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Mellon, Flamboyán foundations announce 3-year extension of Letras Boricuas

The Mellon Foundation and the Flamboyán Foundation’s Arts Fund have announced a three-year extension of the Letras Boricuas Fellowship. With three new cohorts added, the fellowship is projected to support 100 writers over five years, with more than $2.5 million in awards, the nonprofits stated.

Established in 2021, the fellowship aims to “identify, elevate and amplify” the voices of emerging and established Puerto Rican writers across genres, including fiction, creative nonfiction, children’s literature, poetry (including spoken word), and the newly added playwriting category.

Applications open on March 15 at 8 a.m. Eastern time. Selected writers will receive an unrestricted grant of $25,000 each to advance their literary practice.

“The continuation of the Letras Boricuas program underscores the enduring commitment of the Mellon and Flamboyán foundations to empower and uplift Puerto Rican writers and to bolster the dynamic and diverse literary heritage on the archipelago and across the U.S. diaspora,” the nonprofits said.

In its first two years, Letras Boricuas granted $1 million to 40 writers, many of whom have continued their craft despite significant challenges, including natural disasters, political unrest and limited funding opportunities. 

“The Letras Boricuas fellowship gave me hope, strengthened my relationship with my fellow authors on the island, and connected me to a community of Boricua writers that transcend the geographical boundaries of Puerto Rico,” said Carlos Vázquez-Cruz, a fellow of the program.

The fellowship reinforces the foundations’ commitment to the archipelago’s cultural infrastructure, ensuring that Puerto Ricans’ ideas and creative visions reach a broader audience.

“The Letras Boricuas fellowship recognizes the work of writers representing the different voices that, through various literary genres, encompass the spectrum of the Puerto Rican experience,” said Carlos Rodríguez-Silvestre, executive director of Flamboyán Foundation.

“The Flamboyán Arts Fund works tirelessly to support all facets of the arts community, including literature, a part of the artistic sector that is often ignored or left behind. This renewed commitment from the Mellon Foundation is proof of the great work both organizations have done and the positive impact the fellowship has had in the Boricua literary sector,” he added.

Since 2018, the Mellon Foundation has invested more than $60 million in a multi-year initiative to rectify underfunding on the archipelago and within the U.S. diaspora. The initiative aims to establish enduring artistic, educational, intellectual, cultural and archival resources.

“This renewal of the fellowship for an additional three years reinforces Mellon’s commitment to the vast multiplicity of Puerto Rico’s literary tradition and to the brilliant writers who continue to lead it,” said Elizabeth Alexander, president of the Mellon Foundation.

“We are pleased to join the Flamboyán Foundation again in honoring the discipline, artistry and craft of writers in the archipelago and diaspora, and we look forward to the powerful work that these fellows will create,” Alexander said.

The Flamboyán Foundation, through its Flamboyán Arts Fund, strives “to preserve, amplify and strengthen the arts in Puerto Rico.” In the past three years, the fund has disbursed more than $12 million and provided critical support to more than 600 artists and 100 arts organizations.

In 2020, both foundations established a $1 million Emergency Relief Fund in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, helping alleviate its impact on the arts and culture sector in Puerto Rico, providing support to 89 art organizations and 600 individual artists.

To be eligible for consideration for the Letras Boricuas Fellowship, applicants must be at least 21 years old, residents of Puerto Rico or the United States, and self-identify as Puerto Rican. Fellows will be chosen through a two-step nomination and selection process by committee members, including experienced writers and literary experts selected by the Mellon Foundation and the Flamboyán Arts Fund.

Applicants for the third cohort are open from March 15 to April 30. Fellows will be announced in the fall.

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This story was written by our staff based on a press release.

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