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Delta State University Receives Grant from Hearin Foundation for More Teach For America Graduate Fellows

Harrison Wood, TFA Graduate Fellows coordinator, welcomes participants to the annual Ballot & Brunch event, a one-minute pitch competition about social entrepreneurship projects, at Delta Meat Market in Cleveland in November 2018.

Delta State University’s Teach For America (TFA) Graduate Fellows Program has received another grant from the Robert M. Hearin Foundation to support up to 12 new TFA Graduate Fellows to begin in fall 2019. This opportunity is available to all Teach For America alumni who live in Mississippi. The application deadline is July 12, 2019.

“The Graduate Office is honored and thrilled to be able to continue creating a positive, lasting impact in Mississippi,” said Harrison Wood, coordinator of the TFA Graduate Fellows Program at Delta State. “We look forward to welcoming another extraordinary cohort of Teach For America alumni into our strong community of changemakers.”

Delta State’s TFA Graduate Fellows Program, a collaboration with Teach for America-Greater Delta, began in 2016. Over the past three years, more than 30 TFA alumni received fellowships to pursue a graduate degree from DSU, develop social entrepreneurship skills, and become changemakers in Mississippi through community-wide enterprises, district programs, school-wide programs, and more.

“This fellowship has allowed me to pursue my passion and gave me the tools and community to be successful,” said 2017 fellow Mary Katherine Honeycutt (M.A. in liberal studies, 2019), founder of LEAP, an organization that uses ballroom dance as a vehicle for social and emotional learning in the Cleveland School District.

The TFA Graduate Fellows program offers many unique opportunities, including an immersion retreat, mentorship, pitch competitions, and close-knit community. As a culminating activity, each fellow is required to design and implement a social entrepreneurship project that addresses obstacles confronting Mississippi.

William Murphy, a 2018 Fellow, works with Erin Krampetz, an entrepreneurship mentor for the TFA Graduate Fellows Program, on his project at the Immersion Retreat in July 2018.

For example, in 2017, Jackson-based JJ Townsend (M.Ed. in administration and supervision, 2019) created Citizenville (, a civic crowdfunding platform to support Mississippians doing great things in their community—from large initiatives, like establishing a green alley, to small ones, like funding a neighborhood block party.

Jeremiah Smith (master of arts in liberal studies, 2018) and Lucas Rapisarda (master of science in natural sciences, 2019) founded the Rosedale Freedom Project ( in 2015 to support Mississippi Delta’s young leaders in the development of critical consciousness and the practice of justice through community building, exploration, artistic creation, organizing, and the study of social history and grassroots democracy via after-school and summer programs.

The principal goal of the Jackson-based Robert M. Hearin Foundation—which has supported this project since it began three years ago—is to contribute to the overall economic advancement of the state of Mississippi by making funds available to four-year colleges and universities and graduate professional schools located in the state.

Teach for America, which was founded in 1989, selected Delta State as its eighth national training organization in 2009 and remains the only rural training site.

To learn more about the TFA Graduate Fellows Program at Delta State or for an application, go online to email call Harrison Wood, coordinator, at

TFA Graduate Fellows from 2017 and 2018 celebrate after the annual Ballot & Brunch event in November 2018 at Delta Meat Market.