EMS Grants will supports 42 cultural nonprofit organizations across the state, including Advancing Equity Grants to several organizations
Mass Humanities announced today it has awarded $713,876 in Expand Massachusetts Stories (EMS) grants to 42 cultural nonprofit organizations across the Commonwealth. The funded projects will surface new narratives about the people and ideas that shape Massachusetts.
Rooted in Mass Humanities’ mission to create opportunities for the people of Massachusetts to transform their lives and build a more equitable commonwealth, the new EMS initiative kicked off last year with support to projects across the state that included audio tours, documentary films, oral histories, and public events. The new grant program will strive to promote an equitable and inclusive society that recognizes all people’s perspectives, especially those that have been marginalized and underrepresented.
This latest round of funding will continue to focus on projects that surface and share the histories and experiences of traditionally overlooked communities. The majority of funded projects include leadership roles for people who identify as BIPOC, a sign of progress towards one of the central goals for this new grant program.
“At this critical juncture in the history of our state, we see these projects as the sparks for a much needed reimagining of our past and a new vision for our future,” said Brian Boyles, Executive Director of Mass Humanities. “We believe Massachusetts can only truly thrive when all residents participate in creating, learning and sharing the stories of Massachusetts.”
A non-profit based in Northampton, Mass Humanities provides grants to more than two-hundred organizations across the state each year. The EMS initiative provides up to $20,000 to nonprofit organizations.
The grants are made possible through Mass Humanities’ partnership with Mass Cultural Council, the state’s cultural agency, as well as a two-year, $700,000 partnership with the Barr Foundation that was announced in August.
“Since the adoption of the Agency’s Racial Equity Plan one year ago, Mass Cultural Council has prioritized making decisions that ensure our investments are made equitably across the cultural sector,” said Michael J. Bobbitt, Executive Director of Mass Cultural Council. “We are so pleased that our partners at Mass Humanities are joining us down this path and celebrate the important voices and stories that today’s EMS recipients will soon share with all of us in Massachusetts.”
Support from the Barr Foundation will also contribute to Mass Humanities’ efforts to share the stories of the impacted communities with decision makers and audiences across Massachusetts.
“I extend my congratulations the recipients of the Expand Massachusetts Stories initiative,” said SueEllen Kroll, Senior Program Officer for Arts & Creativity at the Barr Foundation. “We at Barr are proud to support the creation, collection, and sharing of community stories that contribute to a more inclusive narrative and understanding of the Commonwealth’s history, culture, and people.”
In addition, Mass Humanities strived to fund projects led by members of the communities where the stories originate, and projects based in smaller organizations. Of the 42 grants, 62% have people who identify as BIPOC among their project leadership; and 60% of the organizations funded have operating budget under $500,000 and 48% have operating budgets under $350,000.
“To make lasting change, we need to respect and support the storytellers and storytelling spaces where traditions and narratives take root,” said Boyles. “We hope that these important voices and community-based organizations can lead the way in reckoning with our history.”
2022 Expand Massachusetts Stories Grants
Grant Awarded: $20,000
Project Funded: How Are Immigrants Changing Massachusetts?
Agencia ALPHA’s How Are Immigrants Changing Massachusetts? is an immigrant-centered initiative that first values the stories of immigrants themselves, hosting workshops and facilitating sessions to build conviction that their stories are valuable.
The project will Expand Mass Stories by creating a rare space and the processes needed for immigrants to reflect on their lives and engage in a humanities-based exploration of their stories. Since stories have a powerful ability to change mindsets, the project will offer an alternate narrative about immigrants, by immigrants: a nuanced perspective that highlights immigrants’ many social, cultural, economic, and political contributions, while also naming their obstacles, struggles and longings.
Boston Dance Alliance. Inc.
Grant Awarded: $20,000
Project Funded: Dancing with Disabilities
Boston Dance Alliance. Inc.’s Dancing with Disabilities is the creation of a modular video library of oral histories and performance footage of Massachusetts dancers with visible and invisible disabilities. The video will be shared in a series of online and in-person events at venues such as public libraries and community centers, with dancers and humanities scholars present for each conversation.
The project will Expand Mass Stories by providing a combination of personal testimony, examples of artistic self-expression, and scholarly frameworks for thinking about how these dancers fit into the changing definition of disability and the historic fight for disability rights.
Grant Awarded: $20,000
Project Funded: Chinatown Open Gates Project
Company One Theatre’s Chinatown Open Gates Project is an oral history project, digital archive, and public event centered in community narratives of Boston’s Chinatown. It builds on existing partnerships between Company One and Chinatown organizations.
The project will Expand Mass Stories by amplifying the stories of current community members who represent the dynamic and varied experiences of the neighborhood. From business owners, to multi-generational families, to activists, students, youth and elders, this project seeks to create space for longtime and recent residents alike to share stories of what Chinatown means to them, and what the neighborhood means to Boston as we look towards the future.
Grant Awarded: $20,000
Project Funded: Elma Lewis Living Stories Project: Documenting Stories about Boston’s Black Luminaries in the Arts, Education, and Civil Rights
The Elma Lewis Living Stories Project is a mostly digital archive of words, images, audio recordings, films, or artistic creations from community members who answer the call, “What Miss Elma Lewis taught me.”
The project will Expand Mass Stories by bringing to light the work of one of Boston’s most important Black female luminaries in the arts, education, and civil rights, Emerson alumna Elma Ina Lewis, Class of 1943. If you walk down the streets in Boston’s Roxbury, Dorchester, or Mattapan neighborhoods or the surrounding areas, it’s likely you will meet someone who will passionately share a story about “what Miss Elma Lewis taught me.” They may tell you how their lives have been deeply impacted by the seven decades of Miss Lewis’ work. They will tell you about her unwavering dedication to supporting the education, creativity, and intellectual development of youth through dance, music, poetry, and the visual arts in schools, prisons, theaters, and public parks.
Grant Awarded: $20,000
Project Funded: Standing on the Shoulders of Giants: The Massachusetts Rock Against Racism Oral History Project
Standing on the Shoulders of Giants: The Massachusetts Rock Against Racism Oral History Project is an intergenerational, community-led oral history project that will build a sustainable model for engaging youth in collecting and archiving the stories of community elders and demonstrate that model collecting ten oral histories of founders and members of the Massachusetts Rock Against Racism movement in partnership with UMass Boston.
The project will Expand Mass Stories by focusing on developing a sustainable model for community led oral history collection and archiving. The resulting collection of oral histories from Standing on the Shoulders of Giants will help contextualize the important work of this organization by ensuring that its legacy is never disconnected from the experiences of its founders and members told in their own voices.
Freedom House, Inc.
Grant Awarded: $14,576
Project Funded: Smartphone Storytelling Program
The Smartphone Storytelling Program is a digital media project that empowers Black, Brown, and immigrant youth to explore, narrate, and reflect on the physical and emotional spaces they exist in and present new insights into the lived experiences of young people in Boston.
The project will Expand Mass Stories by providing an outlet to the voices of young people within impacted communities. Through the creation and sharing of short films, young people will document and narrate the stories of individuals and organizations engaged in rebuilding. This project will be fully student-directed from topic research, production, and scheduling to filming and editing. In addition to technical training, these youth will learn techniques of storytelling and narration. Once trained, they will work with high school students to produce short documentary films.
Historic New England
Grant Awarded: $20,000
Project Funded: Teaching the Full Dorchester Story
Teaching the Full Dorchester Story, is Historic New England’s investment in re-centering youth education programs at Pierce House in Dorchester, engages students through the stories of marginalized people during the Colonial and Revolution Era to foster a deeper, more relevant understanding of our nation’s history.
The project will Expand Mass Stories by providing students a more complete understanding of Colonial and Revolution Era life while encouraging them to examine their own relationships to these histories.
By exploring these previously unknown connections and their implications is at the heart of the curriculum redevelopment the Pierce House is undertaking to enact widespread narrative change and transform history education into a tool for social justice and robust civic engagement. Re-visioning its program content is part of Historic New England’s commitment to inclusivity, diversity, equity, and accessibility and a core component of its strategic agenda.
The Black Arts Sanctuary
Location: Hyde Park
Grant Awarded: $20,000
Project Funded: The Black Arts Sanctuary Presents: Ended Up In Boston
The Black Arts Sanctuary Presents: Ended Up In Boston consists of a geo-located audio tour and a launch event for Black History Month 2024. The launch event will include a panel discussion and viewing of a mini-documentary of the creation of a walking tour.
The project will Expand Mass Stories by telling the stories of the Black Americans and immigrants who have shaped the area for centuries. This subject matter is vital at a moment when the city is losing young BIPOC artists to more affordable cities. Having BIPOC-focused archives will prompt the cultural caregivers and educators with tools for building stronger artists’ community in Mass.
The Flavor Continues
Grant Awarded: $18,600
Project Funded: The Torchbearers: Massachusetts’s Street and Club Dance Community Stories
The Torchbearers: Massachusetts’s Street and Club Dance Community Stories is a series of interviews that looks deeply into the lives of the pioneers and cultural bearers of the various street and club dance communities in Massachusetts.
The project will Expand Mass Stories by finding, exploring, and sharing education about the history, culture, and experiences of the pioneers and tradition bearers of the street and club dance communities in Massachusetts through an oral history lens. This will contribute to a more inclusive understanding of Massachusetts by exploring the underground scenes of a Black Cultural Art forms molded by other identities of BIPOC and LGBTQ+ individuals. The general public will experience history of the street and club dance communities in Massachusetts and its true, authentic history, which is extremely hidden. Participants will also learn about one another’s history and different versions of the same story, as well as experience a sense of importance for the legacy they have created.
UU Urban Ministry
Grant Awarded: $20,000
Project Funded: Roxbury Stories Project
The Roxbury Stories Project will ask youth in the UU Urban Ministry afterschool program to interview elders from their community and record these stories to be shared with the neighborhood and beyond.
The project will Expand Mass Stories by finding untold 20th century stories of Roxbury, the heart of Boston’s historic African American community and home to a growing immigrant and Muslim community. The Roxbury Stories Project is intended to facilitate youth finding everyday histories of elders living in the Roxbury community over the past 75 years. These stories will honor the experience of living in Roxbury during major 20th century events such as the Civil Rights Movement, White Flight from Boston, and the resilience and perseverance of the Black community of Roxbury. Elders have an opportunity to reflect their own histories and young people to better understand their city and what came before them. Young people will learn about the richness of this community, and to dismantle some of the harmful stereotypes that have persisted about Roxbury as a community of danger and deficits.
Grant Awarded: $20,000
Project Funded: Bounty – Revealing the Truth about Scalp Bounty Hunting in New England
Bounty – Revealing the Truth about Scalp Bounty Hunting in New England is an impact campaign of public and educational outreach, in-person and virtual, using the 9-minute documentary film BOUNTY as the catalyst. BOUNTY tells the story of Penobscot Nation’s survival of attempts to exterminate them, including through the 1755 Phips Proclamation.
The project will Expand Mass Stories by presenting the story of BOUNTY, a story of the incalculable loss, suffering, and unacknowledged trauma of Indigenous peoples as well as their immeasurable resistance, survival, and creativity. For Indigenous People and other marginalized groups seeing stories representing their experiences in places of artistic and cultural prominence is tremendously empowering. For all of us, watching a film can activate our emotions in a particularly powerful way. This creates an opening for us to face hard history and engage in conversations so that we can reckon with the history and how it shapes our collective present-day struggles.
Community Art Center, Inc.
Grant Awarded: $20,000
Project Funded: Port Stories: Do It Your Damn Self!! (National Youth Film Festival)
Port Stories: Do It Your Damn Self!! (National Youth Film Festival) is a project centering the stories of Cambridge’s rapidly-gentrifying Port neighborhood. Youth Filmmakers from Community Art Center’s Teen Media Program will share the stories of those who are routinely and historically excluded.
The project will Expand Mass Stories by illuminating the lesser known places in a fascinating and oft-overlooked neighborhood of Cambridge. Documentary subjects could include the family who operated a long-standing favorite Caribbean restaurant that recently closed its doors for good; or a documentary on the matriarchal figure who everyone in Newtowne Court reveres; as well as neighborhood traditions like Port Pride Day. Underlying questions about class, race, access, equity and a rapidly changing neighborhood will likely be raised given the neighborhood and Community Art Center demographics.
Jewish Women’s Archive
Grant Awarded: $20,000
Project Funded: Jewish Women’s Voices, Jewish Women’s Lives
Jewish Women’s Voices, Jewish Women’s Lives is an oral history preservation and publication project of the Jewish Women’s Archive (JWA) that will make previously recorded interviews of approximately 125 Jewish women in Massachusetts available online.
The project will Expand Mass Stories by offering an opportunity to add the voices of approximately 125 women to the historical record and reshape both scholarly and popular understandings of what it means to be Jewish and a woman in Massachusetts. Over its 25 years, JWA has collected oral history interviews with women in Massachusetts. Audiences will discover the intimate details of everyday life in the past, along with first-person descriptions of some of the major historical events of the twentieth century. Users will learn of the surprising threads that connect disparate events in one person’s life, as well as how individual choices and community actions can shape sweeping historical change.
Grant Awarded: $16,600
Project Funded: Justflix in Medford
Justflix in Medford is part of a larger project designed to expose young people to the art of storytelling by using their cell phones to make short videos of social and racial justice, community activism, or their ideas of justice. The project will partner with the Royall House and Slave Quarters Museum, the Medford Housing Authority, and the Medford Public Library.
The project will Expand Mass by drawing from participants from Medford Public Housing families, 66% of whom identify as Haitian Creole, a population often excluded from or marginalized in civic affairs but with a vast wealth of perspective. The Justflix project is designed to meet young people where they live; both literally in the housing authority, as well as on their cell phones. It provides an opportunity for the youth to explore the various assets in their lives, whether organizations or individuals, who contribute to the strength of their communities.
National Association for Armenian Studies and Research
Grant Awarded: $9,570
Project Funded: Exploring Hybrid Identities of Armenian-Americans in Mass
Exploring Hybrid Identities of Armenian-Americans in Mass will support a series of public programs on Armenian- American identities and how they interact with the diverse community of Massachusetts.
The project will Expand Mass Stories by encouraging and inviting members of the Armenian-American community in Massachusetts to share their voices and perspectives on the multiple facets of their identities and how they have been shaped through interactions with the broader, diverse Massachusetts community. Exploring Hybrid Identities of Armenian-Americans in Mass will encourage fruitful conversations and reflections on the importance of the diversity within the Armenian-American community and the overall Massachusetts population.
Newton Historical Society/Historic Newton
Grant Awarded: $20,000
Project Funded: An Uncommon Education: The Allen School
An Uncommon Education: The Allen School is a short documentary film that will be used in exhibits, in regional public programming, and as a professional development tool for educators. It will highlight the educational legacy of Nathaniel T. Allen and the Allen School, in Newton, Mass., which advanced a radical new vision of social and educational equality in the United States in last half of the 19th century.
The project will Expand Mass Stories by giving Massachusetts residents a glimpse into how and why the Commonwealth has enjoyed a reputation for progressive thinking and education since before the Civil War. The film will instill a sense of pride in the local viewer by demonstrating how early the desire to provide an equal education for all – local, national, and international students – was established in Massachusetts. It makes an important addition to the history of Massachusetts as a state that values education and was an early pioneer in fostering inclusion.
Padres Latinos de Somerville Public Schools
Grant Awarded: $18,750
Project Funded: Stories from Somerville’s Padres Latinos
Stories from Somerville’s Padres Latinos is an interview and documentary photo project and a community-centered museum exhibition.
The project will Expand Mass Stories by exploring and sharing the stories of members of “Padres Latinos de Somerville Public Schools,” a volunteer group of over 200 Spanish and Portuguese-speaking parents that organized more than a year ago to support each other during the pandemic regarding questions on education, housing, healthcare, and more. Elevating these stories will contribute to a more inclusive understanding of the city and Massachusetts as a whole. People who visit the June 2024 Somerville Museum exhibition or its public programs will learn more about the immigrant parenting experience in Somerville. The exhibition will also bring families together, empowering parents, and inspire others to create strong community bonds like that of Padres Latinos.
Grant Awarded: $18,300
Project Funded: Shining a Light on Massachusetts History: A Premiere Screening Event of “Long Road to Justice: Black Changemakers in Massachusetts Past, Present, Future!” and How to Use It in the Classroom
Legacy of Courage: Black Changemakers in Massachusetts Past, Present, Future! is a film for 5th-12th grade students that showcases the stories of 400 years of African American activism in Massachusetts and inspires them to become changemakers.
The project will Expand Mass Stories by supporting a public film premiere and discussion, and a professional development program for teachers so they are empowered to educate students about Black history and activism in pursuit of civil rights in Massachusetts.
Framingham History Center
Grant Awarded: $15,840
Project Funded: Collective Journeys: Framingham’s Global Migration Story, 1960 – Present
Collective Journeys is an exhibition and programming series exploring immigration in Framingham from 1960 to present-day through the eyes of foreign-born community members.
The project will Expand Mass Stories by allowing underrepresented immigrants previously or currently residing in Framingham bring their perspective to the Framingham History Center. These narratives will represent a range of ages, ethnicities, religions, genders, and class statuses. Guided by Framingham History Center Humanities Advisor, Cheryl Hamilton, the interviews will reflect the historical and contemporary demographics of Framingham and will include representatives from numerous places of origin, including Brazil, El Salvador, Haiti, and China. Interviews will also include individuals who were part of the recent refugee crises in Afghanistan and Syria.
Gabrielle Ewing Filmmaker
Grant Awarded: $14,436
Project Funded: Credible Fear
Credible Fear is a documentary film by independent filmmaker Gabrielle Ewing about the U.S. asylum system, the universal bonds of motherhood, and the power of friendship.
The project will Expand Mass Stories by exploring the friendship between Amy, a sheltered but awakening lawyer from Massachusetts and Yojana, an asylum seeker living in Waltham. As their story arcs intersect, we see a rare glimpse into the labyrinthine U.S. immigration system as they unite through the universal bonds of motherhood. Credible Fear has the power to validate communities’ experiences, provide healing, spark conversation, and create real world change. The issues remain timely as waves of refugees from Haiti, Afghanistan, and most recently Ukraine arrive in the US. By helping Massachusetts residents understand how our immigration laws impact their friends and neighbors, they will have the tools to empathize and build bridges within their communities.
Cape Cod and the Islands
Cape Cod Cape Verdean Museum and Cultural Center, Inc.
Location: East Falmouth
Grant Awarded: $10,245
Project Funded: Cape Verdeans in the Military
Cape Verdeans in the Military is a series of interviews of Massachusetts residents who served in the Military, are still serving or had a family member who served and whose story is virtually untold.
The project will Expand Mass Stories by exploring the often overlooked role Cape Verdeans – and people of color – have played – and continue to play – within our armed services.
Cape Cod Maritime Museum
Grant Awarded: $19,800
Project Funded: Cape Cod Maritime Museum’s “Women of the Water” Exhibit and Lecture Series
Cape Cod Maritime Museum’s “Women of the Water” Exhibit and Lecture Series is an exhibit and lecture series of the many crucial roles played by women of Cape Cod and the Islands’ maritime communities, across races, ethnicities, cultures, and time.
The project will Expand Mass Stories by telling the rich, diverse, and plentiful stories of Cape Cop women and their unique relationship with the sea that have played out over millennia, across cultures and ethnicities, and through multiple sectors of society. Women have made Cape Cod’s maritime communities strong. Now is the time to lift up their stories. These stories will spark inquiry, helping to create a new and expanded understanding of our Commonwealth, and a deeper appreciation of how diversity is essential to its vitality.
Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe
Grant Awarded: $20,000
Project Funded: Across Generations: Mashpee Wampanoag Hunting and Fishing
Across Generations: Mashpee Wampanoag Hunting and Fishing (Across Generations) is an oral history project which gathers the stories of Mashpee Wampanoag hunters and fishers from multiple generations. These multi-generational perspectives will inform each other, allowing the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe to document and present a vivid story of the changes to Mashpee’s land and waters over time.
The project will Expand Mass Stories by gathering local stories, new and old, about the experience of hunting and fishing as a Mashpee Wampanoag person. Through working with older generations, the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe will learn about the role of hunting and fishing in its community. For audiences outside of the tribal community “Across Generations” will raise awareness to the stories of a neglected historical voice within Massachusetts. Presenting these stories has the potential to instill a new sense of responsibility and self-reflection for non-tribal Mashpee, Cape Cod, and Massachusetts residents.
MLK Action Team of Nauset Interfaith
Grant Awarded: $14,971
Project Funded: Building Relationship, Building Equity: Acknowledging Continuing Wampanoag Presence on Cape Cod!
The MLK Action Team, of Nauset Interfaith Association’s Building Relationship, Building Equity: Acknowledging the Continuing Presence of the Wampanoag on Cape Cod will work with Indigenous People from the Wampanoag Nation to design a multi-part educational series for the public in rural communities of the Outer Cape.
The project will Expand Mass Stories by empowering underrepresented Native voices. Our Commonwealth needs to develop a more comprehensive understanding of history, including colonization and its impacts, Wampanoag perspectives on the same, as well as how that all relates to and is foundational to American history can create a more inclusive and equitable society.
Gloucester Maritime Heritage Center, Inc. dba/Maritime Gloucester
Grant Awarded: $15,000
Project Funded: Before the Loop – An Exhibit and Lecture on the Historic Maritime Industries and People of Harbor Loop
Before the Loop is a new exhibit about the people and industries that worked to support Gloucester’s vast fishing industry located in the Duncan’s Point neighborhood (now called Harbor Loop) of Gloucester, MA.
The project will Expand Mass Stories by preserving the story of the Duncan’s Point neighborhood for future generations. Nearly two generations of Gloucesterites are gone since urban renewal changed this neighborhood. For many, this project will be the closest one can get to understanding the long and very-active history of this former neighborhood, and its representative value for much of Gloucester The subject matter will be focused, using a waterfront neighborhood in Gloucester and all the under-recognized industries that built and changed the city that we know today, but the narrative will ultimately be larger and representative of many other American experiences during this time.
Wellspring House Inc.
Grant Awarded: $9,165
Project Funded: History Lives Here: The Freeman Family of Gloucester
History Lives Here: The Freeman Family of Gloucester is an exhibit, website, and a series of public events to tell the untold life stories of Robin Freeman, a father who was formerly enslaved, and four generations of his family from the late 18th to mid-20th century.
The project will Expand Mass Stories by telling the story of the Freeman family, which has not been thoroughly and accurately researched, nor shared with the community. By telling the Freeman family’s history and stories, public audiences will gain a deeper understanding of the depth and lives of people who were formerly enslaved and subsequently lived as freed persons in Massachusetts and around the Cape Ann region. The project will dispel an often-held belief that slavery was rare in New England by telling the factually accurate story of Robin Freeman and his descendants who lived and worked on a homestead in West Gloucester for nearly 200 years.
LEAP for Education, Inc.
Grant Awarded: $16,000
Project Funded: The History of Youth Activism in Lynn
The History of Youth Activism in Lynn is a student-led exploration of the history and role of young change-makers in the local community.
The project will Expand Mass Stories by engaging Lynn middle school students who will learn about what it means to be an activist. The students will research local young people who played this role, and develop a student-created exhibit at the Lynn Museum where they’ll share what they’ve learned with the community. “The History of Youth Activism in Lynn” seeks to collect, interpret, and share narratives about youth activists in the city of Lynn. The emphasis on voices and experiences that have gone unrecognized is met, as young people have largely gone unnoticed for their work due to societal norms that undervalue youth voice.
Salem State University Foundation
Grant Awarded: $18,020
Project Funded: Documenting the Multiethnic Russian-Speaking Community in the North Shore and Greater Boston
Documenting the Multiethnic Russian-Speaking Community in the North Shore and Greater Boston is an oral history project by the Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies (CHGS) at Salem State University focused on the history of this Massachusetts community and the lived experiences of its members.
The project will Expand Mass Stories by using oral history methods to explore the lived experiences and migration stories of Russian-Speaking community members and the various challenges and successes they have encountered. The project will highlight the challenges many immigrants face as they try to build new lives in a foreign and often bewildering cultural landscape and their ambivalent relations to their countries of origin. These stories will speak to universal themes and will resonate with the experiences of many other immigrant groups in the state.
Latinx Community Center for Empowerment
Grant Awarded: $19,605.49
Project Funded: The Lowell Latinx Archive
The Lowell Latinx Archive is a project seeking to provide visibility to Lowell’s Latinx stories through the collection of oral histories and photography, as well as the creation of community building events such as photo exhibitions, panels, and other multimedia platforms.
The project will Expand Mass Stories by including the narratives of a group poorly and rarely depicted in its history. Little of the Latinx experience has been collected or preserved and its history is rich and complex, and subsequently deserves more research and recognition. Latinx Community Center for Empowerment’s efforts not only seek to create and collect primary sources such as oral histories and photography, but also present this information to the Lowell community in a way that is inclusive, interactive and encourages interpretation.
Duxbury Free Library
Grant Awarded: $2,390
Project Funded: South Shore LGBTQ Oral History Archive
South Shore LGBTQ Oral History Archive is an intergenerational oral history project that aims to highlight the stories of LGBTQ elders on the South Shore of Massachusetts.
The project will Expand Mass Stories by capturing the stories of older LGBTQ folks who have decades of knowledge and experience to share. Intergenerational learning is the key; by inviting LGBTQ teens to conduct these oral history interviews, the Duxbury Free Library hopes to connect these teens to the people in their own communities who have, directly or indirectly, given them the rights that they have today. LGBTQ teens on the South Shore will be able to appreciate and learn directly from seniors in their community through this project.
Southeast Asian Coalition of Central Massachusetts
Grant Awarded: $20,000
Project Funded: Mending: Asian Lives and Love in Central Massachusetts
Mending: Asian Lives and Love in Central Massachusetts is an interpretive exhibit of the personal stories behind the artifacts and artwork of Southeast Asian immigrants in Worcester.
The project will Expand Mass Stories by collecting artifacts and artisan works and telling the stories of their makers and traditions. Through Asian Lives and Love in Central Massachusetts the community can reflect on the collective journey to the U.S. At the same time, the larger Worcester community can join the conversation about the immigrant experience; the roles that immigrants play in the community; and the act and process of cultural preservation.
Worcester Youth Center, Inc.
Grant Awarded: $20,000
Project Funded: Violence Is Not Normal
Violence Is Not Normal is a short that will find, explore, and share the stories of Worcester youth who are victims and/or perpetrators of violence. While there are many programs and interventions directed toward at-risk youth, there are limited opportunities for youth to explore and share their stories.
The project will Expand Mass Stories by allowing youth to tell their own stories, as well as see the stories of their peers. Sharing and collating these stories will give Worcester youth an opportunity to understand their stories within the context of the larger community. Participants will explore the concepts of anti-violence and justice within the community, as well as their response to their circumstances. The insights generated by the collection and sharing of stories will generate discussions of the community’s understanding of and response to youth violence. Initiating a community discussion of the violence and trauma experienced by Worcester’s youth opens a path for envisioning a better future.
The Armenians of Whitinsville
Grant Awarded: $7,500
Project Funded: Whitinsville Armenians, Stories Past to Present
Whitinsville Armenians, Stories Past to Present will produce ten to fifteen oral history recordings from Armenians with ties to Whitinsville. The recordings will sit on the Armenians of Whitinsville project website alongside recently translated and subtitled recordings of Armenian Genocide survivors done in the 1970’s.
The project will Expand Mass Stories through oral histories that will explore issues around the diaspora, the transformation of the Armenian community of Whitinsville, and how their identity has changed over the last 130 years. The oral history project will dovetail into a web-based project organized over the last 12 months and recently launched, www.armeniansofwhitinsville.org. They will sit inside both the Recordings section and inside their family collection, providing additional narrative and context.
Connecticut River Valley
Grant Awarded: $12,250
Project Funded: Oral Histories of Northampton Lesbian Women of Color
Oral Histories of Northampton Lesbian Women of Color is a project to record, preserve, and present the narratives of lesbian women of color who came to Northampton to live, work, and participate in lesbian culture in the 1970s to 1980s, at a time when lesbian culture was forming in Northampton.
The project will Expand Mass Stories by telling the narratives of these women of color who participated in the burgeoning lesbian culture in Northampton in the 1970s and 1980s because they have not been gathered and preserved. Their stories will explore issues around their experiences and perspectives about identity, the spaces they frequented (safe and unsafe), groups they formed and why they found fellowship (or not). The project will also connect these narratives to national movements of Third World and Black Lesbians; the racial awareness they brought to Northampton; why they stayed or moved away; how their Northampton experiences influenced or affected their lives; and the legacy they left in Northampton.
The Wistariahurst Foundation
Grant Awarded: $10,900
Project Funded: Reliquary of Blackness: A Dive into Black Families in Holyoke
Reliquary of Blackness: A Dive into Black Families in Holyoke is a project that seeks to discover the history of three Hadley Historical Society and family and church papers, seeking to establish the history of three Black families in Holyoke at the end of the 19th century and the turn of the 20th century.
The project will Expand Mass Stories by looking deeper at the stories of individual families in Holyoke and telling a story of how they came to Holyoke. These stories will be connected to other narratives that exist across New England to get a better understanding of Black migration and the connection to Black reconstruction in and around Massachusetts. Reliquary of Blackness: A Dive into Black Families in Holyoke will help residents understand the nuances of the historical Black experience especially in contexts where the history is still vague and create a more complex and complete narrative of Black people in western Massachusetts.
Local Access to Valley Arts/The LAVA Center
Grant Awarded: $20,000
Project Funded: IndiVISIBLE: Celebrating Indispensable Agricultural Workers, Making Their Stories and Presence Visible
IndiVISIBLE makes visible the too-often overlooked stories of indispensable, essential agricultural workers, primarily through oral history/story and photo documentation, along with related curriculum modules.
The project will Expand Mass Stories by seeking several of these individuals who are willing to share their stories through oral history interviews and photo-documentation. These essential indispensable workers and their stories will become visible/audible, contributing in particular to a more inclusive understanding of the rural and agricultural areas of Massachusetts.
Mead Art Museum, Amherst College
Grant Awarded: $19,938
Project Funded: Boundless: Indigenous Art and Stories Across Massachusetts
Boundless: Indigenous Art and Stories Across Massachusetts is an evergreen educational initiative that will expand the access and reach of local Indigenous objects and histories from the “Boundless” exhibition to K-12 classrooms through developing digital teaching resources and curricula.
The project will Expand Mass Stories by linking the Kim-Wait Eisenberg Collection of Native American literature (KWE) at Frost Library and the Mead Art Museum’s collection for the first time, bringing the two Amherst College collections together at the Mead from September 12, 2023–January 7, 2024. Though the featured artists in the exhibition reflect a range of tribal affiliations, both the exhibition and the education program “Boundless: K-12” will focus on local Northeastern creators and the connections many non-local artists had to Massachusetts.
Piti Theatre Company
Grant Awarded: $11,500
Project Funded: Night at the Deerfield Museum: Underrepresented Stories from Franklin County
Night at the Deerfield Museum is a short documentary that uses pieces of Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association’s collection as a jumping off point to tell stories of underrepresented communities connected to those pieces between 1806 and 1853, the lifetime of citizen scientist and abolitionist Dexter Marsh.
The project will Expand Mass Stories by addressing three principal stories connected to Franklin County in three “chapters.” By using the lens of material culture, or objects in Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association’s Memorial Hall Museum, the Piti Theater Company will bring to light important stories from the first half of the 19th century connected to Franklin County and the Afro-American experience in the Connecticut River Valley prior to the Civil War. While often whites are venerated for their actions as part of the Underground Railroad, this project will highlight African American contributions to this network in the Connecticut River Valley.
Hampshire County Food Policy Council
Grant Awarded: $19,920
Project Funded: Seeding the Story Garden: Building a Community Food Story Archive in Hampshire County
Seeding the Story Garden is an effort to establish the Hampshire County Community Food Story Archive, a digital repository of stories about food experiences and culture in Hampshire County, focused on elevating the voices of underrepresented residents.
The project will Expand Mass Stories by telling the stories of Hampshire County residents in their own words. Through the project residents will discover their own narrative voice and build agency. Documenting these stories in an archive and sharing them widely will impact how people in Massachusetts think about food insecurity, poverty, and oppression, centering the humanity and dignity of all people, regardless of their identity or experience. This project will support the Hampshire County Food Policy Council vision for a resilient, community-owned food system, where all Massachusetts residents are empowered to live more joyful and gratifying lives.
Self Evident Media
Grant Awarded: $20,000
Project Funded: If You Cross This Boundary, We All Die
If You Cross This Boundary, We All Die is a multimedia film, accompanying curriculum, and series of community building events. It will center on the story of William and Ellen Craft, an enslaved couple who labored in Macon, Georgia and escaped to Massachusetts.
The project will Expand Mass Stories by telling this story full of complex nuances of identity and the drive for liberation. The story of William and Ellen Craft is just as poignant today because it touches upon many of the same issues that are stirring demands for equity across the state and across the country. Participants will reflect upon the tangled historical threads of identity – how they interact in a complicated dance of power dynamics to empower or disempower individuals to move through politically charged spaces. The project aims to inspire the audience to interrogate the narratives wrapped up in their own identities, as well as the political privileges and systems of oppression that surround us.
Ohketeau Cultural Center
Grant Awarded: $20,000
Project Funded: The Living Presence of Our History
The Living Presence of Our History is an ongoing series of panel discussions with Indigenous leaders, scholars, and culture-makers on various contemporary Indigenous topics.
The project will Expand Mass Stories by sharing stories and struggles of Indigenous people living in Massachusetts and beyond on a conversational and intimate level. The discussions will lift the veil of invisibility from oppressed and marginalized community experiences, both contemporarily and historically. Living Presence of Our History hopes to create awareness of several modes of contemporary Indigenous storytelling that will be invaluable to all audiences and to cultural understandings across Massachusetts.
Sheffield Historical Society
Grant Awarded: $20,000
Project Funded: After Elizabeth Freeman: the Untold Story of the Black Community of Sheffield
After Elizabeth Freeman: the Untold Story of the Black Community of Sheffield is a project to research the history of Sheffield’s Black community between 1780-1915, resulting in a pamphlet, lectures, educational programs , interactive exhibits, and presents that story to a local, state and national audience.
The project will Expand Mass Stories by telling the hidden and forgotten history of the Black community in Sheffield between the Revolutionary War and WWI. There is little known about the subject, save for glimpses scattered in miscellaneous records and newspapers. For a small town, Sheffield’s Black community had impacts on history that extended far beyond its borders. The project will reveal history previously hidden, ignored and forgotten—a history of a community born of landmark events. As a result of this project, descendants of the Black community will gain a greater understanding of the contributions their ancestors made to local history.