Upcoming Bridging Michigan Events

For Bridging Michigan inquiries:

Jennifer Rupp
Director of Federal and State Grants

jrupp “at” mihumanities.org
or call 517-372-7770

Help Support Michigan Humanities

Bridging Michigan

Bridging Michigan is an event series and new grant opportunity that will spark in-depth conversation and action around the persistent social, economic, and cultural issues of systemic inequities that divide our communities.



As part of Michigan Humanities’ commitment to dialogue around critical issues and their connection to the humanities, we are coordinating an online conversation series this summer and fall with a focus on the history of systemic inequities, their current impacts on health, education, and Indigenous rights, and the ways that the arts and humanities are active parts of creating real change.

Please join us for the next Bridging Michigan event:

Thursday, October 1, 7-8 p.m.
: Dr. Paul Elam and Troy Rienstra in conversation about the history and impacts of mass incarceration | Register here

Paul Elam, PhD serves as Michigan Public Health Institute’s Chief Strategy Officer. He is responsible for aligning the priorities of MPHI with national interests as well as diversifying the Institute’s portfolio to address cutting edge issues that affect the health and well-being of our society. His past leadership includes mentoring and training professionals from historically underrepresented groups with evaluation expertise in the areas of child welfare and juvenile justice. His deep understanding of youth violence and prevention, crime and justice, and child maltreatment is nationally recognized. Dr. Elam brings a wealth of knowledge and experience measuring racial and ethnic disproportionality and believes that sound public policy analysis should include an examination of whether all people are being treated fairly and equitably. Dr. Elam works closely with governmental, philanthropic, university, and nonprofit clients, providing strategic consultation to advance decisions in ways that improve lives, advance social justice and produce equitable outcomes.


Troy Rienstra is director of outreach with Safe & Just Michigan  where he works to advance the organization’s outreach program by elevating the voices of people directly harmed by the effects of crime and punishment. He is responsible for outreach activities to crime survivors, formerly incarcerated individuals, and their family members, and the faith community. Troy also serves as director of Nation Outside, a formerly incarcerated led criminal justice advocacy organization focused on elevating the voices of formerly incarcerated people in the formation of policy. “When people come together to help, they can change the world,” says Rienstra. “Lives are being changed across the state, and that’s exciting work to be a part of.” Prior to his beginning with Safe & Just Michigan as outreach director, Rienstra founded the Network for Real Change, and worked as program coordinator at the Church of the Servant – Prisoners in Christ. Rienstra completed 22 years of a life sentence in Michigan, and during that time he contributed to the development of Calvin Prison Initiative, a fully accredited 5 year bachelors program operating at R.A. Handlon Correctional Facility. Troy also serves on the executive board of National Network for Justice and the strategic advisory group to the Michigan Justice Fund.

Questions? Contact Director of Programs, Katie Wittenauer, via email.


Grant opportunities

Michigan non-profits are currently engaging in work that is addressing systemic inequities that are facing our communities. Michigan Humanities would like to support these organizations expand their reach by offering a funding opportunity specifically for these intentional, humanities-based, public programs.

Bridging Michigan will provide Michigan nonprofits with up to $1500 that can be used to spark in-depth thinking and conversation about the persistent social, economic, and cultural issues of systemic inequity that divide our communities. This grant opportunity invites Michiganders to reflect and use the humanities to look at the longer histories driving contemporary debates.

We welcome diverse projects from across Michigan, addressing different themes and using a variety of public humanities formats, including reflective conversations, reading series, film screenings with discussions, web projects, walking tours, documentary films, public lectures and panels, and the creation of exhibits.

Applications opened online on Monday, August 17. Click HERE to apply.

Questions? Contact Director of State and Federal Grants, Jennifer Rupp, via email.


Past Events

  • Thursday, August 13, 7-8 p.m.: Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha and Stephen Henderson in conversation about the impacts of systemic inequities on health and education
  • Thursday, September 3, 7-8 p.m.: Eric Hemenway and Matthew L.M. Fletcher in conversation about the history and current state of Native mascots | View a recording of the conversation here