Fall 2017 Grant Recipients

Michigan Humanities is pleased to announce $170,619 in grants to 12 Michigan organizations in support of public humanities programming. In addition to this direct support, each agency was required to present matching cash or inkind cost share, bringing an additional $290,603 to the table. This major grant cycle, the Humanities Grants, support projects exploring history, poetry, reading, education and community identity.

Shelly Kasprzycki, Executive Director of Michigan Humanities said, “Humanities Grants are more critical than ever to keep quality cultural programs in our local communities. We are so impressed with the human stories that come to life with these projects.”

Humanities Grants are awarded to Michigan nonprofits in support of cultural, educational and community-based public humanities programming. These grants play a vital role in defining our culture, our state, our community and ourselves, and are intended to connect us to Michigan’s rich cultural heritage and historical resources.

Humanities Grants will be offered again in the spring of 2018. Draft proposals and application are now open and will close on March 15, 2018. Please visit www.michiganhumanities.org, or contact James Nelson, Grants Officer, for additional information.

Michigan Humanities received 43 eligible applications for review in its fall 2017 deadline cycle. The organizations with award amounts, by county, are listed below.


Alpena County

Friends of the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary (Alpena): $15,000
Thunder Bay Maritime Heritage Shipwreck Tours

Friends of the Thunder Bay will develop a model shipwreck cruise for the general public and students on the Lady Michigan glass-bottom boat that illuminates the significant human connections to historical maritime archaeological sites as told through the story of the shipwreck, Monohansett, and its crew who were saved by the Thunder Bay Island Lifesaving Station crew. The project also will illustrate how cargo ships like the Monohansett, and lighthouses, lifesaving stations and fishing villages like those on Thunder Bay Island, shaped the history, economy, and way of life for Alpena and communities throughout northeast Michigan.

Houghton County

Michigan Technological University (Houghton): $15,000
World War I Remembered: The Copper County

In partnership with the Beaumier UP Heritage Center, the Marquette Regional History Center, and the Peter White Public Library, Michigan Technological University will produce and promote high quality cultural programs commemorating the local experience of and participation in World War I as well as its impacts and legacies in the Copper Country. Through programs and exhibits, the project will invite critical reflection on the Great War and the Copper Country’s involvement.


Kalamazoo County

Fire Historical and Cultural Arts Collaborative (Kalamazoo): $12,000
Slam 365: Kzoo Youth Voice Poetry

Fire Historical and Cultural Arts Collaborative believes that young people can discover what it means to be human through the poetic form of spoken word. Throughout 2018, Kalamazoo Youth will have the opportunity to participate in an immersive poetry slam experience centered on educational workshops and performances.


Mackinac County

Museum of Ojibwa Culture (St. Ignace): $15,000

Honoring Our Native American Vietnam Veterans

The Museum of Ojibwa Culture will create a sculpture and educational panels to honor the sacrifices and patriotism of American Indian Vietnam Veterans. The project hopes to educate the public on the many contributions made by Native American Veterans.


Marquette County

Northern Michigan University (Marquette): $11,119
The Immigration Experience

The Beaumier U.P. Heritage Center is creating an exhibition called “The Immigration Experience” which will open in April 2018.  This multi-media exhibition will attempt to paint a picture of the immigrant experience, using the Upper Peninsula as a canvas. It will look at that experience from the first European/White settlers of the region to current people who are coming to the region to make it their home.  Regardless of the era of their arrival, all immigrants share certain commonalities in experience, so the exhibition will not be organized chronologically but will rather be subject based.  This will underline how our current immigrants to the region share the same struggles and aspirations as the very first.


Muskegon County

Muskegon Museum of Art (Muskegon): $15,000

As part of its Perceptions project, the Muskegon Museum of Art will create SONS: Seeing the Modern African American Male, a timely and relevant exhibition that will include both photography and film about how the African American male is perceived and how he perceives himself.  Over 80 photographs of 40 Muskegon men will comprise SONS.  This inclusion of local subjects is the beating heart of SONS.  The exhibition will use photography and film to highlight the process of prejudging people we encounter and reconciling these pre-judgements with realities.


Oakland County

Troy Historical Society (Troy): $15,000
Humanities Hub II

Troy Historical Society will retain 6-10 actors, musicians, and historic reenactors who will bring history to life for eighth graders through Civil War Days. These full-day programs will be offered in May, 2018. Troy Historical Society anticipates that 1,800- 1,900 students from Troy and regional schools in Oakland and Macomb Counties will participate.


Saginaw County

Saginaw Valley State University (Saginaw): $15,000
The 2018 Theodore Roethke Poetry & Arts Festival

The 2018 Roethke Poetry & Arts Festival seeks to build a wider audience for reading and understanding Roethke’s poetry, highlight Roethke’s connection to Saginaw and underscore the cultural heritage of the Great Lakes Bay Region, to engage the university in meaningful collaborations with the larger community through the arts, and to encourage the members of the campus and community to understand, celebrate, and create art that is meaningful and powerful.


Washtenaw County

Wild Swan Theater (Ann Arbor): $15,000
A Thousand Cranes

Wild Swan Theater is producing the play a Thousand Cranes, the true and poignant story of twelve-year old Sadako Sasaki, who was stricken with and dies from “atomic bomb sickness” (leukemia) ten years after the bombing of her city, Hiroshima.  The play will be offered March 8-10, 2018, and is intended for upper elementary, middle, and high school students, families, and the general public. Performances will be held at Towsley Auditorium on the campus of Washtenaw Community College (WCC) in Ann Arbor.


Wayne County

Huron-Clinton Metropolitan Authority-Oakwoods Nature Center (Flat Rock): $15,000
The Huron River: A Vital Highway

Oakwoods Nature Center’s project will present the history of its location on the Huron river and the people that inhabited it during pre-European settlement, through an engaging, dynamic exhibit.  The exhibit will utilize the Huron River and its historical importance as a primary transportation route, as a jumping point to examine the Huron-Wyandot Indians and the French voyageur explorers that used the river in the 17th and 18th centuries.  Set in a period scene, the exhibit will include the authentic dugout canoe that was discovered about 35 miles northwest of the area, Native artifacts discovered onsite, and animal skins that can be touched and handled.  Interpretive panels will tell the story that the exhibit portrays and its relationship to the area’s history.



Lawrence Technological University (Detroit): $12,500
The Mapping Project: Oral and Visual Histories of Detroit’s West End

Lawrence Technological University will reconstruct Detroit’s historic West End in maps by creating a tapestry of historical data, paintings, drawings, pictures, and infographics of the neighborhood generated by the community using a mobile mapping station. The project team will work with high school students, artists, governmental officials, business owners, community organizers, and residents in each of eight neighborhoods in West End to design and build a multi-purpose mobile mapping station pulled by bikes. Ultimately, the project hopes to help the West End neighborhood build capacity, define its own vision for the future, and preserve its community identity.


Michigan Opera Theatre (Detroit): $15,000
Take Me Out to the Opera: Exploring Racial Equity

Michigan Opera Theatre’s “Take Me Out to the Opera” will engage the community in a program series designed to introduce the opera The Summer King and tell the stories of the groundbreaking African American artists and athletes who paved the way for integration in their fields. Concerts, workshops, lectures, films and discussions will bring people together as we connect the history behind the opera to present-day issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion.