In an email, Monica Earle, PR manager for Duolingo, says the chosen artists "will be working on a range of projects that give back to the community and empower other local artists to share their work."
According to a blog post by Kendra Ross, head of social impact for Duolingo, Castaphney, a Pittsburgh native, will use the grant to create the African healing garden in Larimer, a project to provide free arts programming like dancing, singing, storytelling, arts and crafts, and wellness education to underserved communities in Pittsburgh. McDuffie, a photographer who grew up in Pittsburgh, intends to "bring self-taught and local artists together to produce community art projects that will be shown as collective work."
Hepner, also a photographer, has spent the last five years leading art projects in neighborhoods around the world, including in Norway, Finland, and Iceland. As part of the Duolingo program, she will team up with East Liberty residents to "create a series of still and moving portraits as well as hosting art workshops."
The latest Duolingo Community Arts recipients add to the company's growing list of funded art projects. In 2020, Duolingo unveiled a new public mural and $150,000 in grants focused on “creating public artwork in Pittsburgh and supporting local artists and arts organizations.” In April, Alison Zapata and Natiq Jalil completed "The Legacy of Butterflies," the first piece of public art to come out of Duolingo’s Community Arts program.
Ross writes that Duolingo hopes to see "more applications from artists who were able to take advantage of the training and professional development offered by our partnering arts organizations." According to the program guidelines, candidates must be at least 18 years old and must live and/or work in the Greater Pittsburgh area, though preference will be given to applicants from East Liberty, Garfield, and Larimer. All career levels are welcome.
The applications for the next round of funding will open in early 2023.