Charlotte’s Historically Black Johnson C. Smith University Awarded Over $600K In Grants


Johnson C. Smith University (JCSU) announced it has been awarded a two grants from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation totaling $610,000 to support JCSU’s Cultural Studies program in the College of Arts and Letters and relief efforts to JCSU students impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Cultural Studies program expansion

A $500,000 grant will assists the expansion, enrichment, and engagement of JCSU Cultural Studies programs, including the development of courses, programs, and concentrations in Africana Studies, Cultural Studies, Gender Studies, and Global Studies.

“We are grateful for the Mellon Foundation’s continued support of the arts and humanities at Johnson C. Smith University,” said Dr. Brian M. Jones, Dean of the College of Arts and Letters and Principal Investigator for the grant. “This funding will allow us to reinvigorate these areas as they develop innovative programs for 21st Century students — programs that will meet workforce needs while developing the habits of mind that will benefit them in their careers and in their lives as citizens.”

In addition to developing programs and courses, which will support both major-level courses as well as general education courses that fulfill graduation requirements in the Humanities Pillar and Integrated Studies, Global Studies, and Emergent Fields pillar, the grant will support a learning community for JCSU faculty to study cultural studies topics and develop pedagogical material.

“We no longer — if we ever truly did — live in a world where any one culture dominates societal discourse,” said Professor of English Matthew DeForrest, who serves as the grant’s Project Director. “Instead, viewers watch animation derived from Japanese styles (e.g., the Studio Glibi aesthetic) while listening to popular music heavily influenced by American Hip Hop while playing games that allows them to connect with people across the globe.”

COVID-19 pandemic emergency funding 

 As announced on its website, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation distributed $1.76 million in emergency grants to sixteen Historically Black Colleges and Universities — including $110,000 to JCSU — to directly support students continuing their education during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the press release, Mellon Foundation President Elizabeth Alexander said “HBCUs play an essential role in shaping the minds and futures of our nation’s talented young people. As the COVID-19 pandemic disproportionately affects under resourced institutions and communities of color, the Mellon Foundation is proud to provide focused support for students attending these vital historically black schools.”

About Johnson C. Smith University

Founded in 1867, Johnson C. Smith University is an independent, close-knit urban university located in Charlotte, N.C. It has a growing national reputation for integrating the liberal arts with business, the sciences and technology in ways that empower tomorrow’s diverse entrepreneurial citizens and leaders to be change agents in their professions and communities. JCSU offers 23 degree programs, including a master’s degree in social work, with a focus on intellectual rigor to more than 1,400 students from a variety of ethnic, socioeconomic and geographic backgrounds. Visit or follow the university on FacebookTwitterInstagram, and LinkedIn.