See all recent and past Grit Fund Grantees

2019 Grantees



Charm City Night Market by the Chinatown Collective; awarded $7,000.

Charm City Night Market (CCNM) by Steph Hsu, Julia Hsiao Chu Hsia, Leandro Lagera, Robbin Lee, Dan Ahn, Marisa Dobson, Rachel Paraoan, Jamie Sumague, Daniel Pham, Julie Eugenio, Shawn Gunaratne, Ephrem Abebe, and Shaoyi Zhang is an initiative founded by the Chinatown Collective to celebrate the heritage of Baltimore's Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) community. Based in Baltimore's historic Chinatown, CCNM highlights the rich history and contributions of Baltimore City's first AAPI immigrant community and creates a platform for Baltimore's growing community of AAPI creative entrepreneurs, performing artists, restaurateurs, and residents, activating a new generation of thought leaders and community organizers through community-based events.

The Grit Fund supports the community engagement and family arts section of the Charm City Night Market, which will provide audiences with an opportunity to interact with AAPI artists through calligraphy, origami, and more. Support from the Grit Fund will also enable the creation of the Community Voices Artwalk, which will share the stories of longtime AAPI residents, business owners, and creatives of Baltimore City.


De-Capin': Healing the Black & Brown Superwoman Myth; awarded $7,000.

De-Capin’: Healing the Black & Brown Superwoman Myth by Uni Q. Mical & DZL MC (blkottonkandy), Jayda J, Mia Musa,Charnell Covert, Sabrina Yelverton, and Curtis Wilson will provide a series of four free workshops to discuss and unpack the Black and Brown Superwoman myth. The workshops will focus on the notion that Black and Brown women must be readily available for other’s needs while neglecting their own, leading to the development or exacerbation of mental illnesses. Though this may be perceived as a women’s only space, organizers believe Black men, queer, trans, and non binary folks are an important part of this process, and can assist and benefit greatly from unpacking their perceptions of Black and Brown womanhood as well.

The Grit Fund supports a series of free bi-weekly workshops for writing, visual art, dance, and DIY body product creation. These workshops center on giving participants space to discuss, process, heal, and share their experiences with one another, and a larger community of Black and Brown women, while prioritizing our collective wellness and self-care. This experience will segue from the workshop series into a multimedia arts exhibition at Mind Your Wellness (MYW), an intergenerational mental health awareness conference, celebrating physical and emotional wellness in Black Baltimore. Grit-funding will also support the documentation of each workshop series, to be compiled into a short documentary, and screened as part of the MYW exhibit.


I.Henry Photo Project; awarded $7,000.

The I.Henry Photo Project by I.H.Webster Phillips III, Jerrell Baker, Rassaan Hammond, and Jimmy Powell is a multi-faceted endeavor designed to start a conversation that instills pride and ownership of the contributions of African Americans in Baltimore and beyond. Building off of the work of the late I. Henry Phillips Sr., his son Irving H. Phillips, Jr. and grandson, Webster Phillips III, this project intends to make this collection of historic photographs of Baltimore life, photographed over eight decades, more easily accessible to a broader audience. The photographs showcase the contributions of black Baltimoreans at work and play and include images of prominent African American politicians, entrepreneurs, educators, entertainers, and sports icons from the local, state, and national stage.

The Grit Fund supports resources dedicated to creating a richer context for the images through audio-visual oral history recordings and public storytelling forums engaging Baltimore youth and elders. Images from the Photo Project will be exhibited in public and private spaces, including senior centers, libraries, art spaces, places of worship and schools, and the gathering places where the conversations, story-telling and documentation sessions were held. In addition, a short film about the project, followed by an interactive art show and screenings, will act as tools to spread the word and hold more forums in different neighborhoods across the city. Grit-funds also support transportation for seniors and others who require it to join forums for identifying the images; as well as funds for database entry, maintenance and security.


The BlkRobot Project, awarded $7,000.

The BlkRobot Project (BRP) by Jason Harris, Olufunmike Woods, and J. Wesley Days is a multiyear, multimodal experiential educational endeavor. Entering its third year, the project currently involves expanding STEAM classes to include a comic book workshop and a community memory workshop. Continuing the robotics workshops, the BlkRobot Project is working towards final phase of SoulBot 3.0, which will be a 27 foot tall metal African robot sculpture to be built on a vacant lot in the Park Heights community in Baltimore City.

The Grit Fund supports comic book production workshops open to youth ages 10 - 18 who will be in charge of creating and illustrating a comic book that provides the origin story of SoulBot, led by professional artists. Additionally Grit-funding supports the continuation BRP’s robotics class, SoulBot Saturday Design classes, for youth ages 8-11 and 11-16; as well as the community memory workshop--an inter-generational potluck and oral history project, recruiting Elders (anyone over 50) to share histories of the Park Heights community. The stories generated by the oral history project will become part of Soul Bot 3.0’s shield, which will be a community mnemonic device.  

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Afro Archives Project by Savannah Wood; awarded $7,000.

The Afro Archives Project by Savannah Wood is an online exhibition made in collaboration with the Afro-American Newspapers and three contemporary artists. Chosen artists will conduct research in the Afro-American Newspapers’ archives, which chronicle 127 years of Black journalism, culture, entrepreneurship and resilience in Baltimore and beyond. Using their research, the artists will make new work for an online exhibition. Wood and AFRO staff will support artists throughout the process, orienting them to the archive, facilitating their research, and assisting in production as necessary.

 The Grit Fund supports the research of three artists and their collaborators in the development and production of the online exhibition. This grant supports the first series of artist collaborations with the Afro Archives, with the goal to establish greater access to the archives in the future.


GRL PWR ; awarded $7,000.

GRL PWR by Pangelica, Amnesia, and Amy Reid is a Baltimore-based collective that provides a platform for LGBTQ, femme, and women performers/artists. Established in 2014, their events have elevated marginalized and overlooked talent--giving new artists and people of color priority in their booking process, and sparking conversation around equity, queerness, and identity. While LGBTQ spaces in Baltimore are slowly disappearing, GRL PWR remains a pillar of vibrancy.

The Grit Fund supports four seasonal events in fall 2019, winter 2019, spring 2020, and summer 2020--including SWEAT, an all ages, gender inclusive drag show. In an effort to encourage growth and evolution within the collective, each member take initiative in the creative direction of three new events--including a immersive multidimensional visual art and sound based neon fantasyland; a queer social dinner party and art market; and traveling show.

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String Theory Theater awarded $7,000.

String Theory Theater--a small puppet troupe founded by Dirk Joseph, will collaborate with artists Schroeder Cherry, Koi, Azaria Jean-Gilles Joseph, and Katherine Fahey, to produce a traveling theater show that will bring the magic and theatrical immersion of puppetry theater to Baltimore communities. Performances will feature the craft and storytelling talents of some of Baltimore’s own homegrown puppeteers, known for their professional discipline, unique creative expertise, and dedication to the city. The content of performances ranges widely and each individual skit generally has either a moral, cultural, environmental, or historical message delivered with a healthy dose of laughter.

The Grit Fund supports the development and showcase of a monthly public puppetry variety show in venues around the city, with the goal to infuse puppetry into the cultural arts of Baltimore. Beautiful sets, and immersive audio effects will transport audiences to alternate realities of imagination and storytelling. Performance formats run the full range of puppetry styles, including marionettes, hand and rod puppets, shadow puppets, and crankies, demonstrating the value of puppetry as a storytelling device, and history keeping mechanism.


Sweaty Eyeballs Animation Festival, awarded $7,000.

Sweaty Eyeballs Animation Festival by Phil Davis and Rachel Bone is a three-day juried festival of cutting-edge, quirky, and boundary-pushing animation. Sweaty Eyeballs will expose Baltimore to unique, experimental and diverse voices in the field of animated filmmaking. With a focus on innovation in craft, storytelling and work that questions preconceived notions of what animation can and should be, Sweaty Eyeballs seeks to place Baltimore on the national animation map by creating a significant presence and space for peer discussion on the art form. This festival will offer a tangible way for artists and animators to engage with their audience in person and on the big screen.

The Grit Fund supports public workshops by visiting guest animators, the development of programming and curation of the Baltimore-made shorts screening, and an opening night screening of silent animated shorts with live musical accompaniment from Baltimore musicians.


UnMonument Baltimore Print and Share Event Series, awarded $7,000.

UnMonument Baltimore Print and Share Event Series by April Danielle Lewis, Brittany Young, and We the Builders, is a collaborative 3D printed UnMonument to Liberation and Black Joy (ULBJ), an artistic response to a monument or a counter-monument. Inspired by the removal of Baltimore’s confederate monuments in 2016, ULBJ challenges the notion that local denizens should honor the legacy of those whose work has perpetuated the injustices that divide our country and our communities. ULBJ will depict a dirt bike rider in a “12’o clock” position. At Print and Share events, community members will be invited to claim their part of the “Un-Monument to Liberation and Black Joy” sculpture and participate in hands-on activities that challenge participants to identify symbols of joy in their lives. Participants will create small scale Un-Monuments of their own depicting the imagery they’ve identified as symbols of liberation. Each workshop participant will receive a 3D printed small scale replica of a monument base and have access to 3D pens, clay and wire, and will be asked to respond to the prompt, “What Brings You Joy?”

The Grit Fund supports a series of six “Print and Share” pop-ups at different locations across the city in partnership with community organizations that work with Baltimore City Youth, providing Tech/STEAM and creative programming. Grit-funding will allow ULBJ to create opportunities for Baltimore residents that do not have access to 3D printers to be able to participate in this project, by bringing free workshops to neighborhoods across the city in public community spaces. By providing the materials and technical assistance for making, ULBJ hopes to engage residents of all ages in visioning and creating things they want to see in our communities.





Andria Nacina Cole

Andria Nacina Cole was raised in a house full of women and learned everything worth knowing about storytelling from their mouths. Lots of practice and careful study supplemented (a wee bit) by degrees in creative writing from Morgan State and Johns Hopkins Universities have helped her land short stories in Hamilton Stone Review, The Feminist Wire, Fiction Circus and Ploughshares, among others. Andria is the recipient of several Maryland State Arts Council awards, a Rubys Grants awardee and Baker Artist Awards finalist. In 2017, Baltimore City Paper named her Best Storyteller. She is co-founder and director of the critical reading and writing program A Revolutionary Summer, which exposes Black girls to Black women literary and artistic giants in an effort to push them headfirst into self-love.

Bilphena Yahwon

Bilphena Yahwon is a Baltimore based writer, researcher, organizer and womanist born in Liberia, West Africa. Yahwon is the author of ‘teaching gold-mah how to heal herself.’ the co-creator of For Black Girls Considering Womanism Because Feminism Is Not Enuf and and a core member of Press Press. Her work uses a womanist approach and centers women’s health and well being, intersectionality and abolition. She writes of the immigrant experience, of blackness, of healing, of African women made from flowers breathing fragility.

Yahwon’s WHY DO ALL THE BLACK GIRLS HAVE AN ATTITUDE?, an infographic on the impact of school-to-prison pipeline on Black girls in Baltimore City was released in Jan 2019 as part of the Everyday, Everyday, Everyday, Everyday Freedoms exhibition. Her art and organizing work has been featured in TIME, The Nation, City Paper, Baltimore Sun, WYPR, Africa & Afro-Diasporian Art Talk and as the Women in Africa and Diaspora columnist for Ezibota. Yahwon was selected as a 2018-2019 Peer2Peer cohort member for her meaningful and critical transformative justice work in Baltimore.

Carol Zou

When Carol Zou was growing up in subsidized university housing as the child of first-generation Chinese immigrants, she read The Fledgling by Jane Langton and convinced the rest of the children in the apartment complex that if they practiced hard enough, they could collectively learn how to fly. She is still learning how to mobilize collective action around public space, imagination, and liberation from structural oppression. Notable projects include Yarn Bombing Los Angeles, Michelada Think Tank, and Trans.lation Vickery Meadow. Carol received her BFA from Cornell University with minors in Urban Planning and Gender Studies, and her MFA in Public Practice from Otis College of Art and Design. She has participated in fellowships and residencies from Intercultural Leadership Institute, National Art Strategies, Women's Center for Creative Work, Common Field, University of Chicago Place Lab-Rebuild Foundation, and University of Houston College of the Arts-Project Row Houses.

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Colette Veasey-Cullors

Colette Veasey-Cullors is Associate Dean for Design and Media at MICA. Her work has been exhibited in numerous musuems and galleries, including The California African American Museum, The African American Museum in Philadelphia, The Museum of Fine Arts Houston/Glassell School of Art, and The Chattanooga African American Museum. Her work is included in the 2017 publication "MFON: Women Photographers of the African Diaspora", an anthology featuring the work of more than 100 female photographers of African descent from around the world, as well as “BLACK: A Celebration of a Culture” and she produced the cover design for the textbook African-American Sociopolitical Philosophy: Imagining Black Communities.

Colette’s photographic work throughout her career has continually investigated themes pertaining to socio-economics, race, class, education and identity. She seeks to question our personal connections to these subjects and how one might justify and rationalize their existence to themselves and others. She is interested in decoding these issues by employing the use of metaphor and investigating the point of intersection between these dichotomies

Colette’s collaborative interest resides in the process of social and creative engagement with individuals and communities, with a particular interest in underinvested and underrepresented communities. She has worked with a number of community-based organizations, including Communities in Schools, Project Row Houses, Art on Purpose, 901 Arts and Art Source South Africa.

Colette received her MFA in Photography from Maryland Institute College of Art in 1996 and her BFA in Photography from the University of Houston in 1992.

Lawrence Burney

Lawrence Burney founded the True Laurels blog in 2011 with a mission to provide on-the-ground reporting on the local rap and club music scenes in his hometown of Baltimore and open up a dialogue with the national rap scene. Soon after, he added a physical component to the platform with a zine that gave artists the chance to tell their own stories with candid diaries.

As True Laurels has grown, so has Burney, bringing his expertise on Black music in Baltimore and the DMV area to national media outlets like Pitchfork, Noisey, and The FADER, where he now works as a senior editor. His work is primarily focused on rap, but his purview spans the many genres of the African diaspora, and explores how music reflects the social climate of the places it comes from. With these core principles in mind, Burney has established himself as an authoritative voice on the music and culture of Baltimore and the DMV region.