Cleveland Foundation grant supports "Great Migration" project

A $366,804 grant to the College from the Cleveland Foundation will support a program entitled "Cleveland and the Great Migration: Laboratories for Faculty Members and Students in African-American History and Culture." The grant will be paid over a three-year period.

An earlier grant from the Cleveland Foundation helped support the first phase of the program in 1999 and 2000, which involved more than sixty teachers from four Cleveland public high schools and the private Hathaway Brown School bringing the Great Migration project into their classrooms. The Great Migration refers to the exodus of African-Americans from the predominantly rural South to the more urban North during the early to mid twentieth century.

"This renewal of the Cleveland Foundation grant to us and Kenyon will enable Professor Will Scott and me to take the innovations of `North by South' and transfer them to the Cleveland Public Schools," says Rutkoff, referring to the project he and Scott created and developed during their three-year terms as the College's National Endowment for the Humanities Distinguished Teaching Professors. "We plan over the next three years to work with 135 teachers at all grade levels, helping them engage in hands-on research and field work in Charleston, South Carolina, and then in Cleveland."

Rutkoff notes that the program is actually a collaborative effort that will connect the College with the Avery Research Center for African-American History at the College of Charleston, Cleveland State University, Oberlin College, the Western Reserve Historical Society, and the W.E.B. DuBois Institute for Afro-American Research at Harvard University. "The ultimate aim is to reshape Cleveland public education," he says, noting that the program will reach all of the city's public high schools and many of the middle and elementary schools as well.

According to the proposal, "As Cleveland students and teachers study the Great Migration (1916-60), they will discover their own community even as they become historians. The project is intended to challenge faculty members and then students to educate themselves about the Great Migration and to engage in the public life of Cleveland, thereby giving them some control over their education."

A core group of twelve master teachers will be trained in the materials and methods of the Great Migrations project this summer. They, in turn, will train an additional 120 teachers for the project over the next two years. The program's larger goals are to enable teachers to translate this faculty development opportunity into significant curricular and pedagogical change in the Cleveland Municipal School District, to prepare students to perform better in class and on standardized tests, to serve as a model for similar programs (including the investigation of the migration of other ethnic populations to the Cleveland area), and to serve as a model for teacher training, professional development, and curricular innovation in the district.

"The huge web of institutions and constituencies that this grant binds together is impressive in itself," says Provost Ronald A. Sharp, "but even more impressive is that the interactions among the various groups are in every case mutually beneficial."

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