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CFVI Awards $232,000 in Humanities Grants


Funding provided by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH)

U.S. Virgin Islands, July 9, 2024  The Community Foundation of the Virgin Islands (CFVI) has awarded $232,000 in humanities grants, with funding provided by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH).


"We are grateful to NEH for providing this critical support to organizations and individuals who are doing the important work of highlighting the culture and history of our Virgin Islands," said CFVI President Dee Baecher-Brown. "And we are proud to say that since the beginning of CFVI’s partnership with NEH in 2020, we have provided more than $1.5 million in support for humanities projects throughout the territory."


This funding's primary goal is to enrich the lives of people throughout the U.S. Virgin Islands through projects focused on humanities education, lifelong learning, and public humanities programming. The grants support humanities programming that reflects the unique needs of the U.S. Virgin Islands' diverse communities, advances the public’s knowledge and understanding of the humanities, culture, heritage, and preservation, and makes humanities programs accessible to all people throughout the U.S. Virgin Islands.   


The following organizations received grant support:


Caribbean Museum Center for the Arts (CMCArts) | $7,000 | Dance is a Universal Language

Funding is being used to offer cultural dance workshops on traditional African dance, Haitian, Bamboula, and Capoeira, where youth, teens, adults, and elders

are guided by an instructor through a rhythmic journey, transforming steps into vibrant dances while exploring the cultural significance of each dance. CMCArts is building on last year's successful pilot Bamboula Dance Series.


Center for Educational Growth, Inc. (CFEG) | $25,000 | Film Over Gun Violence Program

With the funding, CFEG and Blue Tarp Productions are launching the first Virgin Islands film training and education campaign to combat gun violence and address the gun homicide rate in the USVI. Through studying the history of crime development in the USVI, as well as government and social systems, participants will learn to turn this knowledge into film scripts, utilizing literature, research, statistics, and understanding of Virgin Islands culture and community.


Fireburn Heritage, Inc. | $25,000 | Virgin Islands ABCs Initiative: Cultivating Cultural Literacy in VI Youth 

In collaboration with the Caribbean Museum Center for the Arts, funding is being used to create an ABC book showcasing the Virgin Islands' unique heritage. Working with local 3rd graders and award winning author Angela Golden Bryan, this project will nurture cultural appreciation, the importance of contribution, and stimulate storytelling skills. The resulting resource will benefit elementary school students and address the need for culturally relevant materials, with funding supporting distribution to all public elementary schools in the USVI to ensure equitable access to cultural learning.


Friends of Virgin Islands National Park | $25,000 | St. John Mosaic Honoring the Island 

St. John seniors, along with younger community members, will engage in the creation of a permanent mosaic wall that will capture colorful historical and cultural imagery of the island. During the process, seniors and ancestral St. Johnians will share stories of their youth that will be captured on video and made available via QR codes on key signage near the mosaic. The mosaic will be set within the playground near a replica of the original Customs House which will be built with a slide and age-appropriate interpretative panels for children to enjoy.


St. Croix Montessori School | $25,000 | Increasing Educational and Cultural Literacy through Library Sciences for St. Croix Montessori Students

Funding will be used to establish an Educational and Cultural Library and curate a diverse collection of materials, including books, maps, and multimedia resources that reflect both Virgin Islands and the world's cultures for the library at the school's new St. Croix campus in Orange Grove. The materials will support the exploration of geography, Virgin Islands history, social studies, music, and art, as well as promote empathy, understanding, and appreciation of different cultures.


Ten Sleepless Knights, Inc. | $25,000 | Bamboula/Bomba Documentary Film 

Funding is being used to create a documentary film intended to strengthen the ties of friendship between the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico by demonstrating the importance of cultural dance within the Caribbean African diaspora. It seeks to highlight the dances Bamboula and Bomba, drawing connections between Africa, the Caribbean, and Europe. The film will address questions of cultural identity and the preservation of cultural traditions through dance.


The University of the Virgin Islands | $25,000 | Collaboration and Conversations: Connecting Virgin Islands Historical Collections and Community Knowledge to an Emerging Generation of Humanities Scholars 

Funding will be used to increase students’ engagement with the research process necessary for oral history collection through a workshop to create a series of research resources in Virgin Islands history and culture, including Open Educational Resources (OER) research guides, finding aides, and introductory videos bringing students into the research process for inclusion in classes and made publicly available on UVI's website. 


The University of the Virgin Islands | $25,000 | The Unbreakable Film Academy

Funding will establish The Unbreakable Film Academy, which will recruit high school and UVI students as apprentices to complete post-production for "The Unbreakable Virgin Islanders 2.0” while teaching the next generation how to promote and preserve USVI history and culture through film. Under the supervision of journalist and filmmaker Peter Bailey, students will contribute to post-production edits and marketing efforts, including creating a digital media promotional campaign. This hands-on experience will also provide instruction in film and digital media production fundamentals and introduce students to distribution aspects as the film prepares for global release. 


Virgin Islands Architecture Center for Built Heritage and Crafts (VIAC) | $25,000 | VIAC Old Barracks Neighborhood Storytelling Project - Phase 2

Funding will be used for Phase 2 of the VIAC Old Barracks Storytelling Project to further research, write, and present the story of the Old Barracks Property, which involves interviewing additional contributors, developing and showcasing a lecture presentation, and transforming Phase 1 and 2 footage into a documentary. Phase 1 focused on capturing the stories of elders who worked, went to high school nearby or lived adjacent to the Old Barracks Property. The finished documentary and lecture will then be shared with local teachers and the community to preserve and highlight the history of the Old Barracks Property.


VI Crawl, Inc. | $25,000 | Folklore to Film: A Cinematic Anansi Project

Funding will be used to produce WEB, a 20 minute film that spotlights the trickster, Anansi, one of the VI's most notable folklore figures. Anansi stories are a significant part of Virgin Islands heritage and each one tends to present a universal lesson of some kind. This project aims to revitalize VI folklore storytelling and serve as the pilot for other noteworthy figures to emerge in film. Funding will also support a series of WEB screenings and discussions, as well as the production of a pilot for a Caribbean folklore film series.

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About the Community Foundation of the Virgin Islands
Since 1990, CFVI has been a catalyst for positive change in the territory through initiatives committed to youth, learning, family support and the environment. With a professional staff and a volunteer Board of Directors composed of community leaders, CFVI is a trusted advocate and supporter of programs that ensure opportunity and sustainability for current and future generations. CFVI is a registered non-profit organization entirely supported by individual donors, grants, trusts, corporate donations and estate planning. For more information, visit cfvi.net.

About the National Endowment for the Humanities

Created in 1965 as an independent federal agency, the National Endowment for the Humanities supports research and learning in history, literature, philosophy, and other areas of the humanities by funding selected, peer-reviewed proposals from around the nation. Additional information about the National Endowment for the Humanities and its grant programs is available at: www.neh.gov.

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