Benenson Awards in the Arts

The Benenson Awards in the Arts provide funding for fees, travel  and other educational expenses for arts-centered projects proposed by undergraduates.  Applicants must be undergraduates in good standing in Trinity College or the Pratt School of Engineering;  seniors may apply funds to projects planned for the one year period following graduation. For information and inspiration, please see the description of previous awards (2009 , 2010 , 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014).

In the past, the Benenson Awards have supported projects such as:

  • the incorporation of technology and art with dance choreography
  • an interpretation of the Target icon into a multicolor landscape of circular shapes
  • a 10-15 minute film about the nation's interstate highway system completed with antiquated media
  • a journalism piece on French culture from the lens of a local bar during the June 2010 World Cup

The awards are named in honor of the donor, Edward Benenson, T ’34, a Duke trustee emeritus. The New York City developer was a pre-med student who went to work in the family's real-estate business at his father's request. Benenson began making annual gifts to support the awards program in the mid-1970s because he hoped to encourage students to pursue excellence in the art or craft of their choice.  

In choosing awardees, the faculty selection committee will look for evidence of your academic preparation, your qualifications for completing the project, a timetable for bringing the work to completion, and a detailed budget. Personal equipment (cameras, computers, etc.) should not be included in the budget. The award may not be used for donations or tuition for course credit. Each project will be evaluated on its merits. The project must be arts-centered (not travel-centered), and able to be completed within one year of the award date. Award winners will be asked to sign a contract addressing use of funds and providing reports to the committee and the donor.

Approximately 20 awards are made each year; recent awards have ranged from $600-$4500 with an average award size of $1800. Note that awards are reportable income by IRS rules. See:


How to apply

Please complete the online application form.  Preview the application here. Applications must be accompanied by two letters of recommendation and an official transcript.   These should be sent to the Benenson Selection Committee, URS Office, 011 Allen Building, Box 90051 ( by 11:59pm on March 6.

You may request an electronic transcript from the Registrar's Office web site. Please have the transcript sent to

Supplementary materials may be provided, if appropriate, and should be submitted to the URS Office at If materials are handmade, they can be submitted in person at 011 Allen Building. All materials should be submitted by the application deadline.

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Fast Facts

Deadline: March 6, 2015 11:59pm

Purpose: cover expenses of fees, travel, etc. for arts-centered projects

Eligibility: Trinity or Pratt students, including graduating seniors

Time Frame: Summer (or beyond)

Funding: up to $4500. Note that awards are reportable income by IRS rules. See:

Point of Contact

Contact the URS Office

Phone: (919) 684-6536
Fax: (919) 660-0488

011 Allen Building
Duke University
Durham, NC 27708


Mailing Address
Duke University
Box 90051

Durham, NC 27708-0051