By: Janet Fiskio (Associate Professor, Environmental Studies and Comparative American Studies at Oberlin College)
This past November 30-December 1, the Rock Ethics Institute at the Pennsylvania State University hosted a grant writing conference for Africatown. Members of the MCTS and Mobile County school board, the MCTSAA, and faculty and students from Penn State, Michigan State University, and Oberlin College attended. The Rock Ethics Institute supports engaged research to address society’s ethical challenges, including work on environmental and restorative justice. Ted Toadvine, the director of the institute, has visited Africatown twice as a co-leader for Oberlin College trips. We discussed the current challenges facing the MCTS and also its strengths, such as its dedicated faculty and administration, and explored opportunities for bringing useful resources to support the school’s programs. Kyle Powys Whyte, Timnick Chair in the Humanities and Associate Professor of Philosophy & Community Sustainability at Michigan State University, offered expert guidance on applying for grants from private and public institutions. Kyle is a member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation and participates in innovative collaborations between universities and local communities, with a particular focus on climate change, environmental justice, and food sovereignty. During this workshop we identified potential grants and brainstormed possibilities for future collaborations, including partnerships between Africatown, HBCUs, and tribal colleges and communities. The grant writing team will continue to pursue the plans discussed at the workshop and is currently developing grant proposals to support the future of Africatown and the MCTS.