Oct. 18, 2023

Facilitators and attendees at the

College of Staten Island – St. George

Facilitators and attendees at the “Agents of Change” annual presentation and celebration of high school student research. Approximately 100 students attended the presentation of 30 student writing and research projects through programs and events sponsored by the Brown Chair in English Literacy via its signature program, the Community Literacies Collaboratory.

The Community Literacies Collaboratory, the signature program of the Brown Chair in English Literacy, recently inaugurated its Brown-Chair-funded grant program with awarding $102,259.00 in grant support to Arkansan and national literacy organizations, educators, researchers and advocates, either to create or continue projects that will improve literacy learning and development toward helping all people practice literacies more fluently, richly, productively and joyfully.

Of the total, $83,646 was awarded to literacy organizations and programming, and $18,613 was awarded to support community literacies research projects, including dissertation research as well as research toward article and book-length publications. 

The Brown Chair in English Literacy was established in March 2003 with funds given by The Brown Foundation of Houston, Texas, and matching funds from the Walton Family Gift. The Community Literacies Collaboratory was founded in May 2022 by Eric Darnell Pritchard, the Brown Chair in English Literacy and associate professor of English at the U of A.

“Our inaugural cohort of grantees represents a wide array of incredible literacies work that in its creativity, pragmatism and timeliness will be part of a much-needed level-up in literacy advocacy and literacy studies scholarship,” Pritchard said. “I am grateful every day for the generous gift to endow this work. It is a dream to be able to support our community partners across Arkansas and the nation in this way. I am grateful to the College of Arts and Sciences Office of Gifts and Grants for their many efforts and support to the Brown Chair and CLC’s work. I am grateful, also, to our community partners for letting the Brown Chair and CLC be a resource for their work that is literally changing lives and expanding our knowledge.”

The proposals received were all evaluated by the advisory board of the Community Literacies Collaboratory, who operated in their capacity as the grantee selection committee. Semi-finalists for the grants then submitted addendums to their proposals responding to questions that aided the CLC in selecting the organizations and researchers who would receive a grant. 

The Community Literacies Collaboratory’s grants program is organized into two branches: 

  • Seed and Growth grants, which support new or continuing literacy programs and initiatives, such as organizations, book clubs, libraries, teachers, school counselors and workshops that promote or enhance literacy learning and development in community and/or collaborations, and
  • Literacies Research grants, which support original literacies research with grants to support the many costs associated with this work, such as the purchase of books, audio-visual material, transcriptions, research travel and events to collect research data. 

For both, priority is given to Arkansas-based individuals and organizations, though consistent with the Brown Chair’s mission to have national impact, grant applicants in other states are eligible to apply as well. 

For our inaugural grant cycles, the CLC is pleased to announce the 14 2023 Seed and Growth grant recipients and three 2023 Literacies Research grant recipients.


The River Valley Learning Alliance, based in Dardanelle, provides services to five predominately rural Arkansas counties: Johnson, Franklin, Logan, Pope, Yell and satellite courses in Paris and Ola. The alliance’s proposal, submitted by its co-director Meredith Martin-Moats, will fund “Neighbors y Vecinos: Building Resources for Bilingual Rural Communities,” a year-long, continued and expanded version of their Logan County bilingual family literacy options through Spanish language outreach in multiple locations. The funds will also support a pilot community literacies organizing and researcher position focused on providing broadband access in the community, which was proven to be imperative to the organization’s work in the wake of COVID-19 and the ways it challenged the access some of the counties had to the RVLA’s work and other resources.

Based in Hot Springs, the Literacy Council of Garland County‘s project seeks to expand literacy services to partner agencies in rural areas of Garland County through the addition of an outreach instructor. As described by the council’s Sarah Richardson, their grant applicant, the outreach instructor will create and recruit new English as a Second Language classes for parents at a local childcare center, with the hope of making attending the courses more accessible to parents who otherwise may not have time to attend. Another course created focuses on reading and writing for job seekers in recovery at a men’s addiction center. Through the addition of the outreach instructor position and these courses, the council expects an increase in participation based on demand. 

Led by Executive Director Dixie Evans, the Literacy Council of White County grant will support ongoing and seed new literacy projects and initiatives in White and Woodruff counties. The council provides many literacy services to the communities served, including courses on adult literacy, English as a Second Language classes, health and finance literacy, and more. As the council is the White County affiliate for music icon and literacy advocate Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, a book-gifting program for children birth through five, a portion of the CLC grant will fund a year of book for 200 youth via Imagination Library, purchase 1,500 books for distribution to the communities in White and Woodruff counties and sponsor a summer literacy program for students from kindergarten through 12th grade.

The Ozark Foothills Literacy Project serves adult literacy and students learning English as a second language and promotes family literacy in Sharp, Izard, Fulton, Stone and Independence counties. The CLC grant funds, applied for by literacy project’s assistant director, Laynette Cole, will pay for technology updates, including the addition of laptops, voice recorders and printers, that will assist the project in supporting more students in there programs.

In Springdale, The Million Word Challenge: The Marshallese Mini-Library Project is a family literacy project that seeks to increase pathways to achievement for Marshallese families through literacy learning and practice. Led by Hannah Mhoon, the project will use the CLC funds to expand their mini-library project, which provides books and a meal to all who participate in the libraries programs. A portion of the funds will also focus on building strategic partnerships between the Marshallese Mini-Library and Springdale’s 22 public schools through a campaign called “The Million Word Challenge,” which will focus on a communal effort to encourage over 1 million words read through family literacy practices.

The Firecracker Foundation, founded in 2013, is a nationally recognized, survivor-led organization that provides high quality, consistent holistic healing services at no cost to families in need; raises awareness of the prevalence of sexual trauma and its devastating consequences; and provides survivors the resources for healing. The grant, submitted by Suban Nur Cooley, assistant professor of African and African American studies at Michigan State University, will provide community spaces for conversation, digital resources and create a glossary of Healing Justice terms.

Based in Immokalee, Florida, The Haitian Creole Language Access Project facilitates neighborhood conversations and open dialogue between scholars, organizers and community members with a focus on local and global implications for shared public humanities engagement. The grant from CLC supports Joashilia Jeanmarie and Manouche Celeste in launching phase two of the project, a social action and empowerment community literacy program that includes a 12-week English language course and a book club for adult learners. The program will also train student participants to become community educators, creating a cyclical model of instruction that would extend beyond the first 12 weeks of instruction where students will use the established curriculum to facilitate future groups. CLC grant funding will also purchase culturally relevant learning materials, including books and materials written by Haitian authors.  

The Storytelling Thru Inquiry and Literacy Expression Project is an after-school program founded by Kelly Franklin, a Dallas-Fort Worth Schweitzer Fellow and Ph.D. student at Texas Christian University. Partnering with local middle schools, high schools and community organizations in the Dallas-Forth Worth Metroplex, the project creates a safe space for Black girls in the same spirit of Ruth Nicole Brown’s Saving Our Life, Hear Our Truth (SOLHOT) as discussed in Brown’s work and the work of other “homegirls” in SOLHOT across the United States. The Storytelling Thru Inquiry and Literacy Expression Project will connect young women to mentors in adult undergraduate and graduate students, professors and faculty, an experience that can be life changing. Through those partnerships, the young women will engage in reading and writing partnerships, as well as other literacy work fused with their artistic and cultural interests to support their literacy development and develop skills that will support them in their efforts to attend college and anything else they endeavor to accomplish. The grant will fund for reading material, notebooks, food and beverages, and a T-shirt for all participants. 

The Crown Heights Community Writing Service is led by faculty and students at City University of New York’s Medgar Evers College, a predominantly Black institution, the Crown Heights Community Writing Service offers free writing support to local businesses and residents in the community on a bi-monthly, volunteer basis. Services may include assistance with writing resumes, cover letters, letters to landlords, business letters and other locally specific requests. Cristina Migliaccio and professor Joanna Sit submitted the grant proposal, which will fund books for best practices in community writing centers, a subscription of WLN: A Journal of Writing Center Scholarship, printing costs and supplies, and coffee for volunteers.

The Hartwick College Writing Center‘s grant from the CLC will fund the enhancement of its writing pedagogy library with updated scholarship on linguistic justice, equitable and antiracist writing pedagogy and expanded understandings of literacies in educational and extra-institutional settings. As noted by the grant applicants, James M. Cochran and Brian Illies, Hartwick’s Writing Center has existed on campus for 45 years, and the update with these resources will have immediate and lasting impact for educators, administrators and students on their campus.  

Staten Island Writes, an interdisciplinary collective made up of faculty in English and education at the College of Staten Island and high school teachers, has been active with local high schools in Staten Island, New York, since 2015. The project offers meaningful exchanges between high school and college teachers of writing as well as field trips and college class experiences for high school students. The grant, sought by Rosanne Carlo, funds a revision and later expansion of their “Agents of Change” program, an anti-racist pedagogy project that invites students to consider the relationship between critical thinking, textual production and social change—and to offer them an opportunity to put this understanding into practice through an innovative, real-world writing assignment. The project is inspired by the work of literacies scholars such as CLC Advisory Board member Carmen Kynard’s award-winning book, Vernacular Insurrections; April Baker-Bell’s award-winning book, Linguistic Justice (2020); Shah’s Rewriting Partnerships (2020); and Yosso’s Cultural Wealth Model. The funds also supported an end-of-program event to honor the labor of the high school teachers and administrators who lead “Agents of Change” provide a modest honorarium to community partners who speak at the event and recognize the students’ completed writing projects. 

Cecilia Caballero’s CLC grant will fund “Writing our Wellness for Black, Indigenous People of Color (BIPOC) Students,” a three-part writing workshop for first-generation, low-income BIPOC college students at East Los Angeles College. Each workshop is built around a Black feminist writer — Audre Lorde, bell hooks and Octavia Butler — and will center the power of storytelling, literacy and emotional intelligence for liberation and healing justice as explored through writing across genres.

Tree House Books aims to grow and sustain a community of readers, writers and thinkers in North Philadelphia to improve literacy. Noticing that many of the youth who regularly come to their programs are aging out of their typical programming, Tree House created new programs specifically for those youth to keep them in relationship with the organization. The CLC grant will fund three ongoing and one new outreach programs: the Black Girls Book Club, a cohort of young Black women who meet regularly to discuss literary texts by Black women authors and playwrights; the Scrabble Club for young Black men, in partnership with Activities Alliance Partnership, a Philly-based nonprofit, where the attendees hone their literacy skills through word games and various texts teaching chess; and their upcoming Social Justice Club, which will be a space specifically for queer and trans Black and Brown youth and allies to provide mutual support while also reading works of interest to them. In addition to literacy materials for the programs, the grant will fund food and beverages for all youth, some of whom are food insecure. The grant was submitted by Tree House’s Executive Director Michael Brix who learned of the CLC through our community partner Tangie Wilson, managing director of Treehouse.  

Michelle LaFrance received a grant to fund The Virginia Community Writing Mapping Project, a digital resource that will facilitate, coordinate and sustain a regional conversation between community writing and community literacy researchers in Writing and Rhetoric (and adjacent disciplines) in Virginia. The project aims to collaboratively connect faculty at public institutions and two-year colleges in Virginia who carry out community-engaged research projects or work that explores literacy and relationships. The funds will be used to develop a website, coordinate a digital meeting space and also create a listserve for researchers, teachers and faculty to be shared amongst literacy stakeholders.  


“Literate Mending Workshops: Writing Relations in Immigrant Families” is a study of a series of family literacy workshops called Literate Mending Workshops, which use literacy to support immigrant families’ understanding of their language heritage and multilingual identities. The workshops have been co-designed in a collaboration between Caroline Gear, executive director of International Language Institute of Massachusetts, where the workshops will be offered, and University of Massachusetts Amherst’s professor Rebecca Lorimer Leonard, who will co-lead the study. The Literate Mending workshops at ILI will invite ILI students and their family members (either their parents or their adult children) to write together about their family’s language identities, once per week for one month. The workshops’ goal is not to teach English but to explore participants’ multilingualism as an asset for powerful community understanding, offering unique space for families to reflect across contexts of self and community in four sequential literacy workshops about where their family’s languages come from, the shape of their English language learning and what it feels like to live multilingually in the United States. International Language Institute staff and the UMass team co-designed the workshops to address an institute need — more family involvement — while addressing the larger social problem of minoritized multilingualism.

Saba Vlach of the University of Iowa’s Department of Teaching and Learning was awarded a CLC grant to support her research project “Hamare Khahania: Muslim Mothers’ Stories of Supporting Their Children’s Literacy Practices in the United States.” The project aims to make progress in gathering said narratives from Muslim mothers in the United States. The grant will fund transcriptions of audio and video semi-structured interviews and focus group meetings for a total of transcription of 3,480 minutes from 25 interviews and four focus groups, as well as costs for sharing the research at Literacy Research Association Annual Conference. 

Christian Hines, a doctoral candidate in the Department of Teaching and Learning at Ohio State University, was awarded a grant to support his dissertation project, “Interrogating and Enacting Youth Empowerment via Textual Analysis and Comics Pedagogies in a High School Book Club.” The qualitative studies uses ethnographic methods that encompasses two frameworks — critical race content analysis and critical youth empowerment — to investigate whether creating a space for students to read and discuss superhero narratives in a high school book club can position them to think critically about race and sociopolitical issues, and whether these visual texts can provide models of empowerment to motivate youth towards civic engagement and social action within their communities. The CLC grant will fund the cost of purchasing comics, composition notebooks and annotation materials for the students in the book club; snacks for participants; and transcription services.

We at the CLC and Office of the Brown Chair in English Literacy hope you will share in wishing these projects well and that you will encourage others in Arkansas (and beyond) to apply for grant funding for their literacy programs in our future grant cycles. We will be accepting proposals for our next grant cycle in February 2024. For more information on applying, check out the CLC’s website here

To support prospective applicants and literacies advocates in Arkansas and nationally, the CLC will also be holding a workshop on writing grants for community literacies programs from 4-6 p.m. CST Friday, Nov. 17, via Zoom. The workshop will be co-facilitated by Sherita Roundtree of Towson University and Anne Charity Hudley of Stanford University. This workshop is free and open to the public, with a 50-attendee cap. Register in advance here. You will need to sign into a Zoom account in order to register for as well as attend the event.