The Nissan Foundation announced Wednesday, July 8 that it is awarding $680,000 in grants to 27 nonprofit organizations for its 2020 grant cycle. The nonprofit recipients are located in Southern California, Tennessee, Central Mississippi, Eastern Michigan and the New York and Atlanta metro areas – all areas where Nissan has an operational presence.
Over its 28-year history, the Nissan Foundation has awarded more than $12 million to approximately 150 organizations that offer educational programs that inform, inspire and celebrate diversity among the various racial, ethnic and cultural groups that make up society.
"The Nissan Foundation's singular focus from day one has been to stimulate dialogue around race relations and cultural diversity and to support organizations celebrating our differences while reminding us of our similarities," said Nissan Foundation President Travis Parman. "Our 2020 grantees have been engaging in this important, difficult, and often uncomfortable, work for many years. It's our honor and privilege to recognize and amplify their efforts."
The mission of the Nissan Foundation – to build community by valuing culture diversity - is as relevant today as it was in 1992, when it was founded. Formed in response to the civil unrest that occurred near Nissan North America's then U.S. sales operations in Southern California following the Rodney King trial verdict, the Nissan Foundation has annually awarded hundreds of thousands of dollars to nonprofit organizations that support the Foundation's mission.
"Despite the limitations of stay-at-home orders resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, our 2020 grantees have found creative ways to continue their important work," said Parul Bajaj, Executive Director of the Nissan Foundation. "Many of them have taken their programs virtual with great success by providing multimedia resources to educate community members during a watershed moment in our history."
The Discovery Center's Kids First program, which raises funds so children regardless of physical, cognitive, cultural, or economic circumstance have access to enrichment programs at Discovery Center. Kids First includes cultural free days like Hispanic Heritage Day, Chinese New Year, and Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Each year the Discovery Center works in partnership with other community organizations and leaders to improve the programming and educational opportunities at these events.
Among the other 2020 Nissan Foundation grantees is the Nashville Public Library Foundation whose Civil Rights and a Civil Society program is a four-time Nissan Foundation grantee. Leveraging the library's rich Civil Rights Collection and programming, program facilitators invite community organizations to learn about past injustices to better serve the diverse public they encounter in their work every day. Offered from the library's Civil Rights Room, which overlooks the Nashville intersection where nonviolent protests against segregated lunch counters took place, the space also contains a symbolic lunch counter and many photos related to Nashville's Civil Rights Movement.
"The Nissan Foundation has long admired this program where participants gather to discuss race relations and community dynamics with the goal of fostering empathy," Bajaj said. "It's our hope that the Nissan Foundation grant helps the Nashville Public Library Foundation continue evolving the program and bring it to even more audiences."