From the Work Scholar’s Desk: Aperture Foundation Development

By Stephanie S. Yee

above: Kit Baker, Aperture's Associate Director of Development, and Work Scholar Stephanie Yee


As a non-profit organization, the Aperture Foundation is funded by the generous support of individual donors and grants from government institutions. Aperture’s development department is responsible for researching, securing, and managing the contributed income that makes so many of the Foundation’s exciting book, exhibition, and event projects possible.

As a Work Scholar in the development department, I’ve become familiar with the preparation of grant applications. I’ve found this to be an especially interesting process because the development of a grant application is a highly collaborative process. Before a grant takes shape, it requires discussion and meetings with various departments at Aperture—like editorial, exhibitions, marketing, and events—in order to collect applicable information and statistics for the grant’s narrative.

Under the guidance of Associate Director of Development Kit Baker, I had the opportunity to assist with the preparation of Aperture’s 2012 grant application to the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs (DCLA). The DCLA provides city funds to support and strengthen New York City’s vibrant cultural life. In the preparatory stages, we held a senior staff meeting during which we spoke with DCLA officer Evans Richardson. Mr. Richardson answered our questions about the grant process and walked us through the specific details required by the application. After a grant is submitted, the grantee is required to provide a detailed report of the funded activities with updated budgets or project changes. To this end, Kit and I recently attended a reporting process seminar at the DCLA’s offices at City Hall, which walked us through the ins and outs of the final report that must be submitted before Aperture receives its grant money.

For the DCLA grant, it was particularly inspiring to report on the numerous activities and programming Aperture will celebrate in observance of its sixtieth anniversary in 2012. One exciting example is the upcoming publication of The New York Times Magazine Photographs, which contains images I remember seeing as a child flipping through the Sunday Times. Personally, I found the research and information-gathering aspects of grant preparation to be a satisfying process. Watching the different elements of the grant come together and take shape afforded me a better understanding of Aperture’s scope and mission.

Prior to working in development, I never realized the considerable amount of effort it takes to see these projects come to life. I will never look at an exhibition or art book in the same way, or fail to acknowledge all of the hard work and funding that goes on behind-the-scenes to make a beautiful concept a reality.

Development Work Scholar Stephanie S. Yee is a graduate of the University of Southern California where she received a B.A. in History and a minor in Architecture. Her favorite Aperture publications are Rinko Kawauchi’s Illuminance and Penelope Umbrico’s (photographs). Stephanie can be found supporting projects on Kickstarter, reading up on architectural theory, wandering a museum, or dancing front row at a concert. Follow what she’s up to @stephasy.

Click here for more information on Aperture’s Work Scholar Program.

*Above photo shot with a SONY a33 DLSR Camera and Lens, generously donated by Sony USA.

One thought on “From the Work Scholar’s Desk: Aperture Foundation Development

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