Last year, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, under the leadership of its president (and poet) Elizabeth Alexander, donated $2.2 million to the Academy of American Poets to fund civic poets laureate positions and the Poets Coalition. This year, the Foundation has more than doubled that amount, donating $4.5 million to enable the Academy to fund its Poets Laureate Fellowship Program, which it launched in partnership with the Mellon Foundation last year, for the next three years. The Academy calls the grant "the largest grant ever made by a philanthropic institution to support poets in the U.S."

The program, the Academy said, awards $50,000-$100,000 honors to "poets of literary merit appointed to serve in civic positions," with the intention of enabling them to "undertake meaningful, impactful, and innovative projects that engage their fellow residents, including youth, with poetry, helping to address issues important to their communities." Applications for the program from qualified poets laureate are open, and will be accepted until February 23, 2020.

Poets laureate who received grants for the year 2019 include Robin Coste Lewis of Los Angeles, Calif.; Claudia Castro Luna of Washington State; and Adrian Matejka of Indiana. Regions represented by last year's grants range across the country, spanning from Arizona to North Carolina and Oklahoma to Maryland.