The Dudley T. Dougherty Foundation

Expanding Capacity through Professional Staffing

Grant Information
Categories Community , Education
Location Texas
Cycle Year 2019
Organization Information
Organization Name (provided by applicant) The Blackwell School Alliance
Organization Name (provided by automatic EIN validation)
Contact Information
Contact Name Gretel Enck
Phone 4322953359
PO Box 417
501 South Abbott Street
Additional Information
Used for This money will be a critical piece of a 2020 operations budget that include hiring an Executive Director and assistant. Having a paid staff to advance our mission on every level will be a game changer, as we move into educational partnerships with local schools, more public art projects with the community, and becoming a fully functional museum with 7-day/week operations and targeted outreach programs.
Benefits The Blackwell School Alliance has existed as an all-volunteer organization for twelve years. Through the help of the Dougherty Foundation and others, we have had many great accomplishments. We have proven that our vision is being embraced by stakeholders far and wide. Now we need professional staff to dramatically increase our capacity to serve our community--through education programs, volunteer engagement, historic preservation, and the further national designations our site is seeking. In this way, we will become a leader in preserving and telling the stories of segregated Hispanic education in Texas and the borderlands.
Proposal Description The Blackwell School served Marfa's children of Mexican descent from 1909 to 1965. Today the Blackwell School Alliance preserves the original 1909 school house as a museum and community space.

The Alliance is seeking support for an operations plan that will allow us to hire an Executive Director and an assistant. We are attaching a three year budget plan. Please be aware that we are only asking for a one-time donation to support the first year of operations.

Most of us on the Blackwell School Alliance live in Marfa and love our little town, but we have a problem. Marfa has a legacy of segregation and discrimination against people of Mexican descent that historically played out in divided neighborhoods, whites-only businesses, and our school system. The Blackwell School—often referred to as the Mexican School—operated until 1965 when Marfa’s schools were integrated.

Marfa today is 70% Hispanic, yet as Marfa has morphed into a world-renowned art and tourist destination, our Hispanic history and culture are being brushed aside. A sense of community ownership erodes with every arty magazine article; kids in school don’t know their grandparents attended a segregated school; and our community cemetery is still divided between Anglo and Hispanic by a barb-wire-topped fence. Burying our past has not healed our community. And sadly, Marfa is just a microcosm of Texas and America.

So much work has already been accomplished by our scrappy band of mostly former students and volunteers. We have built a community of supporters around the idea that the Blackwell School is a deeply authentic space for the collective memory of the segregated school experience. The physical space anchors our vision to foster these challenging conversations, to engage our community in dialogue, education, connection, and healing—in Marfa and far beyond, because we understand the significance of the Blackwell School as a portal to the bigger, ongoing national conversation around identity, power, and what it means to be an American.

And yet, of course, we are not alone. We have incredible support in Marfa and in the Historic Preservation community. We have partnered with professional artists from El Paso and San Marcos to bring prideful Hispanic public art to Marfa. The city of Marfa has supported our work financially and through the use of city walls for our public art. The Border Network for Human Rights, Marfa Film Festival, and Marfa Open Art Festival have held events in our building as a recognized authentic space for the inclusion and commemoration of our Hispanic community. And as a kick-off to our Historic Structures Report, we partnered with Bill Dupont at UTSA and a class of graduate students who spent their summer seminar investigating our building. And of course, you—The Dudley T. Dougherty Foundation—have been one of our most constant supporters for which we are so grateful.

Our request this year will allow us to dramatically increase our capacity to address the goals outlined in our 2017 Strategic Plan of community engagement, education, and healing. We can only do so much as an all-volunteer organization. As you will see in the attached budget, we are only asking you for a small piece of the first-year budget—but it is a critical piece. Large donors want to know that we have many supporters, and consistent ones. Your financial support matters!

We are also attaching a job description of our desired Executive Director. That and the budget offer a clear idea of our priorities and expectations.

We thank you for your support and all the work you do for the betterment of our communities.