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Equity Initiatives

Haystack is committed to equity. We continue to create a supportive, safe, and inclusive creative community and to actively seek ways to remove the barriers that prevent people from accessing the school. Our foremost responsibility is to do everything possible to create pathways for people to experience this remarkable place and an educational model that is truly transformative. These values drive new initiatives and partnerships, build scholarships and fellowships, and guide programming, staff and board development. And we recognize that there is always much more work to be done.

Paul Sacaridiz⁠
Executive Director 

Announcing 21 New BIPOC Fellowships

We are thrilled to announce we have met–and even exceeded–the $50,000 goal of the Haystack 2020 Annual Fund Challenge. We are beyond grateful for all the support that we have received for this initiative. 

The funds we have raised will be used to create at least twenty-one new Fellowships for BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) students. Each Fellowship will provide tuition, room & board, plus a travel stipend to attend workshops at the school. An independent committee of BIPOC artists will select the recipients and Haystack will begin awarding the Fellowships when we reopen for in-person programming.

All additional contributions will help us continue to build this fund and to actively change the future of the field.


Current Partnerships
& Recent Initiatives

Endowed Fellowship


Potter, educator, activist, and Haystack trustee, Roberto Lugo, initiated this endowed fund in 2016 with the intention of supporting students of color—including Black, Hispanic, and Native American. Rob is currently an Assistant Professor at Tyler School of Art at Temple University and his work is represented by Wexler Gallery, in Philadelphia.

Rob was born and raised in the Kensington neighborhood of Philadelphia, a place in which he was exposed to prevalent drug use and gang activity while growing up. His parents, who worked hard for their family, were both from Puerto Rico and were the first generation of their family to raise children in the United States. Rob didn’t have access to art in school, but as a teen, he took up writing graffiti with his cousins on the streets of Philadelphia. Years after he moved from Philadelphia he wanted to earn a decent living, so he enrolled in community college in a design course. His instructor also taught a pottery course and encouraged Rob to enroll in that as well, which he did. Rob says that the teacher’s positive feedback was the first time in his life that anybody had said that he was good at something.

Since that time, working with clay has been transformative for him. “Pottery saved my life” is not just a title to one of his pieces, a striking and explicit painting, it is a mission he shares with others. Rob has been in high demand lately, having given over 34 lectures in the past two years alone. His work in various communities, as a potter, activist, educator, and spoken word poet has inspired audiences across the country.

After Rob started the new fund at Haystack with an initial gift, a generous donor provided a current year scholarship in 2017 in order to begin providing an award to a student to attend Haystack while funds were continuing to be raised for the scholarship. Isaac Scott was the first recipient of the award and was a Technical Assistant in Rob’s Session 3 workshop, Superficial Substance: The Ceramic Surface. Once Haystack announced the initiative, the staff and Rob continued to actively fundraise in order to fully endow the fund. It didn’t take long. During Haystack’s 2017 Gala many donors brought the effort to a scholarship level and soon after, while Rob was teaching at Haystack, students from his workshop and over 50 people in the audience at the end-of-session auction donated gifts that fully endowed the fund at a fellowship level.

The Roberto Lugo Minority Fellowship annually provides tuition, room & board, and a $500 travel stipend, for a student of color to attend a Haystack workshop.

Current Year Fellowships


In 2019 Haystack continued our ongoing partnership with the Office of Academic Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at Columbia College Chicago. This multi-year collaboration has been designed specifically for students of color, providing fully funded fellowships with travel stipends to four students each year, with an additional position providing a three-week paid internship in arts administration. Last year Payton Harris Woodward, Phili Johnson, Jasmine David, and Ray Spence attended Haystack, with Payton Harris Woodward participating in the internship.

The program is intended to broaden opportunities for students of color, providing exposure to national and international communities of learning and professional practice training that can help augment their education and encourage new models of leadership in the field. Students are selected by Columbia College and receive tuition, room & board, plus a travel and materials stipend. Haystack has been actively fundraising to support this program and, thanks to our donors, what initially began as a three-year pilot has now grown into a long-term commitment.

“Haystack has taken its commitment to diversity seriously. They’ve implemented these fellowships to visibly and systemically change not only the way their organization has traditionally operated, but the ways that craft traditions are accessed and understood.”

Matthew Shenoda
Former Dean of Academic Diversity, Columbia College Chicago

Learn More


In 2019, for the third consecutive year Haystack partnered with the Wood and Furniture Design Program at San Diego State University to provide two wood fellowships including tuition, room & board, plus a travel stipend, to attend a two-week workshop at Haystack. Partially funded by individual donors, this fellowship is intended to support individuals from diverse backgrounds who have been historically underrepresented in the field.


The Haystack + Artaxis Fellowship is intended to increase diversity, equity, and access in the ceramic arts, with the explicit goal of adding unique perspectives across the field. 2019 was the third year that Haystack was a partner in this program, providing funding for the fellowships through the support of individual donors; Donté Hayes and Moises Salazar were selected by Artaxis from a large pool of applicants, through an independent review committee. Each artist received fellowships providing tuition, room & board, plus a travel stipend, to attend a two-week workshop at Haystack.

“The workshop took my artwork outside of my comfort zone and allowed me to explore and experiment without criticism. The community in the workshop was so positive and pushed you to think differently about your work and to engage with your fellow artists.”

Donté Hayes
2019 Artaxis Fellow

Learn More

Crafting for the Future

Crafting for the Future (CTF) was created by a group of artists concerned with the lack of racial and ethnic diversity in the fields of craft, art, and design. This growing collective is working with partnering organizations to combine resources to support the careers of young, underrepresented artists by connecting them to opportunities that will help them thrive.⁠

In 2021 Haystack will launch a multi-year partnership with Crafting the Future, providing fellowships that include tuition, room & board, plus travel stipends.

“The field of craft, art and design in the United States does not reflect the full spectrum of people in our country. When groups of artists go unrepresented, an inaccurate and incomplete story is being told, sold, and preserved—and everyone loses. At Crafting the Future, our goal is to increase representation in these disciplines so that we all can benefit from a richer and more diverse story.”⁠

Crafting for the Future

Learn More

Endowed Scholarship


The Elena Prentice Rulon-Miller Scholarships were created in 1997 by a gift from Elena Prentice Rulon-Miller, a painter, curator, and former Haystack student. 

Since its inception this fund has supported nearly 120 students. Six awards have been made annually, with preference given to US students of color, to study during sessions in Haystack's core program. The intent of the award is to foster the creative independence and to nurture the talent and commitments of grant recipients. 

Current Year Scholarships


For more than thirty years, Ann Roth and John Coffey have been allocating their annual giving to Haystack in support of a Current Year Scholarship. They recently updated their giving approach by increasing the amount of the monthly donation to meet the market value for a current year scholarship (cost of tuition, room & board). Aware of Haystack’s commitment to creating a culture of diversity, equity, and inclusion, Ann and John also specified that the scholarship specifically allocated to support students of color.

As she looked back on many years of giving, Ann said:

“My Haystack experiences as a student at Arcosanti and in Maine, the three years spent as a summer assistant and my participation in the first Artist Residency session were major forces in the development of my artwork. However, one thing I was always aware of was the fairly consistent homogeneity of the student population. John and I are pleased to help the school in its efforts to become more diverse in all the many meanings of that word.”


In 2019, Haystack partnered with the Laila Twigg-Smith Art Fund to provide two scholarships for residents of the State of Hawai‘i, which was established by the Laila Twigg-Smith Art Fund (LAF) Advisory Committee of the Hawai‘i Community Foundation (HCF) to support Hawai‘i-based artists in study that furthers their artistic development and offers exposure to new ideas, influences, and opportunities. Alicia Wai‘ala Aha and Erin Brothers were recipients of the fund and attended two-week workshops at Haystack. Laila Twigg-Smith was an art collector, arts patron, artist, and visionary. The Hawai‘i Community Foundation awards these scholarships every other year, rotating with different arts organizations.


The Allen Gary Palmer Current Year Scholarship was started in 2019.

The family of Allen Gary Palmer (1963–2018) has arranged for a current year scholarship, for three years, in his memory and honor. Allen attended numerous writing workshops at Haystack and his family wanted to allocate donations made in his memory to help others attend workshops at Haystack. These funds provide for a student to participate in a week–long writing workshop at Haystack covering tuition and room & board. Preference for this scholarship is given to applicants of color.

Barbara Palmer, Allen’s sister, has been the main family contact, with Haystack staff - when asked how the family decided to allocate these gifts, Barbara wrote the following:

“When Allen passed away unexpectedly, there were a lot of unknowns. He was far from home and logistics were unclear. The only clarity came in knowing that in lieu of flowers or other donations, we wanted to fund a scholarship at Haystack Mountain School of Crafts.

Allen received a scholarship to attend Haystack himself. The idea of paying that gift forward is an apropos tribute. Giving preference to a person of color, for this award, would be an authentic connection for my brother – close to his heart – and as Haystack aims for a more equitable representation of students who are black, indigenous, and people of color, we would like to do our part in a meaningful way.”

Rena Kudoh and Chika Shiraki

Rena Kudoh and Chika Shiraki

International Exchange


As an effort to broaden our reach internationally, in 2019 we continued our partnership with the Shigaraki Ceramic Cultural Park to bring two Japanese artists to Haystack Mountain School of Crafts and Penland School of Craft for two weeks each. This past year Rena Kudoh and Chika Shiraki both attended Haystack’s Open Studio Residency; followed by time spent in workshops at Penland.