By Janice Phelan, April 18, 2022
University of Central Missouri’s Greater Kansas City Writing Project (GKCWP) was recently awarded a grant through the National Writing Project’s Building a More Perfect Union, a grant program for humanities organizations from throughout the United States to assist in recovery from interruptions to operations due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The grant will support GKCWP’s Curating Black History in KC project. Its goal is to uncover, consider and amplify histories of the Kansas City region that have been under- or misrepresented. Educators across the city will be working in the Black Archives of Mid-America to create and curate resources that will help teachers and students learn about and connect to the robust history of this community.
Formed in 1983, the Greater Kansas City Writing Project’s network of teachers has worked to enhance student achievement by improving the teaching of writing and improving learning for ALL learners. The organization believes that access to high-quality educational experiences is a basic right of all learners and a cornerstone of equity.
As part of the American Rescue Plan: Humanities Grantmaking for Organizations at the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), the Building a More Perfect Union program funds organizations for development of programming in anticipation of the upcoming 250th anniversary of the founding of the United States.
“Teachers recognize that we have a responsibility to history,” said Nicole Higgins, co-director of the GKCWP. “The need for the stories of Black history is immense, and teachers are eager to do the work of learning and weaving these important but often neglected stories into their classroom instruction.”
The awarded projects – selected through a competitive, peer-reviewed application process – are located at local, regional or cross-regional organizations such as nonprofits, museums, libraries and archives, historic sites and public-facing humanities centers at colleges and universities across the country. This funding will help these entities restore programming post-pandemic and will engage or deepen collaborations with stakeholders and communities that will expand their reach.
“Each project contributes to a shared national conversation in important ways,” said Elyse Eidman-Aadahl, executive director of the National Writing Project. “Building a More Perfect Union recognizes the unique role that local, regional and cross-regional humanities organizations play in understanding and making visible fuller stories of our national experience.”
Awardees plan to “build a more perfect union” through expanding access and raising the visibility of lesser known stories and histories in regions and communities, engaging communities through participatory public humanities events and opportunities, and developing institutes and curriculum with teachers and students to support K-12 classrooms.
“The National Endowment for the Humanities is grateful to the National Writing Project for administering American Rescue Plan funding to help local and regional humanities organizations recover from the pandemic,” said NEH Chair Shelly C. Lowe (Navajo). “These ARP awards will allow archives, libraries, museums, historic sites and other institutions around the country to restore and expand public programs that preserve and share the stories of the communities they serve.”
About National Writing Project:
Through its mission, the National Writing Project (NWP) focuses the knowledge, expertise, and leadership of our nation's educators on sustained efforts to help youth become successful writers and learners. NWP supports a network of local Writing Project sites, located on over 170 university and college campuses, to provide high-quality professional development in schools, universities, libraries, museums, and after-school programs. Through its many successful programs and partnerships, the organization reaches 6 million Pre-K through college-age students in over 2,000 school districts annually and prepares 2,500 new teacher-leaders each year. NWP envisions a future where every person is an accomplished writer, engaged learner, and active participant in a digital, interconnected world.
About the National Endowment for the Humanities:
Created in 1965 as an independent federal agency, the National Endowment for the Humanities supports research and learning in history, literature, philosophy, and other areas of the humanities by funding selected, peer-reviewed proposals from around the nation. Additional information about the National Endowment for the Humanities and its grant programs is available at neh.gov.