The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation announced that $72 million in total grants have been awarded to various humanities-based projects selected through the Just Futures Initiative. Winners can receive up to $5 million to help their university teams work on solutions-based research which will lead to cultural and social transformation.
“We are thrilled that the work of these multidisciplinary teams will propose and implement solutions to real social problems, and also mark new milestones in the effort to better capture the contributions of the many different communities that make up the American story,” said Mellon Foundation President Elizabeth Alexander.
A jury of 8 scholars specializing in racial justice chose 16 winning proposals among 165 applications the foundation received.
The Mellon Foundation described the Just Futures Initiative as “a collaborative competition in the service of racial justice and social equality” that will support its new strategic direction anchored on building “just communities enriched by meaning and empowered by critical thinking where ideas and imagination can thrive.”
The new focus was welcomed by the foundation, believing that arts and humanities can allow people to deeply understand and discuss the complexities of human experience.
“The Mellon Foundation sees the humanities playing an important role in envisioning the future by helping to shed light on the past, make meaning of the present, and analyze the conditions required for socially just futures,” according to a press release.
The University of Minnesota-Twin Cities will use the money to fund community-engaged research and initiatives including the desire to produce a report on tribal-university relations in collaboration with tribal nations.
“The idea is to partner with different organizations and portions of the community to create knowledge with them. What knowledge do they want to create? How do they want their histories, their stories, narrated and constructed?” said Jigna Desai, a gender studies professor at Minnesota and the faculty leader for the grant.
Meanwhile, the University of Georgia’s Willson Center for Humanities and Arts will partner with Penn Center to support the education and connection between communities in the Sea Islands region of the Southeastern United States and UGA students.
Nicholas Allen, the project’s co-leader, said that, “The continuing support of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, as well as that of the UGA Office of Research, helps us expand the meaning of inclusive and visionary programming, and to root our efforts in community alliance.”
Researchers from Florida International University plan to use the $4.63 million grant to study racial and ethnic disparities in times of disasters. They found that minority groups are more vulnerable when it comes to natural and man-made disasters like hurricanes and the COVID-19 pandemic.
A previous version of this story incorrectly stated Florida State University instead of Florida International University.