Philly Artists: Leeway Foundation Needs You!

Philadelphia’s Leeway Foundation recently announced the next step in the application process for their annual Art and Change Grants and Transformation Awards.

The Leeway Foundation will hold an info session via Facebook Live, covering the application process for the 2020 Leeway Transformation Award.

From 4:00 to 5:00 PM ET on Thursday, April 2nd, Program Director Melissa Hamilton will hold a virtual information session via Facebook Live. The session will cover the Foundation’s mission and available grants–most importantly, the session offers interested artists the opportunity to ask questions about the application process for the Leeway Transformation Award, which closes its application window on May 15th.

The Leeway Foundation offers support, advocacy, and amplification for artists living in the Greater Philadelphia area who devote their craft to social change. Each year, the Foundation offers two major grants to local female and trans* artists: the Art and Change Grant and the Transformation Award.

In the words of the Foundation, “The Transformation Award provides unrestricted annual awards of $15,000 to women, trans* and gender nonconforming artists and cultural producers living in greater Philadelphia who create art for social change and have done so for the past five years or more, demonstrating a long-term commitment to social change work.”

Each year, applications pass through a rigorous two-stage process. In Stage 1, eligible artists submit their work and statements, which are reviewed by a panel of community-based artists. Certain applicants are invited to submit work samples for Stage 2, where applicants prepare a body of work requested by the Foundation. To help cover the costs associated with preparing samples and answer any questions applicants may have about the Stage 2 process, invited artists receive a stipend, in-person meetings, and application feedback. Typically, reward recipients are announced in December of the award year.

2019’s grantees include photographers, musicians, performing artists, and activism-based literary and visual artists:

  • afaq, an activism-based literary and visual artist in Northeast Philadelphia
  • Claudia Peregrina, a South Philadelphia-based artist specializing in expressing emotion through movement, visual art, and folk-based crafting
  • Danie Ocean, a musician who fights for the voices of the underrepresented in contemporary music
  • Folami Irvine of East Falls, who practices folklore healing arts passed down through five generations of African herbalism
  • Mary Enoch Elizabeth Baxter, a South Philadelphian musician and hip-hop artist who produces socially conscious music under the name Isis Tha Savior
  • Melissa Beatriz of West Philadelphia, a documentary filmmaker and writer whose projects focus on social justice, the arts, and deconstructing policy and power
  • Nadine M. Patterson, a Mt. Airy-based writer, producer, director, and educator specializing in visual storytelling through documentary films
  • Wit López of West Philadelphia, a performance artist who uses movement, music, costuming, props, and storytelling to address themes like gender identity, disability, and more
  • Yolanda Wisher, a poet laureate of Montgomery County and Philadelphia, whose work in poetry and song (blended through the band the Afroeaters) captures a unique experience
  • Yinka Orafidiya a ceramic artist in Mt. Airy, whose creations promote awareness, build community, and affect social change

The 2019 artists showcase crafts, stories, and artistic work passed down through generations. This role of art as a storytelling tool, connection between generations, and voice for communities echoes the mission of the Leeway Foundation: that art, at the core of its being, can and should be recognized as the great connector between the individual and their community.

“Art can bridge difference, center those who have been on the margins, and challenge and connect communities and individuals to live in peaceful coexistence,” reads the organization’s vision statement. “We envision a world in which art flourishes in many forms as the cultural life blood of communities, where all have access to creative expression regardless of who they are, and where art and art-making is considered an essential element of our collective efforts to create a more just, peaceful world where all can live in dignity.”

*A note from the Leeway Foundation: “Leeway is a trans-affirming organization committed to gender self-determination, and we use the term ‘trans’ in its most inclusive sense, as an umbrella term encompassing transsexual, transgender, genderqueer, Two-Spirit people, and anyone whose gender identity or gender expression is nonconforming and/or different from their gender assigned at birth.

To learn more about the Leeway Foundation and their annual grant programs, visit their website at

In The News

Author: Maggie May

Maggie May is a small business owner, author, and story-centric content strategist. A Maryland transplant by way of Florida, DC, Ireland, Philadelphia, and -- most recently -- Salt Lake City, she has a passion for finding stories and telling them the way they're meant to be told.

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