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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Power of Cash Narrative Change Fellowship
1. What are the basics of guaranteed income?


A guaranteed income is a regular cash payment given directly to individuals. There are no work requirements tied to a guaranteed income and it is meant to supplement, rather than replace, the existing social safety net. It has been championed as a means of ending poverty, reducing social inequalities, and promoting gender and racial equity.  Guaranteed income has been championed by civil and human rights leaders, from Black women’s freedom movements of the Civil Rights Era to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the Poor People’s Campaign to the Black Panther Party’s Ten-Point Platform. For more, please see this guaranteed income one-pager and read about Chicagoland guaranteed income pilots in Cook County, the City of Chicago, West Garfield Park, and Evanston.


2. What is meant by "a socially engaged art project"?


The Fellowship seeks projects that are driven by human interaction and that invite a conversation with the public. These projects will engage with a social issue, bring visibility to voices most impacted by the issue at hand, and derive from meaningful and trusted community engagement and/or collaboration with community. Specific to this Fellowship, all Fellows will be expected to engage with guaranteed income recipients.


3. What is "narrative change"?


The goal of narrative change motivated ESIL to create this fellowship. To understand what we mean by “narrative change,” we highly recommend starting with the Insight Center’s resources on narrative and guaranteed income. 

The Opportunity Agenda defines narrative as “a Big Story, rooted in shared values and common themes, that influences how audiences process information and make decisions.” By seeking narrative change through this fellowship, we dream of shifting public perception away from stereotypical narratives and toward, as Rinku Sen of the Narrative Initiative puts it, “stories of real human beings and their courageous efforts to make change in the face of systems that hold them back. Narrative change includes moving people to act on their beliefs.”


4. In addition to the disciplines listed in the Fellowship description, are there considerations around what the project should look like? Do you have examples of past projects that have inspired narrative change?


What the project looks like is up to you. That said, the hope is that the projects are easily accessible to the public, lasting, and reproducible in some format so that they can be shared digitally for advocacy purposes. The projects should be able to be used again and again to continue to amplify and strengthen the message of economic security and guaranteed income. (The Fellowship will provide support to record projects such as live performance.)


Some examples of projects that seek to inspire narrative change include:

5.  I work in partnership with another artist(s). Can the two (or more) of us apply together?


Yes! Applications for artist collectives will be accepted, as long as all applicants meet the eligibility criteria. Please submit one application and be aware the Fellowship award will remain the same and may only be disbursed to one of the artists, even if there are multiple artists on the application. Artists should be able to demonstrate a history of working/creating together in their application.


6. What can I do with the fellowship award, if I’m selected?


The fellowship award is to compensate artist fellows for their time to envision and execute their project. For example, it may be used toward travel, equipment, supplies, or other needs related to the project. In addition to the individual awards, there is a small budget available to the cohort for project materials. The application will ask for a reasonable materials budget.


7. In addition to funding, what other kinds of support will the Fellowship provide?


The Fellowship will provide learning opportunities including optional deep dives on economic and racial justice-related subjects. The Fellowship will support Fellows to self-organize sessions and gatherings as well. Fellows will have the opportunity to be paired with a mentor, if desired.

8. Is the award taxable?


Yes. The award is considered income, and will therefore be taxable. The Fellowship will provide tax preparation resources.


9. Do I need a computer and internet access?


Yes to both. Unfortunately we are not able to provide computers or other equipment. Fellowship meetings will be both virtual and in-person.

10. What exactly is expected by the end of the Fellowship?


Fellows are expected to complete their project, so that it is ready for exhibition by the public event date. (If the project consists of a series of events or multiple performances, for example, the Fellowship program team will do everything it can to work with the artist to make the project successful.) Fellows are also expected to provide an artist statement to accompany the artwork.


11. What outcomes does the Fellowship hope to achieve?


By directly investing in artists’ capacity for creative expression, this project’s long-term aim is to change the cultural narrative, or conversation, around cash and guaranteed income as a public policy. The hope is this project will expand the bounds of imagination and provoke people to think differently about current commonly held and harmful notions of deservedness, inequality, and poverty. Art has the power to make an issue more salient and to change peoples’ worldviews. When worldviews are transformed, we have the opportunity to influence real policy change. In the near-term, this project aims to raise awareness about the impacts of guaranteed income in the Chicagoland area and garner increased public and political support.


12. Who will own my project during and after the Fellowship?


Artists will own the art they create. ESIL and its affiliates will have permission from the artist to use, copy, and distribute the project. Because the purpose of the Fellowship is to advance economic justice advocacy, the ability to share and reproduce the artwork is critical for success. 


13. Who is funding this Fellowship?


Funding for this Fellowship is generously provided by Builders Initiative. 

14. I have more questions, how can I get in touch?

Please reach out to We’ll do our best to respond promptly!

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