Bringing It

Bringing It #57: Meet our New Team Member & Grantee Spotlight

March 03, 2021

Dear friends,

This Bringing It has an abundance of exciting and important news. We’re delighted to welcome Kelly Jones, our new Communications and Public Outreach Coordinator; we’ve asked Kelly to introduce themselves and offer a glimpse of their wide-ranging gifts and experience. We continue our series of posts about projects supported by BT2P’s Way Forward Grants: in this case, actually, two projects with a shared commitment to supporting immigrant and refugee communities. We follow with news of an important new digital publication from Georgetown University’s Learning, Design, and Technology program, exploring the possibilities of change in the face of the pandemic and racism crises. And we end by pointing you to a call from our friends at Imagining America, an invitation to take part in a multimedia documentary project.


Join us in welcoming our new colleague, Kelly!

Kelly Jones is happy to join BT2P as the Communications and Public Outreach Coordinator. Originally from Raleigh, they have lived and worked in Seattle, New Orleans, Parikia, Greece, and in communities across North Carolina.

Kelly is a writer, performer, organizer, educator, and editor with a decade of experience working in libraries, nonprofits, and universities. Over these years, their work has largely focused on increasing access to resources, developing creative learning opportunities, fostering inclusive learning communities, and building community engagement. Most recently, Kelly managed the Outreach and Education department at The Scrap Exchange (a creative reuse arts nonprofit in Durham, NC) and currently serves as a member of the Operations Team for the TELEPHONE international art project.

Kelly has earned an MFA in Poetry, a Master’s in Library and Information Studies, and a BA in Literature & Social Justice. They continue to enjoy participating in creative, literary, and learning communities, and they look forward to getting to know both the Elon and BT2P communities in the future. Some of Kelly’s research interests include cooperative models and sustainable living, cultural heritage, community empowerment, and literacy development. A few of their favorite things are manatees, glitter, swimming, and baking all the things.


The Way Forward Grantee Spotlight: Supporting Refugees and Immigrants in NY and NC

We are continuing to tell you about The Way Forward grant projects that BT2P has just funded. Here we’re excited to describe projects from two very different areas of the country – the New York Capital Region and the Piedmont Triad of North Carolina – with strikingly similar methods and goals: supporting refugees and immigrants in their local communities through participatory action research projects.

On behalf of the Albany region’s Community Campus Collaborative, Russell Sage College and Siena College have built a coalition of educational and community partners (University at Albany, Hudson Valley Community College, Refugee Welcome Center, Albany High School International Center, Sponsor-A-Scholar, U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants – Albany, and Youth FX) to improve refugee students’ access to college and enhance the ability of higher ed institutions to include and support them. They will document stories of refugees applying for college, build a college access mentorship program among refugee communities, and develop a collection of resources for families and community organizations. Co-Principal Investigators Ali Schaeffing (Russell Sage) and Ruth Kassel (Siena) shared the following thoughts with us:

We believe that this grant will allow us to expand access to education and career opportunities for an underserved community, refugees and immigrants. Our project will connect public and private colleges, K-12 institutions, and nonprofits in a coalition to work alongside refugees and immigrants to co-create opportunities for marginalized students to navigate their own paths towards long-term success. We are honored to be part of this community-led work, and grateful for the opportunity to learn alongside colleagues near and far.”

In Greensboro, The Community and Justice Studies program at Guilford College will partner with the Center for New North Carolinians (CNNC) at the University of North Carolina, Greensboro to evaluate CNNC’s work supporting immigrants and refugees at three large housing communities. The project will help to assess and strengthen support for education, health, employment, social service access, housing stability, and advocacy, and it will also recruit and train refugee or immigrant members of each housing community to serve as co-researchers on the overall project.

We are excited by the ways each project centers the experiences of refugees and immigrants and includes both students and community members on their research teams. We’re also excited by the resonances between these projects. Indeed, the teams reached out immediately to connect with and learn from each other—exactly the kind of community-building and mutual support we hope The Way Forward can build.


What We Are Reading: Openings: Higher Education’s Challenge to Change in the Face of the Pandemic, Inequity and Racism 

In the spring and summer of 2020, Georgetown University’s Randy Bass and Bryan Alexander – leading scholars and exponents of academic change – launched Higher Education’s Big Rethink, an initiative to explore the future of higher ed in the context of the pandemic and racial crises. Alongside their students from Georgetown’s Master’s Program in Learning, Design, and Technology, they conducted some twenty webinar interviews with educators and change-makers about the challenges of 2020 and the directions of possible transformation. (Full disclosure: David was one of the discussants in the series.)

One important result is Openings: Higher Education’s Challenge to Change in the Face of the Pandemic, Inequity, and Racism, a digital publication that curates and reflects on the conversations. As its title implies, Openings is exploratory rather than summative, but it distills key themes from the discussions. It maps basic findings about the current crisis: for instance, that higher-ed has proven itself simultaneously resilient and resistant to change. And it poses concisely the hardest questions that need answering if we are to make positive change: for instance, how can academic institutions transmute their recognition of inequity into an authentic response to injustice?

Openings doesn’t claim to provide a roadmap to transformation. But it offers something like a compass for the journey. Bravo to the Georgetown team for this important work.


Call for Case Studies 

Our friends at Imagining America invite campus and community partners to apply to participate in their Stories of Change multimedia documentary initiative. This provides funding and creative support to document and share examples of public scholarship and campus culture change within three categories: expanding understandings of knowledge production, catalyzing institutional change, and demonstrating the power of public, engaged, and activist arts, design, and humanities. Learn more about the project here and apply by March 10th for full consideration for funding and support!

As always, we hope you will share news of your work, your responses to our work, and your thoughts and ideas.

With thanks for everything you do,

David, Kate, Kelly, & Todd