About Engaging the Senses Foundation

ENGAGING THE SENSES FOUNDATION represents the ongoing dedication of four generations of women to celebrating, promoting, and strengthening the power of the arts to move human beings from habitual, everyday reality into a state of focused attention. We believe that art in its highest forms seeds in individuals and groups an awareness that can help ensure the healing of our vital, fragile, beautiful world. We understand that by supporting artists in their boldest and most courageous visions, we are assisting humanity to thrive. Through the creation of programs and events that illuminate the intersection of art and compassion, we honor the indivisibility of the human spirit and nature, and attend to the nurturing of both.



Arts Research Center (ARC) of University of California Berkeley, Arts Humanities Division, is a think tank for the arts at the university. UC Berkeley, rated one of the top universities worldwide, is a place where the brightest minds from across the globe come together to explore, ask questions and improve the world. ARC acts as a hub and a meeting place, a space for reflection where artists, scholars, curators, and civic arts leaders from a variety of disciplines can gather and learn from one another.  Engaging the Senses Foundation (ETSF) is an active partner providing support for ARC’s multi-year initiative entitled Poetry and the Senses, overseen by ARC Director Julia Bryan-Wilson and ARC Associate Director Laurie Macfee. The initiative/fellows explore the relevance and urgency of lyrical making and storytelling in times of political crisis, and the value of engaging the senses as an act of care, mindfulness, and to create positive change. The Poetry and the Senses model will be expanding to the University of Hawai’i in 2022-2023.

California Arts Council is committed to advancing California through the arts and creativity, envisioning a California where the lives of all Californians are enriched by access to and participation in a diverse spectrum of cultural experiences; where the arts ecosystem reflects contributions from all of California’s populations; where students are provided with quality arts education so that they can reach their full potential; and where the arts enjoy strong, sustained public support and are woven into the fabric of daily life, promoting civic engagement, encouraging collective problem solving and building bridges across cultures. ETSF has partnered with the CAC to support the production of DREAM Magazine, an annual publication that features voices and stories from across the state, sharing a glimpse into the depth of impact of creativity and cultural expression in a region as large and diverse as California. Past projects between ETSF and the CAC include collaboration for a day of comprehensive workshops, filmed conversations, and readings with eighty past and present local and state California Poets Laureate under the direction of former California Poet Laureate Dana Gioia (past National Endowment for the Arts Chairman), in 2019.

The Native Arts and Cultures Foundation (NACF) is a Native-led philanthropic organization dedicated exclusively to the perpetuation of American Indian, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian arts and cultures nationwide. Their mission supports the belief that Native arts and cultures bring a valuable perspective to contemporary life; inspire healing within indigenous communities and among Native peoples and the general population; and provoke thought, spark discussion, explore solutions and add a vital contribution to our communities and world. ETSF has co-sponsored initiatives such as Hawai’i Poet Laureate Kealoha’s performance of the full staged multi-media production of The Story of Everything, in October 2017 at the annual Bioneer Conference, through the NACF’s Community Inspiration Program. ETSF has produced a feature-length film based on the theater performance of The Story of Everything. The world premiere will be held at the Maui Film Festival in July 2022. Please visit storyofeverything.org for more information.

Skirball Cultural Center is a place of meeting guided by the Jewish tradition of welcoming the stranger and inspired by the American democratic ideals of freedom and equality. They welcome people of all communities and generations to participate in cultural experiences that celebrate discovery and hope, foster human connections, and call upon us to help build a more just society. Open to the public since 1996, the Skirball has established itself as one of the world’s most dynamic Jewish cultural institutions and among the leading cultural venues in Los Angeles. ETSF has helped to support offerings such as the Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Ai Weiwei: Trace exhibitions, Jewish meditation sessions, and readings by poetry luminaries such as U.S. Poet Laureate Joy Harjo, and former U.S. Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman.

Lost & Found: The CUNY Poetics Document Initiative of The City University of New York Graduate Center publishes unexpected, genre-bending works by important 20th century writers. Unearthed from personal and institutional archives in the United States and abroad, these unique projects are edited by doctoral students at the Graduate Center, CUNY and published by the Center for the Humanities. Aimed at a general readership, these chapbooks expose and provoke new archival research and connections. ETSF provides support to Lost & Found for their events, staff, and the research and publication of lost documents such as Diane di Prima: Prometheus Unbound as a Magical Working, and “the difficulties involved:” Muriel Rukeyser’s Selections from A Season in Hell by Arthur Rimbaud.

Polynesian Voyaging Society Founded on a legacy of Pacific Ocean exploration, the Polynesian Voyaging Society seeks to perpetuate the art and science of traditional Polynesian voyaging and the spirit of exploration through experiential educational programs that inspire students and their communities to respect and care for themselves, each other, and their natural and cultural environments. Preparations are underway for their most important voyage yet:  Moananuiākea Voyage, which over the next five years will plot a course for the future by circumnavigating the Pacific Ocean, covering 41,000 miles, 345 ports, 46 countries and archipelagoes, 100 indigenous territories, starting first in Hawai’i. The goal is to inspire, educate, and elevate a new generation of 10 million Navigators by the end of the voyage in 2026, young people who can lead the many different kinds of bold voyages our Earth needs now, with the mindset, preparation, and courage to face the coming storms, and the resilience to meet the challenges of a rapidly changing world. The Polynesian Voyaging Society celebrates the belief that, “the earth is our canoe.”

Malama Honua Charter School.  Inspired by Polynesian voyaging and founded by Nainoa Thompson and Robert Witt in 2014, Malama Honua uses project based learning to infuse students with the “mind of the navigator,” and instill the desire to mālama honua – care for the earth. Their native Hawaiian values-based learning environment emphasizes learning with and from the ʻāina (land), with rigorous instruction in core content and application of knowledge. ETSF is working with Malama Honua to create a curriculum utilizing ETSF’s The Story of Everything film, written by Hawaiʻi Poet Laureate Kealoha, as a template for teaching students about the universe, human origins, indigenous wisdom, and how to care for the earth.

Hawai‘i Contemporary (formerly Honolulu Biennial Foundation) connects communities from across the islands and regions united by the Pacific Ocean and beyond. As a collaborative art partner, HC cultivates cultural alliances to showcase the Hawai’i Triennial every three years and to celebrate contemporary art and ideas with a global outreach. The multi-site public exhibition is complemented by year-round public programs contributing to the Hawai’i arts ecosystem including educational outreach programs and professional development opportunities for the local arts community. ETSF partnered with HC, NACF, and Honolulu Museum of Art to present a cohort of NACF National Artist Fellows at the 2019 Honolulu Biennial. ETSF is a sponsor for Hawai’i Triennial 2022, which will be framed around the fluid concept of Pacific Century – E Ho’omau no Moananuiākea, interweaving themes of history, place, and identity within the context of Hawaii’s unique location at the confluence of Asia-Pacific and Oceania.

Kaua’i Writers Conference is an intimate experience held yearly on the island of Kaua’i, where participants have the opportunity to learn from top authors, agents, and editors, focused on craft, the writing life, and publication. ETSF sponsored award-winning poetry master Jane Hirshfield at the 2019 Kaua’i Writers Conference, funded marketing for the 2021 conference, and provides selected scholarships to students and teachers to help facilitate attendance at the conference.


5Acres was originally founded in downtown Los Angeles as an orphanage, created to offer safety to children who had no home. In time, their mission expanded to also focus on the well-being and mental health of clients who were increasingly coming to them as a result of abuse or neglect. Having grown to an agency caring for more than 9,700 children and family members annually across five counties, they now strive for the three pillars of safety, well-being and permanency, which provide the framework for all their programs. ETSF provided support and funding for the 2018 and 2019 5JammaSlamma, a foster youth slam poetry workshop six-month intensive and public performance hosted by actor Matt Lillard that celebrated the creativity of 5Acres children.

The Art of Elysium is a charitable organization committed to a “full circle” approach, which engages emerging artists in inspiring acts of service that forge opportunities for them to share their creativity in diverse and meaningful ways with individuals in need. The Art of Elysium’s programs for hospitalized youth, special needs education centers, homeless shelters, elder care homes and hospice care facilities are designed to support individuals in the midst of difficult emotional life challenges like illness, hospitalization, displacement, confinement, and/or crisis.

Nevada County Arts Council, a State-Local Partner with California Arts Council, facilitates collaborative efforts that promote and sustain the visual, literary and performing arts of Nevada County to advance the cultural, social and economic life of the community. cultural, social and economic life of the community.

Grants provided by Engaging the Senses Foundation are by invitation.