Framingham State Received NEA Big Read Grant; Community Reading Program To Feature First Native American Poet Laureate

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FRAMINGHAM – Framingham State University is one of 61 organizations nationwide selected to receive a 2021-2022 NEA Big Read grant.

A grant of $19,970 will support a community reading program focusing on An American Sunrise by Joy Harjo, the first Native American Poet Laureate of the United States.

Framingham State University’s Whittemore Library, in partnership with the Framingham State Danforth Art Museum, MassBay Community College, Framingham Public Library, and the Smithsonian Institute, will coordinate several events in Fall 2021 as part of the effort.

A keynote event featuring Joy Harjo will take place on December 8.

Copies of An American Sunrise will be handed out at various partner locations. More details will become available in the fall.

An initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with Arts Midwest, the NEA Big Read broadens our understanding of our world, our communities, and ourselves through the joy of sharing a good book.

“We are so grateful to the National Endowment for the Arts for selecting our proposal in this competitive grant process,” said Framingham State President F. Javier Cevallos. “We could not be more excited to host U.S. Poet Laureate Joy Harjo for a special event to discuss her national bestselling book of poetry An American Sunrise. Framingham State University’s status as a Smithsonian Affiliate sets us up perfectly to take advantage of this great initiative, by allowing us to draw on our connection to scholars within the Smithsonian.”

“For 15 years the NEA Big Read has supported opportunities for communities to come together around a book, creating a shared experience that encourages openness and conversations around issues central to our lives,” said Ann Eilers, acting chair of the National Endowment for the Arts. “We congratulate Framingham State University for receiving an NEA Big Read grant and look forward to a wide variety of meaningful community events.”

The NEA Big Read offers a range of titles that reflect many different voices and perspectives, aiming to inspire conversation and discovery. The main feature of the initiative is a grants program, managed by Arts Midwest, which annually supports dynamic community reading programs, each designed around a single NEA Big Read selection.

“We’re inspired by the creativity of this year’s NEA Big Read grantees, who are finding new ways to bring people together after a challenging year,” said Torrie Allen, President & CEO of Arts Midwest. “We are proud to support these organizations and communities as they explore the richness and diversity of American history and culture together through reading.”

The books available for the 2021-2022 NEA Big Read explore different aspects of American history and culture.

Grantees are developing programming that helps communities to reflect on where we’ve been, where we are today, and where we’re going.

Since 2006, the National Endowment for the Arts has funded more than 1,700 NEA Big Read programs, providing more than $23 million to organizations nationwide. In addition, Big Read activities have reached every Congressional district in the country. Over the past 15 years, grantees have leveraged more than $50 million in local funding to support their NEA Big Read programs. More than 5.7 million Americans have attended an NEA Big Read event, over 90,000 volunteers have participated at the local level, and over 40,000 community organizations have partnered to make NEA Big Read activities possible. For more information about the NEA Big Read, including book and author information, podcasts, and videos, visit arts.gov/neabigread .

Framingham State University was founded in 1839 as the nation’s first public university for the education of teachers. Since that time, it has evolved into a vibrant, comprehensive liberal arts institution offering small, personalized classes on a beautiful New England campus. Today, the University enrolls more than 6,000 students with 58 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in the arts, humanities, sciences, social sciences and professional fields. As a State College and University (SCU), Framingham State prides itself on quality academic programs, affordability, and commitment to access for all qualified students.

Established by Congress in 1965, the National Endowment for the Arts is the independent federal agency whose funding and support gives Americans the opportunity to participate in the arts, exercise their imaginations, and develop their creative capacities. Through partnerships with state arts agencies, local leaders, other federal agencies, and the philanthropic sector, the Arts Endowment supports arts learning, affirms and celebrates America’s rich and diverse cultural heritage, and extends its work to promote equal access to the arts in every community across America. Visit arts.gov to learn more.

Arts Midwest believes that creativity has the power to inspire and unite humanity. Based in Minneapolis, Arts Midwest grows, gathers, and invests in creative organizations and communities throughout the nine-state region of Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. One of six nonprofit United States Regional Arts Organizations, Arts Midwest’s history spans more than 30 years. For more information, visit artsmidwest.org.

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