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Research Grants

Research Awards for University of Memphis Faculty

2015-2016 Deadlines and Information TBA 

Request for Proposals
Benjamin L. Hooks Institute for Social Change
at the University of Memphis
Faculty Research Grants
2014-2015 Academic Year

This RFP was made possible by a generous grant to the Hooks Institute from the CIGNA Foundation. 

The Benjamin L. Hooks Institute for Social Change at the University of Memphis invites proposals from tenured and tenure track faculty and research associate professors whose research relates to its mission of “teaching, studying and promoting Civil Rights and Social Change” for our 2014-2015 Faculty Research Grant competition.

Counting down to 50 years since 1968, the Hooks Institute will consider current social conditions in light of the period’s signature events, social policies or legislation.  In 2014-2015, we will revisit the legacy of 
President Johnson’s Great Society and the War on Poverty.

Just seven weeks after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, President Johnson delivered his first Inaugural Address.  In it, he declared “all-out war on human poverty and unemployment in these United States.” He proposed “better schools, better health, better homes, better training and better job opportunities to help more Americans … escape from squalor.” Later that year, Congress passed the Economic Opportunity Act, which created the Job Corp, VISTA, federal work study programs for college students, small business assistance, literacy training and direct assistance for the poorest urban and rural residents.”

Fifty years and one Great Recession later, what is the state of Johnson’s War on Poverty? With the reductions in SNAP benefits, increased restrictions on family assistance, and struggles over Medicare expansion in light of the Affordable Care Act, can we say that it is still possible for the poorest Americans to lift themselves out of poverty?  Locally, what barriers to affordable healthcare, housing, education and training remain to those struggling to (re)gain economic security? How is the state of Memphis’ black middle class both emblematic of the economic expansion that Johnson’s legislation encouraged and vulnerable to today’s economic downturn?

We welcome applications from scholars in any field who are pursuing projects that reflect on, analyze, assess or represent the myths and realities of the struggle against poverty and economic inequity since 1964. We encourage applicants to think broadly about the role that economic opportunity has played in the struggle for access to full citizenship, especially within the context of recent local and national economic developments.  

The Institute will award up to two grants of $5,000 each for projects conducted during the 2014-2015 academic year.  Recipients agree to

  • present on their project at a seminar during the grant period;
  • acknowledge the Hooks Institute in any conference presentations or publications that result from work done during the grant period; and
  • submit a progress report of 250 words or less every six months after the project begins; and
  • submit a final report of their work by the end of the grant period.

No more than $500 dollars of project funding may be used for computer software or equipment.


The award may be used to support (this is not an exhaustive list):

-Research and publications that center on the life and career of Benjamin L. Hooks, especially work that makes use of his personal papers, which are housed at the University of Memphis library;

-Research and publications that frame social justice issues, including environmental, educational, economic, or health disparities in Memphis and the Mid-South, within the historical contexts of race and class relations in the city and region;

-Community based, engaged scholarship that encourages collaboration between researchers and the communities involved, as well as researchers and students at the undergraduate or graduate levels;

-Research and analysis of the intersections between the contemporary American Civil Rights Movement and emerging movements for civil or human rights;

-Preserving stories and primary resource materials related to events of the American Civil Rights Movement that occurred in Memphis and the Mid-South; and

-Research and publications that explore the historical and current state of race relations in Memphis and the Mid-South.


-Must be a University of Memphis tenured or tenure-track faculty member. Research associate professors who have been affiliated with the University for at least 3 years may also apply.

-Must have a terminal degree in one’s field.


Application materials must be submitted electronically to Ardella M. Jeffries, Hooks Institute Administrative Associate, at no later than 5pm on Monday, March 10, 2014. Awards will be announced by April 11, 2014.  

A complete application will include:

-An up-to-date CV

-A 4-page double-spaced proposal that clearly defines the project, providing background and relating the project to current scholarship on civil rights, social change and/or social disparities.

-A letter of support from applicant’s department chair.

-A timeline that outlines work to be completed during the grant period.

-A detailed budget that specifies how funds will be used and estimates additional resources needed to complete the project.

-Brief summary that aligns the project with the mission of the Hooks Institute (summary will be posted to the Hooks Institute’s website). (200 words or less)

-Explanation of how this project furthers the applicant’s professional development and research goals. (200 words or less)

Review Process

Applications will be reviewed by a committee consisting, at a minimum, of faculty members and the director of the Hooks Institute. Proposals will be evaluated according to five criteria: 1) connection to the Hooks Institute mission; 2) significance or timeliness; 3) feasibility (Can the project be completed in the proposed timeline? Does the applicant have the qualifications necessary to complete the project?); 4) opportunities for collaboration or engagement with area non-profit, community service or civic groups; 5) opportunities for closely related undergraduate and/or graduate research.

Hooks Institute previous grant award recipients may reapply for this grant.  


Past Funded Research

Mapping the History of West Tennessee.  In 2009, the Hooks Institute awarded a $5,000 research grant to Esra Ozdenerol, Ph. D, a faculty member in the Department of Earth Sciences at the University of Memphis.  Ozdenerol worked with the Institute to create a Geographic Information Systems (GIS)-mapping website that will disseminate information about pivotal civil rights events and their locations in west Tennessee.  The GIS-mapping website will have electronic visualizations such as animated maps that allow exploration of recreated landscapes, hyperlinked stories, photographs, and video interviews of those involved in the Civil Rights Movement. Read More 

Hooks National Research Fellowships and Dissertation Grant Program

 Hooks National Research Fellowship

The Hooks Institute National Research Fellowship is intended to increase scholarship on the role of Hooks and his impact on the Civil Rights Movement, on increasing diversity in the communications industry, and on Hooks’s role in shaping local, state, and national policy as Executive Director of the NAACP.  This fellowship, to be offered for the first time in 2012, is open to scholars who have completed terminal degrees (i.e., Ph.D., J.D.).  A stipend of up to $2,000 each will be offered to two scholars and is intended to supplement primary funds from other sources the scholar intends to rely upon to conduct this research.  Please check our website for updates, including the application deadline, for this Fellowship.

 Hooks National Dissertation Grant Program

In January 2012, the Hooks Institute issued a national call for proposals from doctoral students with an approved dissertation topic that addresses the role of Hooks and his impact on the Civil Rights Movement, on increasing diversity in the communications industry, and on Hooks’s role in shaping local, state, and national policy as Executive Director of the NAACP.


Past Research Proposals
Past Funded Research
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Last Updated: 11/11/14