Foundation creates artists residencies in schools


This month, the Givens Foundation for African American Literature is beginning a new K-12 educational initiative entitled “Spirited Minds and Strong Souls Singing.” This project is designed to partner with Twin Cities-area teachers to bring African America literary artists into classrooms for residencies that can range from a class period to a week or longer.

Experienced residency artists knowledgeable about African American and other literature will encourage students of all backgrounds to explore their family stories and cultural histories. Artists that have signed on for the year include professional storyteller Beverly Cottman, poet and philosopher J. Otis Powell!, and Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder contributing editor Shannon Gibney.

There will be an option to have an artist visit K-12 classrooms to engage students in an interactive residency using their own work as a springboard, or to base middle or high school residencies on Incidents in the Life of A Slave Girl (Washington Square Press, 2003), a classic slave narrative, which the Givens Foundation has reprinted. Students will receive a copy of the book as part of this residency.

The Givens Foundation aims to place African American writers, storytellers, playwrights and actors in eight Twin Cities schools by the end of the current school year beginning in January/February, in time for Black History Month, and continuing through the end of the school year.

The cost to schools are $20 for one class period, $60 for a full day (four class periods), and $300 for a week-long residency (five days with four visits each day plus a teachers workshop). To view an artist roster or discuss a possible residency, contact Givens Foundation Education Coordinator Carolyn Holbrook at 952-831-2555 or

The Givens Foundation for African American Literature, established in 1972, oversees the 3,000-piece Archie Givens Sr. Collection of African American Literature housed at the University of Minnesota Library. The foundation also produces a range of events, publications, and programs. For more information about the Givens Foundation for African American Literature, visit