Over more than a decade, The Gordon Parks Foundation has collaborated with over 10 leading educational institutions across the country to confer scholarships and prizes totaling more than 100 students pursuing disciplines—including photography, the visual arts, film, journalism, art history, and African and African American studies—that represent the breadth and integrity of Gordon Parks’ work. Current partners include Columbia Graduate School of Journalism, NYU Tisch School of the Arts, Fashion Institute of Technology, Ghetto Film School, Harvard University, National YoungArts Foundation, Pratt Institute, and Purchase College.
Bennington College is a small residential liberal arts college in southern Vermont, long distinguished for its progressive approach to higher education. It was the first institution to fully integrate the visual and performing arts into the liberal arts and require all students to work in the world full-time for seven weeks during the annual Field Work Term, which encompasses the Creative Legacy Fellowship. Through the fellowship program, selected students are placed into internship positions at artist-endowed foundations—The Gordon Parks Foundation among them—to investigate these questions. In addition to their internships, Fellows develop together as a peer-supported cohort through pre-Fellowship meetings, mentoring, and coursework. By combining hands-on work experience with a complementary educational component, this Fellowship aims to introduce participants to the growing ﬁeld of artist-endowed foundations, and invite the consideration of philosophical and creative questions, while simultaneously oﬀering practical knowledge applicable to future professional opportunities.
The annually awarded Gordon Parks Foundation Scholarship (originally established as The Gordon Parks Foundation Essay Prize), supports Harvard undergraduate and/or graduate students who are researching topics that explore the relationship between race and aesthetics, racial equity, social justice, and visual culture in American life toward preparation for a senior thesis project or a doctoral thesis in the B.A. and Ph.D. degree programs offered by the Departments of African and African American Studies and the History of Art and Architecture.
The Graduate School of Journalism at Columbia University, specifically their Ira A. Lipman Center for Journalism and Civil and Human Rights, began a partnership with the Gordon Parks Foundation in 2018. The center provides leadership for the journalism community through its mission to inform and shape the ways race, diversity, and civil and human rights are researched and reported in the United States and globally.
Pratt Institute is considered a leading center for creativity and innovation that has a transformative impact on society and the world. Pratt’s Photography Department emphasizes a cross-disciplinary practice and a core curriculum that promotes student’s technical and conceptual development with the medium as well as a broad arts and liberal arts education. In 2017, The Gordon Parks Foundation began awarding annual scholarships to exceptional students with financial need.
New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts is the country’s preeminent center for the study of the performing, cinematic and emerging media arts. The program pairs a broad grounding in liberal arts with the intensive focus of an arts curriculum, which focuses on both making and understanding images. Alumni are not just photographers, but also art critics, filmmakers, photojournalists, and curators. The Gordon Parks Foundation began providing scholarships to outstanding students annually in 2016. The funds are applied to tuition, school-related expenses and creative endeavors during their academic years.
A joint effort began in 2014 from Macy’s and The Gordon Parks Foundation to provide scholarships to outstanding Fashion Institute of Technology students. The funds apply to students pursuing a degree in Photography, Film, or Media studies, to cover school-related expenses and creative endeavors. At FIT, students are exposed to the latest techniques, learn about camera formats, lighting, and photo styling, and become proficient in both digital and analog technologies in a hands-on studio environment. FIT attracts students from all over the country.
Harlem School of the Arts is one of New York City’s pioneering arts institutions committed to leveling the playing field by empowering young people from across the multi-cultural and socio-economic spectrum. From 2013–2018, The Gordon Parks Foundation awarded outstanding college preparatory students with scholarships each year.
YoungArts is the core program of the National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts (NFAA). In 2012, the Gordon Parks Foundation selected the YoungArts program as one of the first partner organizations for the scholarship fund. YoungArts supports the next generation of artists from 15-18 years old in the visual, literary, design and performing arts, by assisting them at critical junctures in their educational and professional development.
In 2009, Ghetto Film School led a partnership with the New York City Department of Education to open The Cinema School (TCS) in the Bronx, the nation’s first and only film high school. Originally began as a partnership between HBO and The Gordon Parks Foundation in 2011, the scholarship program provided funding to young filmmakers to honor the creative spirit of Gordon Parks in film and photography and to recognize aspiring filmmakers and acknowledge great photographers. Now awarded by The Gordon Parks Foundation, this award recognizes new talent at the Ghetto Film School, where the mission is to educate, develop and celebrate the next generation of great American storytellers.
Originally established as The Nikon/Gordon Parks scholarship in 2009, today The Gordon Parks Foundation scholarship provides support for students at Purchase College / SUNY in the School of Art + Design. One of the preeminent undergraduate programs in the country, the School of the Arts prepares students to be working artists. The photography curriculum provides an in-depth program that is focused specifically on fine art photography through the study of traditional film/wet processes as well as newer digital and older non-silver processes. Despite this focus, many graduates work successfully in applied photography fields. With a third recipient added in 2016, the scholarship funds are used towards tuition and room and board. The selection is based on talent, GPA and financial need.