The first round of funding to link community organizations with Hope College faculty and students, who together will address pressing needs in Holland area, has recently been awarded to three projects through a 42-month, $800,000 grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Community-based partnerships are the focus of “There’s No Place like ‘Home,’” an initiative established in February 2020. Subtitled “The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Community-Based Partnerships Presidential Initiative of Hope College and Holland, Michigan,” the program runs through 2023 and seeks to financially support the talents and collaborative efforts of Hope faculty and students in the arts and humanities and local organizations to better the community and its quality of life.

The first three partnerships are: “Celebration of Holland’s Historical Diversity,” a project between Susan Ipri Brown, director of Explore Hope and assistant professor of engineering instruction, and Ricki Levine, executive director of the Holland Museum; “Food Disparities and Food Justice in Greater Holland,” a program between Dr. Berta Carrasco de Miguel, associate professor of Spanish, and Scott Rumpsa, executive director of Community Action House; and, “Stories of Equity and Hope,” a project between Dr. Jesus Montaño, associate professor of English, and Dr. Donna Lowry, president and CEO of Ready for School.

Under the leadership Dr. William Pannapacker, professor of English and senior director of Mellon Initiatives, Dr. Annie Dandavati, professor of political science and associate director of Mellon Initiatives, and Dr. Marsley Kehoe, grants manager, the Mellon partnerships are providing impact on campus and off.

“This program aligns the mission of the Mellon Foundation to opportunities that foster the engagement of faculty and students in the humanities as they have traditionally but also as they're going to be moving forward,” Pannapacker said. “There are a lot of changes happening, and I think the biggest one is a movement to expand the role of the humanities from one that is inward looking to one that's more outward looking in terms of partnerships with other disciplines. Beyond that, those partnerships are important in the wider community, starting in Holland.”

With a grant of $50,000, “Celebration of Holland’s Historical Diversity” pairs the college’s ExploreHope Academic Outreach Office with the Holland Museum to explore the region’s rich and diverse cultural history with a focus on bringing Hispanic voices, contributions and traditions into the narrative. Using artifacts from the Holland Museum within a new course, “Documenting Holland’s Historical Diversity,” Hope students will research a local topic significantly impacted by the diverse community of the area and compile the material into a set of digital history exhibits. Additionally, Hope students will be provided internships at the museum over the course of the project to assure continuity for the new exhibits. Community programs, lesson plans, and field trips for area classrooms will engage local students with the new exhibit portfolio.

The “Food Disparities and Food Justice in Greater Holland” partnership is funded with a $50,000 grant. This project seeks to make pantry supplies more useful by discerning not only what those who receive help would like to see in a food bank but also why they want certain foods, how they use them, and when they may need them. Community Action House (CAH) and a Hope team will work together as CAH opens its new Food Club, an innovative approach to healthy food access that will convert the current food pantry into a non-profit, member-based grocery store that allows for high-dignity access to affordable, nutritious and culturally relevant food choices. The team will also lead an effort to share the innovative message of the Food Club as a pathway to healthy food access with target populations and the broader community.

A $10,000 grant will support “Stories of Equity and Hope” in assisting Ready for School, a non-profit, community organization in greater Holland that prepares children for success in kindergarten. Disparities continue to exist in kindergarten readiness in Holland even though collaborative efforts in health, education and public awareness have increased the preparedness level from 43% in 2009 to 70% in 2019. “Stories of Equity and Hope” will gather and listen to stories from disparate perspectives to better identify and understand why and how barriers exist, as well as how best to move forward. Alongside community story-gathering efforts, “Stories of Equity and Hope,” in partnership with the college’s Jack Ridl Visiting Writers Series, will bring noted children’s author Kwame Alexander to Holland. His book, “Indigo Bloom and the Garden City,” will be distributed at his reading.  Alexander was featured in a virtual presentation for the campus and community in February of this year.

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.

The Grand Challenges Initiative, which began in 2017, has developed curricular pathways across disciplines and has also provided faculty-student research opportunities on themes such as disability, environmental sustainability, global feminisms, immigration and racial equity.

The Mellon Scholars Program, launched in 2010 and expanded in 2013, 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 Community-Based Partnership Initiative is currently seeking requests for up to $50,000 to bring together Hope College faculty members in the humanities and local leaders in the non-profit sector to develop projects that address "wicked problems" such as systemic racism and the challenges posed by the pandemic.

For projects that begin after September 1, 2021, pre-proposals will be accepted until May 1. More information about the MCBP Initiative, including the pre-proposal form and the criteria for successful full proposals, can be found on the website