation has supported 92 student projects since its inception in 2018—not including responsive, smaller-scale grants under the Ben Art Bucks (BAB) program that cap at $250 each. When including the BAB grants, The Sachs Program has awarded student funding totaling more than $330,000 to date. 

That includes the new round of 2023 Student Grant Awards announced on March 23, funding 17 projects from undergraduate and graduate students. This year’s student grants were issued among the largest-ever applicant pool, supporting creative practice involving Jewish basketball, community caregiving, oral history, stained glass production, and more. 

“We are humbled by the ambition and range of the student grants. It has become our most competitive category and has generated some of our most exciting projects,” says John McInerney, The Sachs Program’s director.  

“Most importantly,” adds Chloe Reison, The Sachs Program associate director, “it has often been an important inflection point in the students’ practices, giving them the resources to really pursue their ambitions and advance as artists.”

Below, a by-the-numbers look at the variety of student projects funded at Penn up to now. The next full round of funding, supporting staff, faculty, departments, centers, and community partnerships will be announced later this spring. 

Distorted visions of people in a grid-like mirror
Untitled, 1974-1977, gelatin sliver print. Tamir Williams, a Ph.D. candidate in History of Art and Sachs Program student grantee, will curate an exhibition titled A Space to Appear, A Space to Tarry, which will present works from the photographic series “Black Nightclubs on Chicago’s South Side” (1975-1977) by Penn alumnus Michael Abramson. The exhibition and supplemental programming is anticipated in the summer and fall 2023, and will be presented at a Penn-affiliated gallery and at a collective art space in Philadelphia. (Image: Michael Abramson)
    • 17

      Grants issued outside of the School of Arts & Sciences and the Stuart Weitzman School of Design

    • 10

      Projects supported that involve community building

    • 27

      Visual arts projects funded

    • 8

      Grants issued to support the development of magazines, zines, and books

    • 13

      Arts projects that address LGBTQ experiences

    • 26

      Group projects and collaborations

    • 3

      Projects that reference the COVID-19 pandemic

    • 7

      Projects that adopted a virtual component