GRANTS: Mellon Public Scholars and the Mondavi Center

Map overlaid on satellite imagery of land
Mellon Public Scholar Loren Michael Mortimer mapped Indigenous life on the U.S.-Canada border.

UC Davis’ Mellon Public Scholars Program and the Mondavi Center’s partnership with the Esparto Unified School District will continue with new grant funding announced last week.

Mellon Public Scholars ProgramThe Andrew W. Mellon Foundation provided $600,000 in support for the next three years. Begun here in 2015, the program introduces graduate students in the arts, humanities and social sciences to the intellectual and practical aspects of identifying, addressing and collaborating with members of the public through their scholarship. Each student designs and executes a community-engaged research project over the summer months.

“We are thrilled to have the Mellon Foundation’s continued support for our public scholars program, which has been recognized nationally as a model of innovative scholarly training and research,” said Jaimey Fisher, director of the UC Davis Humanities Institute and a professor in the German and cinema and digital media programs.

“Not only has it been of great value to our humanities, arts and social sciences graduate students, it has allowed us to build valuable partnerships, here in California and beyond, with organizations of local, national and even global impact.”

Approximately 30 students have participated so far. Study topics have included multiethnic publishing in the San Francisco Bay Area, experimental performance among people of color in Oakland and the role of human behavior in energy conservation. Other projects took on creating digital storytelling and mapping for the Oak Park neighborhood of Sacramento, and developing social media tools for a peasant group in Guatemala.

— Jeffrey Day, content strategist, College of Letters and Science


Scene from Akram Khan dance company’s “Chotto Dash,” showing a man touching an animated elephant.
A scene from Akram Khan dance company’s “Chotto Dash.” 
  • Esparto Elementary School — Cirque Mechanics and Akram Khan Company
  • Esparto Middle School — Nobuntu and Alexander String Quartet

Mondavi Center — The California Arts Council provided $15,300 in its funding category for Arts Education: Exposure, providing opportunities for schoolchildren to take in performances and exhibitions — events for which the children would otherwise have limited ability to attend.

The Mondavi Center will provide free tickets for Esparto elementary and middle school children and their chaperones to each attend two school matinees during the 2018-19 season. Many of these students attended Mondavi Center matinees during the 2017-18 season, some seeing live professional performing arts performances for the first time.

The Mondavi Center will complement the school matinees by having experienced teaching artists conduct introductory and interactive school visits prior to each matinee. 

“We are pleased with the opportunity to continue our partnership with Esparto Unified through this grant,” said Ruth Rosenberg, director of Arts Education and Artist Engagement at the Mondavi Center. “We look forward to welcoming their students and teachers to the Mondavi Center next season.”    

The California Arts Council awarded a total of 113 Arts Education: Exposure grants for 2018-19.

“Studies have shown that projects like the Mondavi Center-Esparto Unified partnership that offer real-world, authentic interaction with the arts have a rewarding effect on learning ability,” said Nashormeh Lindo, the arts council chair. “These early life experiences can spark interests, provoke thought, and build a student’s capacity for success. The path of what’s possible is widened by every opportunity to step outside the familiar.” 

— Rob Tocalino, director of marketing, Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts

Follow Dateline UC Davis on Twitter.

Media Resources

Dateline Staff, 530-752-6556,

Primary Category