(Northampton, MA – Sept. 22, 2022) — Mass Humanities announced today it has awarded $713,876 in Expand Massachusetts Stories (EMS) grants to 42 cultural nonprofit organizations across the Commonwealth, including to NAASR and the Armenians of Whitinsville. The funded projects will surface new narratives about the people and ideas that shape Massachusetts.
The National Association for Armenian Studies and Research (NAASR) was awarded $9,570 for their project, Exploring Hybrid Identities of Armenian-Americans in Mass. The project 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.
Armenians of Whitinsville was awarded $7,500 for their project Whitinsville Armenians, Stories Past to Present. The project 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. They will also reside with the University of Southern California Center for Armenian Studies for research purposes.
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. If interested in contributing your story, please contact the project through firstname.lastname@example.org.
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. “At this critical juncture in the history of our state, we see these projects as the sparks for a 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.
Support from the Barr Foundation will 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.”
Organizations interested in learning about future grants should follow Mass Humanities on social media @masshumanities and visit their website.
About Mass Humanities
Mass Humanities, a non-profit based in Northampton, conducts and supports programs that use history, literature, philosophy, and the other humanities disciplines to enhance and improve civic life throughout Massachusetts. Since its founding in 1974, the organization has provided millions of dollars in support of thousands of humanities projects across the Commonwealth. Established as the state-based affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), Mass Humanities is an independent programming and grant-making organization that receives support from the NEH and the Massachusetts Cultural Council as well as private sources. For more information, visit www.masshumanities.org.