Philadelphia, PA – New York artist and philanthropist Jane Walentas, a 1966 graduate of Moore College of Art & Design, and her husband, David Walentas, have provided Moore with a gift of $5 million—the single largest donation in the 170-year history of the College. This generous gift will fund scholarships for deserving women artists who wish to receive their education at Moore, the nation’s first and only visual art and design school for undergraduate women.
Read more about this story in the Philadelphia Inquirer: $5 million gift, largest in history of Moore College of Art, will endow scholarship fund
Jane Walentas, who also received a Master of Fine Arts degree from NYU and worked for many years as an art director in cosmetic advertising for Elizabeth Arden, Avon and Estee Lauder, is a longtime member of Moore’s Board of Trustees, and played an integral role in the launch of Moore’s Visionary Woman Scholarship Program in 2005. She is well-known for restoring and operating Jane’s Carousel, a historic 1922 carousel that is located in the DUMBO section of Brooklyn—an area that was developed by her husband, David Walentas, who attended the University of Virginia on a full Navy ROTC scholarship. Jane worked in her DUMBO artist studio to restore the 48 carousel horses to their original glory, working first only with a carpenter and later, a team of artists to bring the carousel to life. She worked on and oversaw every single detail of the restored carousel. The carousel now stands as a treasured landmark in Brooklyn Bridge Park.
The Walentas family has a long history of supporting the arts and education. Jane is the Executive Director of the Sharpe-Walentas Studio Program, which awards rent-free non-living studio space to 17 visual artists for year-long residencies in DUMBO, Brooklyn. Developed for artists, by artists in 1991, the Walentas’ took over the program with new sponsorship and commitment from the Walentas Family Foundation, continuing the legacy of founder Marie Walsh Sharpe. The Walentas Family Foundation also established the Neighborhood School Grants program with the belief that vibrant and successful schools are fundamental parts of communities. Since conception, the foundation has awarded dozens of school grants that aim to enrich students' learning experiences through creative programming that may not supported by a school's existing budget.
"We both believe in education, and David is a big believer in giving back because of his opportunities as a result of his scholarships at UVA, so it’s very exciting to be able to help students who can’t otherwise go to school. My hope is that with this gift it will encourage others to help expand the endowment,” says Jane Walentas. “Moore, being a small, all-women’s college of art and design, is still relatively unknown outside the Philadelphia area and I felt strongly about bringing talented students from other regions to this extraordinary college. Moore was important to my past. I am privileged to be making a contribution that will help Moore continue to attract and educate the country’s brightest and most gifted young women artists.”
The $5 million donation to Moore will be used to create the Walentas Visionary Woman Scholarships. These scholarships will be part of Moore’s Visionary Woman Honors Program, which provides financial support and sustained mentorship to talented, motivated and future-focused students, both inside and outside of the classroom. Since 2005, Visionary Woman Scholarships have increased the level of opportunity and access to Moore’s high-quality visual arts education for a broad and diverse array of women, many of whom may not have otherwise had the ability to pursue careers in art and design.
The Walentas’ record-breaking gift expands upon this legacy of opportunity. The endowment will provide scholarships each year to 10 non-Pennsylvania residents accepted to Moore who display exceptional artistic and academic promise. Each scholarship will be automatically renewed for up to four years of full-time enrollment with the upkeep of the student’s GPA.
“There is nothing nobler that anyone can do than to provide an opportunity for deserving and talented students to achieve their dreams of going to college,” said Moore President Cecelia Fitzgibbon. “We are deeply grateful that Jane—a notable Moore alumna—and David believe so strongly in the mission of the College, and in the ability to transform lives through the study of art and design.”
The first Walentas Visionary Woman Scholars will be chosen among students attending Moore for the first time this fall, as part of the incoming class of 2023. The College will begin to award the scholarships from the endowed fund in fall 2020.
Jane and David Walentas have also established the Jane Walentas ’66 Endowed Scholarship and International Travel Fellowship at Moore, as well as the Jane and David Walentas Endowed Fellowship. With their new gift, they will play an even greater role in bringing emerging artists who display great talent to Philadelphia, a growing and evolving destination for artists and for art and culture.