The National YoungArts Foundation (YoungArts) was established in 1981 by Lin and Ted Arison. YoungArts’ signature program is an application-based award for emerging artists ages 15–18 or in grades 10–12 from across the United States. Selected from a pool of more than an average of 11,000 applications (in 2015, the organization received a record-breaking number of more than 12,000 applications), YoungArts Winners receive valuable support, including financial awards of up to $10,000, professional development and educational experiences working with renowned mentors—such as Mikhail Baryshnikov, Sarah Brightman, Plácido Domingo, Frank Gehry, Jeff Koons, Wynton Marsalis, Rebecca Walker and Carrie Mae Weems—and performance and exhibition opportunities at some of the nation’s leading cultural institutions.
Additionally, YoungArts Winners are eligible for nomination as a U.S. Presidential Scholar in the Arts, one of the nation’s highest honors for high school students who exemplify academic and artistic excellence. U.S. Presidential Scholars in the Arts receive a Presidential Medal at the White House and perform and exhibit at the Kennedy Center and the Smithsonian.
YoungArts alumni who have gone on to become leaders in their fields include actresses Viola Davis, Anna Gunn, Zuzanna Szadkowski and Kerry Washington; Broadway stars Raúl Esparza, Billy Porter, Andrew Rannells and Tony Yazbeck; recording artists Josh Groban, Judith Hill and Chris Young; Metropolitan Opera star Eric Owens; musicians Terence Blanchard, Gerald Clayton and Jennifer Koh; choreographers Camille A. Brown and Desmond Richardson; visual artists Daniel Arsham and Hernan Bas; internationally acclaimed multimedia artist Doug Aitken; television writer, producer, and director Jenji Kohan; New York Times bestselling author Sam Lipsyte; and Academy Award-winning filmmaker Doug Blush.