Michigan Humanities News
March 2020
Message from our President
Dear Humanities Friends,

"Together we can do great things." ––Mother Teresa

The start of 2020 brought about a flurry of special activity––planning new grant rounds, placement of the Crossroads Museum on Main Street Exhibit, engaging in advocacy, planning our National Humanities Conference for Detroit 2021, seeing Poetry Out Loud come to life, releasing the nominations for the Michigan Humanities Awards, and preparing for a Board of Directors meeting. But despite all the activity and plans, staff took time with our management consultant, Katena Cain, to look inward at our next steps toward diversity, equity, and inclusion. It was a fascinating day of developing questions to review policy, grant processes, program components, board, and staff. This DEI review and these recommendations will enhance everything we do, and our Board and staff are fully committed to this important work.

February’s Board of Directors meeting was joyous. We had a record crowd (100% attendance) of our Board and staff, held here at our new work “home.” We welcomed five new board members: Ethriam Cash Brammer, an Assistant Dean and the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Implementation Lead at University of Michigan's Rackham Graduate School; Joseph Stanhope Cialdella, a Program Manager for Public Scholarship at University of Michigan's Rackham Graduate School; Matthew L.M. Fletcher, a Professor of Law at MSU College of Law and a Director of the Indigenous Law and Policy Center; Deanne Gavalis, a Senior Advisor at PNC Wealth Management; and Amisha S. Harijan, a Librarian III and Assistant Manager at Detroit Public Library. What talent and perspective they bring to the table. We are delighted! We have much to celebrate and even more to achieve. The Board and staff are working in unison to put our strategy into action, and welcome your questions, ideas, and participation. You can reach me at skasprzycki@mihumanities.org or call 517-372-7770. Together, we can do great things.

One final note – please encourage your local community college to apply as part of the Kathleen S. Mullins Emerging Leaders Program. Be one of five communities to host a community conversation led by youth. This is a step forward to our future, and you can be a part of it by visiting our website and submitting an application.

Shelly Hendrick Kasprzycki
President & CEO
Honoring humanities work throughout Michigan
On May 20, 2020 , Michigan Humanities will honor and celebrate outstanding contributions to the humanities in our state. Michigan Humanities will recognize individuals and organizations who have advanced the humanities in Michigan through leadership, education, and advocacy. What better way to honor and recognize the important work being done in our state?

Nominations will be accepted through Wednesday, April 1, at 6 p.m.  Do you know worthy nominees? Please share them with us. Self-nominations and repeat submissions are also encouraged.

Michigan Humanities Awards 2020
Wednesday, May 20, 2020, 5:30–9:30 p.m.
University Club, 3435 Forest Road, Lansing, MI 48910

Table Sponsorship and Individual tickets are available for purchase. Please contact Carol Taggart for more information.

At this year’s Michigan Humanities Awards, all nominees will be honored, in person. The recipient of each award will be announced live, at our event. All nominees are encouraged to attend.

Awards will be presented in the following categories:
  • Outstanding Humanities Supporter–Corporate or Individual
  • Humanities Champion of the Year–Individual
  • Community Impact Partner of the Year

Visit our nomination page for details.
Announcing the Kathleen S. Mullins Emerging Leadership Program
Michigan Humanities is pleased to announce the Kathleen S. Mullins Emerging Leaders Program. This program was named after the late Kathleen Mullins, our Emeritus Board Chair who championed humanities leadership in Michigan. This program will pilot five sites to develop the art of reflective conversation with youth leaders, and build a humanities-based community discussion at each site.  

Eligible applicants will:
  • Be a community college with an identified group of diverse students ages 18-22
  • Be able to provide meeting space and mentor support for the Emerging Leaders group
  • Agree to host a community conversation in the fall of 2020

If you are interested in applying visit www.michiganhumanities.org.  Applications can be completed online and are due March 15 .  

If you have questions or would like more information you may contact Jennifer Rupp, Director of State and Federal grants at jrupp@mihumanities.org
Important Notice: SAM.gov
Because Michigan Humanities is a federally-funded agency, all organizations requesting grant support are required to have a DUNS number and be registered in the System for Award Management (SAM.gov), a website used by entities doing business with funds from the U.S. government.

Organizations are strongly encouraged to begin the registration process or have an active SAM.gov account prior to submitting their grants application. If awarded a grant, no funds may be distributed to organizations without an active SAM.gov account. The process is free, but time consuming, and it is highly recommended that you begin as soon as possible. 

For more information and instructions on how to register, please visit here  on our website.
Join Michigan Humanities staff at the Small and Rural Library Conference

Program staff will be presenting a session on the grants and programs offered by Michigan Humanities to registered attendees at the upcoming Small and Rural Library Conference held each year in Traverse City, Michigan, on April 13 and 14.

Grant opportunities that will be discussed during the workshop include:
  • Humanities Grants
  • Action Grants
  • Arts and Humanities Touring Grants (a partnership with the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs)

Programs by Michigan Humanities that will be explored include: 
  • Great Michigan Read
  • Museum on Main Street
  • Poetry Out Loud

Staff will also help you navigate the online grants and programs portal to help organizations create their online profile and submit an application.

Future grants and programs workshops will be listed on our events calendar.

Hope to see you there!
GMR Author Events

Looking for an opportunity to see Dr. Mona speak about What the Eyes Don't See ? Starting in March, Dr. Mona will continue making her way throughout Michigan for Great Michigan Read author events. Save the date for these next GMR tour events:

  • March 24: Holland and Grand Rapids
  • March 25: Benton Harbor and Kalamazoo
  • April 19-21: Benzonia, Pentwater, Big Rapids, and Muskegon
  • April 24: East Tawas and Alpena

Curious about upcoming partner events? Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha will speak at Saginaw Valley State University on March 12 at 6:30 p.m. in the Malcom Field Theatre . The public is invited to attend this lecture made possible through Saginaw Valley State University’s Early Assurance Program partnership with Michigan State University College of Human Medicine and sponsored in part by an SVSU Foundation Resource Grant. The lecture is part of the annual Your Health Lecture Series initiative between Saginaw Valley State University, Michigan State University College of Human Medicine, and MidMichigan Health.

Visit our website's GMR events page for details about the author tour, partner events, and more. Not yet a partner? You can still register online and receive free copies of the book, reader's guides, teacher's guides, and more supplementary materials.
GMR Action Grants

Great Michigan Read (GMR) Action Grants provide up to $750 to GMR partners in support of their GMR programming. Organizations may receive one GMR Action Grant in the 2019-20 program cycle, which began in September, 2019, and ends September, 2020.  

Eligible expenses include materials, guest speaker fees, food, transportation, venue rental, and other promotional expenses. Funding will be available on a rolling basis until funds are expended. Visit the Michigan Humanities website to apply for a GMR Action Grant or contact Katie Wittenauer at kwittenauer@mihumanities.org to learn more.
Poetry Out Loud State Finals
Join us for the upcoming Poetry Out Loud State Finals on March 13 and 14 at the Crowne Plaza Lansing West (925 S. Creyts Rd., Lansing 48917). Round 1 of competition will be held from 2:30 to 5 p.m. on Friday, March 13. Rounds 2 and 3 will be held from 8 to 11 a.m. on Saturday, March 14. Recitation rounds are open to the public and free to attend.

Want a peek at the State Finals excitement? Watch a brief Poetry Out Loud video here .

Michigan's Poetry Out Loud program is celebrating 15 years and is possible through a partnership between Michigan Humanities and the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs. Additional support is generously provided by the Liesel Litzenburger Meijer Fund, National Endowment for the Arts, National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Poetry Foundation.

Visit our website and Michigan Poetry Out Loud  on Facebook for State Finals and program updates, and spread the word via Facebook event to your colleagues and friends!
Catching up with 2019 POL Champion, Tajah-Rayne Davise

We caught up with 2019 Michigan Poetry Out Loud State Champion Tajah-Rayne Davise to hear what her favorite part of POL was, and what she is up to now. At the upcoming State Finals, Tajah will share remarks on what it has been like to be Michigan's State Champion.

What was your favorite part of the Poetry Out Loud program? 
My favorite part of the program was being able to share a piece of my heart and soul with so many people that I didn’t even know; likewise, being blessed to hear parts of other people. It’s an experience like no other.

What was your favorite part of competing in the POL State Finals? In the POL National Finals?
My favorite part about both State and Nationals was really hearing so many different people recite. The moment that you get done listening to a poem and think, “This person has got this in the bag,” is the moment that you realize that you’re not here to win, you’re here to share yourself and to somehow get past the walls that we all continually put up with each other.

Overall, what do you think POL does for students in Michigan?
I think that POL allows us to be us. When the room is dark, you’re on stage, and the only thing you can see is the judges, you are truly free. You can move, you can smile, you can frown, you can do whatever you deem suitable for that poem, and no one can look at you like you’re crazy, because they’re so engaged with the story that you are molding together. You get to tell your narrative the way that you want to.
What are you up to now?
I am currently a student at Michigan Technological University studying Computer Science. I am involved in InterVarsity Christian fellowship, and am the worship leader there. I still write poetry and perform it whenever I can, but my favorite things include playing guitar and singing, watching movies with my friends, and having real conversations with others.
Last chance to submit your Spring 2020 Humanities Grant application!
Spring 2020 Humanities Grant applications are due Thursday, March 19 , and are awarded in June, 2020.

Humanities Grants emphasize collaboration among cultural, educational, and community-based organizations and institutions in order to serve Michigan’s people with public humanities programming. These grants play a vital role in defining our culture, our state, our community, and ourselves, and are intended to connect us to Michigan’s rich cultural heritage and historical resources through initiatives that help the people of our state reason together and learn from one another.

Learn more about organization and project eligibility on our website , or contact James Nelson at jnelson@mihumanities.org

Image from Wild Swan Theater receiving their Humanities Grant funding
Bring the Smithsonian to your community in 2021

Michigan Humanities is partnering with the Smithsonian’s Museum on Main Street program to bring the traveling exhibit Voices and Votes: Democracy in America to Michigan in 2021. Six host communities will have the opportunity to host the exhibit rent-free for six weeks.

What's it like to host a Museum on Main Street exhibit?
Two MoMS partners share their experience with bringing a Smithsonian exhibit to their community.
How was the process of implementing a Museum on Main Street exhibit? 
Tom Burnosky, Reed City Library: Really easy. We knew that we couldn't successfully host the exhibit without the support of other anchor institutions. We talked to the city and the schools in the concept phase and they were enthusiastically on board. 

Kay McAdams, VanBuren District Library: Collaborating with the Village, Board, public school, staff, general public, and volunteers was very rewarding. The actual construction of the exhibit when it arrived was a bit more challenging than we anticipated. What we thought would be a 4-hour project turned into more like a 6- to 7-hour project, but we gals got ‘er done!

What was the application process like?
TB: The application process was quick. We discovered the opportunity to apply with less than 30 days before the deadline. Our decision to move forward was, in part, due to the streamlined process.

KM: I appreciated a succinct application form: statistics, short answers, checklist, basic info. Nothing worse than having to come up with filler to accommodate an application’s request to answer a question “in 600 words,” when 200 is sufficient!

What was the community response to having a MoMS exhibit?
TB: We were new to MoMS and the exhibit/program scale is bigger than anything we've ever done. It has been a delight to see people coalesce around the planning, participation, and execution of the exhibit. Having the Smithsonian in our town has become an undeniable point of pride. 

KM: Overall, the community was as excited to have the Smithsonian in town as we were to host the exhibit! We were thrilled how many people drove an hour or more just because they saw it mentioned in the paper, on the radio or in social media. Fellow librarians visited, the local Conservation District made it a group outing, numerous school groups came, and some people came more than once! 

What was the best part of being a part of Museum on Main Street?
TB: Picking the best part is like trying to name your favorite ice cream flavor. We celebrated National Ice Cream for Breakfast Day at the exhibit, with vanilla, chocolate, strawberry and Superman scoops. It was a great way to get people out on a Saturday morning. MoMS and Michigan Humanities did an excellent job of making us look like great hosts. We met new colleagues and many good people who were involved in producing this exhibit. 

KM: Showcasing the community and surrounding area. As the exhibit emphasizes, “rural” means different things to different people. It was enlightening to discover visitors’ personal interpretations of the term. Each school group that visited received the postcards to fill out in class and return to us. Considering the ages skewed pretty young -- 2nd through 5th grade -- their answers to some of the questions were priceless. A few examples are below (All of which were shared with our Village Manager!):

Question: If you were mayor, what would you do?
“I would declare that sheep should not be killed.”
“I would be really nice. I would buy food and a house for every poor person in town.”

Question: If you were granted one wish, what change for good would you make in your town?
 “I wish for a community center, one with a pool and a rock climbing wall would be great.” [i.e. a community pool was mentioned often!]
“I wish for more buildings.”

Question: Name three things you would miss about this community if you had to leave:
“I would miss riding on the tractor, playing with my trucks out in the fields and picking corn with my dad.”
“I would miss the amazing friends I’ve made here. I would miss the fresh, non-polluted air and all the stars I can see before I go to bed.”

Any additional insight on your experience with MoMS?
TB: Bringing education and culture to our community on the MoMS scale has been invaluable. The dialog around our town about the past, present, and future has been invigorated as a result of the MoMS exhibit. I think people see the library through a different lens now. We don't just lend books. Our ability to spark imaginations and do big things has created a new perspective for people who never think about their library. 

KM: We were honored that one of the exhibit’s curators, Dr. Debra Reid of The Henry Ford, attended the grand opening and was part of the ribbon-cutting! Yes, it was a bit of work, but the returns on our investment of time, effort and money far outweighed having to wrangle those giant crates off of a semi on a cold and snowy day!
Museum on Main Street's Crossroads is headed north!
Visit the "Crossroads: Change in Rural America" in Reed City now through March 13, 2020 ,or check it out in Rogers City starting March 21, 2020 .

Visit our website to learn more about Museum on Main Street and see when it will be in a community near you!
Jump-start your programming with an Action Grant

Is your organization looking for a way to jump-start programming? Do you have an exhibit that you need funding for? Maybe you are interested in having an author come and speak to your community! 

Action Grants allow Michigan Humanities to provide a responsive line of funding for nonprofit organizations in Michigan to bring public humanities programming to their communities. If you have an idea, or are wondering if an Action Grant is right for your organization, you are invited to contact Jennifer Rupp, Director of State and Federal Grants, to discuss your project in more detail. Learn more about Action Grants.
Submit your Michigan Humanities-funded event to our online calendar
The Michigan Humanities website now has an event calendar! You can now see events Michigan Humanities is hosting, including grant workshops, Museum on Main Street exhibition locations, grant and program application windows, and more.

Michigan Humanities partners are invited to submit their events to the calendar. If you have an event being funded by MH, we would love to help you spread the word about your project to the public.

Support our work!

We need your help to create, fund, and support the dynamic programs we present each year throughout the vast geography of our state.

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