For Immediate Release

Mellon Foundation Awards CSS, University Partners $5M Grant

Part of the Foundation’s ‘Just Futures’ Initiative, the Project Addresses Reparations Through Community-Institutional Partnerships

Ann Arbor, MI, December 13, 2020 – Today, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has announced the award of a $5M grant to the Center for Social Solutions (CSS) and University of Michigan partners, including the Center for Poverty Solutions and University Musical Society (UMS), as part of the Foundation’s Just Futures initiative. The project, which will span three years, creates and leverages a national network of college and university-based humanities scholars working in partnerships with community-based organizations to develop research-informed reparation plans for each location. The network will consist of nine geographically dispersed and organizationally different colleges and universities and involve community fellows as well as local organizations in a collaborative public history reckoning designed to offer tangible suggestions for community-based racial reparations solutions.

“Crafting Democratic Futures: Situating Colleges and Universities in Community-based Reparations Solutions,” emerges from the Center’s focus on slavery and its aftermath, and is informed by three generations of humanistic scholarship and what that scholarship suggests for all seeking just futures.

Reparations refers to compensation, which may include a national apology, educational, housing, and healthcare programs, and financial redress from the U.S. government to Native Americans for genocide and African Americans for the detrimental effects of slavery and beyond. The question of reparations for the descendants of enslaved African peoples in the Americas, and especially the United States, had—until recently—been part of a smaller effort seeking a broader audience, lingering on the other side of what is possible until the late 20th century.

The effort and activities of this project will span the eastern half of the United States, north and south, and have representation in the Midwest and Central North regions. The success of this pilot will create scalable models for university-community partnerships which focus on social justice, specifically addressing local nuanced reparations solutions. 
The Center for Social Solutions and our University of Michigan partners will undertake the ambitious and timely project in concert with ten additional partners:

Carnegie Mellon University
Emory University
Rutgers University--Newark
Spelman College*
The Council of Independent Colleges (CIC)
*Concordia College in Moorhead, MN
*Connecticut College
*Wesleyan College in Macon, GA
*Wofford College in Spartanburg, SC 

* indicates a member institution of the Council of Independent Colleges. 

For more information, contact the Center at For media requests, please contact Victoria Fisher, Communications Lead, at


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