Dr. Myrtis Tabb, Chair of the Board of Directors, and Dr. Rolando Herts, Director, (standing, center) with representatives from organizations awarded cultural heritage development grants from the Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area.

MDNHA awards $160,000 in regional grants

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The Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area recently announced nearly $160,000 in grants for eleven cultural heritage development projects in the Mississippi Delta.

The projects represent the diversity of the region’s rich cultural heritage including Native and African American history, music, art, storytelling, the Delta Chinese, and the Mississippi River.

“The grants committee was impressed with the projects proposed through the application process,” said Dr. Myrtis Tabb, Chair of the MDNHA Board of Directors. “Organizations and agencies are doing outstanding community service, and the MDNHA is pleased to provide funding to support this work.”

“The MDNHA is a partnership between the people of the Mississippi Delta and the National Park Service designed to engage and empower organizations and individuals to promote the cultural heritage of the region,” said Dr. Rolando Herts, director of The Delta Center for Culture and Learning at Delta State University, which serves as the management entity for the MDNHA. “The successful completion of this first round of grants represents a major milestone as the MDNHA continues to do this work throughout the Mississippi Delta.”

This is the first round of grants awarded by the MDNHA. In January of this year, the MDNHA launched the new grants program and provided a series of workshops throughout the region to educate and inform the people of the Mississippi Delta on how to apply. Workshops were held at Clarksdale/Coahoma County Tourism, Mississippi Valley State University in Itta Bena, Sharkey-Issaquena County Library in Rolling Fork, The Capps Center in Indianola, and Desoto County Tourism in Southaven.

Proposals received were reviewed by a grants committee comprised of members of the MDNHA Board of Directors. The eleven organizations and projects that were awarded MDNHA grants represent six of the 18 counties served by the MDNHA including Bolivar, Coahoma, DeSoto, Leflore, Sharkey, and Warren. The grant recipients and funded projects are as follows:

ArtPlace Mississippi, Greenwood, MS
Delta Wild: Connecting people to the Mississippi Delta’s natural habitat and resources

DeSoto Foundation, Hernando, MS
First Contact Historical Trail: Native Americans’ first encounter with Europeans in the Mississippi Delta

Cleveland Music Foundation, Cleveland, MS
Exploring a Culture of Creativity: Engaging students in telling local stories through music at Grammy Museum Mississippi

Lower Mississippi River Foundation, Clarksdale, MS
Between the Levees: Telling the story of the Mississippi River batture

Bologna Performing Arts Center, Cleveland, MS
Public performance of “Dar He: The Story of Emmett Till”

Cleveland Chamber of Commerce, Cleveland, MS
Cleveland Chamber/Tourism office relocation and signage plan

Delta State University Archives and Museums, Cleveland, MS
Amzie Moore House Museum and MS Delta Chinese Heritage Museum docent program

Rolling Fork Visitors Center and Museum, Rolling Fork, MS
Multimedia interpretive display expansion and exhibit preservation

Southern Cultural Heritage Foundation, Vicksburg, MS
1868 St. Francis Xavier Convent restoration

Delta Hands for Hope, Shaw, MS
Photography and Oral History Program for high school students

Rosedale Freedom Project, Rosedale, MS
Unsung Voices of Bolivar County: civil rights stories past and present collected by high school students

The MDNHA recently held a second grant competition round with proposals due on July 5. Proposals are under review currently. The MDNHA expects to announce grant awardees for the second round in fall 2016.

“The grant program is a critical part of the MDNHA’s Management Plan. We look forward to the program continuing in the future and look forward to receiving more proposals from organizations that are serving the Mississippi Delta region,” said Herts.

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

The mission of The Delta Center 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

DMI Rotrary

Cleveland Rotary gives support to DMI

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This week, the Cleveland Rotary presented the Delta Music Institute (DMI) with a check in support of the many projects and services faculty and staff in the DMI provide to Rotary and the entire Cleveland community throughout the year.

DMI Director Tricia Walker accepted the check on behalf of the program. The DMI is an independent center under the College of Arts & Sciences at Delta State University. Its mission is to provide students with a broad and thorough education in the technological, creative, and business areas of the entertainment industries.

“Not only does Tricia Walker, her faculty/staff, and students make themselves available to educate Rotary about their programs, they provide a range of services—from performances to partnering with local schools and the entertainment industry—that make Cleveland a more viable and quality place to live,” said Rotarian Leslie Griffin, who also is Dean of the College of Education and Human Sciences.

The Rotary Club is an international service club that promotes good will and partnerships that provide services to the community.

For more information on the DMI, visit

PLUS Campers listen to Carrie Sue Ayvar in one of their five arts classes.

BPAC hosts Janice Wyatt Mississippi Summer Arts Institute PLUS Camp for 19th summer

By | Bologna Performing Arts Center, Community, General | No Comments

Now in its 19th year, the Janice Wyatt Mississippi Summer Arts PLUS Camp is in full swing at the Bologna Performing Arts Center.

Over 100 children ages 5 to 11 are all smiles as they gear up for a week of singing, dancing, and creating.  Each July, the Bologna Performing Arts Center offers PLUS Camp to children who are interested in the arts. The camp is a one-week, performance-oriented day camp centered on learning a choreographed medley of songs.

Throughout the week, young artists take classes in painting, ceramics, music, storytelling, and musical. The week culminates with a public performance on Saturday.

This year’s theme is “Misfits of Broadway,” featuring music from the plays Annie, Peter Pan, Aladdin, and Newsies.  Kathy Hull has returned to PLUS Camp as Musical Director. Hull, of Nashville, has been with PLUS Camp’s every summer since it began. She was recently named a Music Teacher of Excellence by the Country Music Academy.

“We are so grateful to have Kathy and are thankful for her dedication to see this program grow and flourish each year. It’s amazing what she can do with these young people in such a short window of time,” said Joannah Taylor, arts education coordinator at the Bologna Performing Arts Center.

Carrie Sue Alvar, a bilingual storyteller from Miami Beach, Florida, and a Mississippi Arts Commission teaching artist, also has returned to participate in the camp.

“The campers have already been telling a story in Spanish, English, and American Sign Language. Even in this first day, they have been creating and telling their own stories. They have all learned to speak so they can be heard because they all have important things to say,” said Ayvar.

PLUS Camp will culminate with a free community performance in the Bologna Performing Arts Center’s Delta and Pine Land Theater on Saturday, July 16, at 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. The public is invited to attend.

For more information about PLUS Camp, contact Joannah Taylor at 662-846-4844 or visit


Donor’s legacy lives on at Delta State

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CLEVELAND, Miss. – Building one’s legacy is an inexact science. It begins with the people who shape our childhood and extends through the life experiences that determine our ultimate path. For Pershing Wong, one of America’s preeminent master architects, it all began in the Chinese Mission School here in Cleveland. Wong, who passed away on July 2 at the age of 90, was born in Rosedale in 1926.

His educational pursuits proved to be as varied as his professional experiences. Educated as a youth in the Chinese Mission School, he would study in New York, Nanjing (China), and Tennessee. He served his country in the United States Army as a drill sergeant, and used the G.I. Bill to earn bachelor’s degrees in architecture and engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta.

Receiving an appointment at Fountainebleau (France), Wong’s intellect led to his receiving the Premier Prix Architecture and ultimately his long-lasting relationship with renowned architect I.M. Pei. His career flourished at Pei & Partners, where he collaborated on some of the world’s most distinguished buildings.

His stunning architectural designs light up the skylines of major cities in America, Canada and Asia. His design credits include the National Bank/Mile High Center (Denver, CO), Royal Bank of Canada/Place Ville Marie (Montreal, CN), One and Two Dallas Centre (Dallas, TX), One Galleria Tower (Oklahoma City, OK), ARCO Tower (Dallas, TX), Texas Commerce Tower (Houston, TX), The Gateway (Singapore), Bank of China (Hong Kong) and 499 Park Tower (New York, NY).

Wong was committed to teaching, serving as a visiting instructor at Georgia Tech and mentoring young architects in the field. After his remarkable career, Wong returned to those childhood days at the Chinese Mission School of playing baseball, kick the can, and swimming in the lily pond. Taking those experiences and using them to mold the lives of young people as he coached swimming and diving for many years in Westchester County, New York.

With all of his experiences, Wong never forgot his beginnings here in Cleveland. He and his brother, Kellogg, donated family photographs and memorabilia to the Mississippi Delta Chinese Heritage Museum at Delta State University, ensuring that their legacy would be preserved. Visit their collection here.(

“Pershing Wong’s life is a brilliant illustration of what is possible,” said Gilroy Chow, President of MDCHM Board. “His desire to learn and his drive to succeed led to some of the world’s most beautiful architecture. Despite all of his travels, awards and prestige, Pershing never forgot his roots – roots cultivated and nourished by the caring teachers at the Chinese Mission School in Cleveland.”


CCED receives large grant to begin Delta Reads Plus

By | Academics, Center for Community and Economic Development, Community | No Comments

Delta State University’s Center for Community and Economic Development recently confirmed it would be one of 11 Mississippi organizations receiving grant funding from a $3.3 million AmeriCorps campaign to support nonprofit and educational organizations across the state.

The grant will support the new the Delta Reads Plus (DRP) project, which will be housed at the CCED on campus. DRP has received $263,761 thanks to the grant.

Through DRP, 50 AmeriCorps members will tutor students one-on-one in grades K-8 five days a week for the 2016-17 academic term in school districts in Bolivar, Coahoma, Leflore, Washington and Sunflower counties.

The program will help reach 400 economically disadvantaged students. Focus areas will include reading and math. The AmeriCorps tutors will guide the students to program completion by participating in 30 or more tutoring sessions.

“Delta Reads Plus is great news for both DSU and the local schools because some schools in the Mississippi Delta are facing low student achievement due to a perpetual lack of support and the economic disadvantages persistent in the area,” said David Tanner with the CCED. “Having AmeriCorps serve as tutors in these areas is a great way of leveraging resources and enhancing student achievement. DSU has a longstanding partnership with K-12 schools throughout the Mississippi Delta region and is committed to helping those schools succeed.”

According to Robin Boyles, director of the Office of Institutional Grants at Delta State, DRP is currently seeking school districts interested in receiving certified tutoring services within the five target counties.

“Delta State, through its Center for Community and Economic Development, has a long history of partnering with the Mississippi Commission on Volunteer Service and the Corporation for National and Community Service, to provide programming that addresses the needs of the Mississippi Delta region,” said Boyles. “Through the Delta Reads Plus project, we are furthering our commitment to addressing the region’s educational outcomes by focusing on increasing student achievement in reading and math.”

Interested districts are encouraged to contact Tanner at contact Tanner at 662-846-4808 or

Statewide, the federal investment of the 11 grants totaling $3.3 million will support 546 AmeriCorps members. Through these grants, AmeriCorps members will support youth development and education programs serving Mississippi students in grades K-12, and help expand economic opportunities in all 82 Mississippi counties.

The Corporation for National and Community Service will also provide up to $1.6 million in education scholarships for the AmeriCorps members funded by these grants to help pay for college, vocational training, or repay student loans. The federal investment is projected to generate an additional $2.2 million in local support to increase community impact and return on federal investment.

“AmeriCorps members make a powerful impact on the toughest challenges facing our nation,” said Wendy Spencer, CEO of the CNCS. “Building on Mississippi’s strong tradition of neighbor helping neighbor, AmeriCorps members will improve lives and strengthen communities across the hospitality state. While they serve others, AmeriCorps members will also expand opportunity for themselves — gaining skills and experience to jumpstart their careers. I salute AmeriCorps members for their dedication, and thank our outstanding partners who make their service possible.”

Learn more about Delta State’s CCED at