Oral History Project Receives IFT Grant: Riverside CCD Faculty Association awarded $18K to bring project to life!

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Thanks to a grant from CTA’s Institute for Teaching (IFT), CCA member Jennifer Escobar is working with four other educators and 30 secondary and postsecondary students from Val Verde and Moreno Valley school districts on an ambitious oral history project. Escobar, associate professor of English at Moreno Valley College and member of the Riverside CCD Faculty Association, was awarded a 2019-20 Impact Grant of $18,480 to bring her strength-based project to life. Hers is only the second community college grant in the 10 years of the IFT Grant program. The “Researching (With) Our Communities Through Oral Histories” grant will support ongoing and new collaborative oral history projects for educators who work in Val Verde Unified School District, Moreno Valley Unified School District, and Riverside Community College District. Nearly 2,000 students are expected to participate.
Classroom educators will participate in a yearlong community of practice centered on the topics of oral history and meaningful classroom conversations and will share what they have learned with their colleagues. Escobar submitted the grant in conjunction with Karyn Thomas and Kimberly Thomas, Val Verde Teachers Association, and Angelena Tavares
and Ken Miralles, Moreno Valley Educators Association. Other educators participating include Kathryn Stevenson, Zanny Allport, Ed Rice, Melanie James, Valarie Zapata, Emma Pacheco, D’Angelo Bridges, Juan Sepulveda, Angela LeBlanc, Lisa Ramapuram, Joe Osborne and Martha Borjon-Kubota.
For the 2019-20 academic year, lead team members will select a theme to unite the foci of the oral histories across the three partner districts. As with other research methods, oral history methodology requires students be responsible for their learning. Conducting this oral history project will require and strengthen skills in writing, reading, listening and
speaking, and critical thinking.
One instructor is focusing on commuters, another group on people who break barriers, and another faculty member project involves students interviewing LGBTQ+ educators. “The purpose is to provide culturally responsive and sustaining research opportunities with students from middle school, high school and college,” Escobar said. “Students
will have the opportunity to learn more about their narrators (interviewees), go through steps of oral history mythology, and share their finished narrative.”
Though oral history projects may take the form of an essay, these final projects could also be realized as a play, poem, photo essay, or other format. In this way, the proposal encourages student creativity while also building students’ awareness about writing within a given genre and medium for a particular purpose and audience. In this case, students are encouraged to employ activism in their projects, giving students a voice to take positive action for social justice, equity and acceptance in their communities.
The grant proposal includes professional learning workshops led by CCA/CTA members from the three districts plus invited guests — for example, a speaker from Studio for Southern California History.
Students will conduct oral history projects with Inland Empire residents and then will share their projects at two community events in the spring, which the public is invited to attend. The first is April 24, 2020, at 5 p.m. in the Val Verde Teachers Association office in Perris.
Find more about the project at oralhistoryie.com/interviewers.
The Institute for Teaching is the grant-giving arm of CTA, and all CCA members are eligible to apply. This is the second time Escobar submitted a grant. “The good thing is they provide feedback, so I listened to what they said, talked to colleagues and reapplied.” She encourages CCA members to apply for a grant, and says she’ll provide advice to CCA members going through the application process.