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MICA-Funded Grants Set Community Projects into Motion

With the help of students, staff and faculty, MICA makes impact on surrounding communities.

Posted 07.24.12 by MICA communications

A few of the families and volunteers who participated in "Family Portraits: East Baltimore."

One of MICA's greatest strengths is the College's ability to make an impact on the surrounding community through the work of students, faculty, and staff. One way to ensure projects continue to make a difference is through grants offered by various MICA offices. The grants provide modest seed funding for materials, supplies, and other resources needed to turn visions into reality. "We have a student body that really understands connection to community," explained Mike Patterson, associate dean of student life and judicial affairs. "They have the skillset to do wonderful things, and they need someone to help open the door to give them a little encouragement and financial support."

Student Affairs Community Service Fund

Caitlin Deane '12 created Lesson in a Box to spark conversations in the classroom.Each year, the Student Affairs Community Service Fund (CSF) awards $9,000 to 15 to 20 undergraduate and graduate students for co-curricular projects that benefit the community. The grants, which are for a maximum of $500, give students an opportunity to get their feet wet in the world of community arts projects, Patterson has said. Many projects also provide opportunities for additional students to participate, such as the creation of a community mural that takes many hands to complete.  

Caitlin Deane '12 (ceramics) won a grant in the spring of 2011 when she and Karine Sarkissian '13 provided a forum for Baltimore middle school students to see the off-campus exhibition Baltimore: Open City. Curated by MICA's Exhibition Development Seminar class, the exhibition looked at Baltimore's history of segregation and how the city can be made more accessible to all residents. When Deane and Sarkissian noticed the city's youth were not getting to the exhibition, they contacted several schools to boost participation. "The grant was to raise money to get these kids to the space," Deane said. The outreach was successful, and the pair was able to get several schools to come in by bus. Deane and Sarkissian also produced a Lesson in a Box, which included trinkets from the exhibition that teachers could use to spark further conversation in the classroom.

"The most rewarding thing was seeing all these students think about their city and knowing they have the power to make a change," Deane said.

Community Arts Partnerships Special Project Fund Grants

A participant in Operation Respect, an anti-bullying program started by Jessie Leete '12Exceptional Community Arts Partnerships (CAP) students in community arts endeavors can receive support through fellowships and grants. Agnès Moon, director of CAP, explained most grants are for $750, but students can be awarded up to $1,000. Seven projects were funded during the 2011-2012 school year.

I think the success of the grants is a great demonstration of our students' self-motivation and ability to manifest their visions of transforming the community," Moon said.

 Jessie Leete '12 (illustration) was awarded a grant in spring 2011 for her project, Operation Respect, an after-school anti-bullying program at Mount Royal Elementary/Middle School. A group of 15 to 20 students met each week and worked on art projects around the theme of bullying and ways to stop it. Inspired by the work of comedienne Ellen DeGeneres to stop bullying, Leete said, "everyone should have a positive social experience."

Though the program officially ended at the end of last school year, the school will continue to use art to combat bullying in the future. "A social worker will have older kids teach younger kids after I leave," Leete said

Office of Community Engagement Grants

Grants offered by the Office of Community Engagement are unique in that they are open not only to MICA students, but to faculty, staff, and Community Art Collaborative (AmeriCorps) members as well. Thus far, the office has awarded 14 grants totaling more than $50,000. While the grants can range from $500 to $2,500, most are at the $1,000 level.

 The East Baltimore community visits MICA PLACE for the Family Portraits gallery show"We thought if MICA is a school that's committed to community engagement as a principle, we should take that extra step and provide financial support," said Karen Stults, director of community engagement.

 Leah Harper '12 (Social Design) and Remy Peritz '12 (Social Design) were awarded a grant in fall 2011 to provide free professional portraits to families who otherwise might not pursue or be able to afford them. These families live in East Baltimore, the neighborhood near MICA PLACE (Programs Linking Art, Culture, and Education), a center for community arts and social design where students live, work, and learn.

Harper worked with Peritz to rent photo equipment and buy a professional backdrop and printer so families could receive their photographs on site. The grant also provided funds for printing and framing larger photographs for a community-wide gallery show, which Harper said nearly all participants chose to be included in. Students Hodo Lee and Erik Sanchez, along with Men and Families Coordinator

Rodney Williams, took the photographs during a two-day photo shoot in December 2011. Due in part to his contribution to the project, Lee, a Korean international student, went on to win a community engagement scholarship from Joy of Giving Something, Inc.

 According to Harper, many families expressed how rare it is for them to have an opportunity to get such nice photos. One mother even told her a portrait of all her children together was the only thing she wanted for Christmas. Since the bulk of the necessary supplies has already been purchased, Harper and Peritz hope other students will continue the project in the coming years.

MICA community members awarded funding during the spring 2012 grant cycle by the Office of Student Affairs, Community Arts Partnerships, and Office of Community Engagement: CAC member Zoe Bachman; Tiffany Black '13 (MA in Community Arts); Carey Chiaia '11 (graphic design); interdisciplinary sculpture faculty member Sarah Doherty; Denise Duarte '13; Deanna Haggag '13; Lee Heinemann '15; CAC member Dominique Hellgeth '10 (ceramics); Noelle Hoffman '15; Anne Kotleba '12 (MA in Community Arts); painting faculty member Kevin Labadie '76 '81 (painting, Hoffberger School of Painting); Assistant Director of CAP Becky LeFevre; environmental design and foundation faculty member Katie O'Meara; Ben Peterson '12 (Social Design); interdisciplinary sculpture faculty member Jann Rosen-Queralt; Julie Sayo '12; Rachael Shannon '13; MFA in Illustration Practice Director Whitney Sherman '71 (photography); Stephanie Tarlton '15 and Megan Armstrong '15; and Vanessa Wallace '14 and Aurelia Javier '14. These grants are generously funded by the President's Fund for Community Service, the France-Merrick Foundation, Charles T. Bauer Foundation, AEGON, and the Genevieve McMillan/ Reba Stewart Foundation.


Photo captions: A few of the families and volunteers who participated in Family Portraits: East Baltimore; Caitlin Deane '12 created Lesson in a Box to spark conversations in the classroom; A participant in Operation Respect, an anti-bullying program started by Jessie Leete '12;The East Baltimore community visits MICA PLACE for the Family Portraits gallery show.