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Fellowship Description

The Power of Cash Narrative Change Fellowship (the “Fellowship”) seeks inspiring socially engaged art projects by Chicagoland artists that will reshape the narrative around the power of cash solutions and promote economic justice.

The Fellowship seeks 6-8 Chicagoland artists who are passionate about narrative change and pushing the boundaries of collective imagination. They will propose and create  art projects over the course of 12 months that speak to the power and impact of guaranteed income and cash policies. Fellows will receive a $20,000 award and will engage with their cohort on narrative change strategy. The Fellowship expects to commence in the Fall of 2022 and will conclude in the Summer of 2023.


Fellows will be connected to Chicagoland guaranteed income demonstrations to work directly with implementers, individuals, and families to inform their projects.

NOTE: Fellows were selected in September 2022. Read about the fellows in our press release.  


The opportunity

The Fellowship seeks socially engaged art projects whose goal is to replace harmful  narratives about “deservedness,” inequality and poverty — the myths that keep policymakers from giving people the direct cash support they need to survive and thrive — with stories  of dignity, self-determination, and justice. By directly investing in artists’ capacity for creative expression, the Fellowship aims to change the cultural conversation around cash and guaranteed income as public policy.

Who should apply?


  • Socially engaged artists who are passionate about narrative change and economic justice!


  • Artists must be 18 or older while living and working in the Chicagoland area (i.e. Cook County).

    • Guaranteed income pilots are active in West Garfield Park, South Suburbs, Evanston, as well as across the City of Chicago and Cook County. Artists living and working in these communities are highly encouraged to apply. 


  • Artists in communities that are most impacted by the narratives this Fellowship seeks to change are highly encouraged to apply. This includes and is not limited to:

    • Black artists

    • Artists of color

    • Indigenous artists

    • Queer artists

    • Immigrant artists

    • Disabled artists

    • Poor artists.


  • Additionally, artists who are recipients of guaranteed income will be highly considered.


  • Emerging artists are encouraged to apply.


  • While all kinds of artists are encouraged to apply, the following is a list of suggested disciplines:

    • Visual arts (e.g. drawing, painting, sculpting, printmaking, mural, public art, photography, video, animation)

    • Performance arts (e.g. spoken word, music, comedy)

    • Craft and folk arts

    • Literary arts (e.g. poetry, spoken word, fiction, zine)

Note: Projects may be multidisciplinary, incorporating elements from multiple disciplines. Projects in disciplines not listed here may be considered as well.


Application process



Applicants are closed. The artists have been selected, see press release


The application includes the following:

  • Artist portfolio;

  • History of community engagement, social practice, or community activism;

  • Description of the project, including what the artist finds compelling about the power of cash and how the artist hopes/plans to work in partnership with guaranteed income recipients;

  • Goals of the project (i.e. vision of how the art will promote or advance the cause and narrative of a guaranteed income and the power of cash);

  • Project timeline;

  • Materials budget.

Click here to see full application questions. 


Technical note: We estimate this application may take up to an hour to complete. However, to ensure that you can fill it out at your own pace, you'll be able to start the application, close it, and return to it later, as your answers will save in your browser for 15 days. The only rule is you must use the same browser and device (and not be in incognito or private mode). When you reopen the application, you'll be taken to the start of the form, but you will see your existing answers from your previous session. To avoid technical glitches, we recommend saving your answers in a separate document as you go through the application.

Apply for the Fellowship

Our Mission
What will fellows do?


Fellows will create works that dispel harmful poverty narratives that prevent equitable solutions from being implemented, and will inspire support of guaranteed income. 


Fellows will build a cohort among themselves and will also be able to connect to one or more existing guaranteed income demonstrations in the Chicagoland area, with which they will communicate and engage with frequently to inform their project. 


These demonstrations include: 


In addition to creating and showcasing projects, Fellows will be required to: 

  • Attend quarterly (maximum four total) 1-2 hour learning and check-in sessions (virtual for now);

  • Demonstrate meaningful engagement with recipients of and community members who lead guaranteed income demonstrations, including attending at least one meeting within the first three months with community partners;

  • Assist with the planning of and attend the public exhibition.


Fellows are invited to:

  • Assist with the promotion of their work and guaranteed income, including on social media and by participating in media interviews;

  • Attend additional “deep dive” learning sessions;

  • Host learning sessions, project feedback sessions, and social gatherings (with the Fellowship’s support).


How are artists selected?


Applications will be screened by the Fellowship program team and a review committee. Finalists will be contacted to participate in an interview with the fellowship review committee. The review committee is composed of Chicagoland artists, community-based arts nonprofit leaders, academics, Economic Security for Illinois staff, guaranteed income recipients, guaranteed income pilot implementers, storytellers, and arts advocates. 


Selection will be made based on the artist’s application and interview, including their vision for their project, their background/experience with socially engaged art in their community, the connection between the project and guaranteed income narrative change, and how the project invites public engagement. 


Learn more about the Fellowship in our FAQ

About Economic Security for Illinois


Economic Security for Illinois (ESIL) builds collective power to advance policy solutions such as guaranteed income (through direct cash transfers), equitable taxation structures, and a modernized social safety net that make Illinois’ economy the most equitable and inclusive in the country.  ESIL convenes the Illinois Cost-of-Living Refund Coalition, which expands the Earned Income Tax Credit, and partners with organizations across the country to fight for cash policy solutions, including partnering with/advising guaranteed income demonstrations in the Chicagoland area.  ESIL was formed in the spring of 2019, following the release of the Chicago Resilient Families Task Force Big Shoulders, Bold Solutions report, which documents social safety net inadequacies and proposes solutions for Chicagoan families with low- and middle-incomes.

Funding for the project was generously provided by the Builder's Initiative

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