The William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation at UM plans to use a $3.1 million grant to spur civil equity and community engagement and continue to build communities both locally and globally.
Part of the three-year award from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation will be used to develop curricula and educate youth, groups and individuals in disparate locations. The Kellogg Foundation supports children, families and communities as they strengthen and create conditions that propel vulnerable children to achieve success as individuals and as contributors to the larger community and society.
“We are excited to be a part of the Kellogg Foundation’s commitment to Mississippi and the improvement of children’s lives here,” said Susan Glisson, executive director of the Winter Institute. “This grant will permit us to significantly expand our ongoing community work, as well as pursue appropriate regional, national and international partnerships that would benefit our work.”
The institute’s goals for the funds include hiring a director of community outreach, hiring an academic director to help create a minor in civic engagement within the College of Liberal Arts and making the temporary youth director’s job into a full-time position.
“Kellogg has funded our Summer Youth Institute and Welcome Table events since 2007,” Glisson said. “During the course of conversations with their board of directors, the Winter Institute was encouraged to consider increasing the amount of funding requested to expand our operational capacity.
The expiration of all our initial funding and the need to revisit our strategic plan simultaneously coincided with the application for and approval of this proposal.”
The William Winter Institute is a leader in Mississippi but also nationally and internationally in both civil rights and community engagement, said Gail Christopher, Kellogg Foundation vice president for program strategy.
“The grant allows the institute to expand their proven strategy for racial healing and reconciliation,” Christopher said. “We see their work as integral to our continued efforts to help uproot the myth of racial hierarchies.”
Former Mississippi Gov. William Winter expressed enthusiasm for the Kellogg Foundation’s support.
“This grant is the conformation of the credibility that the Winter Institute has achieved with recognition by the Kellogg Foundation,” Winter said. “There’s still much work to be done, and this grant will enable us to be a major force and continue to make noticeable advances in racial reconciliation in this part of the country.”
Both UM public policy leadership majors and local community leaders had expressed a desire for a more academic approach to civic engagement.
“Their interests led to the decision to create the minor,” Glisson said. “As for future partnerships, the Winter Institute has already begun negotiations with both the Youth Link in Belfast, Northern Ireland and the Apartheid Archives Project at the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa.”
Others affiliated with the Winter Institute offered congratulations.
“This award will allow the Philadelphia Coalition to continue its work to ensure that every child in Neshoba County, Miss., has an opportunity to not only learn about local and state history, but to learn about the environment that leads to that history and ways to ensure that the negative lessons learned are never allowed to occur again,” said Leroy Clemons, chair of the Philadelphia Coalition, a volunteer community organization created to improve race relations.
Upon receiving the news, Clemons said, “I felt like a farmer watching the rain fall on his drought-stricken crop for the first time. I just smiled!”
“The W.K. Kellogg Foundation’s very generous grant will enable the William Winter Institute to increase its capacity to support local Mississippi communities as they seek to make the state a better place for all of us,” said Glenn Hopkins, dean of liberal arts, to which the Winter Institute is connected.
Founded in 1999, the William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation builds more inclusive communities by promoting diversity and citizenship and by supporting projects that help communities solve local challenges.
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