Hope College is seeking proposals for college-community partnerships focused on enhancing the quality of life in Holland, with an emphasis on addressing needs related to the COVID-19 pandemic, the resulting economic crisis and restorative justice.

Titled “There’s No Place Like ‘Home,’” the initiative has been established through a 42-month, $800,000 grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.  It is designed to link the talents of Hope faculty and students in the arts and humanities, and financial support, with local organizations in working together to make the community a better place. The program is guided by an advisory board including community leaders as well as college faculty and staff.

                        Announced in February, the program is getting underway a few months later than originally planned because of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to director Dr. William Pannapacker of the Hope faculty, but is ready to support projects immediately.  He noted that the projects can take many forms, but in light of the unprecedented events of the spring and summer — beginning with the pandemic and continuing through the global Black Lives Matter protests — the initiative is especially hoping to assist partnerships focused on public health, economics and intergroup relations.

“While this grant has a broader mission than that, we see ourselves prioritizing proposals that are going to address the crises that we face today,” said Pannapacker, who is a professor of English as well as senior director of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Programs and Initiatives at Hope.

The program’s name is a nod to Holland’s connection to author L. Frank Baum’s beloved Oz series — Baum penned portions of his stories while summering at Macatawa Park.  Subtitled “The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Community-Based Partnerships Presidential Initiative of Hope College and Holland, Michigan,” it will run through 2023.

While “There’s No Place Like ‘Home’” will support a variety of projects, it requires that each be a partnership between a member of the faculty in the college’s arts or humanities departments and a community organization.  The projects, Pannapacker said, must also provide meaningful experiential learning opportunities for students in the arts and humanities.

“The primary mission of this initiative is to support town-gown relations, to help the college see Holland as even more of a resource for expertise and partnership than it already does and vice versa,” he said. “But we are also committed to demonstrating the relevance of the liberal arts — particularly the arts and humanities — and to providing our students with applied-learning experiences that will help them stand out as they seek employment or apply to graduate school after Hope.”

Additional information about “There’s No Place Like ‘Home,’” including guidance for forming partnerships and how to develop and submit the pre-proposals and full proposals, is available on the program’s website

The program’s advisory board, which will review the proposals, consists of representatives of community organizations as well as the college, including Nancy DeBoer, who while mayor was active in its development; Denise Kingdom Grier, lead pastor of Maple Avenue Ministries; Elizabeth Kidd, vice president of community impact with the Holland/Zeeland Community Foundation; Dr. Sandra Visser, dean for the arts and humanities at Hope; and Shonn Colbrunn, director of the college’s Boerigter Center for Calling and Career.  In addition to Pannapacker, the leadership team includes Dr. Annie Dandavati, professor of political science, as associate director.

“There’s No Place Like ‘Home’” builds on the success of other programs in the arts and humanities at Hope established with Pannapacker’s leadership through major gift support from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.  The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Scholars Program in the Arts and Humanities, which began in 2010, integrates technology, experiential education and faculty-student collaborative research, extending a teaching model for which the college was already nationally acclaimed in the natural and applied sciences and social sciences.  The Mellon Grand Challenges Initiative, which began in 2017, has developed linked courses across disciplines and has also provided faculty-student research opportunities built around large-scale, relevant themes such as the environment, feminism and gender issues, immigration and reconciliation.

According to Provost Cady Short-Thompson, “these initiatives align with Hope’s long-standing commitment to and robust engagement with our neighbors in impactful ways.  For example, we have worked with area high school students through Hope College TRIO Upward Bound since 1968, elementary students through the Children’s After School Achievement program since 1989 and middle school students in the Step Up program since 2010, and in the Hope College-Holland Sustainability Institute, a partnership between the college, City of Holland and Holland Board of Public Works since 2015.”