Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area Grants Announced

The Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area (MDNHA) has awarded over $200,000 in grants for fourteen projects focused on cultural and heritage development in communities across the Mississippi Delta.

The funded work focuses on the MDNHA’s five themes: The River and the Land, Culture of the Delta Blues, Moving Toward Freedom, Wellspring of Creativity, and Diverse Communities. The grants support learning opportunities for students, museums, documentary films, and the historic preservation of Delta landmarks.

“With this year’s round of funding, MDNHA has now provided almost $550,000 for a wide range of community projects that promote and preserve the cultural heritage of the Mississippi Delta,” said Dr. Myrtis Tabb, Chair of the MDNHA Board of Directors. “We had a record number of applications this year from over 30 organizations, and the Board is grateful for their participation and commitment.”

“We were fortunate this year in that the proposals addressed most components of MDNHA’s mission, goals and central themes, allowing us to fund a more diverse range of projects,” said Meg Cooper, Chair of the MDNHA Grants Committee. “We were able to make some grants in communities not previously served, and for some really unique projects.”

“MDNHA is working to build and expand a network of community resources and organizations that work together to promote the cultural heritage of the Mississippi Delta,” said Dr. Rolando Herts, MDNHA executive director and director of The Delta Center for Culture and Learning at Delta State University, which serves as the management entity for MDNHA. “With this third year of funding through our partnership between the people of the Mississippi Delta and the National Park Service, this network is a critical part of our mission of preserving, perpetuating and celebrating the heritage of the Mississippi Delta.”

Grant recipients and their funded projects include:

• Charleston Arts and Revitalization Effort (C.A.R.E.), Charleston, MS – $4,300 for a summer arts camp that will engage local youth in studying their community and the land around it through art, photography and written work, resulting in a book and exhibit produced by the students.
• Tutwiler Community Education Center, Tutwiler, MS – $13,825 to preserve the history and increase the capacity of the Tutwiler Quilters by designing a new website with online purchase capability and increasing the use of technology for marketing and promotion of the Quilters.
• Lower Mississippi River Foundation, Clarksdale, MS – $10,000 to provide educational programs and recreational opportunities to connect the Delta’s youth to the Mississippi River, including paddling trips and river conservation activities.
• Delta Blues Museum, Clarksdale, MS – $5,000 to create a video chronicling the 40-year history of the Museum, for use in welcoming visitors to the Museum, promoting its 40th anniversary in the summer of 2019 and marketing the Museum nationally and internationally.
• Griot Arts, Inc., Clarksdale, MS – $23,575 to create and equip a music studio for local students to record, preserve and broadcast their musical creations and share their work with people around the world through podcasts.
• From the Heart Productions, Kilmichael, MS – $22,680 to produce a documentary film on Fannie Lou Hamer, with an associated K-12 civil rights curriculum based on Ms. Hamer’s life and work, and to train Ruleville area students as production teams to record oral histories.
• Museum of the Mississippi Delta, Greenwood, MS – $24,500 to develop an exhibit that uses the Museum’s archaeological and other artifacts to tell the story of the Delta’s formation, its first Native American inhabitants and the early explorations by Europeans.
• Cleveland Music Foundation, GRAMMY Museum Mississippi, Cleveland, MS – $22,550 for two summer music camps for students that promote the musical heritage of the Delta and encourage them to create original works that tell the Delta’s story.
• Delta State University, Department of Biological Sciences, Cleveland, MS – $24,500 to collect and preserve flora and fauna representative of the Delta’s bottomland hardwood forests for display in DSU’s Natural History Museum and for use in educational workshops and activities.
• Delta State University, Department of Music / Division of Languages & Literature, Cleveland, MS – $12,500 to support scholars and performers participating in workshops, clinics and other presentations at the Fifth Annual International Conference on the Blues.
• Mississippi Heritage Trust, Jackson, MS – $6,250 to conduct a Preservation Toolkit Workshop in Vicksburg, MS that will train up to 20 people in real estate development, tax credits and other strategies and tools used in the development and preservation of historic properties.
• Vicksburg Foundation for Historic Preservation, Vicksburg, MS – $4,174.50 to interpret the history and cultural significance of the Fort St. Pierre site in the Redwood community as it prepares to celebrate the 300th anniversary of its founding.
• Mississippi Heritage Trust, Jackson, MS – $24,500 to support preservation of the New Hope Missionary Baptist Church building in Estill, Washington County, MS, by installing a metal roof, securely storing church pews and furnishings, and engaging the congregation and other residents in developing a long-term plan for use of the building
• Greenville Renaissance Scholars, Greenville, MS – $5,742.27 to produce a documentation on Delta Blues and Civil Rights: The Story of Greenville that will be researched, recorded and showcased by middle school students through after-school activities.

The total of $204,096.77 in grants will be matched by an additional $319,103.84 provided by the applicants and their communities for a total cost of $523,200.61 for all funded projects. The MDNHA Grants Program provides funding of up to $24,500 for local projects, which must be matched on at least a 1:1 basis by in-kind or cash resources. For more information on the Grants Program and funded projects, visit www.msdeltaheritage.com/grants/.

The MDNHA includes 18 counties that contain land located in the alluvial floodplain of the Mississippi Delta: Bolivar, Carroll, Coahoma, DeSoto, Holmes, Humphreys, Issaquena, Leflore, Panola, Quitman, Sharkey, Sunflower, Tallahatchie, Tate, Tunica, Warren, Washington and Yazoo. The MDNHA was designated by U.S. Congress in 2009 and is governed by a board of directors representing agencies and organizations defined in the congressional legislation. More information about the MDNHA, including the complete approved management plan, is available at www.msdeltaheritage.com.

The mission of The Delta Center for Culture and Learning is to promote greater understanding of Mississippi Delta culture and history and its significance to the world through education, partnerships and community engagement. The Delta Center serves as the management entity of the MDNHA and is the home of the International Delta Blues Project and the National Endowment for the Humanities “Most Southern Place on Earth” workshops. For more information, visit http://deltacenterdsu.com/.

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