High School Arts Awards

Digital Painting of Art Student Receiving an Award
The Robert J. Block Awards for Excellence in the Arts, Honoring and recognizing artists in each of Seattle’s 16 public high schools.

Our Goal

Allied Arts Foundation believes in the value of the arts as central to the life and vibrance of our community. We believe this starts with supporting the arts in schools and encouraging the next generation of citizens and leaders.

We produce the Block Awards to ensure that student artists are recognized at their school’s year-end assemblies on par with athletes, academic achievers, and other student-body standouts. We aim to build artist’s resumes and bolster college applications.

It is with great pleasure that we get first introduction to Seattle’s budding artistic talent, and it is our wish to follow the progress of award recipients in the years to come.

About the Awards

The Robert J. Block Awards for Excellence in the Arts are awareded to honor and recognizing artists in each of Seattle’s 16 public high schools.

The Block Awards are given in four main categories (although, with the exception of ties, each school may only nominate three winners):

  • Performing Arts. Including actors, singers, dancers, performance artists, stage managers, costume designers, lighting directors, etc.
  • Literary Arts. Including fiction, nonfiction, poetry, spoken word, screenwriters, and other writing-related arts.
  • Musical Arts. Including musicians, composers, conductors, band managers, studio technicians, DJs, and other music-related arts.
  • Visual Arts. Including painters, printmakers, sculptors, ceramists, photographers, filmmakers, fiber artists, mixed media artists and other visual arts.

Nomination Process

The Block Awards are not a competition and there is no application process. Winners are nominated by art teachers and school counselors. Winners may come from any high school grade level.

When possible, early nominations are made in November so that the award may be included on senior winners’ college applications. Awards are presented at the end of the school year at graduations and award ceremonies.

Award Packets

The Block Awards consist of:

  • A signed award certificate
  • A letter of achievement
  • A $200 check or Visa gift card
  • Cultural opportunities such as tickets to plays for performing artists, museum memberships for visual artists, studio recording time for musicians, etc.

Thank you to our sponsors!


When Allied Arts Foundation founder Robert J. Block (see below) set aside an endowment to fund the arts, it was understood that one of his chief passions was the encouragement of the young to pursue their art. In 1998, two years after his passing, Allied Arts Foundation founded the Robert J. Block Awards for Artistic Excellence to honor his memory and carry on his legacy of nurturing young artists.

Since then, over 1,200 awards have been given to young, promising artists in Seattle’s public high schools.

In 2017, thanks to important funding from Wyman Youth Trust, we doubled the award amount to $200 and began enhancing our awards with cultural opportunities donated by outstanding organizations such as Seattle Symphony, Seattle Art Museum, Frye Art Museum, Bellevue Arts Museum, and Robert Lang Studios.

We welcome contributions earmarked for the Block Awards to add incentive and encouragement for public high school youth in their artistic growth.

About Robert J. Block

Described once by a friend as “the yeast in Seattle’s dough,” Robert Jackson Block was an activist’s activist whose strong opinions and bold ideas helped propel the city of Seattle toward the 21st century from the 20th century.

Along the way, he:

  • Helped guide the first bond issue that authorized the city to buy the land for the Seattle Center and the site of the 1962 World’s Fair
  • Helped found Allied Arts of Seattle and Allied Arts Foundation
  • Chaired and directed Cornish College of the Arts
  • Served as a founding trustee of Pilchuck Glass School
  • Chaired the Puget Sound chapter of the National Foundation for the March of Dimes and the Metro Campaign Committee,
  • Served on the board of the Seattle Public Library Foundation.

Mr. Block was born and raised in Seattle, and attended the University of Washington. After serving in WWII, he returned to the city, became an investment banker and founded National Securities Corporation, a discount brokerage firm where he served as chairman and CEO until retiring in 1993.

In 1967, Mr. Block ran unsuccessfully for seats on the Seattle Port Commission and Seattle City Council, but he also managed to find the time to successfully launch Allied Arts Foundation as a platform of support for its sister advocacy organization and for the arts community in general.

He accomplished all the above and much more while battling serious ongoing respiratory problems, complications resulting from a long bout with polio, and he succumbed eventually from a related stroke in 1996. Those who knew him will remember Bob’s brusque delivery, his devotion to Seattle, to politics, and to spirited debate. We are all beneficiaries of his legacy.

The Alice Rooney Award

Founded in 2019, our Alice Rooney Award for Excellence in the Arts annually honors one artist from Ballard High School.

The award celebrates the life of Alice Rooney (1926-2019), a prominent arts activist, art school administrator, architectural preservationist, and philanthropic advisor. Among her many accomplishments, Alice led Allied Arts, Pilchuck Glass School, and the Glass Art Society, and received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Glass Arts Society.

Her tenacious advocacy for the arts and her good humor are dearly missed in the arts community.

Past Winners