FYLPRO forges a partnership with academe on an oral history project supported by NEH


| Photo via NEH Website

NEW YORK – As part of the National Endowment for the Humanities’s (NEH) $41.3 million in funding for 280 humanities projects across the United States in its latest grant cycle, the Filipino Young Leaders Program (FYLPRO) will collaborate with the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) in an oral history project as lead partners.

“These 280 new grant awards underscore the wide range of exemplary, fascinating, and impactful humanities work that scholars, practitioners, and institutions are conducting in all corners of the country,” said NEH Chair Shelly C. Lowe.

Among the grantees is UIUC’s “Transnational Disinformation Networks and Asian Diasporic Politics” project, directed by Dr. Rachel Kuo, Assistant Professor of Media & Cinema Studies at UIUC, and Mark Calaguas, FYLPRO Executive Vice President and Board Chair of the Alliance of Filipinos for Immigrant Rights and Empowerment (AFIRE) in Chicago.

“We are excited for the support of community collaboration, knowledge exchange, and storytelling as well as the opportunity to foster shared learning about the specific ways history and power shape our communities’ relationships to technology and democracy,” remarked Dr. Kuo, a scholar who writes, teaches, and researches race, social movements, and technology.

According to a 2021 report by Asian American/Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy (AAPIP), it found that while Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders made up roughly 7% of the U.S. population, only 0.2 percent of domestic grantmaking by foundations was designated to serve those communities. Calaguas, co-founder and legal counsel for FYLPRO’s data innovation hub and media literacy initiative, Tayo. “We thank NEH for their much-welcomed investment in our work and hope this serves as a positive example for other decision-makers in the wider funding ecosystem,” said Calaguas.

UIUC is one of 16 NEH awardees under the “Dangers and Opportunities of Technology: Perspectives from the Humanities” grant, and this funding will support the collection of intergenerational and multilingual testimonials to examine memory, political histories, and information networks across Asia and Asian American diasporas.

Through their robust local and national networks, AFIRE and FYLPRO’s Tayo will facilitate collaborative storytelling workshops designed to understand better the experiences of the Filipino diaspora concerning government, migration, survival, and political upheaval in connection with individual reflections on different media and information environments.

“We have an important opportunity to explore the unspoken moments of truth and experience faced by those in the diaspora, including triumphs and traumas that deserve to be told. Storytelling can be a tool of empowerment, honor, kapwa (togetherness), and care because of the courage to be vulnerable and share our stories,” said Ryan Viloria, AFIRE Executive Director.

“This is a prime moment to tell our stories that normally get overlooked and overshadowed,” said Leezel Tanglao, FYLPRO President and Tayo Co-Founder/Project Director. “As a multigenerational diasporic community, there is no shortage of narratives that weave together a larger story of trauma, survival, and resilience while adapting and innovating to every situation that comes our way.”

The project will commence in early 2024 and last through the end of 2025. In light of the various challenges in communicating about politics across generations and languages, the collaborators plan for the storytelling sessions to generate several resources for public education and civic reflection, such as community convenings, history and media guides, and a book-length manuscript. In doing so, FYLPRO said they hope to bring together the diverse histories and contexts of Asian American diasporic experiences, which are crucial to understanding how our communities engage with today’s ever-shifting media and tech landscape.

The NEH is an independent federal agency created in 1965. It supports research and learning in history, literature, philosophy, and other areas of the humanities by funding selected, peer-reviewed proposals from around the nation. Additional information about the National Endowment for the Humanities and its grant programs is available at www.neh.gov.

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