Student Engagement Grants Funded by Howard Vincent Kurtz

Student Engagement Grants encourage and support emerging theater artists. They are given annually and provide financial assistance to USITT student members.


Funding for this award is generously provided by Howard Vincent Kurtz, Professor Emeritus of Costume Design and Costume Commissioner in USITT.   




Award winners will receive:

  • Up to $1200 to support academic costs (excluding student loan repayment)
  • A complimentary full conference registration for the 2024 Annual Conference & Stage Expo
  • A match with a mentor in the winner’s discipline of theatre design and technology, who will work with the winner for a minimum of 6 months from the time of award.


Student Engagement grants support academic expenses such as:

  • Research
  • Travel to conferences or research institutions
  • Project Completion, including supplementing a realized production.

Grant cannot be used for student loan repayment.


Applicant must be one of the following:

  • 2nd year undergraduate
  • 3rd year undergraduate
  • 2nd year graduate student

Applicant must be studying any area of theatrical design and technology at the undergraduate or graduate level.

Applicant must be nominated by a current USITT member.

Applicant must be a US Citizen or enrolled in a US-based college or university.

Applicant must be able to attend the USITT Annual Conference March 20-23, 2024 in Seattle, WA to meet with their assigned mentor.

Funding may not be applied to expenses incurred before July 1, 2023.

Grant-funded activities must be completed by June 30, 2024.

Recipients of a Student Engagement grant may not reapply for a Student Engagement grant in a future cycle.


Up to two (2) grants of up to $1200 will be awarded annually

Funding may not be applied to expenses incurred before July 1, 2023.

Grant-funded activities must be completed by June 30, 2024.

Funds may be paid directly to the applicant or to the applicant’s educational institution depending on intended use.


Grants will cover up to 100% of eligible expenses, not exceeding $1200; no matching funds are required. Additional expenses to complete the project are the responsibility of the grant awardee.

Eligible expenses include but are not limited to:

  • Project-specific administrative fees
  • Space and equipment rental fees
  • Subscription and training fees
  • Expendable project-specific supplies and materials
  • Printing, advertising, promotion, and postage
  • Travel expenses (such as plane tickets or housing costs)
  • Equipment purchases (no individual item may exceed 50% of the proposed budget)

Nominations Open: September 1, 2023

Nominations Close: November 2, 2023 (11:59 PM EDT)

Review Period: November-December 2023

Award Notifications: January 2024


Read all guidelines carefully before submitting your nomination.

Current USITT members may nominate an eligible student through USITT’s awards portal.

Nominators will be asked to provide their membership number which can be found bylogging into the membership portal

Once a completed nomination is received, the nominee will receive an email to complete their portion of the application.

Required Materials:

Nominated students will be required to provide:

  • Current contact information: name, email, and phone number
  • Educational Information: Current college/university, year of study, anticipated degree
  • Narrative Statement
    • Explanation of proposed research, travel, production, and/or academic costs.
    • This narrative may be submitted in written format, audio recording, or video recording.
  • Project Budget
    • Budget may be uploaded in EXCEL format OR input directly to application form.
    • Please include the proposed budget for the entire project, indicating what portions of the budget would use USITT funds if awarded.

All USITT award nominees are required to submit a Professional Conduct Disclosure Form. This form will not be visible to the award jury and will only be reviewed by the USITT Ethics Officer.

This form is part of the submission and your submission will not be considered complete if it has not been submitted.

A link to this form will be emailed to the nominee upon submission of the nomination form. This email will NOT disclose which honor they have been nominated for.

For more information, please review the USITT Honors and Awards Policy.


All nominations for the Student Engagement Award will be reviewed by selected members of the USITT, recommended by the Executive Director and the President. This panel consists of USITT members from a variety of professional backgrounds with different areas of expertise.

No current USITT staff member may serve as a juror. Any reviewer with a conflict of interest is required to recuse themselves.

All submissions will be scored on a scale of 1-10 using the following criteria:

  • Applicant indicates a joy in learning
  • Applicant shows a strong desire to pursue theatre design or technology
  • Nomination letter provided insight on applicant’s potential
  • Budget was clear and indicates appropriate plans for funds
  • Narrative is clear and well thought out.

Judging process is overseen by the USITT Awards Committee and results are approved by the Board of Directors.


Applicants will be notified of the outcome of their requests after the Board of Directors has approved the results.

Awarded applicants will receive an agreement explaining terms and conditions. The first 50% of the grant will be disbursed upon receiving a signed agreement, and W9 form, and an updated budget that reflects the specific allocation of funds granted by USITT, with any derivations from the application budget noted.

The remaining 50% of the grant will be disbursed upon receipt of the project’s progress report and digital copies of any published materials acknowledging the grant. There is no minimum time before a progress report may be submitted. Any significant changes to the project should be discussed with USITT staff prior to submitting a progress report. All grantee awarded projects must be completed by June 30, 2024.

All documentation must be uploaded through the Awards Portal and completed by July 15, 2024.


Funding for this award is generously provided by Howard Vincent Kurtz.

Howard Vincent Kurtz has an extensive and diversified career in costumes, which has involved professional design, teaching, and curation. Kurtz holds a BFA in Technical Theater with a concentration in Costumes from Clarion University of Pennsylvania and an MFA in Theatre Arts with a dual concentration in Costume Design and Technology from Pennsylvania State University. He has created costumes for Broadway, Hollywood films, and television. Kurtz is Professor Emeritus of Theater at George Mason University, where he served as the Resident Costume Designer and Head of the Design Tech program. During that time, he was also Associate Curator of Costumes and Textiles at the Hillwood Museum and Gardens. Kurtz is a member of United Scenic Artists, Local 829 and has designed costumes at many regional theaters. In recognition of his exceptional professional work, Kurtz received the Helen Hayes Outstanding Costume Design Award in Washington, DC. He is a Fellow of the Costume Society of America and an active member of the United States Institute of Theater Technology.