The Frank-Ratchye Fund for Art @ the Frontier strives to be a flexible, responsive source of support for projects pushing the edge of disciplines. Please carefully review our proposal guidelines and funding policies prior to submitting your application.
For complete information about the FRFAF Grant Program, please see the sections below. You are also welcome to browse this deck of 27 slides (above) from our February 2022 information-session, download these as a PDF, or view a 34-minute video-recording of that session.
- Selection Criteria and Review Process
- Proposal Guidelines
- Reporting Requirements
The FRFAF online application form is here. For the 2021-2022 school year, the deadlines to apply for FRFAF ‘Full’ Grants ($501-5000) are as follows:
- September 25th, 2022 11:59pm EDT (Fall Round)
- February 12th, 2023, 11:59pm EDT (Spring Round)
Proposals for FRFAF Microgrants (under $500) are accepted on a rolling basis during the Fall and Spring semesters, until funding for each semester has run out. Microgrants are available to students, faculty, and staff.
2.1. Eligible Affiliations with CMU
Regular faculty and full-time students of Carnegie Mellon University are intended to be the primary recipients of the fund. However, applications are accepted from entities who are actively affiliated with CMU under any of the following designations:
- Graduate and undergraduate students currently enrolled in a degree-granting program at Carnegie Mellon, and in good academic standing (i.e., not on probation, leave of absence, or suspension)
- Student organizations
- Faculty on behalf of a class or student group
- Fellows of the STUDIO for Creative Inquiry
- Tenure-track faculty
- Teaching-track faculty
- Special faculty: including (but not limited to) visiting faculty, postdoctoral visitors, research special faculty, and instructional special faculty
- Project scientists or similar research staff
- Adjunct faculty in active employment (for applications over $500, such persons are generally expected to have already been employed at the university for at least one semester)
- Staff (for applications over $500, with the unanimous consent of the review committee), consistent with the spirit and intent of the Frank-Ratchye Fund’s objectives of furthering the creation of groundbreaking interdisciplinary artworks at Carnegie Mellon and by members of the Carnegie Mellon community
Please note that alumni (and other persons who are not actively affiliated with Carnegie Mellon University) are not eligible to receive grants from the FRFAF program.
2.2. Limits on Repeat Funding for Applicants
Eligible persons are restricted to being the lead applicant on one FRFAF grant per academic year. Exceptions can be made for applicants who use the results of their Microgrant-funded project as a proof-of-concept, in order to subsequently apply for a ‘Full’ grant to continue the same project. It is also possible to be the lead applicant on one active FRFAF project, and a non-lead-applicant (collaborator, contributor, etc.) on another.
2.3. Limits on Repeat Funding for Projects
Recipients of FRFAF Grants from previous award cycles are eligible to apply for new or repeat funding, on the strict condition that all reporting requirements for prior support (including Microgrants) have been satisfactorily met; documentation for completed FRFAF projects should be submitted through this form. In the interest of supporting a diverse range of work, no project may receive a regular (‘Full’) FRFAF Grant more than twice.
3. Selection Criteria and Review Process
3.1. Selection Criteria
Proposals are competitively evaluated based on:
- The vision, originality, quality, and potential impact of the proposed project
- The professional, artistic, and/or technical capabilities of the applicant(s)
- The feasibility of the project
- The potential impact of our funding and services on the project and for the artist(s)
- The extent to which the proposed work “pushes the envelope” — fulfilling the specific mission of the FRFAF grant program, to support interdisciplinary art(s) “at the frontier”
The online application form for Frank-Ratchye grants can be found here. Please be sure to read the proposal guidelines and to familiarize yourself with the application process. Successful applicants will be asked to sign the FRFAF Grant Agreement (PDF).
3.2. FRFAF Advisory Committee Members
Microgrants are awarded by the Director of the STUDIO on a rolling basis. Full Grantees are selected by the Director(s) of the STUDIO in consultation with an advisory committee comprised of the following:
- The Head of the CMU School of Art
- A CMU College of Fine Arts faculty member, from outside of both the STUDIO and the School of Art
- A CMU faculty member from outside of the College of Fine Arts who has demonstrated an interest in interdisciplinary arts intersections
- A representative from the greater Pittsburgh arts community, not actively affiliated with CMU
4. Proposal Guidelines
How to Apply
Prospective applicants are strongly encouraged to consult with the STUDIO staff prior to submitting their application. STUDIO staff can advise about the sorts of projects that fall within the scope of the FRFAF program, and about how best to ensure that proposals receive full consideration. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information and to arrange an appointment.
All applications must be submitted via our online application form. Your application is your chance to tell us about your proposed project, why it’s interesting, and how you plan to use the grant. Your finished application will include:
- A proposal or project description following the provided guidelines
- A detailed budget for the project
- Pertinent supporting materials: prior work samples, preliminary research, etc.
- A letter of support from your faculty advisor or course instructor (required of students)*
*Letters of support may either be submitted along with your Project Supporting Materials through the FRFAF grant form or may be emailed directly to STUDIO staff at email@example.com.
- This guidelines below are for ‘Full’ FRFAF grants, greater than $500. (By contrast, Microgrants generally require less comprehensive support and justification.)
- Be sure to comply with all the basic requirements, eligibility rules, and application procedures.
- Clarity matters. Write your proposal for a ‘general interest’ reader rather than a domain expert.
- Have someone you trust review your proposal before it is submitted to check for errors. Carnegie Mellon’s Global Communication Center can provide additional guidance on writing your proposal.
- Each section listed below corresponds to a field in the online application form.
Part I. Abstract
The Abstract is a brief but specific statement that answers the following questions: what do you want to do, using what means and resources, and why is the project important to you, your field, and to the larger world?
Part II. Project Narrative
The project narrative is a detailed discussion of your proposed project, including the objectives, the methods you plan to use, and how your project relates and contributes to the particular creative field(s).
Proposals should include:
A. A detailed description of the creative work you intend to undertake:
- What makes it original?
- Why is it important that you undertake this project?
- Objective or goal: What do you want to achieve?
- Conceptual approach: How are you approaching the project?
- Issues: What concern, problem, or need will the work address? (if applicable)
- Approach: What medium and genre will you be using and why are they appropriate for this work?
- Vision: What is your vision for the final project?
B. A discussion of how the proposed work fits into and advances the field’s current creative context and conversation:
- What are the sources of inspiration for this project?
- How does it build on or differ from past or current work by others in the field or in related fields?
- In what specific ways will this work advance the current creative context and conversation?
Part IIa. Relevance to FRFAF Grant Program
This question seeks to understand: in what way is your proposed project a form of research? Which envelopes are you pushing? Which “frontiers” are you exploring? What’s new or novel about what you’re trying to do? Recall that the mission of the Frank-Ratchye Fund for Art @ the Frontier is to support “groundbreaking projects that can be described as ‘thinking at the edges’ of the intersection of disciplines.”
Part III. Process
Describe the process involved with the project.
- A. How do you plan to accomplish the project?
- B. Provide a detailed timeline, including:
- Pre-production research
- Production schedule itemizing tasks and allocating time
- Post-production, if applicable
Part IV. Biography
Describe your personal, professional, and educational background as they impact this project:
- A. What formal and informal training have you had?
- B. What relevant experiences have prepared you for this project?
- C. How does your past work inform this project?
Part V. Outcomes
Outline the outcomes of your project:
- A. Personal benefit: How will this project/product enhance your interests and skills, directions and opportunities for further work?
- B. Exhibition/Presentation: How, where, when, and to whom do you plan to present your work? How will you disseminate your project, and the knowledge you have gained from it?
Part VI. Biographic Supporting Materials
The strongest proposals include supporting materials. In this section, please provide documentation of your portfolio and relevant prior work, which demonstrates your talents and your capacity to execute the proposed project. You may upload a file directly to the application form, or you may provide a link to your website, Vimeo account, video reel on YouTube, etcetera. For uploads, we recommend PDF files; uploads are limited to 10MB.
Part VII. Project Supporting Materials
Include supporting materials in this section which provide evidence that your project is possible, that you have thought it through, and/or that you have produced a proof-of-concept. This might include sketches, mockups, or renderings of your proposed work, and/or documentation of your work-in-progress prototypes. Be sure to label all images with explanatory text. You may upload a file directly to the application form, or you may provide a link to your website, Vimeo account, video reel on YouTube, etcetera. For uploads, we recommend PDF files; uploads are limited to 10MB.
Part VIII. Budget
Consider your budget carefully. Include a listing of all the items you propose to purchase and your best estimate of the cost of each item. All expense items should be explained in a budget narrative included on your budget page and they should include specific vendor information – where you plan to purchase the item(s) and how much each item costs. All costs must be directly related to the proposed project and fully justified. The FRFAF selection committee reserves the right to disallow certain line items, and to approve only partial budgets. If applicable, please mention any other sources of funding for the project in your budget narrative.
Part IX. Other Funding Sources
Please list other funding sources to which you have applied, or intend to apply, for project support.
The Frank-Ratchye Fund for Art @ the Frontier has been modeled on related internal grant programs within Carnegie Mellon University, including SURG (for undergraduate students), SURG/Crosswalk (for interdisciplinary undergraduate projects), ISURG (for undergraduate research projects while studying abroad), GuSH (for graduate students), and The College of Fine Arts Fund for Research and Creativity (for full-time CFA faculty). Other potentially applicable sources of funding at CMU include the President’s various ProSEED grant programs, and the Henry Armero Award for Inclusive Creativity managed by the BXA Office of Intercollege Degree Programs. FRFAF applicants seeking additional support for their projects should consider applying to these sources, as well, if applicable.
Applicants can request support from the Fund to obtain materials, hire student assistants or outside contractors, purchase equipment, rent time in a recording studio, etc., as required to create the work. Collaborative projects are welcome, and partnerships across disciplines are encouraged. The endowment cannot be used to support conference fees or travel expenses, except where such travel is an integral part of making and/or realizing a project supported by the Fund. Grants are given as cash awards for payments related to your project only, and will not affect student financial aid. Works supported by FRFAF are “owned” by the artist(s).
FRFAF Grants and Microgrants are awarded per project and not per applicant. Thus, for example, the funding limit for two collaborating students seeking a Microgrant for a jointly-created project is still $500, and not $1000.
Grants are disbursed in any of the following ways, by arrangement with the STUDIO:
- Through direct purchases through the university’s accounting system — in which purchases may be made on the recipient’s behalf by the STUDIO or another departmental business administrator.
- In the form of reimbursements for expenses, upon submission of valid receipts to the STUDIO
- In the form of a money transfer or check made out to the recipient. This option is only available to students, and is considered a non-qualified scholarship.
Funded projects must be completed within six months after the release of funds, unless an alternate timeline has been approved in advance. Should completion of the project exceed the anticipated timeline, written notification must be submitted to the STUDIO’s Director for approval.
Please note carefully: Depending on your employment status within the United States, and depending on how you choose to receive your support, your FRFAF grant may constitute taxable income. For U.S. citizens and Resident Aliens for tax purposes, this income is self-reported; a student recipient will not receive a Form 1099 and no tax withheld on the income. It is advised that the students contact their personal tax advisor regarding the self-reporting and tax consequences. Foreign nationals (nonresident aliens), however, are subject to tax withholding and reporting on non-qualified scholarships; the only way to be exempt from this tax is if there is a treaty between the foreign national’s home country and the United States, and if the recipient is qualified to take advantage of the treaty. In practice, this means that foreign students who elect to receive their FRFAF award in cash will have taxes withheld, and should plan their budgets accordingly.
5. Reporting Requirements
Final reports are due within one month of project completion and should include the following:
- A narrative summarizing the project’s process and outcome
- Documentation of the supported project, which could include any combination of photographs, video, and/or audio recordings. Please note that videos should be delivered as high-resolution movie files (.mov, .avi, .mp4, etc.) and not as links to streaming services such as YouTube or Vimeo.
- Where appropriate, source code bundles or links to source code repositories
- A financial report itemizing all income and expenses for the project
Final reports and documentation of all work will be archived on The Frank-Ratchye STUDIO for Creative Inquiry website. If requested by STUDIO staff or the FRFAF selection committee, grant recipients may be asked to provide interim (“milestone”) project reports. The committee may adjust award amounts based on this interim review process. Grant recipients may be asked to present their work at an annual exhibition and/or presentation of all work supported that year by the Frank-Ratchye Fund for Art @ the Frontier.
Acknowledgment of Support
Wherever the works are exhibited it is to be noted that “the work was supported in part by funding from the Carnegie Mellon University Frank-Ratchye Fund For Art @ the Frontier” as part of the work’s provenance. When possible, the logo of the Frank-Ratchye STUDIO for Creative Inquiry (files can be downloaded here) should be used in conjunction with this credit line.