Blog bite: California Proud in D.C. at Poetry Out Loud Semifinals

Alexis, you made us proud last night. California proud.

At the Poetry Out Loud National Semifinals yesterday in Washington, D.C., your presence captivated and your voice did not waver. You fully embodied the words of your recitations as you unleashed them, one by one, into the Lisner Auditorium.

Your chosen poems—“If They Should Come for Us,” by Fatimah Asghar, and “The Mortician in San Francisco,” by Randall Mann—both bold and beautiful works, aligned so perfectly with your desire to leverage the arts for social change.

“The arts give me the courage to express my values with an activist’s voice in the midst of the fear and ignorance residing on both sides of the ‘fourth wall,'” Alexis told us.

At a time when the world is waking up to the value of our young people’s voices, we couldn’t have been more confident in our judges’ decision to send you to the mic to represent our state’s creative and conscious youth. You gave us, our nation’s capital and the whole country a rousing look into what you believe, who you are, and who you are going to be.

Your performances left a strong and lasting impression on everyone watching, including those who moved through to today’s final round. You are—unmistakably—our champion.

And you’ve made us California proud.

Alexis Rangell-Onwuegbuzia is the 2018 California Poetry Out Loud state champion. An initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts, Poetry Out Loud encourages high school students to learn about poetry through memorization, performance, and competition. For pics, videos, and more from California Poetry Out Loud, visit For information on the national initiative and competition, go to

Featured photo by Tia Gemmell.

Blog bite: NEA awards $3.4M to California nonprofits

A brief yet bountiful blog bite: The NEA announced today its first grant awards for the 2018 fiscal year—including a grand total of $3,363,000 for 132 California nonprofit organizations! The federal funds fall under two NEA grant categories, Art Works and Challenge America.

Read the NEA’s announcement and view the full list of grantees here.

We’re happy to congratulate all of our state’s recipients, and we see a lot of familiar faces among them. Seventy, to be exact! More than half the organizations receiving ArtWorks and Challenge America grants are also California Arts Council grantees.

(Featured photo: The Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego, will receive an NEA Art Works grant to support an arts education outreach program that serves middle and high school students in San Diego. The museum also receives support from the California Arts Council.)