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Stories of racial healing, entrepreneurship and community empowerment

How can art help communities heal? The Mississippi Urban League, Alluvial Collective and the Mississippi Museum of Art are coming together to host a racial healing panel at 5 p.m. CST on Jan. 17 at the museum. Author Kiese Laymon will give a keynote and then be joined by local artist Talamieka Brice and poet Aurielle Marie to discuss what healed communities could look like and how art can support these efforts.

In more news out of Mississippi: Listen to young Black Mississippians discuss the role of racism during a virtual panel organized by Arielle Hudson, University of Mississippi’s first Black woman Rhodes Scholar and a member of the Mississippi Free Press advisory board.

The Mayan Languages Digital Activism Summit, organized by Rising Voices with support from WKKF, will take place in Mérida, Yucatán, Mexico, on Jan. 11-15. The intent is to find ways to use digital platforms to preserve languages in the Mayan family. The summit is part of a digital activism program that provides training, scholarships and connections to broader networks for young digital language activists. Rising Voices is an international initiative that helps communities use the internet to meet self-identified needs.

Grand Rapids, Michigan, grantee Rende Progress Capital supports entrepreneurs of color with small business loans and capacity-building support to eliminate the racial wealth gap in the city. It was founded after Forbes ranked the city 51st out of 52 cities in economic opportunities for Black residents. Although most entrepreneurs supported by Rende have remained in business, nearly 70% of them had not been able to secure a business loan prior to receiving support from Rende.

The City of Battle Creek’s Small Business Development Office, a WKKF grantee, is supporting an employment equity program for workers at a local small business, Snackwerks, who don’t speak English. The program offers English as a Second Language courses for employees to help them gain the communication skills they need to successfully build careers and improve opportunities to take on leadership roles. This program is a small part of a larger initiative to expand translation and interpretation services in Battle Creek, Michigan.

The Pan American Health Organization announced it is making grants to six organizations across the Americas to conduct research supporting efforts to eliminate communicable diseases. Among the recipients is longtime WKKF Haitian grantee Zanmi Lasante (ZL), which will assess the feasibility of using community health workers to conduct contact tracing through home testing for sexually transmitted infections. ZL is well known for its effective community-focused model of health care. WKKF supports ZL’s J9 program, which integrates community- and hospital-based care to strengthen access to maternal and child health care.

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