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University Liggett School awarded $250,000 grant from Edward E. Ford Foundation

University Liggett School has received a $250,000 Educational Leadership Grant from the Edward E. Ford Foundation, based in Brooklyn, NY. The school will use the funds to facilitate the advancement of place-based humanities education by supporting teachers and students through a National Place-Based Humanities Institute (Institute). “We are so grateful to be recognized and selected by the E.E. Ford Foundation for this wonderful grant,” said Bart Bronk, Head of School. “E.E. Ford’s commitment to innovative and impactful educational initiatives in independent schools has been transformative for so many schools, educators, and the students they serve. Liggett is honored that our approach to place-based humanities education has been selected to be among these outstanding schools and programs.” The program extends from a model to teaching U.S. history implemented at ULS since 2014, in which students learn about national themes and narratives through local lenses, case studies, and site visits. “Local history is American history, and by helping students uncover narratives from our own communities’ history – and connecting those narratives to national themes – they learn that history is made… by people just like them in their own backyards,” said Adam Hellebuyck, ULS Dean of Curriculum and Assessment and Upper School history and social studies teacher. The Institute will offer teachers innovative and immersive professional development and a collaborative forum, and students access to projects and workshops designed to deepen their connections to their own places. Specifically, the Institute will host workshops focusing on elements of place-based learning; create place-based humanities experiences in urban and rural communities around the United States; facilitate the creation of local learning cooperatives; encourage student “historians-in-training” to contribute to digital journals and podcasts, and; develop a robust online presence to engage all participants. The grant builds on a separate Edward E. Ford Foundation grant which in 2020 expanded efforts to include hosting workshops for educators nationwide regarding how to incorporate place-based humanities in their own curricula; procuring a 1922 Ford Model T as the centerpiece of a new place-based material culture course at ULS; offering consulting services and workshops to the Detroit Public Schools Community District on implementing this approach in their social studies classrooms; and hosting the Black Bottom Streetview Exhibit, highlighting the rich history of the African American experience in Detroit’s historic Black Bottom neighborhood. “The support that we have received, not just from the EE Ford Foundation, but from the teachers and students with whom we have already partnered in this work, has been remarkable,” said Chris Hemler, Cynthia N. Ford Chair of History and the Social Studies and Upper School history teacher. “It is not often that you have the opportunity to share the work that you love with so many others—this grant and the place-based institute it supports will allow us to continue this professional dream come true.” The Educational Leadership Grant is awarded to a very select number of schools with innovative and replicable programs that promise to have a significant impact on practice and thinking in the national independent school community. The grant requires a 1:1 funding match, encouraging recipient schools to leverage the grant to generate support from their communities to create impactful and sustained programs.