2017 CE Fund Awards

UMass Amherst

Edie Meidav, Dept. of English, “UMass MFA Story Hour”.    Prof. Meidav and UMA MFA students will work with the Holyoke Care Center, a well-supported community resource assisting pregnant Holyoke teenagers who would otherwise drop out of school, and with New England Public Radio studios in Springfield.   Through these alliances, at-risk, primarily Puerto Rican, pregnant and parenting teens will learn journalistic and narrative skills and radio production, building both job skills and a sense of self-worth and self-determination.  Award:  $25,000.

UMass Boston

Stephan Manning and Stanislav Vavilov, College of Management, “Creative Solutions for the Poor: How Boston Entrepreneurs Mobilize Creative Resources to Serve the Bottom of the Pyramid”.   Specifically directing Boston-area creative resources (personnel and intellectual property) toward the needs of the World’s “Bottom of the Pyramid” population, particularly in Africa, this project will encourage Boston-area research and software development firms (among other tech entrepreneurs) to craft innovative solutions for specific needs of clients in Bottom of the Pyramid (BOP) markets.  Strong existing UMB links with the University of Cape Town, South Africa, and with Addis Ababa University in Ethiopia will be exploited.  Award:  $24,350.

Russell K. Schutt, Sociology, Trent D. Buskirk, and Philip S. Brenner, Center for Survey Research, “The Boston Area Survey: Residents Speak, Boston Listens”.    This project will initiate an omnibus Boston-area survey about social identity, crime, health disparities, homelessness and feelings of efficacy to chart future directions for social science research and provide timely and reliable answers to key social questions.   Extensive planning has been undertaken with Paul Grogan, CEO of The Boston Foundation (TBF) and the Boston Area Research Initiative (BARI) co-directors from Harvard and Northeastern which bodes well for sustainability.  Award:  $30,000.

Jurui Zhang and Raymond Liu, College of Management, with Haiping Xu, UMass Dartmouth, “Popularity of Cultural Products in Online Social Media”.    This project will investigate which factors drive the popularity of cultural products—particularly music—in a social media environment, addressing questions such as:  1) How to help local and independent artists (musicians) build their brand names and develop their marketing strategies online?;  2) How the information contained in social tags can reveal information, such as the audience’s perception of an artist’s position and audience consensus, and how such information can predict artists’ popularity online?; and 3) How the structure of the audience’s social networks affects artists’ popularity online?  The object is to help local musicians better succeed professionally and financially in a difficult and challenging environment.  Award:  $36,000.

Jeffrey Melnick, American Studies, Joanne Riley, Rachel Rubin, American Studies; and Rajini Srikanth, Honors College, “Massachusetts Hip-Hop Archive Oral History Project”.   The President’s Creative Economy Fund has supported this project with a modest grant in the past.  The present proposal has two goals:  (1) to provide seed funding for an ongoing oral history project on 1980s hip-hop artists from Massachusetts (which the proposal’s authors hope may lead to NEH “Common Heritage” funding), and (2) to support the formal establishment of the Mass Hip Hop Archive as a permanent collaboration between UMass and the Boston Public Library.   Award: $12,000.


UMass Dartmouth

Anna Dempsey, Art History; Michael Swartz, Design; Ram Balasubramanian, Dean's Office, College of Engineering; Allison Cywin, Digital Media Center, “Paul Rudolph and Virtual Tourism”. The goal of this project is to ensure that one of acclaimed architect Paul Rudolph’s greatest achievements—the UMass Dartmouth Campus—will become a regional and national tourist destination—one that connects the twentieth century modernist campus to its historical, architectural and educational predecessors in the nearby communities.   Project leaders will develop walking tours of the UMass Dartmouth campus and New Bedford cultural sites — one augmented reality (AR), one web-based virtual reality (VR)—that both the general public and specialized groups can use to visit the campus and learn about Paul Rudolph’s architectural jewel and its connection to the region’s architectural, cultural and educational heritage.   The potential benefits to both campus and surrounding region seem clear and substantial.   Award:  $28,000.

Kristi Oliver, Art Education, “Art All-State - 30th year”.  Art All-State is a partnership program between UMass Dartmouth/CVPA and the Massachusetts Art Education Association (MAEA) to match creative high school juniors with practicing artists in an intensive artmaking experience. Now in its 30th year, UMass Dartmouth will host the program for the third time in June of 2017, a role and alliance UMD hopes to sustain.  Student participants pay a program fee, but the number of students requesting scholarships is rapidly increasing.  Funds are requested from the Creative Economy Fund for on-going student scholarships and for special events as part of an important and memorable 30th Anniversary Celebration.  With continued UMD interest and further targeted marketing, sustainability does look promising.   Award:  $25,000.


UMass Lowell

Ellen Wetmore, Art Department, “Art to Work Incubator”.   The Art-to-Work Incubator is aimed at artists and craftspeople who want to develop their products for a larger mass market and thereby achieve greater small business self-sufficiency.  The Art-to-Work Incubator will offer startup funds and mentoring for a cohort of visual artists based in Lowell, Lawrence, Dracut, Haverhill, Chelmsford, Tewksbury, Tyngsboro, and throughout the Merrimack Valley with the goal of channeling artistic output into innovative small businesses. This program is modeled on programs like Assets for Artists in North Adams, E for All, and the Artists Business Council Creative Entrepreneur Fellowship.  This project exhibits considerable planning by a strong team and creative financing ideas.  Award: $26,650.

Sue Kim, English Dept., “UMass Lowell Southeast Asian Digital Archive”.  In March 2017, UMass Lowell was awarded a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities for the development of the Southeast Asian Digital Archive (SEADA) to catalogue and preserve materials related to the cultural heritage of the region’s Southeast Asian community. The NEH grant is to fund the processing, preservation, cataloguing, and curation of the thousands of items that UMass Lowell has collected.   This Creative Economy project will focus on making this material accessible to the general public – particularly students – via several key partnerships, including:  the Lowell National Historical Park, the Tsongas Industrial History Center, the Lowell National Historical Park (LNHP), and community organizations such as the Cambodian Mutual Assistance Association (CMAA), SayDaNar Burmese Community Development Center, and the Bhutanese Community of Lowell (BCL).   This project will leverage the NEH grant in ways of considerable value to the greater Lowell community.  Award:  $28,000.

Robert Forrant, History Dept., “What Makes a Healthy City?”   This project will support a year-long Lawrence Student Writers Workshop: The Rising Loaves “Healthy Students—Healthy Lawrence” program. This program represents the third year of an innovative collaboration between the Lawrence History Center (LHC), UMass Lowell, and Andover Bread Loaf (ABL), an outreach program of Phillips Academy, to provide a free place-based learning opportunity for low-moderate income middle school Lawrence students.  The CE grant will fund the third year of this program, allow more young people than ever before to participate through the summer, and double the number of students worked with during the school-year.  Student writing during the program will focus on public health in Lawrence and promote the Lawrence History Center’s 2018 symposium on the 1918 world-wide flu pandemic that took over 75 million lives, nearly 5% of the world’s population.  Award:  $21,000.