A second round of funding to support and link community organizations with Hope College faculty and students, who together address pressing social needs in the Holland area, has recently been awarded.

As part of the “There’s No Place like Home” initiative, a $800,000 grant has been awarded from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Established in February 2020 and administered by Hope, three new community-based partnerships will allow faculty and students in the arts and humanities to work collaboratively with local organizations not only to better the community and its quality of life but also provide service and learning opportunities for those at Hope.

Subtitled “The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Community-Based Partnerships Presidential Initiative of Hope College and Holland, Michigan,” the grant program runs through June 30, 2023. The first three community-based partnerships were awarded and announced in the spring of 2021 and include projects with Community Action House, the Holland Museum, and Ready for School.

The next three partnerships for the fall of 2021 are: “Arts in the Parks for Holland, Michigan,” a project between Dr. Pablo Peschiera, associate professor of English, Richard Perez, assistant professor of theatre, and Dr. Stephen Maiullo, associate professor of Spanish and chair of the department of world languages and cultures, and Ottawa County Parks and Recreation; “Holland Van Raalte Farm Civil War Muster Community Education Initiative,” a partnership between Dr. Fred Johnson III, associate professor of history, and Rick Veenhoven of the Van Raalte Farm Civil War Muster; and, “The Sacredness of Human Life: The Church at the Intersections of Faith and Race in Ottawa County, Michigan,” a program between Dr. Ernest Cole, the John Dirk Werkman Professor of English and chair of the department, and Michael J. Houser of First Assemblies of God Church.

Under the leadership of Dr. Annie Dandavati, professor of political science and interim director of Mellon Community-Based Partnerships, and Dr. Marsely Kehoe, assistant director of Mellon Initiatives, the Mellon partnerships are aiming to provide impact in Holland and at Hope.

“We are delighted and inspired by every project’s well-conceived and well-intentioned partnership thus far,” said Dandavati. “Their impact on Hope’s hometown and Hope’s faculty and students is important to our neighbors and also to our lives as local citizens, learners and educators. We appreciate where we live, work, and learn, and we aspire to give back in important ways. These Mellon Foundation grants make that a reality.”

With a grant of $33,500, “Arts in the Parks for Holland, Michigan” will forge a partnership between Hope College, Ottawa County Parks, and the greater Holland area in order to create programming for people of all backgrounds and identities to gather and pursue the connections between nature and artistic expression, with an explicit aim to reach underserved communities. In the first phase of the project, the team will gather qualitative data that will help inform how best to provide arts events in Ottawa County Parks for the greater Holland area and Ottawa County. Through a series of community conversations, this project aims to build lasting relationships in the community that will invite everyone to representation in arts and humanities nature-based programming.

The Holland Van Raalte Farm Civil War Muster Community Education Initiative is funded with a $51,000 grant. It will support the annual Civil War Muster, held in September at Van Raalte Farm on east 16th Street, to focus on themes of the Underground Railroad in 2021 and the end of the Civil War and Reconstruction in 2022. With re-enactors sharing, for example, the political outlook of Abraham Lincoln, the fiery calls for socioeconomic justice by Frederick Douglass, or the demands for gender equality and suffrage rights by Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, the Holland Van Raalte Farm Civil War Muster presents opportunities for its audience, especially local 5th grade classes on field trips, to engage with some of the most urgent issues of the 19th century. With updated versions of those challenges dividing contemporary Americans, the program is intended to provide a compelling opportunity to increase people’s knowledge of their historical origins.

A $10,000 grant will support “The Sacredness of Human Life: The Church at the Intersections of Faith and Race in Ottawa County, Michigan” in an oral history project that will consider the 2014 Holland traffic death of Jonathan Bracamontes as a case study to explore the humanistic concepts of the sacredness of human life, its violation, and possibilities of healing and reconciliation. Through dialog and community-focused conversation, the project will explore the need for the Holland community to redefine roles and relationships in the contexts of human dignity, empathy, inclusion, agency and advocacy through sound Christian ethics and morality. The research makes the claim that while national attention has largely been focused on the intersections of race and policing, the church has for the most part been silent.

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has provided major support for a series of programs and initiatives in the arts and humanities at Hope College and the community of Holland, Michigan, since 2010, including the Grand Challenges Initiatives and the Mellon Scholars Program.

The Mellon Community-Based Partnership Initiative is currently seeking requests for up to $50,000 to bring together Hope College faculty in the humanities and local leaders in the non-profit sector to develop projects that address “wicked problems” such as food insecurity, affordable housing, health care access, climate change, education equity, social mobility, and civic culture.

For projects that begin after February 1, 2022, pre-proposals will be accepted until September 1, 2021. The following round of applications begins January 15, 2022, for projects that will begin after June 1, 2022.

For more information about the MCBP Initiative, including the pre-proposal form and the criteria for successful full proposals, can be found on the website.