Mellon grant to strengthen community outreach, engagement

People pack the College Hall Music Room during at symposium event during Black History Month in 2016.
People pack the College Hall Music Room for a symposium event during Black History Month in 2016.

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has awarded a five-year, $750,000 grant to New College of Florida to support curricular and research initiatives that preserve local history, integrate social and racial justice work into artistic practice and teaching, and explore questions of special interest to the local community.

New College and the Cross-College Alliance in the Community will be headquartered at a newly created Office for Community Outreach and Engagement and will involve a multi-pronged collaboration with the other four institutions in the Cross-College Alliance: Ringling College of Art and Design, State College of Florida, University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee and The Ringling Museum.

“We look forward to bringing together local community members and our CCA partners to discuss local issues that may be addressed through arts and humanities education and community engagement,” says Dean of Outreach and Engagement Bill Woodson, who will oversee the new office. “We also welcome the opportunity to coordinate existing community engagement activities across the CCA institutions and support faculty teaching courses that involve community engagement.”

Over the next five years, the CCA institutions will aim to add 15 to 20 courses that involve substantive community engagement. New College is planning three such courses for 2019-20 in anthropology, art and sociology. The CCA institutions also plan to collaborate on a joint program whereby students cycle through internships or community service projects that expose them to different community-serving professions.

“This project will be transformative for New College and the other CCA institutions,” says New College President Donal O’Shea. “It builds on institutional links that previous Mellon support helped us create and embeds our colleges into the larger community as vitally important resources.”

In 2016, the Mellon Foundation awarded a five-year, $750,000 grant to New College for Connecting Arts + Humanities on Florida’s Creative Coast. That project has increased New College’s contributions to public discourse on humanities and arts, strengthened relations with local arts organizations, and established sustainable academic connections with colleges that comprise the Cross-College Alliance.


Located in Sarasota, New College of Florida has educated intellectually curious students for lives of great achievement since its founding in 1960. As the State of Florida’s designated honors college, New College provides an exceptional education that transforms students’ intellectual curiosity into personal accomplishment. The 110-acre campus on Sarasota Bay is home to more than 800 students and 80 full-time faculty engaged in interdisciplinary research and collaborative learning. New College offers nearly 40 areas of concentration for undergraduates and a master’s degree program in Data Science.

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