Announcing 15th Annual Poetry Out Loud State Final Competition

RISCA announces the state finals for Poetry Out Loud: National Recitation Contest. The competition, presented in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation, is part of a national program that encourages high school students to learn about great poetry through memorization, performance, and competition. On Sunday, March 8th, eleven high school students from eleven Rhode Island high schools will participate in the Poetry Out Loud state finals in the James P. Metcalf Auditorium, at the RISD Museum.

Poetry Out Loud is a national arts education program that encourages the study of great poetry by offering educational materials and a dynamic recitation competition to high schools across the country. Poetry Out Loud uses a pyramid structure. Beginning at the classroom level, winners advance to a school-wide competition, then to the state competition, and ultimately to the national finals in Washington, DC. Since its inception, 3.6 million students from 14,000 high schools nationwide have participated in Poetry Out Loud.

At the Rhode Island State Finals in the Metcalf Auditorium at the RISD Museum, contestants will recite works they selected from an anthology of more than 900 classic and contemporary poems. Students participating in the Poetry Out Loud program have benefited from educational materials created by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation. These standards-based curriculum materials include an online anthology, a teacher’s guide, lesson plans, and video and audio on the art of recitation. Schools are welcome to download these free resources at The competition included over 2700 Rhode Island High School students and involved 44 teachers.


Portsmouth Abbey School Sarah Machado
Bishop Hendricken High School Jacob Rademacher
Barrington Christian Academy Emily Klassen
St. Patrick’s Academy Taelyce Dipina
Chariho Regional High School Laura Donnelly
Classical High School Mariama Bandabaila
Central Falls High School Brazilea Simone Schenck
Central High School Deiondre Teele
North Kingstown High School Julia Lefebvre
East Providence High School Sienna Adams
Scituate High School Charlotte McInnis

Our community partners include RISD Museum, The Providence Athenaeum and the Rhode Island Center for the Book.

Poetry Out Loud Awards

The winner of the Poetry Out Loud Rhode Island finals will receive $200, and the winner’s school will receive a $500 stipend for the purchase of poetry materials. The first runner-up will receive $100, with $200 for his or her school library.  The state champion of the Poetry Out Loud Rhode Island final will receive an all-expenses-paid trip (with an adult chaperone) to compete in the national finals in Washington, DC, on April 27–29, 2020. The Poetry Out Loud national finals will present a total of $50,000 in awards and school stipends, with a $20,000 award for the Poetry Out Loud National Champion.

Rhode Island Poetry Out Loud finals at James P. Metcalf Auditorium in the Chace Center of the RISD Museum

The Poetry Out Loud Rhode Island finals will take place on March 8, 2020 at 1 pm in the James P. Metcalf Auditorium in the Chace Center of the RISD Museum. The event is free and open to public. For more information on the state finals, visit

About the National Endowment for the Arts

Established by Congress in 1965, the NEA is the independent federal agency whose funding and support gives Americans the opportunity to participate in the arts, exercise their imaginations, and develop their creative capacities. Through partnerships with state arts agencies, local leaders, other federal agencies, and the philanthropic sector, the NEA supports arts learning, affirms and celebrates America’s rich and diverse cultural heritage, and extends its work to promote equal access to the arts in every community across America. For more information, visit

About the Poetry Foundation

The Poetry Foundation, publisher of Poetry magazine, is an independent literary organization committed to a vigorous presence for poetry in our culture. It exists to discover and celebrate the best poetry and to place it before the largest possible audience. The Poetry Foundation seeks to be a leader in shaping a receptive climate for poetry by developing new audiences, creating new avenues for delivery, and encouraging new kinds of poetry through innovative partnerships, prizes, and programs. For more information, visit

RISCA Policy Update: Salary on Job Postings

The Rhode Island State Council on the Arts is committed to equity and access, as well as acknowledging the economic value of artists and arts administrators. As a result of our recent strategic planning process, RISCA has created a Values Statement that guides our grantmaking, programming, and services which includes honoring the time, skills, talents, and excellence of artists and arts administrators through fair compensation. Therefore, starting immediately, any job announcement we distribute must clearly and transparently list hourly pay or salary in combination with estimated time commitment (e.g. part-time, full-time, 15 hours/week, etc.). RISCA also encourages job posters to include details about benefits (e.g. vacation time, sick leave policies, health insurance).

For more information on the benefits and reasoning behind including a salary range in job postings, see below for a variety of resources on the topic. To submit something to RISCA’s blog, fill out this form:

Grants Frequently Asked Questions

What’s the deal with partial funding? Why don’t applicants get the full amount that they requested?

At RISCA, each panel decides within the given budget whether and how much to fund each application based on the panel review process. Following guidance from our Council, RISCA’s panels typically award the highest scoring applications their full request, but the majority of applicants that do get funded only get a portion of their request. We receive far more applications than we have funding for, and in order to fund projects around the state we partially fund more projects.

For example, in Project Grants for Individuals (PGI), the most competitive of the project grants, we typically see around 50-55 applications requesting approximately $125,000-$150,000 each grant cycle. In contrast, PGI panels fund approximately 20-22 projects with $42,500 available to award. In the past few years, panels in this program tended to fully fund only the 1-3 top scoring applications.

In terms of grant request amount, what is the best strategy to ensure I am funded?

Ask for the amount money you need to complete your project, assuming ideal conditions. If you can accomplish an awesome version of your project with the maximum grant request in the program you are applying to, go for it. This is where your budget becomes really critical. When panels making funding recommendations and are considering partial awards, they will look at your budget in order to provide you with a partial award that will allow you to meaningfully complete your project. An accurate and thorough budget will ensure they accomplish that task!

What happens when my project gets partial funding?

RISCA does NOT expect to you execute the full project as proposed with a limited budget. You can scale back the project based on the new budget or spread the project over a longer period of time, and apply for another grant for the same project at subsequent grant deadlines. We do require you to keep the project as similar as possible to the proposal and update the appropriate RISCA program director via email with the changes – this should be a simple description of the changes, not a full new application.

The amount of money my application was awarded is not enough for me to do even a partial project. Can I decline the grant? Will anything bad happen?

You can absolutely decline the grant for any reason: the amount awarded was not enough to make it worth your while; the project has changed substantially since the application; you are unable to complete the project for any reason; or something else comes up. You simply decline the grant on the Grant Agreement form, and/or email your program director. This will have absolutely no impact on future applications, and any panel evaluating future applications will not know you declined a previous application unless you disclose that in the proposal. If you are unable to execute the project for any reason, we encourage you to decline the award – and to communicate this honestly with your program director. We are here to help and support you, and sometimes that means supporting you as you decide a grant or project is not in your or your organization’s best interest.

How is my application reviewed and decided on?

As a government agency, all of our grants are awarded through a panel process. RISCA staff members do NOT have any input into who gets grants or how much they are awarded. You can see a breakdown of the review process (and why it takes so long) here:

Who is on the grant panel?

For Project Grants in Education, Project Grants for Individuals, and Arts Access Grants, the review panel consists of five Rhode Island residents from around the state with some engagement in the arts community – as an artist, arts administrator, community advocate, educator, etc. For each panel, we recruit with an eye to diversity in: artistic discipline; arts experience; geographic location; community engagement; age; gender; and race. This means we will never have five white female actors from Coventry on one panel.

If you are interested in serving on a panel, feel free to let us know by filling out this form: Each year, RISCA needs the time and expertise of approximately 100 panelists.

What is your one top grant writing tip?

In short, fully read and then follow the directions. This means closely reading the guidelines for the grant you are applying for, directly answering each question on the grant application, and make sure your follow the formatting and file submission requirements. Todd’s bonus tip: make sure the numbers in your budget match the numbers in your narrative.

This budget form is super confusing and I need help.

In the last two weeks before the grant deadline, this is the most frequent request program directors get. First: yes, you MUST use the provided budget form. Second: yes, we will help you fill it out line by line. We strongly recommend you attend one of our grant workshops – there is a whole section on the budget forms. You can also make an appointment with your program director or come to one of our many drop in grant support hours. Check out the variety of ways to get help with your budget, or anything else related to your RISCA grant application here: