July 29, 2015

People & Stories Receives Major Grant from National Endowment for the Arts


People & Stories/Gente 7 Cuentos of Trenton is one of five organizations in New Jersey to be included in the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) awarding of $36.6 million in grants for 212 humanities projects. The grant, announced Wednesday, July 29, is for $408, 378.

People & Stories / Gente y Cuentos is a nonprofit that believes in the power of literature to change lives. Through oral readings and seminar-style discussions of literary short stories, the organization invites underserved participants to new understandings of themselves, of others, and of the world.  It was founded in 1972 by the late Princeton resident, Sarah Hirschman.

The National Endowment for the Humanities award is for the project “Reading Deeply in Community,” which will be implemented over a 30-month period in collaboration with ten public libraries or library systems. Each library will host four eight-week series, either in English or in Spanish, of short stories readings and discussions.

Populations with whom People & Stories/Gente y Cuentos will work are in Alabama, California, Colorado, Georgia, Iowa, Illinois, and North Carolina, among other states. They include women in a battered women’s shelter, adults in re-entry from incarceration, Hispanic immigrants living in migrant housing facilities, Hispanic immigrants working toward citizenship, and unemployed/low-literacy adults. The grant will also include funds for a recent graduate of a humanities doctoral program to work as a Public Humanities Scholar, helping document and interpret the outcomes of the programs, and record the stories participants share in response to the short stories.

Over the course of more than 40 years and serving more than 40,000 people, it has become clear that those in transition are particularly open to the benefits of People & Stories / Gente y Cuentos.  As part of the NEH-sponsored initiative, there are plans to continue integrating programs with other organizations focused on critical life transitions: prisoners moving to probation, half way house residents re-joining community, at-risk youth in alternative education programs, immigrants working toward citizenship, adults enrolled in basic education programs, seniors moving to new stages. People & Stories/Gente y Cuentos provides hope and skills for moving forward in life.

People & Stories / Gente y Cuentos’ Executive Director, Patricia Andres, who is also the Project Director for the NEH “Reading Deeply in Community” initiative said, “We are thrilled to be a National Endowment for the Humanities-sponsored program.  Our work is to connect lives with literature, one short story at time, and this grant will really help us expand our reach.”

“The grant projects announced today represent the very best of humanities scholarship and programming,” said NEH Chairman William Adams on Wednesday. “NEH is proud to support programs that illuminate the great ideas and events of our past, broaden access to our nation’s many cultural resources, and open up for us new ways of understanding the world in which we live.”