Arts education grant honors the life of renowned Quad Cities artist


Isabel Bloom’s life was one of intense creativity and love for her craft, always curious about what she saw through her family and travels and imagining ways to set those moments in stone permanently through her sculptures.

As a young child in Davenport, she modeled little animals for the first time from clay she dug from a creek, and baked them in a tin can in the family’s coal furnace with the help of her parents. It was a pivotal moment in her life, perhaps putting her on the path to a renowned career as founder and artist at Isabel Bloom.

Though she passed away in 2001 at the age of 93, Bloom’s legacy lives on today through the work of artists at Isabel Bloom, and through a fund at the Quad Cities Community Foundation that provides arts education grants for schools in Rock Island and Scott Counties. “She would have been delighted that something like this is reaching so many kids,” said Donna Young, who first worked under Bloom and today is the lead sculptor and co-owner of the company. “You never know how much impact it can have on one child.”

Perhaps one of the students who benefit from the support the Isabel Bloom Arts Education Grant provides each year will one day become a sculptor for Isabel Bloom too.

“The sky is the limit,” added Young.

Artwork from a Davenport Community Schools student from the 2016/17 funded project, “Transitions into Digital Photography.”

Artwork from a Davenport Community Schools student from the 2016/17 funded project, “Transitions into Digital Photography.”

Applications are now being accepted for the arts education grant, through September 30, 2019. The purpose of the program is to enhance visual arts education in the primary and secondary schools. Teachers in primary and secondary schools may apply for up to $2,000 for visual arts education.

“It’s been a wonderful program,” Young said, as teachers can use the grant for a variety of visual arts purposes, including individual projects, year-long curricula, interdisciplinary efforts, professional development, and equipment purchase. Visual arts include painting, drawing, sculpting, and similar art forms. The grants have been used to fund art classes for teachers, purchase photography equipment for the classroom and purchase a kiln for ceramics. Past applicants have been very creative in their requests.

“I’ve had the honor of sitting on the grant selection committee and reading all the wonderful grant applications,” Young said. “Some of the grants have been one-time opportunities and other grants have helped programs in our schools to be sustainable over many years. I know grant applications seem overwhelming, especially for teachers who don’t have a lot of time, but $2,000 can go a long way in a classroom. I encourage teachers to think of their passions and what they could do if they had the extra money.” 

Teachers and school administrators interested in applying for the grant are welcome to contact Heather Calvert, grantmaking associate, at (563) 326-2840 or email To apply for a grant from the Isabel Bloom Arts Education Grant, click here.

Ted Stephens IIIGrant