Special Opportunity Grants

The Special Opportunity Grants serve to further the professional development of students currently enrolled in the Arts Leadership Certificate Program. This funding will offer up to $1,500 to support both in-person and virtual opportunities that relate to a student’s career goals. These experiences offer an individual the chance to increase their knowledge, expand their network, develop hard or soft skills, work on a project/ensemble, or gain real-world experience.

Focus –  This funding will support both in-person and virtual opportunities that relate to a student’s career goals. These experiences offer an individual the chance to increase their knowledge, expand their network, develop hard or soft skills, work on a project/ensemble, or gain real-world experience.

These professional development programs should revolve around topics such as arts management, entrepreneurship, leadership, innovative ensembles, music technology, music wellness, community engagement, and/or DEI training. Master classes or summer festivals focused purely on performance, musicology, composition, and/or theory are not eligible for funding. However, programs that balance music-specific content with career-related conversations (i.e. chamber music festival with sessions on how to run a non-profit) will be considered on a case by case basis. For consideration, these programs should offer the same amount of time to pursue both categories.

Funding – The Special Opportunity Grant will offer up to $1,500 to contribute towards travel, room/board, tuition/course costs, fees and/or technology requirements. Students may only be funded once per academic year. Summer funding may only include a paid ALP internship OR a special opportunity grant – not both. The ALP has a budgeted amount set aside for Special Opportunity Grants for the academic year. Grant awards are first come, first serve.

Expectations – Once selected for a grant, students are expected to submit summary materials at the completion of the professional development opportunity. This will include:

  • A 300-word review of the professional development opportunity and the big takeaways
  • A quote about the personal experience and impact
  • 2-3 photos (selfies with guests, organizational logos, action shots, etc.)
  • Potential social media takeover opportunity

Types of opportunities supported include:

Conferences & Conventions – We support a variety of conference and convention types. For these experiences, we are interested in seeing the specific presentations you will be attending and learn how you will maximize this networking opportunity. Some examples of supported conferences include (but are not limited to):


Shadowing – To shadow another professional in the music world, you should choose individuals who have careers that relate directly to your career interests and give you an  insight to the industry. These people will have a specific craft (i.e. reed maker), run their own business, create new audiences, incorporate technology, develop unique programs, or are in a field not offered at Eastman (music therapy, theatre, audio engineering, etc.). Such opportunities must be carefully planned and should involve observing the mentor for specific purposes. Taking a few days of lessons or a week of watching a world-class performer give standard recitals will not be considered.


Workshops Workshops usually consist of a few days of training in a particular area or focus with an intimate cohort of participants. These opportunities provide space for networking among cohorts, include thought-provoking activities or participation, offer a chance to put skills into practice, and perhaps even offer mentoring. Performance-based workshops are supported if they include topics such as career development, leadership training, or entrepreneurial conversations. Here are some examples of workshops:


Online Courses We support virtual training and courses outside of the ALP Curriculum that help you build skill sets. If you want a deep dive into coding for web design, would like to learn how to use Adobe Photoshop, or wish to understand different leadership styles, there are courses for that! We support courses from professional associations, organizations, and certain approved platforms. We do not support for-credit courses offered by higher education institutions. Some examples of supported courses include:

To apply for a Special Opportunity Grant, please complete the following:

  • Schedule an Advising Session – To confirm that what you are interested in falls within the purview of the grant, please make an appointment with the Assistant Director of the IML. In this conversation, we will also discuss what makes a strong application.
  • Develop an Opportunity Description – Develop a 150-word description of the professional development opportunity you are pursuing.
  • Write a Career Impact Statement – Develop a 300-word description of how this opportunity will assist you in your career. Be sure to address each of these questions:
    1. What are your current career goals and expectations?
    2. What will you gain from this program? What gaps will it fill?
    3. How will this program help you in accomplishing your goals?
  • Create a Budget – Research and provide details around all corresponding finances that you may need to pursue this opportunity, including:
  • Fees/Tuition (application fees, registration, etc.)
  • Travel Costs (transportation, food on the journey, baggage, etc.)
  • Room/Board (hotel, AirBnB, food during the program, etc.)
  • Program Requirements (technology, software, books, etc.)
  • Other (anything else that may be needed)
  • Program Scholarships
  • Jobs/Internship Income
  • Additional Funding Streams

Application Deadlines

There are three cycles of grant applications per year.

  • September 15th– For opportunities taking place between October 1st – February 14th
  • February 1st – For opportunities taking place between February 15th – May 30th
  • May 15th – For opportunities taking place between June 1st – September 30th


Award Announcements
All awards will be announced within 2 weeks after the application deadline. Funding will be distributed on a case by case basis, with general considerations of $500 or under being a reimbursement and $500 or over being a stipend.

Professional Development Reflection & Review
All summary materials are required to be submitted within 1 week after the completion of the professional development opportunity. 

  • A 300-word review of your experience
  • A budget doc comparing your original expense estimates to you the actual expenses you incurred
  • A 2-3 sentence quote about the special opportunity grant 
  • 2-3 photos of your experience