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Leeway Foundation announces 2019 Transformation Awardees

Friday, December 27, 2019

The Leeway Foundation announced $150,000 in funding for 10 individual women, trans* and gender nonconforming artists and cultural producers in Greater Philadelphia. The $15,000 per awardee is in affirmation of their commitment to their communities and art for social change.

This year’s cohort includes artists continuing five generations of healing and folklore arts, burgeoning millennials who have used their work and representation on a global level, and a poet laureate who continues to inspire all generations through poetry and literature.

  • afaq of Northeast Philadelphia, Literary and Visual Arts
  • Claudia Peregrina of South Philadelphia, Multidiscplinary
  • Danie Ocean of Media, Music
  • Folami Irvine of East Falls, Folk Arts
  • Mary Enoch Elizabeth Baxter of South Philadelphia, Multidisciplinary
  • Melissa Beatriz of West Philadelphia, Media Arts
  • Nadine M. Patterson of Mt. Airy, Media and Visual Arts
  • Wit López of West Philadelphia, Performance
  • Yolanda Wisher of Germantown, Literary Arts
  • Yinka Orafidiya of West Mt. Airy, Crafts & Textiles

How can organizations work towards a method that supports artists’ basic needs, making way for innovation and social impact throughout Greater Philadelphia? As we continue to explore the future of funding and its impact on communities and social justice, the Leeway Transformation Award continues to be an example of how funders can move beyond project-based funding and meet artists and activists where they are.

A national panel of artists and cultural producers convened to review applications and work samples in this two-stage process. The 2019 panel second stage was facilitated by Philadelphia based cooperative and community organizer Mo Manklang. Panelists included Philadelphia based writer, performer, and teaching artist, Kai Davis, Baltimore-based community visual artist and member of the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina, Ashley Minner, and New York based public artist, Tomie Arai. The second stage panel welcomed, non-binary fat queer chicane activist and organizer Barbie Hurtado, and Detroit-based harpist, singer, media-maker, and organizer, Ahya Simone. 

The next Leeway Transformation Award deadline is May 15, 2020. In addition to the Transformation Award, Leeway offers the Art and Change Grant two times per year. These project-based grants of up to $2,500 are awarded to women and trans* artists in Greater Philadelphia. The 2020 Art and Change Grant deadlines are March 1 and August 1. Both applications will be available on the Leeway website, and may also be obtained by calling 215.545.4078 or emailing Interested applicants are encouraged to attend one of the many support sessions offered throughout the year, or schedule an appointment with a staff member for one-on-one support.

ABOUT LEEWAY: Leeway Foundation supports women and trans* and gender nonconforming artists and cultural producers working in communities at the intersection of art, culture, and social change. Through our grantmaking and other programs we promote artistic expression that amplifies the voices of those on the margins, promotes sustainable and healthy communities, and works in the service of movements for economic and social justice. For more information about Leeway, visit

*Leeway is a trans-affirming organization committed to gender self-determination, and we use the term “trans” in its most inclusive sense, as an umbrella term encompassing transsexual, transgender, genderqueer, Two-Spirit people, and anyone whose gender identity or gender expression is nonconforming and/or different from their gender assigned at birth.