May 27, 2020 | Bringing It #39: Uplifted by Grantee Activism

Dear friends,

In this week’s Bringing It, we focus on all the good work that members of the BTtoP network have been doing—and continue to do in the face of the health and social crises of the pandemic.

Grantee Spotlight: College Unbound, The School for New Learning at DePaul University, Evergreen State College, and National Louis University (The Great Colleges Network for the New Majority)
The Great Colleges for the New Majority (GCNM) Network brings together a group of colleges and baccalaureate programs dedicated to access, completion, and transformative learning for adult, nontraditional students. The Network includes exemplary adult-serving institutions like College Unbound (Providence), Evergreen State College (Olympia and Tacoma), National Louis University (Chicago), and Johnson C. Smith University (Charlotte). It holds annual summer convenings (supported by a grant from BTtoP) and monthly organizing Zooms. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the GCNM Network has been a critical lifeline for educators and administrators working with adult learners to share innovative practices, institutional challenges, and brainstorms. Its monthly calls are open to all—please fill out this form to join the community and the conversation. The network continues to exchange ideas and provide mutual support for serving our learners, and BTtoP has been a critical partner and incubator in doing so. While there is much uncertainty in higher education today and going forward, the need for collaboration and community is more pressing than ever. So is the need to offer great, engaged learning to adult students affected by the pandemic.

You’re Invited—A Virtual Conference on Liberal Education and the World After the Pandemic
Please join our AMP grantees, Bratislava International School of Liberal Arts, Bard College in Berlin, and Central European University, for their virtual conference, "The World After the Pandemic" from May 29-30! The student-led event will be hosted via Facebook and will bring together students and experts from all over the world to share their research and run workshops on the challenges and opportunities posed to liberal education by both the state and coronavirus. For more info, please see here.

Grantee Spotlight: CUNY Graduate Center, Saint Peter's University, Guttman Community College, and Cleveland State University
We've heard from one of our MIG grantees, a team of four institutions in three cities, about the important work they have done with activists and students:

If we have learned nothing else from COVID, we now know that we are supremely interdependent. This small fact will kill us or help us move forward, in solidarity, with movements for a more just tomorrow. Even—or especially—universities.

Guttman Community College at CUNY, Saint Peter's University in Jersey City, Cleveland State University, community-based organizations, activist immigration groups, and civil rights libraries and archives are documenting a critical history of the present, through the lens of racialized state violence and community resistance, historic and contemporary. With BTtoP funding, we initiated a series of oral history projects as curriculum, as healing, and as activism, documenting immigration journeys, civil rights struggles, and contemporary demands for undocu-justice. As captured in the resources below, on our various websites, and in a recent article for BTtoP’s newsletter, our students have now presented—in conferences, in middle and high schools, at our universities, in libraries, in the halls of state legislatures and on video—how and why it matters that young people of color excavate buried stories from elders, activist peers, and archives and carry these stories into the public eye and into the academy, working alongside social movements past and present.  

Excavating stories untold is of course civic engagement. It is also a strategy to decolonize and build a racially conscious higher education curriculum and cultivate activist-scholars in our students. Frankly, with these small local projects linked across sites, we carve a two-way lifeline for universities engaged in solidarity with movements for justice. A small grant enabled us to confront a question that has become even more animated with COVID: As academics, to whom/with whom/for what are we accountable?

Project-related resources: 

Upcoming Virtual Book Launch 


Our friends Eric DeMeulenaere, Colette Cann, Margo Okazawa-Rey, John Saltmarsh, and Monisha Bajaj, are launching their new book, The Activist Academic: Engaged Scholarship for Resistance, Hope and Social Change! The event will be on zoom (Zoom ID: 712-872-4008) on June 8 at 3 PM EST. To learn more about the book, click here.

We are inspired by the creativity, passion, and community-building energy of this work, and it’s more important than ever that we continue to sustain and celebrate it. Please send us news of the great work you are doing in the face of this crisis via info@bttop.org.  

Stay safe, stay connected, and take joy where you can.

With thanks,

David, Mercedes, Caitlin, and Kate