The Michigan Humanities Council’s (MHC) mission is to connect people and communities by fostering and supporting quality cultural programs. This task is easier said than done, but through statewide support and partnerships, the MHC is able to bring Michiganders together and increase cultural awareness — especially to communities that don’t have the resources to do so on their own. Partnerships are usually created with fellow nonprofits such as libraries, museums and historical centers, and the programs that the MHC run (or fund) can pertain to a number of topics. They include: history, anthropology, comparative culture, interpreting art, theatre, etc. “The MHC’s signature program is the Great Michigan Read,” says Robbe Dipietro, Executive Director at the MHC. “It is a bi-annual program in which we partner with schools and organizations throughout Michigan for a statewide reading discussion. The book that is picked for each program must be written by a Michigan author or based in Michigan. These programs give people the opportunity to listen to stories that have happened or are happening in their communities and see how they connect to the challenges they face today.” Another flagship program that the MHC participates in is called Poetry Out Loud, a national poetry recitation competition for high school students. “Each year we partner with the Michigan Council for Arts & Humanities to put on the event,” says Dipietro. “Over 50 schools send their representative to the state championship to compete. The winner of the event earns money for books at their school and advances to nationals where they will compete for $20,000 in scholarship money for college that is awarded to the winner. This year, the state championship will be held on Feb. 22-23 at the Hannah Community Center in (East) Lansing.” The MHC knows that it cannot reach the entire state of Michigan on its own, so besides creating and organizing its own events, another integral part of the organization’s success is its grant program. “We emphasize collaboration with cultural, educational and community-based organizations in order to have a presence throughout the entire state,” says Dipietro. “We provide the funding and offer support staff, but it is up to the local organizations to run the show. This gives us the chance to be affiliated with a diverse set of programming and offer events that appeal to everyone.” For more information about programs that the MHC offers, how to apply for a grant, or if you just wish to learn more about the organization, visit: www.michiganhumanities.org.