Americans for the Arts is pleased to again partner with VANS the Custom Culture Grant program. This program seeks to increase visibility for and resources available to arts educators and schools across the country, in order to sustain the arts as a vital part of education. The grant program is supported by funds from the sales of the winning shoe design in the Custom Culture Art Competition.

About the grant

VANS Custom Culture Grants are available to public high schools serving grades 9-12 that have allowed arts education to thrive in their school community. The grants are intended to encourage the inclusion of the arts as an integral component of an excellent education, and to support activities that are consistent with local and national learning standards for arts education. Ten (10) schools across the country will each receive a $2,000 grant to support their work in providing high-quality music and/or visual arts instruction for students.

What is the timeline?

Applications open October 17, 2014 and close on November 26, 2014. A judging panel will convene in mid-December to select the 10 grant recipients. Americans for the Arts will notify grant recipients in early January and will disperse all grant funds by January 31, 2015. Funds must be used between January and June 2015. A blog reporting on projects and activities funded by the VANS Custom Culture Grants will be due to Americans for the Arts no later than May 15, 2015.

To learn more, please download the full guidelines (PDF 429 KB).

The Vans Custom Culture Grant Application is now open.
All schools must complete the application below to be considered.

Contact Information

For more information regarding the VANS Custom Culture Grant program, or for clarification about the criteria or the application process, please contact Kristen Engebretsen, Arts Education Program Manager at Americans for the Arts:  or 202-371-2830.



2014 VANS Custom Culture Grant
School Application Form
Deadline: November 26, 2014

Application Process
Please complete the online application no later than 3:00 p.m. Eastern on November 26, 2014.

Applicant Info
Two Student Work Samples

Notes about uploading student work samples:

  • Visual arts: Photo of student work, minimum 300 dpi quality. Photos must be in a jpg or png format. Please ensure that the file name of the uploaded sample is labeled in the following format: “school name_work sample_1” and “school name_work sample_2”.
  • Music: Link to online audio or video of student performance or rehearsal. Video must not exceed 5 minutes, and if it does, please indicate which consecutive 5 minutes you wish the panel to consider. Please make sure you’ve allowed permission to view videos (aka they are not marked “private” on YouTube. Rather, you can make them “unlisted.”)


Sample #1
For visual arts: Please include a caption, the student’s name, title of the work, photographer credit, and permission to reproduce. For music: Please describe the audio/visual link you’ve provided and instructions for viewing, such as a time code.
Sample #2
For visual arts: Please include a caption, the student’s name, title of the work, photographer credit, and permission to reproduce. For music: Please describe the audio/visual link you’ve provided and instructions for viewing, such as a time code.
Optional Supplemental Materials
Supplemental materials can be included to help us get to know your school. This may include: PowerPoint presentations, photo slide shows, brochures, concert programs, etc.
Application Questions

The following questions will be scored by grant review panelists:

Please describe how the school meets the following criteria from the guidelines:
The applicant’s work sample demonstrates high standards of artistic excellence within the chosen discipline(s); The application describes artistic activities that advance student learning through the arts through clear learning outcomes for students, based on local/state/national standards.
School provides instruction in at least visual arts and music courses; School utilizes a mix of expert personnel (such as teaching artists, general educators, and certified arts specialists) to provide high quality learning experiences for students; Arts Education is a visible component of the school or district culture and infrastructure; and School administrators provide the necessary resources of time, money, facilities, and faculty planning/professional development opportunities to allow arts education to thrive.
School reaches a substantial number of their student population with their programs and courses; The described arts activities are enriching experiences that speak to the unique needs of the youth in that community; and School partners with parents, businesses, and/or arts and culture or community organizations to leverage resources for the described activities.
School adequately describes how the funding will be used to further enhance their arts education program; School provides information on its Title I status and/or its percentage of students receiving free or reduced-price lunches; and School provides a budget breakdown of how the funds will be used. (For example: $500 paint supplies; $1000 teaching artist; $500 field trip to museum.) Please be sure that your proposed use of the funds adheres to the guidelines.