Mills College Awarded Generous Grant by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation

Oakland, CA—June 18, 2019

Student reading poetry

Mills College has been awarded a five-year, $500,000 grant by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to support a public humanities project that brings together Mills College creative writing and digital humanities students with poets and with scholars working in Oakland and beyond.

This project, “We Are the Voices We Have Been Waiting For: Poetry, Performance, and Public Humanities,” will be led by Professor Sheila Lloyd.

The grant kicks off in fall 2019 with a series of conversations, readings, and lectures by local and national poets, performers, and scholars. It contributes to a broader College-wide initiative that makes our newly renovated performing arts facilities available to audiences in the City of Oakland and the Bay Area. The project builds on community partnerships such as those with 2019 artists in residence, Ubuntu Theater Project and Latanya Tigner, director of Dimensions Dance.

Students in an “Arts in Oakland” course, taught by faculty Professors Ajuan Mance and Kirsten Saxton, will connect with local artists and writers to collect and curate material for a revisionist history of Oakland’s vibrant artistic community. The class will focus on Oakland artists working in all forms—literature, visual arts, dance, theater, and music. In this moment of rapid demographic change in the city, students’ research will become the foundation of a publicly accessible online resource, a living archive of the city’s past and present as a vibrant hub for artists whose works have introduced new and innovative forms of expression as well as new approaches to community and sustainability.

The East Bay has long been the birthplace of crucial poetry, performance, and publishing collectives, especially those aligned with racial and gender justice. Mills has earned a reputation as an incubator of innovative work, and the grant will fund graduate students in creative writing and literature to continue these traditions and spark new connections. Students working as community collaborators, under the supervision of Professor Stephanie Young, will develop partnerships, performance series, workshops, digital humanities, and other projects that utilize creative approaches to exploring literature’s transformative potential in and outside the academy.

“We Are the Voices We Have Been Waiting For” is aligned with critical higher education practices and philosophies such as community engaged learning and public scholarship, which underpin MillsNext, a new standard in liberal arts education developed at Mills College to promote inclusive excellence, applied learning, and gender and racial justice.

Founded in 1969, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation is the nation’s largest funder of the arts and the humanities in higher education.

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About Mills College

Located in Oakland, California, in the heart of the San Francisco Bay Area, Mills College is a nationally renowned independent liberal arts college for women and gender non-binary students, with graduate programs for all genders. Ranked one of the top-tier regional universities in the West by U.S. News & World Report, Mills is also recognized as one of the Best 384 Colleges in the nation by The Princeton Review. Since 1852, we’ve been empowering students to become creative, independent thinkers and leaders who take and inspire action. Take a virtual tour.