Fulfilling the Mission
Transparency as Responsible Practice
By Corey Crowder
Greetings! I’m sitting in my home office nestled in the pine-forested hills south of Oxford, Mississippi, where I work remotely as fiscal agent and project coordinator for the Mt. Zion Memorial Fund. I currently help administer grants totaling over $92,000 during fiscal year 2022, and I look for future funding sources to expand the scope of our work, which includes the maintenance of more than 25 memorials. Grant funding has been important to our recent growth, and it ensures that we complete projects that help us fulfill our mission.
Indeed, I feel that it’s a privilege to work with my team members at the Mt. Zion Memorial Fund, and I could not be happier in my role as fiscal agent.
I have a new phone number: (662)832-2045 – Please call me sometime to discuss how we might work together in the future. If I do not answer, you can leave a voicemail or send a text message.
You can also send an email to [email protected]
Transparency as a Rule
As part of our grant from the American Historical Association, we hope to enhance the transparency of our work through regular blogging, and I wanted to share with our supporters a detailed account of my work in 2023.
On January 8, 2023, I attended the dedication of the Nathan Beauregard memorial at Shiloh M.B. Church Cemetery in Ashland, Mississippi, and I took photographs with my iPhone. MZMF Field Secretary Emily Hilliard took many more photographs, including one of me preparing to take a photo while chatting with Executive Director DeWayne Moore and Shiloh M.B. Church member Verdie Cathey, who graciously collaborated with us to install the memorial. Afterwards, we headed to Holly Springs and had a dinner meeting at a Mexican restaurant.
Mississippi Arts Commission (MAC)
On January 12, I hand-addressed three envelopes containing letters to Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith, Senator Roger Wicker, and Congressman Bennie Thompson. The letters focused on our grant through the Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area to preserve the jook joint of Alonzo Chatmon in Glen Allan, Mississippi. (To read more about this project, please click HERE) I mailed the letters and obtained postage receipts at the Oxford post office.
On February 21, DeWayne and I participated in a webinar presented by the MAC for the purpose of exploring arts-focused community development grant opportunities. The event was my introduction to the MAC’s grants-awarding process and criteria, and we only had seven days to submit a small grant to help with operating expenses. With the help of MZMF Vice President Shannon Evans, DeWayne and I composed a long-term strategic plan to include in our proposal. We also created an account in the MAC’s online grant application portal, and we answered all the questions required for the proposal to incorporate the work of more artists into our dedication ceremonies in June. As part of the American Historical Association grant, we will be dedicating a memorial to Jim Jackson on June 3. You can read more about the long-developing project HERE
And you can read about the event as well as RSVP on Facebook
Cultural and Community Resilience
On March 7, I participated in a virtual information session with representatives of the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) for the purpose of familiarizing myself with procedures and requirements of federal Cultural and Community Resilience grants. This grant was established to fund community-based efforts to mitigate the cultural impacts of climate change and COVID-19.
American Historical Association (AHA) Webinar
On March 8, I participated in a Quarterly Webinar with AHA staff for briefings on final project reporting requirements regarding the SHARP grant awarded by the AHA in March 2022. We also shared updates on our project with other grant recipients from around the nation. These quarterly sessions have been excellent learning opportunities for grant recipients, and we have enjoyed sharing their experiences and observations along the way!
Nonprofit Management Software
The day after the NEH webinar, I met via Zoom with DeWayne and Chris Deliso, a sales representative at Foundant Technologies, a software-for-nonprofits company, to review a software system for financial accounting and donor support in a single database. Chris gave an impressive exhibition of this multi-faceted software suite, which only lacks marketing capabilities.
I will close this blog post with an aesthetic statement, specifically Mavis Staples and the Staple Singers from a 1963 televised performance of “Sit Down Servant,” a most inspiring classic selection that I often revisit for inspiration. Staples worked in Memphis with Stax recording artists Booker T and the MGs. She was delivered my favorite performance at the Double Decker Music Festival in downtown Oxford, MS.
Until next time!
Corey Crowder might seem like just another older, straight, white man from Mississippi who possesses a love of blues music. Of course, he is a straight, white man from Mississippi, and he possesses a great deal of experience in the fields of education and grant management. Yet, his willingness to learn new skills and raise his historical consciousness in regard to African American History sets him far apart from the typical white Mississippian. Corey has been an integral part of our recent organizational growth. He understands our ethical mission to conduct participatory research and always work hand-in-hand with the descendants of Blues artists to preserve the cultural heritage and historical resources in African American Blues communities.