Three from Heard Libraries recognized with Community Engagement Collaboration grants

The Jean and Alexander Heard Libraries are well represented in the inaugural round of Community Engagement Collaboration grants awarded by Vanderbilt Government and Community Relations.

The grants, aimed at fostering radical collaboration among Vanderbilt faculty and staff and the Nashville community, support innovative projects developed through partnerships to address local needs. Selected proposals include two cross-disciplinary Vanderbilt faculty or staff members and at least one community partner.

The proposals were reviewed by a committee of the VU Community Engagement Collaborative. The long-term goal of the program is to develop sustained efforts and relationships that benefit all involved, as well as the wider region.

The spring 2024 awardees from Heard Libraries and their proposals are as follows:

Community Scholarship Program for the Southern Library Support Staff Conference

This project creates a scholarship program to assist library support staff from across the state in attending the Southern Library Support Staff Conference in May 2024. The conference allows library support staff to participate in essential continuing education, networking and skill-building opportunities.


  • Machelle Keen, user services and facilities coordinator, Sarah Shannon Stevenson Science and Engineering Library, Jean and Alexander Heard Libraries
  • Robert “Brandon” Hulette, lecturer, human and organizational development, Peabody College of education and human development
  • Lauri Thompson, continuing education coordinator, Tennessee State Library and Archives

Nashville Refuge

Nashville Refuge is a web-based public humanities project that helps refugees living in Nashville share their stories with the public. The project consists of a mobile-friendly website that combines video, text, historical imagery and interactive Geographic Information Systems apps.


  • Stacy Curry-Johnson, librarian for geospatial data and systems research and learning, Jean and Alexander Heard Libraries
  • Jonathan Rattner, associate professor of cinema and media arts, Department of Cinema and Media Arts, College of Arts and Science
  • Max Rykov, director of development and communications, Nashville International Center for Empowerment

Pages to Progress: Empowering Community Through STEM Literacy

Vanderbilt biochemistry doctoral student Creea Shannon’s children’s book, STEM Inspires Me, will be distributed to students at Nashville’s Ida B. Wells Elementary. Students also will participate in a reading day event with the author.


  • Tiffeni Fontno, director of Peabody Library, Jean and Alexander Heard Libraries
  • ReChard Peel, assistant director, Bishop Joseph Johnson Black Cultural Center
  • Dexter Adams, executive principal, Ida B. Wells Elementary School, Metro Nashville Public Schools

“This initiative brings together the expertise of Nashville’s local leaders with the talent and resources of Vanderbilt University,” said Kathleen Fuchs Hritz, senior director of community relations at Vanderbilt. “Our goal is to elevate projects that not only excel in artistic and educational quality but also enrich and empower our shared community.”

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