JGS Fellowship Program

The goals of the IA/JGS Fellows Program are to elevate photography and digital media as pathways for undergraduate students to pursue their careers and to make a difference in their communities. The program specifically aims to support students for whom economic and family circumstances render such career pathways particularly challenging. 

Over the course of the fellowship year, each JGS Fellow will:

 Receive a $2,000 tuition scholarship.
• Receive mentorship and financial support for a community project.
 Attend the Imagining America National Gathering in October. Complimentary registration and travel awards are included.
 Participate in regular, virtual learning exchanges.
• Be connected to the consortium’s national network of scholars, artists, and community organizers.

The application period for the 2020-2021 IA/JGS Fellows cohort is now closed. Please check back in March 2021 for more information on the 2021-2022 IA/JGS Fellows cohort.

The 2020-2021 JGS Fellows

Cecilia Caraballo Acevedo
A junior studying visual media art at Emerson College.

Annie Li
A junior studying history and sociology at Emory University.

Qi (Kiki) Liu
A junior studying economics and Chinese at the University of Pennsylvania.

Ivy Miller
A senior studying psychology and studio art at Oberlin College.

Long Nguyen
A senior studying studio arts and media and cultural studies at Macalester College.

Clara Posner
A junior studying psychology at Carleton College.

Mai Moua Thao
A junior studying media and cultural studies at Macalester College.

Cherille Williams
A junior studying studio art at the University of New Mexico.

JGS Alumni

Are you a past JGS Fellow? Are you interested in being part of a network with other JGS alumni? Click here to email us and get connected.

• Alexis Valeriano, St. Olaf College, 2019 – 2020 JGS Fellow
• Ameenah Mcknight, Vanderbilt University, 2019 – 2020 JGS Fellow
• Briana Henry, University of Delaware, 2019 – 2020 JGS Fellow
• Kori Suzuki, Macalester College, 2019 – 2020 JGS Fellow
• Mario Becerra Aleman, Emory University, 2019 – 2020 JGS Fellow
• Rebecca Castillo, Swarthmore College, 2019 – 2020 JGS Fellow

About Joy of Giving Something Foundation

Thanks to a generous grant from the Joy of Giving Something Foundation (JGS), each year Imagining America (IA) awards scholarships to undergraduate students at member campuses who actively serve their local communities through photography or media arts.

The Joy of Giving Something, Inc. (JGS), is a not-for-profit corporation dedicated to the photographic arts and established in 1988 by the late Howard Stein. In 2010, Director of Outreach and Education Wayne Maugans approached IA about expanding support for community-engaged visual arts students as a way to encourage them to pursue post-secondary education and find a life path. Stein saw the visual arts as a potential career for young adults. The IA/JGS Fellows Program is a generous part of Stein’s legacy.

Learn more about JGS’ Arts Education Initiatives

Application and Program Information

The IA/JGS Fellows Program provides an opportunity for publicly engaged undergraduate students who attend an IA member higher education institution, or who are sponsored by an IA member cultural institution, and who work with photography and/or digital media to participate in a year-long learning exchange that includes tuition support, project support, and opportunities for professional development.

Program Outline

During the fellowship year, each Fellow will: 

Receive a $2,000 tuition scholarship.
 Receive mentorship and financial support for a community project.
Attend the Imagining America National Gathering in October. Complimentary registration and travel awards are included.
 Participate in regular, virtual learning exchanges.
 Be connected to the consortium’s national network of scholars, artists, and community organizers.

The application period for the 2020-2021 IA/JGS Fellows cohort is now closed. Please check back in March 2021 for more information on the 2021-2022 IA/JGS Fellows cohort.

2020-2021 Program Timeline

June – July 2020 Application Period

July 2020 Selection and notification of fellows

August – September 2020 Program Orientation and virtual exchanges

October 2020 Participation of fellows in national creative project, with support provided for fellows to attend the 2021 in-person Imagining America National Gathering

November 2020 – May 2021 Fellows work on community projects and continue virtual mentorship and learning exchanges

May – June 2021 Fellows submit summary of accomplishments

Application Criteria and Process

Based on funding availability, each year six to eight undergraduate students enrolled at, or sponsored by, an IA member institution are selected for the IA/JGS Fellows Program. The selection process involves a consideration of the following based on review of submitted application materials:

Demonstration of artistic merit;
Demonstration of an existing community engaged practice;
Demonstration of financial need according to the Free Application for Federal Student Aid form (FAFSA) and the Student Aid Report (SAR), or by documentation from a verifiable institutional or governmental entity; and
First-generation college student status. While the IA/JGS Fellows Program is not limited to first-generation college students, students with this background are highly encouraged to apply.

Students of all majors/areas of study are welcome to apply. 

To apply for the JGS Fellows Program, students must submit the following:

 A completed application form, which includes an essay response (see prompts below) of no more than 500 words;
Three work samples representative of your creative practice and demonstrating your skills in photography and/or digital media;
Proof of financial need with a federal, state, or school financial aid report for the 2020-21 academic year (see FAQ, below, for additional information); and
A letter of recommendation from a faculty or staff member at your undergraduate institution or a community organization with which you are affiliated. Recommenders should send email letters directly to Trina Van Schyndel at tlva@ucdavis.edu.

Essay Prompt

To be submitted as part of the application form, please address at least one of the questions listed below for your essay response. Responses should reflect your creative process, personal experiences and skills you have with a community organization, and outcomes you hope to achieve by connecting your photography and/or digital media skills with your community work. (500 word limit)

What motivates you to use photography or digital media in your community or public engagement?
What was a pivotal moment that occurred for you while doing this work?
What obstacles have you encountered in realizing your community or public work, and how have you continued through them?

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Do I need to be a student majoring in photography or digital media to be eligible?

No. Undergraduate students in any major or area of study are encouraged to apply.

Do I need to be a U.S. citizen to be eligible?

No. Students are encouraged to apply regardless of their citizenship status.

Do I need to be an undergraduate student to be eligible?

Yes. The IA/JGS Fellows Program is designed to provide peer learning, mentoring, and professional development support to undergraduate students enrolled at an IA member higher education institution or sponsored by an IA member cultural institution. If you are a graduate student from an IA member institution, we encourage you to apply to the PAGE (Publicly Active Graduate Education) Fellowship Program, IA’s peer network for graduate students with a demonstrated interest in public scholarship or artist practice. 

How do I know if my institution is an IA member?

Please click here to find out if your institution is a member of IA. 

How do I provide proof of financial need?

You can demonstrate need by providing a verifiable document usually by a student aid report. You can provide one of the following:

Federal: 2020-21 Student Aid Report (SAR)* from your Free Application for Federal Student Aid form (FAFSA)
State: a copy of a report from your state’s 2020-21 financial aid application that summarizes your estimated financial need.
School: a copy of a summary from your school’s 2020-21 financial aid package that indicates your estimated financial need.

*For purposes of the JGS Fellows Program, the SAR includes your Expected Family Contribution (EFC) which is used to determine financial need.

When are the tuition scholarships dispersed?

Tuition scholarships will be dispersed in two parts, half at the beginning of the fall semester, and the second half at the beginning of the spring semester. Please contact Imagining America at connect@imaginingamerica.org with any remaining questions.