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Palette & Purpose Scholarship

3 winners, $500 each
Application Deadline
Apr 13, 2024
Winners Announced
May 13, 2024
Education Level
High School
Recent scholarship winners
Eligibility Requirements
US citizen
2.4 or higher
Field of Interest:
Visual, studio, or performing arts
First-generation college student
Non-profit or volunteering experience
Education Level:
High school senior (2023-2024 school year)

Do you see the world through a kaleidoscope of colors, rhythms, or emotions just waiting to be expressed? Are you a first-generation BIPOC high school senior with a burning passion for visual, studio, or performing arts? Imagine a world where every vibrant color, every bold stroke, every whispered melody finds its voice. Ignite Arts & STEM believes that's the world BIPOC artists deserve. But the reality is, for many, that canvas remains blank, their artistic dreams overshadowed by systemic barriers. Ignite Arts and STEM wants to help transform your artistic vision into reality with the Palette & Purpose Scholarship.

The Problem:

While the arts enrich our lives, inspire social change, and fuel economic growth, BIPOC communities face significant barriers to artistic careers. According to the National Endowment for the Arts, only 17% of working artists identify as BIPOC, despite representing nearly 40% of the US population. This underrepresentation stems from a complex web of factors, including limited access to arts education, financial constraints, andsystemic bias.

The facts:

  • Only 16% of working artists in the US identify as BIPOC. (National Endowment for the Arts)
  • First-generation students face a 15% lower graduation rate than their peers. (National Center for Education Statistics)
  • 85.4% of works across 18 museums in the US were created by white artists, with only 1.2% coming from Black artists and just 2.8% from Hispanic/Latino artists.
  • BIPOC individuals represent over 38% of the US population, yet make up only 21% of professional artists. (National Endowment for the Arts)
  • First-generation BIPOC students are 58% less likely to pursue an arts degree than their white counterparts. (Department of Education)
  • Limited access to arts education and mentorships further widens the gap for BIPOC artists. (Institute of Cultural and Artistic Development)
  • Financial barriers and lack of access to mentors and resources can dim the brightest artistic flames.

In order to broaden the perspectives reflected in art, it’s critical to uplift artistic BIPOC students. That's where Palette & Purpose comes in. This scholarship is not just granting financial aid, the goal is to dismantle these barriers and ignite the vibrant futures of BIPOC artists. This scholarship is more than just ink on paper – it's a key that unlocks doors to opportunity, and community.

This isn't just a scholarship, it's a masterpiece in the making. We believe your brushstrokes deserve a chance to paint a brighter future for yourself and the arts. Come, let's fill the world with your colors.

To apply, tell us your story. In your essay, please address all the following:

  • Unleash your muse: Tell us what ignites your creative fire. What compels you to express yourself through the arts?
  • Impactful brushstrokes: How do you envision your artistic career shaping the world? Dream big and paint your vision for a brighter future.
  • Literary whispers: How have books you've read influenced your artistic goals? Let their words guide your artistic compass.
  • Your deeper vision: We want to understand your **educational roadmap**. Explain in detail how this scholarship program will become the bridge connecting your artistic ambitions to reality. How will this scholarship fuel your journey towards making a meaningful impact?


Creative crescendo: Go beyond words! Showcase your passion through an original piece – a melody that stirs the soul, a poem that paints vivid landscapes, a painting, drawing or photograph that captures the essence of humanity. Let your art speak volumes!

Selection Criteria:
Ambition, Need, Boldest Profile
Published January 12, 2024
Essay Topic

Provide a creative example to demonstrate why you’re passionate about the arts, where/how you demonstrated leadership, how you’re hoping to benefit the world with your arts career, and how the books you’ve read have shaped your goals (essay, short film, original song, etc).

400–600 words

Winning Applications

Jayde Grant
DePaul UniversityLos Angeles, CA
Mia Moore
School of Visual ArtsYonkers, NY
As I've solidified myself in the pursuit of an education and career in the arts, a question I have begrudgingly become familiar with is just that: "Why art?" I could have been a doctor discovering the cure for cancer or the head of an aspiring corporation but I chose art; why? While I have detested the question ever since I first heard it, I believe this repetition has forced me to internalize it and ask it for myself in recent years, instilling a certain sense of doubt and worry in my mind that perhaps I have been misled and overly optimistic. From a young age, rereading the children´s books that filled my bookshelves, I found much solace in art. I replicated what I saw with cheap sketchbooks and markers and, after time, hoped to one day be alongside the artists creating for the public's viewing pleasure. As I've matured, my interests have changed but it is undeniable that my goal never has. Instead, I've only found more reasons that I believe art to be a worthy career, no matter the uncertainty and hardship that come with it. I don't believe there is anything I could see myself doing besides creating. It is the reason I auditioned for and attended the High School of Art and Design after years in a charter school. It is the reason I decided to become a representative for my school on our senior committee. And it is the reason I have won medals and awards from the School Art League and the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards. I have allowed art to involve itself in every aspect of my life and, naturally, I would like it to remain that way. Art, of course, extends far past cartoons on bookstore shelves. It is the cause of revolution and innovation. It is a byproduct of change and ideology. It incites emotion, violence, and inspiration. There is nothing more versatile in its influence than art in all of the many forms it has and will forevermore continue to take on. In many ways, I wholeheartedly believe the world we know today would not and could not exist without its presence. The world keeps changing and so too will the artistic endeavors of creatives inhabiting it as it does. There has been plenty of fear about the state of the industry at this given time and what is to come in the future with the rise of artificial intelligence and theft that has succeeded in convincing even the most perceptive of individuals of images and realities that simply aren't there. Layoffs and disregard towards artists and their passion projects by higher-ups have disheartened many hard workers that there is no future for them in their field of interest. I believe that now, more than ever, the world needs artists; their visions, their voices, their passion. That´s why I am committed to my craft. I refuse to stand by in a world that throws aside personal and passionate creations in exchange for that without heart or vision. I want to be able to inspire the next generation of young artists the same way I once was inspired by publishing my own work. I hope that my efforts in pursuing this passion of mine won't be for naught and that I will, in some way, make a difference. Whether that be through spreading a message, inspiring others, or showing that there is success to be made, I am ready for it. It is my hope that this scholarship will be able to aid my studies and make these dreams a reality.
Jade Perez
Washington & Jefferson CollegeHouston, TX
For art is so intertwined in our lives that most of the time we take for granted the presence of these creations. I could see it in my upbringing, I can see it in the advancements of technology, and it can be seen in society- how these negative stereotypes about pursuing art facilitated the action of diminishing the value of art in my life. However, through time, the support of those who love me, and newfound courage I have found that art is an undeniable necessity in my life. Through the years my view and idea of art has changed constantly; however, I have learned that in its essence art to me is my, and other people’s, view of the word-our voice. And as a person who lost the courage to use their voice, this new form to express myself was lifesaving; all the emotions, both good and bad, that I had suppressed would find a way to make themselves known or feel acknowledged. From the worlds of words found in literature that gave me a place of comfort or the melodies tuned to the range of my emotions or the culture preserving food in my life or the imagination that transcends visual knowledge of acting to the fragments of beauty in the world being capture in a canvas the art that surrounds me has allowed me to keep on living. I have learned so much and come to appreciate the world more through all these different mediums and I would like to do the same with the art I’m most familiar with, painting. I would like to continue to create art that show my life- my struggles and joy, so that others like me (Mexican American women, sexual assault victims and those with economic struggles) feel acknowledge and continue to have hope for a better future. I would like that my future works consist in the exploration of topics such as “The impact of family members on women”, “Mexican Culture Inertia in 1st gen children”, “Beggars can’t be choosers, but they were dreamers”, amongst many more ideas. I want my art to be meaningful; I want it to open people’s eyes to different life circumstances. Therefore, because I believe art school can help me further develop my art skills and allow me to interact with people who share the same values, I’m trying to attend college as soon as I’m financial stable enough, and this scholarship along many other one available will help me achieve my goal. I submitted my FASFA the first week it was open but have faced problems due to the recent changes; and, although I have gained a pretty decent scholarship from SAIC, I’m still trying to reduce the financial burden even more. These next few works are some examples of how I have explored topics about art that have interest me. For this “series” of artworks I was inspired by how literature can affect people and so I wanted to show different views, feelings, thoughts, etc. people had about reading through my paintings.
Fatima Barillas
Elon UniversityGraham, NC
Art is a form of speaking because I have trouble using words, but with art, I can say the loudest of statements. It is empowering to be an artist because as artists we have control over what we put on the table. We can conjure out creative ideas and express them in thousands of ways that are unique to ourselves. Art as an empowering form of expression has also helped me in my journey of becoming a leader. Before I was more anxious and afraid of taking charge or even suggesting ideas. But with help from others and my art journey, I have become a different person. Over the summer of 2022, I attended Elon University's Freedom Scholar program where we stayed on campus for 2 weeks taking a civics class and creating our civic organization. I and a few others had come together to form an art organization, Ignite Creativity. Our main focus is to help inspire and support marginalized artists within our community. Art organizations that support artists are typically organizations meant for older adults, so our main demographic is middle school-high school students. As an art student in high school, I had always feared that my dream of being an artist wouldn't support and pay the bills. That is a stigma I want others to push away and realize that they CAN make a living off of something they love. I have taken on the role of the main leader of the group, organizing meetings, event dates, supplies, and so on. This experience has made me a more confident and sociable leader. I hope to benefit my community and bring everyone closer together through art. But I also hope to inspire students and help them feel like they can do what they love without feeling afraid. A manga that has inspired me but has also shaped my goals is Vagabond. Vagabond is the story of a reckless samurai named Musashi. Musashi wishes to be the strongest and will cut down whoever is deemed the strongest. He starts off as an arrogant young man who only cares for the rush of battle, but as the manga goes on he becomes more humble and takes in life. His journey and the life lessons he learns have impacted my goals greatly. I wish to be someone who is kind and values all forms of life and arts. It is beautiful to see how Musashi begins to value the arts, and swordsmanship which intertwines.
yadira medina
California State University-Los AngelesLos Angeles, CA
I am passionate about art because it also allows people to express themselves and make others happy. Anyone can experience art despite where they're from. I think art should be shared with the world so being able to share it with others makes it much more meaningful to me because what I create can be enjoyed by anyone and is not just limited to me. I'm passionate about art because it can allow me to make others happy. My sister and I painted a portrait of my grandparents for a mother's day gift. My mom told us that she appreciated it and enjoyed it. I was happy to make it because I knew it would be special for her. After all, she hasn't seen her parents for a couple of years now. I was happy that I was able to create something that would be special and meaningful for her. I enjoy making tons of different paintings and drawings but when they're able to make others happy it makes me want to continue to create. I would like to be able to share my passion through teaching also. I've had a couple of art teachers but only one that really made me love art. The projects we had were out of my comfort zone but he was there to help when we needed it. He offered tips when we were stuck and gave encouragement when some of us were worried about our projects. His classroom also felt welcoming and he was someone you could ask for advice without feeling judgement. Although his projects were out of my comfort zone at the time I now feel more comfortable approaching or even thinking of trying something new. I want to be able to make others love and feel passionate about art. Through teaching I also want to be able to help others when they're in need of a safe space or someone to talk to. I want to be able to do this because I feel like a lot of the times we don't have someone to turn to when we need advice. I would like to be an art teacher because it would allow me to share my passion with others, help them find a love for it and to see how others express themselves through art. In this career I feel I would be making a bigger impact on others. Not only by teaching and helping them with art but by being able to help them with other struggles beyond art. Being able to do both is what makes me want to work in this career.
Cesar Olivas
Alief Taylor High SchoolHouston, TX
Real Soon , I'll get the Chance to showcase The passion to expand My Creative Outlet. Most Of My Childnood years I spent it Creating talents such as drawing, playing instruments , Creating My OWN sound. All so that one day ill be on the podium drawing in front of an audience or Performing My music in sold out Arenas one day. For instance my drawing methods from when I first touched pen and paper has gotten entirely better. By gaining inspiration from my Siblings I integrated their Methods of art to my own. Fast forward to the present, the sword sharpening My skills is truly craftsman worthy...but it's Just the beginning. Unlike drawing, Music is another practiced talent that is a direct expression from my heart. Ever since a child music has been very therapeutic, even at church singing to now expressing my feelings onto real songs. In addition , since 2018 I've been laying the foundation to an empire little by little, starting off with my first Music Platform. to NOW being on all platforms!!. There is a place where both talents intertwine. The music win the songs/sounds and drawing with the Song covers. It's like my brain is wired to Connect all My Talents little by little like side quests in Video games. All come with With 10 plus years of experience. Therefore I am speaking it to existence, supporting it with my work ethics. All im working for is to reach as many people as I can with my art. At least plant a seed of a glimpse of a memory of a piece of art of mines. And in hopes to change their life or POV on something. Then will my purpose as a human being with creative talents will be fulfilled.
Dai'Mariana Hutchinson
John Hardin High SchoolRadcliff, KY
Ever since I was a kid, music and film have been passions of mine. I enjoy the creativity and hardowrk that goes into both these fields. These are career fields that, on the outside looking in, seem so simple but in reality are not. I hope one day I can influence people with my own art such as other artists have done for me. I am passionate about the arts, specifically filmmaking and music, because it's an industry that can speak multiple volumes and reach out to people in such an emotional way without even having to do much. A director is able to bring their imagination and turn it into reality with the help of others. They use their skills to push a message to people and have them take something away from their art. Musicians are able to turn their feeling, whether that be happy, sad, overwhelmed, angry, and turn it into a masterpiece that multiple people can listen to and connect with on a deeper level. They turn their experiences, as well as their feelings, into a universal one that anybody can relate to. This is an experience that only true forms of art can do. They can take simple words and expressions and turn them into something way bigger than that. I haven't had the experience to work closely with others in the field of filmmaking and music, but I do record music and write mini scripts when I get flows of ideas. I hope that this scholarship will award me the oppurtunity to get to work closely in the field of filmmaking and music. When it comes to filmmaking/directing, I want to showcase the diversity of all different people and create a space where the less represented can feel more represented. I am always fascinated by films but I find it hard to connect deeply because I am watching people that don't look like me. I know that I will benefit the film industry by boosting diversity for people of color and including more representation when it comes to lgbtq+ community and the disabled community. I hope that my music will allow people to reach deep in themselves and allow the emotions they don't express to be expressed. I want my music to show people that it truly is ok not to be ok. But I also want to show people that happiness is obtainable and your life doesn't have to be sad all the time. The amazing directors and musicians whose artworks I have had the pleasure of experiencing have impacted me in tremendous ways. A director who changed my view on film is Martin Scorsese. Before I stumbled upon his work, I didn't think much of film. Films were just something I put on to fill the silence around me. But when I first watched a Scorsese film I noticed how captivating his work was. His films grabbed my attention and I didn't even know how captivated I was until they were over. True film should be able to grab your undivided attention without the knowledge that it's even doing so. Music artists like Lauryn Hill, SZA, Avril Lavigne, Beyonce, etc. have been able to define who I am as a woman. These women showed me how difficult it is to be a woman but also the immense power that comes with being a woman. They have taught me strong lessons and have helped shape my confidence just through their music alone. I only hope that one day I can impact people as deeply as these people have shaped me in multiple ways.
Jima Chester
The Baltimore Polytechic Institute Baltimore, MD
The artwork of Jima Chester My drive as an artist comes from my passion for making my portrait art become the embodiment of subjective art or subjectivity . Through my time developing as an artist, painting became one of my main mediums. I adapted the style of faceless paintings, bright or earth tone color backgrounds, and creating swirls and bumps of texture with heavy body acrylic paint. By combining these different aspects of art, I can receive responses to the art that I hold dear to my heart. Hearing phrases of amazement is always something an artist wants to hear. Still, hearing people express how they can visualize themselves, family, or friends in one of the pieces keeps my discipline for art intact. What keeps me returning to my easel whenever I want to create art is remembering the unforgettable memories I have made as an artist. Hearing the young black girls' awe over which print of my paintings looked like them in their favorite hairstyle. I aim to make people and my community feel appreciated and represented through art. I love creating every day, but as a mentor and leader in the community, doing something you love is good–but doing something you love that has purpose is even better. Being a portrait artist is not something I see as limiting but empowering. I highlight essential things in a portrait beside the face, such as hair, clothes, and colors. While doing this, I love exploring a more abstract or bold route for portraying these parts of portraits. Instead, it's through using palette knives, my fingers, or a combination of various colors. These techniques and processes of creating are my way of expressing myself in the painting through these details and aspects, practicing and making the art my own and unique to me.
Aliyah Pflueger
California College of the ArtsNew Orleans, LA
My name is Aliyah Jolie Pflueger. I’m a Senior at Morris Jeff Community High School in New Orleans, Louisiana. Being surrounded by astonishingly creative people including my mother has molded me into who I’m today. Watching my mother create almost anything and see the ideas come to life amazed me. It wasn’t until I entered the 8th grade that I decided one day to doodle during my free time. To my surprise, I did a great job! My passion for the arts sparked. My 9th-grade year of high school at Morris Community High was a pivotal moment. My potential grew under the guidance of my art teacher Mr. Vaughn. I knew from there I wanted to become a professional Artist. He suggested finding other art programs in my city to pursue. I researched art programs outside of school. I received the opportunity of an internship with The Young Artist Movement (Y.A.M.) program that's set up for youth to participate in painting murals to bring happiness and light around the City of New Orleans. I became a Peer Leader in the Y.A.M program. Helping with concepts for projects and executing them and educating the Youth Artist on tasks. I have the pleasure of personally working with local New Orleans artist Journey Allen and many others on murals for New Orleans East Public Library and The Vote Building in New Orleans interviewed and featured in local news articles. I currently worked on a digital art project for the New Orleans Luna Fete Celebration with The Y.A.M. Program. I hope one day, my art can do the same for other young people like myself. I would love to give back to my community. The kids in my community, like myself, are put in a box and think they are limited to having a closed mindset in career goals. No one should ever feel limited. I want kids to know that the possibilities are endless and they can be who you want to be no matter their circumstances background or environment. I would love to build Creative Art Schools where kids of all ages can express their creative outlets for free. The Schools will base acceptance on their abilities and willingness to learn. Art inspiration can come from many places, such as your environment, elements, people, and other resources. If we inspire kids by giving them someone to look up to, an inspirational environment, or just something, it could change lives that can change the world. Growing up, I remember one book that my mother used to read to me, a poetry book titled “Life Doesn’t Frighten Me” by Maya Angelou. I remember the strong and fun wording of the poem but most of all the eye-catching illustrations. I later learned the illustrations were by the late famous artists Jean Michel Basquiat. The artwork is exciting, and scary but sparked my imagination beautifully. I feel the inspiration from the poetic words and hypnotic illustrations have inspired me not only as an artist but as a strong person who never fears the unknown. I am an ambitious and driven young lady. I also display leadership by being a Morris Jeff High School cheerleader, showing kindness and respect for my peers, teachers, and administrators daily. I hope to obtain a scholarship to pursue professional courses in the art field. This opportunity will give me an understanding of design creation, different forms, and techniques I have yet to master. My goal is to now further my studies at a college or university. I hope to continue learning, growing, and accomplishing my dreams to brighten my future.


When is the scholarship application deadline?

The application deadline is Apr 13, 2024. Winners will be announced on May 13, 2024.

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