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MDNHA hosts 2018 grantee orientation

By August 17, 2018Delta Center
MDNHA grant project administrators past and present gather with Delta Center staff.

MDNHA grant project administrators past and present gather with Delta Center staff.

The Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area recently hosted an orientation for administrators of 14 projects that have received funding through the MDNHA’s 2018 grant program. The organization has funded more than $500,000 over the last three years to projects throughout the Delta. Since these funds must be matched by cash and in-kind contributions, the three-year effort represents approximately $1 million dollars in federal, state, and local investments in Delta communities.

Administrators shared their plans for 2018 grants, as well as the success of past projects, which enabled groups to learn from each other’s experiences.

“This MDNHA grant will give the opportunity for our middle school Scholars to learn more about the deep history here in the Delta and connect with community members in a way that would otherwise not be possible. Greenville Renaissance Scholars has a strong alignment with MDNHA to celebrate the Delta through education and taking pride in our Delta community,” said Jon Delperdang, Executive Director of Greenville Renaissance Scholars. “We’re thankful for the MDNHA partnership and know that it will have a positive impact on our Scholars, the future leaders of Greenville.”

“The conference was a great opportunity to meet and build connections with other organizations working in the Delta. I got a lot of new ideas by hearing about projects completed by past and present grantees,” said Shannon McMulkin, project manager for LiNKS: Leave No Kids On Shore, in Clarksdale.

Representatives from various grantee organizations reported on the positive impacts that the MDNHA grant program has had on their projects.

“The MDNHA workshop provided a great friendly atmosphere, making it so easy to feel at home while gaining pertinent insight and directions toward fulfilling our mission with grant aid” said Dr. Alfonso Sanders, coordinator of the MDNHA-supported third annual B.B. King Day Symposium held in 2017 at Mississippi Valley State University. This year’s B. B. King Day Symposium also benefits from National Park Service support in concert with DSU’s International Conference for the Blues.

The funded work celebrates the diversity of the Delta’s rich cultural heritage, including reroofing the New Hope Missionary Baptist Church in Estill, establishment of museum exhibits interpreting encounters between Native Americans and sixteenth-century Europeans at the Museum of the Mississippi Delta in Greenwood, development of modern marketing materials for the Tutwiler Quilters, survey and preservation of wildlife and plant material in Dahomey National Wildlife Refuge, a state historic marker celebrating the 300-yr-old history of the Fort St. Pierre site in Redwood, and guidance for historic preservation through leveraging tax credits in Vicksburg.

C.A.R.E director Carol Roark shows students artistic qualities in a cypress brake during the MDNHA-funded summer art progra

A group of projects for the 2018 grant year emerged in support for children’s educational programs celebrating themes of the Delta: Charleston’s C.A.R.E. has already held a summer art program, and music camps will occur next summer at GRAMMY Museum Mississippi in Cleveland. In Clarksdale, Griot Arts will create a recording and broadcast studio for students, and LiNKS: Leave No Kids On Shore will teach river skills.

Three films will also be produced with support from the MDNHA: The production team of “Fannie Lou Hamer’s America: Find Your Voice” will also train young people to take oral histories and result in a K-12 curriculum; Clarksdale’s Delta Blues Museum will chronicle its 40-year history; and the Greenville Renaissance Scholars will teach documentary skills to students, interview the community, and produce a documentary entitled “Delta Blues and Civil Rights: The Story of Greenville”.

“Each of these organizations is to be lauded for the value they are providing,” said Dr. Myrtis Tabb, chair of the MDNHA board of directors. “It is always instructive to watch communities work together to address their concerns. The MDNHA hopes to facilitate this cooperation through the activities and benefits that each of these programs provides.”

MDNHA board members and staff pose with Tutwiler Community Education Center director Shelley Ricker and quilting director Mary Mackey.

“We look forward every year to meeting all of the people responsible for the important work being done throughout the Delta,” said Dr. Rolando Herts, director of the Delta Center for Culture and Learning, which serves as the managing entity for MDNHA. “After three years of accumulated projects, we are really seeing organizations benefit from collaborative discussions of their goals. We are honored to gain the respect of so many worthy agencies, and look forward to building further partnerships in the future.”

The full list of 2018 MDNHA grant recipients and funded projects includes:

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 Arts and Sciences, 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 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 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