Hope College connects with city

Faculty and students will use $800K grant for collaborative projects in Holland.

Hope College is looking to pay it forward.

The college has launched the No Place Like Home initiative to help faculty and students in the arts and humanities build relationships with local nonprofit organizations and community leaders who work for the state or local government and public education in Holland. Fueling the effort is a 42-month grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for $800,000.

“We want to build and enhance relationships between the college and the community with particular attention to inclusion, celebrating diversity and cultivating unity,” said William Pannapacker, senior director of Mellon Foundation programs and initiatives and professor of English at Hope College. “Faculties from the arts and humanities field will be partnered with leading members of community organizations to build projects of various types.”

In light of the pandemic and global Black Lives Matter protests, the initiative also aims to assist in partnerships that focus on public health, economics and intergroup relations.

To qualify for financial support, organizations and community leaders must submit a project pre-proposal and then a formal proposal, which will be reviewed by an advisory board. The board includes representatives of community organizations as well as the college. 

Members include Nancy DeBoer, who while mayor was active in the city’s development; Denise Kingdom Grier, lead pastor of Maple Avenue Ministries; Elizabeth Kidd, vice president of community impact with the Holland/Zeeland Community Foundation; 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 Annie Dandavati, professor of political science, as associate director.

The $800,000 grant is divided into different phases, including: $10,000 proof-of-concept grants for up to one year; $50,000 implementation grants for up to two years; and $100,000 collaboration grants for up to three years.

Pannapacker said the board already has received some proposals. The proposals include building more capacity for The Center for Women In Transition, a nonprofit that helps individuals affected by domestic violence. Another initiative focuses on engaging the community on environmental projects by leveraging the community’s awareness about the natural environment.

“What I have not seen enough of yet are proposals that address the pandemic and what Holland is going to look like during and after that, or enough proposals that are addressing the civil unrest with racial inequity, policing and systemic racism in our community,” he said.

No Place Like Home is just the newest initiative between the arts and humanities program at Hope with Pannapacker’s leadership and financial support from the Mellon Foundation. 

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Scholars Program in 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 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 also has provided faculty-student research opportunities built around large-scale, relevant themes such as the environment, feminism and gender issues, immigration and reconciliation.

“These initiatives align with Hope’s longstanding commitment to and robust engagement with our neighbors in impactful ways,” said Cady Short-Thompson, Hope provost. “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.”

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