Alfred St. John, a steel drum musician, presents as part of the 2019 Culture, Community and the Classroom workshop in LeRoy, NY.

Local Learning connects folklorists, artists, and educators across the nation and advocates for the full inclusion of folklife and folk arts in education to transform learning, build intercultural understanding, and create stronger communities.

Since 2018, folk artists and teachers from the Southern Tier and Western New York  have participated in an intensive two-day Local Learning professional development workshop, Culture, Community and the Classroom. Then, educators and artists from each annual workshop were paired in order to bring the skills and lessons learned into two-day mini-residency classroom visits in the fall.  A workshop highlighting their successes, models for radically inclusive models of folklore in education, and peer networking activities follows after each successful residency year.

This model of pairing traditional artists and educators for effective work in the k-12 school setting has been repeated each year.  Because of the success of these workshops, and the  need to grow a network or folk arts education work in New York State, Local Learning and New York Folklore entered into a formal partnership in 2020.  With support from the National Endowment for the Arts and the New York State  Council on the Arts, a shared staff position was created for the two organizations.

The Journal of Folklore and Education, published by Local Learning: the National Network for Folk Arts in Education, is a free online journal that is published annually and which provides peer-reviewed articles for best-practices for folk arts education.  Recent titles include the following:

To access this free online journal: https://www.locallearningnetwork.org/journal-of-folklore-and-education/

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Partnership Project:  LEGENDS AND LORE, a program of the William G. Pomeroy Foundation

In 2015, the New York Folklore Society and The William G. Pomeroy Foundation partnered to launch the Legends & Lore™ Marker Grant Program. The signage program is designed to promote cultural tourism and commemorate legends and folklore as an important part of our cultural heritage.

Since the program’s launch, the Pomeroy Foundation, which is a private grant-making foundation based in Syracuse, N.Y., has funded more than 35 Legends & Lore markers in New York to help communities commemorate their own fascinating local stories. New York Folklore serves as the program’s grant evaluator in New York State and provides expert guidance on folklore and legends.

Mape of New York State showing locations of Legends and Lore markers

View the current locations of Legends & Lore markers by clicking on this map.

This ongoing and active partnership has been exceptionally positive for the trajectory of the Legends & Lore grant program; so much so that the Pomeroy Foundation is taking the program nationwide.

Municipalities and charitable 501(c)(3) organizations in New York are welcome to apply for Legends & Lore grants, which cover the cost of a marker, pole and shipping. Local historical organizations or municipal historians will often apply on behalf of property owners. The program features a trademarked specially designed marker with logo.

For information about all of the Foundation’s historic signage programs, grant guidelines, and how to apply, visit:  https://www.wgpfoundation.org/history/legends-lore/ or call (315) 913-4060.

About The William G. Pomeroy Foundation

The William G. Pomeroy Foundation is a private foundation established in 2005 by Bill Pomeroy. The Foundation’s two main initiatives are to diversify the Be the Match Registry by supporting bone marrow drives and helping people celebrate their community’s history through a variety of historic signage grant programs. To date, the Foundation has awarded more than 800 grants for historic signage in New York and beyond.

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In 2019, New York Folklore was awarded one of five new cultural heritage projects that received funding from the Communities Connecting Heritage (CCH) Program of World Learning. Communities Connecting Heritage, sponsored by the U.S. Department of State with funding provided by the U.S. Government and administered by World Learning, empowered youth to protect the cultural heritage of underserved communities around the world. Through virtual and in-person exchanges and exhibitions, the program supported new partnerships between the United States and international cultural organizations and the communities they serve. Communities Connecting Heritage specifically assisted these communities to preserve their tangible and intangible cultural heritage, to reinforce positive narratives, and to advance cultural heritage through community outreach and public education.

“Exchanges that connect and engage people from different communities are more valuable than ever,” said Christina Thomas, World Learning’s divisional vice president for youth exchange. “The Communities Connecting Heritage program offers an opportunity to do this in unique and creative ways, both at home in the U.S. and abroad.”

Receiving one of five partnership awards, New York Folklore (Schenectady) and Youth of Osh (Kyrgyzstan) developed the project, “Cultural Bridge” that included the additional organizational partnership with the Schoharie River Center, a youth development program serving five counties (Schenectady, Montgomery, Otsego, Schoharie, and Albany). Cultural Bridge challenged 35 youth (ages 16-21) to discover Kyrgyz and American cultural heritage by learning about oral history and cultural heritage documentation and contribute to preservation efforts by doing community service, producing media, and installing signage to support the cultural tourism industry.

The virtual international exchange between the organizations commenced in February 2019, and included in-person exchanges in June 2019 (Kyrgyz to USA) and Jully 2019 (USA to Kyrgyzstan).  To view video portraits of the visit of the Kyrgyz delegation to the United States, visit New York Folklore’s Vimeo page:  https://vimeo.com/showcase/7104362