News: Press Releases

July 8, 2014

UMass President awards $270,000 to faculty for creative economy initiatives

  • The UMass System

Grants support eight projects, including LGBT archives and Peace Institute

BOSTON - July 8, 2014: President Robert L. Caret today announced $270,000 in grants from the President's Creative Economy Initiatives Fund to support eight projects by UMass faculty members in the arts, humanities and social sciences that will bring new creative resources to Massachusetts communities.  The initiatives include supporting an LGBT community archives and education center in Northampton, developing a marketing tool kit to help nonprofit arts and cultural organizations involved in the creative economy in the Fall River-New Bedford area and collaborating with the Peace Institute in the Dorchester section of Boston to assist victims of violence.

``The Creative Economy Initiatives Fund provides us with a unique opportunity to contribute the talent and resources of the University of Massachusetts to communities and organizations across the state that are helping to enrich the quality of life in the Commonwealth,'' said President Caret. ``These projects - and the partnerships with nonprofits and creative industries that stem from them - are foundational to our role as an institution that is committed to making a difference wherever and whenever we can.''

The Fund was created in 2007 to complement the President's Science and Technology Initiatives Fund.  In its eight years of operation, the Creative Economy Initiatives Fund has made 73 awards totaling more than $2 million. It has supported preservation of the W.E.B Du Bois boyhood home in Great Barrington, established the Lowell Youth Orchestra and a permanent Jack Kerouac education and tourism site in Lowell.  It has brought UMass Dartmouth students together with Durfee High School students to create a photographic history of Fall River's neighborhoods, helped establish a women artisans' cooperative in New Bedford, developed a workers' upholstery coop in Springfield, and sponsored numerous music, dance and theatre performances in Boston, Amherst, and Lowell.

This year the Creative Economy Initiatives Fund will provide $270,000 in grants to the following initiatives and faculty members:

1. Judyie Al-Bilali, Gilbert McCauley, and Priscilla Page, Theatre Department - UMass Amherst - ``Art, Legacy & Community."  Project staff will work with community groups in the greater Springfield area to produce an original theater production and develop DuBois Performance Workshops for education in multicultural theater; both activities to take place in Springfield.  Amount awarded:  $32,000.

2. Mitch Boucher, University Without Walls, Julio Capo Jr., History Department and Commonwealth Honors College, and Jessica Johnson, History Department - UMass Amherst - "A LGBTQI Community Archives and Education Center.'' This project will support the Sexual Minorities Archives (SMA) in Northampton-helping SMA preserve, build and provide wider access to its resources, develop regional walking tours and other interactive programs, and establish greater national and international community links for these unique and valuable historical materials.  Amount awarded:  $29,334.

3. Jan Mutchler and Bernard A. Steinman, Gerontology Department and the Center for Social and Demographic Research on Aging (CSDRA) - UMass Boston - "Mapping community assets to improve livability for older adults in Massachusetts."  Asset mapping has clear potential to provide increased economic and quality of life benefits to communities by improving their ability to offer a larger array of services (in this case to senior citizens) more efficiently.  The methodology proposed here will help communities identify and utilize individual and organizational resources that may not have been previously recognized, fully understood or maximized.  Amount awarded:  $30,000.

4. Ronald J. Iannotti, Exercise and Health Sciences - UMass Boston - "Family Gym:  a novel initiative to prevent obesity among families with young children."  The highly successful-and widely praised-GoKidsBoston program has been an important fitness, training and research center at UMB since 2006.  This new project will allow a team from UMass Boston and Northeastern University to link GoKids to a Family Gym site at a City of Boston Centers for Youth and Families (BCYF) facility in Dorchester.  The new Family Gym program will target low-income families with young children in the communities immediately surrounding UMass Boston, greatly increasing the number of local families served.  Amount awarded:  $39,842.

5. Angappa Gunasekaran, Charlton College of Business, Heather Bentz, College of Visual and Performing Arts - UMass Dartmouth - "UMassD Creative: developing a dynamic marketing tool kit for nonprofit arts and cultural organizations."  This project will develop and distribute a tool kit for non-profit cultural organizations, including best practices, identifying and maximizing available resources, collaborative opportunities and fund raising approaches, creating a marketing roadmap for the Fall River/New Bedford non-profit creative economy.  Amount awarded:  $40,000.

6. Khanh Dinh and others, Department of Psychology - UMass Lowell - "Understanding triumphs and challenges of immigration and adaptation:  an innovative model for economic and social integration success."  The ACRE Family Child Care organization in Lowell has proven to be an outstanding example of successful immigrant economic and social integration. Project staff will work with ACRE to understand cultural, language, and other challenges to economic stability for immigrants (particularly emphasizing childcare) -and in doing so will provide a model to replicate throughout Massachusetts and elsewhere.   Amount awarded:  $33,000.

7. Alan Williams and Gena Greher, Music Department - UMass Lowell - ``Discovering cultural identity and self-identity: creating spaces for Cambodian-American adolescents to explore their cultural and artistic heritage."  This program will celebrate and empower newer generations of Cambodian-Americans, encouraging the integration of traditional cultural practices and history into contemporary American identity-while also enhancing cross cultural connections among UML's students and faculty and its surrounding communities.  Amount awarded:  $40,000.
8. Carl Fulwiler, Psychology Department and Center for Mental Health Services Research - UMass Worcester - and Stephanie Hartwell, Sociology Department and Graduate Studies - UMass Boston - "Developing a culturally appropriate mindfulness intervention for inner city survivors of violence through community engagement."  This project will work in collaboration with the highly respected Peace Institute of Dorchester, Mass. to adapt the techniques of mindfulness to help high risk victims of violence as well as to address violence prevention.  Amount awarded:  $25,715.

Contact:  Ann Scales, 617-287-4084; Robert P. Connolly, 617-287-7073