Erwin Township and Hessel history organizations win first ever Michigan History Alliance Grants

What’s happening: Two Upper Peninsula history organizations have been named recipients of the first ever Michigan History Alliance Grants. The inaugural grant program from the Historical Society of Michigan awarded a total of $25,080 to 14 of its member organizations in this initial round.

Who won: The Erwin Township Historical Society in Ironwood and the Hessel School House – Avery Arts & Nature Learning Center in Hessel will each receive grants from the HSM in what will become an annual program for the organization. The remaining twelve history organizations can be found throughout the Lower Peninsula.

Why it’s important: “Small-to medium-size history organizations do great work with limited resources,” says HSM’s Executive Director and CEO Larry Wagenaar. “Many grant programs require such extensive preparation, grant program development and reporting that small organizations struggle to compete with large entities, and we also wanted to create a grant program that could help them meet basic needs. Our MHA Grant application was designed to be simple enough that a volunteer could write it in a couple of hours.”

What’s planned: The Erwin Township Historical Society is receiving a $2,435 grant to support its “Research and Remember” research library program. The organization will use the funds to purchase laptop computers, digital voice recorders, portable hard drives, headphones, and a printer in support of an oral history project where society members will interview past and present residents of Erwin Township.

Hessel School House – Avery Arts & Nature Learning Center is located in the 1937 Hessel School House, a building listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The organization has been awarded a $2,471 grant from the HSM, and the money will help fund the preservation and display of historic class photographs, a new printer and supplies, and programmable digital thermostats.

What they’re saying: “We have wanted to institute a grant program for our member organizations, and recent bequests to our endowment fund have allowed us to make that a reality,” says HSM Development Director Kim Loftus. “The MHA Grants will come from our annual endowment draw, not our operating budget. Although we had a relatively modest amount of money to give this year, we think our MHA Grants will make a difference to our member organizations.”

Also in the news: The Historical Society of Michigan is accepting nominations for the 2023 U.P. History Awards, which recognizes those individuals and organizations preserving and promoting the history of the Upper Peninsula. Nomination forms are available online.
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