Projects and Research

The Joyner Institute is an active partner on several grant projects and community-driven initiatives.

Current Grant Projects

Alongside The Athenaeum Press, the Joyner Institute is heavily involved in the multiple major grant projects that collaborate with the local community to help tell the stories of Gullah Geechee communities as part of the African Diaspora. 

Plantersville Cultural Collective (2021-2022)

Funded by the Broadening Narratives initiative from the Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation, The Plantersville Cultural Collective is the second phase of work on digitizing and contextualizing records and artifacts from the Plantersville and surrounding region as part of the Gullah Geechee Digital Project (below). The Joyner Institute at CCU is serving as the hub organization alongside the Waccamaw National Wildlife Refuge, which just purchased the site of Hasty Point Plantation, and the Village Group's Plantersville Cultural Center, which just received recognition from the South Carolina African American Heritage Commission. The grant will fund a community coordinator that will spearhead community outreach and oral history documentation, as well as the Mandala Firm's research on possible interpretive models for the Hasty Point property, setting the stage to transform the Scenic Byway of Plantersville into an interpretive space that focuses on Gullah Geechee culture via a virtual tour and micro-interpretive sites.

Read More: 

Grant Team

Organization Leads

Alli Crandell, Interim Director, Joyner Institute and Athenaeum Press Director

Ray Funnye, Executive Director, The Village Group

Craig Sasser, Manager, Waccamaw National Wildlife Refuge

Working Team and Consultants

Zenobia Harper, Community Coordinator

Laura Mandala, Director, Mandala Research

Alisha Cromwell, Faculty Expert and Co-Director of the Baruch Institute for South Carolina Studies (Hobcaw Barony)


The Gullah Geechee Digital Project (2018-2022)

Funded by the National Historical Publications & Records Commission and the Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation, the Gullah Geechee Digital Project is a major digitization initiative in collaboration with the South Carolina Historical Society, Library of Congress America Folklife Center, and the Association for Cultural Equity. The GGDP will digitize more than 6,900 historic records from plantation journals to contemporary oral histories to showcase the diversity and commonalities between Gullah Geechee communities along South Carolina. The project aims to weave together several sites and their stories, from Reconstruction, Civil Rights, and land preservation in five communities: Saint Helena Island, Johns Island, Murrells Inlet, Sandy Island, and Plantersville.

The final project will include a digital archive, immersive historical stories, curricular materials, and a guide to heritage sites around South Carolina.

Grant Team

Principal Investigators

Eric Crawford, Director of the Honors Program, Benedict College

Alli Crandell, Interim Director of the Joyner Institute and the Athenaeum Press, Coastal Carolina University


Faculty Advisors

Scott Mann, Production Manager of The Athenaeum Press and Professor of Graphic Design

Susan Bergeron, Associate Professor of Anthropology and Geography

Tim Fischer, Assistant Professor of Music


Grant Assistants

Zenobia Harper

Patricia Mallett (2020-2021)

Sara Daise (2019-2020)


Sandy Island School Preservation (2017-2021)

Funded by the National Park Service's African American Civil Rights Grant, the Sandy Island School preservation project is a bricks-and-mortar rehabilitation of the 1932 Sandy Island School in Georgetown County, South Carolina. The project was started after The Athenaeum Press and Joyner Institute director Dr. Eric Crawford published a biography of the Sandy Island Community in 2017. This project has forged a partnership between Coastal Carolina University, Georgetown County, Brookgreen Gardens, and the Sandy Island Community to preserve and expand the history of one of the few extant black rural schools in Georgetown County.

As part of the project, the Sandy Island School has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is pending a listing as a Civil Rights historic site. The school served as an elementary school between 1932 and 1965, and it is the fifth documented Citizenship School in South Carolina.

Grant Team

Principal Investigator: Eric Crawford

Project Coordinator: Alli Crandell

Faculty: David Palmer

Brookgreen Gardens Representative: Robin Salmon

Georgetown County Representative: Ray Funnye

Sandy Island Community Representative: Charles Pyatt


Past Projects

Gullah Geechee Community Day (2020)

Funded by the Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation, SC Humanities, the Horry County Higher Education Commission, the Bunnelle Foundation, and the Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor, the Gullah Geechee Community Day brought together over 600 individuals and more than 10,000 digital participants in a cultural celebration that took over downtown Conway, South Carolina. As the final day of the second International Gullah Geechee and African Diaspora Conference, school choirs, artists and artisans, and food vendors provided insight into the long reach of the African Diaspora. 

International Gullah Geechee and African Diaspora Conference (2019-2020)

The first dedicated conference to Gullah Geechee cultural studies and the many manifestations of the African Diaspora, Coastal Carolina University hosted this event. Major funders include the Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation, the Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor, SC Humanities, and the LW Paul Foundation.

Learn More

Explore other related initiatives and Joyner Institue programs.