Digital Humanities Leaders Working with Nonprofit Finance Fund Receive “Change Capital” from The Mellon Foundation

February 15, 2022

New York, NY– February 15, 2022 – Whose voices become part of our cultural record? Five digital humanities nonprofits working to record and preserve diverse scholarly work and inclusive accounts of the human experience have just received funds from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation in support of their missions.  

The “change capital” grant recipients are participants in Nonprofit Finance Fund (NFF)’s three-year initiative, Building Financial Resilience in the Digital Humanities. Since the initiative’s launch in early 2020, the nonprofits have been working with NFF to identify the financial forces and opportunities that influence their work.  

“Change capital” is how NFF defines money that supports an organization’s planned period of change and allows the nonprofit to emerge financially stable. Recipients will use the grants to sustainably adapt their organizations and deepen the impact of their work.  

HBCU Library Alliance works to transform and strengthen its membership of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), institutions of higher education that were established prior to 1964 with a principal mission to educate African Americans. HBCU libraries hold the cultural records that offer irreplaceable documentation on the African American experience in the 19th and 20th centuries, reflecting the monumental themes of slavery, Civil War, Restoration, the Great Migration, the Harlem Renaissance, the Civil Rights Movement, Black Lives Matter, and more. 

“Libraries have the power to strengthen communities,” said Sandra Phoenix, Executive Director of the HBCU Library Alliance. “The HBCU Library Alliance, through its mission and vision is the ‘voice of advocacy’ for member institutions. The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation funding will allow us to build infrastructure, including new staff members, to support generations of learners who rely on the collections within HBCU libraries to advance, authenticate, and complete the historical record.” 

Humanities Commons enables humanities scholars and practitioners to connect, discuss common interests, develop new publications, and share their work.  

"The value of our open-source platform is rooted in the breadth and diversity of our user base," said Kathleen Fitzpatrick, Project Director of Humanities Commons. "The change capital grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation allows us to pursue financially sustainable growth, including hiring new team members to expand our ability to support humanities scholars and practitioners around the world."   

Rhizome champions born-digital art and culture through commissions, exhibitions, scholarship, and digital preservation.  

"This Change Capital grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation is transformative," said Zachary Kaplan, Executive Director of Rhizome. "It is a first-of-its kind investment in our organization, with a two-fold objective: to ensure the organization will continue to realize its mission regardless of external circumstances and to mature our community operations to keep up with the public engaging our work. We're grateful to the Foundation for making this award, and also to NFF for working with us so closely to study Rhizome's needs and develop a meaningful plan for change." 

Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media (CHNM) uses technology to democratize history, creating websites, podcasts, and other open-access digital resources to present the past to diverse audiences, and to encourage popular participation in the practice of history. 

"We are very excited to receive this significant funding because it will give us the space to do new work that is central to our mission and will help us build a growing community of supporters for that work," said Mills Kelly, Director of the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media.  

South Asian American Digital Archive (SAADA) is a community-based culture change organization that, for the past 13 years, has collected, preserved, and shared stories of South Asian Americans.  

“By creating the largest publicly accessible archive of our community's stories, we have enabled artists, academics, filmmakers, journalists, students, and community members to shape public understanding about the South Asian American experience,” said Samip Mallick, Executive Director of SAADA. “We started with a budget of just $300 in 2008, and over the years, time and again we have found ourselves limited by our capacity, and not by our vision. This change capital grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation is a key to unlocking the full potential of what our community has built together to ensure that South Asian Americans are included in the American story: past, present, and future.” 


In the following blog series, NFF interviewed organizational leaders to discuss the unique dynamics that digital humanities organizations face – and how a change capital grant has catalyzed opportunities for growth:

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