MVSU among 79 organizations nationwide to receive NEA Big Read grant

June 15, 2018

ITTA BENA, Miss.—Mississippi Valley State University recently received a $10,150 grant to host the NEA Big Read in the Mississippi Delta community.

A national initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with Arts Midwest, the NEA Big Read is designed to broaden the understanding of our world, our communities, and ourselves through the joy of sharing a good book.

MVSU is one of 79 non-profit organizations nationwide and the only organization in the state to receive an NEA Big Read grant to host a community reading program between September 2018 and June 2019.

The NEA Big Read at MVSU will focus on Tayari Jones’ “Silver Sparrow,” a touching and moving read threaded with the themes of love, family as well as the difficulties of coming of age.

The novel was chosen as a Best Book of 2011 by O, The Oprah Magazine, Library Journal, Slate, and Salon.

Activities centered on the selection will kick-off Oct. 1, 2018.

“We are grateful for the opportunity to promote student achievement, literacy and build community partnerships through the NEA Big Read grant,” said Brittany Davis-Green, MVSU director of Communications and Marketing.

“Reading is an essential skill that allows us to make meaningful contributions to improve ourselves and, in turn, our communities. We are excited about the positive impact this grant will allow MVSU to generate in our Delta communities.”

The NEA Big Read showcases a diverse range of contemporary titles that reflect many different voices and perspectives, aiming to inspire conversation and discovery. The main feature of the initiative is a grants program, managed by Arts Midwest, which annually supports dynamic community reading programs, each designed around a single NEA Big Read selection.

“The National Endowment for the Arts is proud to support opportunities for communities across the nation, both small and large, to take part in the NEA Big Read,” said NEA Acting Chairman Mary Anne Carter.

“This program encourages people to not only discuss a book together, but be introduced to new perspectives, discuss the issues at the forefront of our own lives, and connect with one another at events.”

MVSU’s Department of English will collaborate with Academic Affairs, the J.H. White Library, the Department of Distance and Online Education, the Office of Communications and Marketing, University College, local public libraries, schools, museums, and faculty from other academic units in sponsoring the Big Read program, which will include the Big Read Kick-off, a keynote session, 10 days of discussion centered on the novel and a final presentations session. The event dates have not yet been finalized and will be announced later. 

Since 2006, the National Endowment for the Arts has funded more than 1,400 NEA Big Read programs, providing more than $19 million to organizations nationwide. In addition, Big Read activities have reached every Congressional district in the country. Over the past eleven years, grantees have leveraged more than $44 million in local funding to support their NEA Big Read programs. More than 4.9 million Americans have attended an NEA Big Read event, approximately 82,000 volunteers have participated at the local level, and 39,000 community organizations have partnered to make NEA Big Read activities possible.

For more information about the NEA Big Read, please visit