DEYA Launch Awards

Launch Awards Applications open from February 1 to 22, 2024

Detroit Excellence in Youth Arts (DEYA), in collaboration with the newly formed Detroit Youth Arts Provider Network, proudly introduces the Launch Awards – a transformative opportunity for creative youth in Detroit. These microgrants are specifically tailored to fill gaps in artistic development, propelling DEYA’s commitment to making arts education more equitable and accessible for all Detroit’s young creatives.

With a generous yearly budget of $40,000, the Launch Awards will distribute $10,000 every quarter in March, June, September, and December of 2024. Eligible youths aged 11-19 have the chance to apply up to four times a year, with awards up to $250 each time, potentially amassing $1,000 over the year to foster their artistic journeys.

Young man singing at microphone

This initiative is made possible by the generous sponsorship of Gardner White, along with the support from SEE Eyewear and the Marshall Mathers Foundation. Inspired by Detroit’s own artist and designer Mike Han, who championed the idea following a successful collaboration with Gardner White, these grants aim to remove barriers and open doors for the next wave of Detroit’s creative talents. DEYA, a program of Connect Detroit, has been a catalyst in marshaling over $250,000 since 2020 to support young artists, educators, and numerous youth arts providers. Join us in celebrating and nurturing the rich tapestry of talent that Detroit’s youth have to offer.

Remember, this opportunity is not just for Detroit city residents; those in Highland Park, Hamtramck, and full-time students at Detroit schools are also welcome to apply. Let’s launch the dreams of our young artists together!


Launch Awards FAQs

Launch Awards are “microgrants” paid directly to Detroit youth artists to support their artistic and career development.
Launch Awards are intended to assist Detroit youth with their artistic advancement and development. These are not awards meant only for the most accomplished young artists, but for any young person who is passionate about the arts and committed to growing and developing as an artist, i.e. someone needing support in order to get their “launch” as an artist. These awards were created because members of the Detroit Youth Arts Provider Network identified financial gaps as being a major barrier for young Detroiters’ development as artists. These gaps often involve expenses that are not covered through scholarships. The ways that the funds can be spent are many and as varied as the artistic expression found in and around Detroit. It could be for creative classes or training, materials or equipment, travel, or support of a youth project or club – anything that will benefit you and your creative work.

DEYA (Detroit Excellence in Youth Arts) has been granted funds from Gardner White, with additional support from SEE Eyewear and the Marshall Mathers Foundation, to give away $40,000 directly to young people in the 2024 calendar year. $10,000 will be given away four times a year (deadlines in February, May, August, and November) in awards of $250, $200 and $125.

Young people ages 11 to 19 who live in Detroit, Highland Park or Hamtramck, and/or are full-time students in Detroit schools are eligible for Launch Awards.  Residents of three cities within Detroit’s boundaries will be given priority for the awards.

The awards are intended for creative youth who are passionate about the areas of

  • Visual Art (all mediums and genres including painting, drawing, fashion design, etc.)
  • Dance (all genres including: ballet, modern, breakdance, step, etc.)
  • Multimedia *(all genres including filmmaking, podcasts, lighting, sound, digital design, music production, etc.)
  • Vocal Music (all genres including choral, pop, gospel, rap, etc.)
  • Instrumental music (all instruments, genres and styles)
  • Literary Arts (all mediums and genres including poetry, creative writing, spoken word, playwriting, etc.)
  • Theater (all roles and genres, including acting, directing, comedy, Shakespeare, etc.)

The online application allows you to select multiple areas or “other” and allows you to explain your interest. For example, musical theatre may fit under theater, vocal music and dance – so you would check all three. If you select “other” you will need to make a strong argument for why your interest is artistic and involves creativity.

Yes. Every applicant is required to have a recommendation by an adult who is familiar with their artistic skills and dedication. This can be a teacher at your school, a director at a youth arts program or a mentor who gives you lessons or any other adult who would be familiar with your artistic work. This person cannot be a family member, relative or anyone who lives in your household.

We want to help you ‘Launch’ your creative career and your creative passions. So the award could pay for equipment, materials or supplies. It could pay for in-person or online lessons, books or videos about your artform, costume or uniform costs, or travel expenses.  You could put on a musical or concert or art show for yourself and some creative friends. Here is a list of examples, don’t feel limited by these. Anything you can think of that costs between $250 and $125 that would help your artistic development is possible. Examples: Dance Shoes, Sheet Music, Online classes, Private Lessons for three months, dance clothes, a drum machine, DJ Equipment, Plane, Bus or Train ticket for travel to an arts opportunity, musical instrument rental, paint or other visual art supplies, theatre scripts, design apps, production software, instrument supplies (reeds, stings, etc.)

Launch Awards cannot be used to pay for anything that is illegal or unethical or harmful. And we do not fund medical expenses, home repairs or tuition for programs where the young person is already enrolled and receiving a scholarship (although it can pay for related expenses other than tuition). While the funds can be used for personal costs, they cannot be used to pay a family member or member of your household to assist the applicant. Other expenses may or may not be allowed, depending on how well the applicant proves that these funds would contribute to their creative launch and journey.

The Detroit Youth Arts Provider Network will choose a community panel of creative types, teachers and youth development workers, who serve as readers/reviewers of the applications. They use their passion for arts, youth and creativity to evaluate and consider individual requests. They want to figure out how to support you, so don’t think of them as “judges.” They review each individual based on the three questions, the optional “show your work” recording, and the adult recommendation.

You will receive either $125, $200 or $250, depending on the judges evaluation and the number of applicants.  The funds are paid to you on a NAME BRAND card, which will be mailed to you by the Connect Detroit staff approximately two to three weeks after you and all the winners are notified and have provided payment information (SS#, Legal address, etc.)

The paycard may be used for future awards, so hold onto it, even after you spend the award.

We believe it’s important for youth and their families to invest in art and art experiences, the same as they pay for football, basketball or science programs and equipment.  Young people may seek a part-time job or a summer job through Grow Detroit’s Young Talent, or start a small business that offers pet portraits or lawn care or some other service.  There also are other grants and awards young people may apply for and we will share some of them with you in the future.

You may apply 4 times a year, in February, May, August and November and can win 4 times a year.  Your total awards for a calendar year cannot exceed $1000 total.

Gardner White, the furniture retailer, contributed most of it.  The remainder came from SEE Eyewear and the Marshall Mathers Foundation (Eminem’s charity).

We plan to hold online and in person workshops this spring for youth and their parents. These will be announced by Connect Detroit and DEYA and shared with our youth development partners so the word gets out.

The 1st application deadline of 2024 is February 22nd at 11:59pm. The deadline for adult recommendation forms in February 28th at 11:59pm

  • Pay attention to all the details and allow your “voice” and your passion for your creative project to come through. Take your time and think through your answers.
  • If possible, ask an adult – parent, aunt, grandparent, mentor – to work with you to answer the key questions. A list of application questions are shared below. Take time to think about why you are asking for an award and how it will help your creative passions.
  • We suggest you copy and paste these so you can write and edit your answers before applying
  • Be certain your teacher, coach or mentor completes the online adult recommendation. It only takes about 3 minutes. Make sure they confirm to you that it was submitted online. .
  • Non-writing option. Instead of typing your answers, the application gives you the option of providing a video or audio recording of your answers using an online link via YouTube, SoundCloud, Dropbox, Google Drive or similar program.

The Online Application Questions ask the 6 Ws (Who, What, Where, When, Why) and an optional opportunity to share your work with a video or audio link.


Explain your interest in your art. (You should answer some or all of the following questions in your explanation). What exactly do you do in your art form (examples: style, medium, instrument. etc.)? What do you enjoy most about doing your main artform or creative practice? What do you feel are your strengths? Where do you feel you have the most room to improve? What goals do you have as an artist?


Describe how you plan to spend these funds if awarded a Launch Award. What is the activity or purchase(s) you are proposing? Where, how and when will the money be spent? (you may estimate, you will not be required to provide receipts)


Explain why you are making this proposal. (You should answer some or all of the following questions in your explanation). How would receiving these funds help you to grow and develop as an artist? Will the award remove barriers that are making it more challenging to pursue your art? Why are you requesting this at this time?


OPTIONAL: You may provide a viewable link to a video or audio recording of you doing your art (playing your instrument, singing, dancing, acting, reading your poetry or showing your visual art). YouTube, SoundCloud, Dropbox, Google Drive, etc.

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