Skip to Content (Press Enter)
Titan Spotlight

Career Enhancement Fellowship: Advancing Racial Equity in Arts and Humanities

Share This:

Natalie Novoa, an assistant professor in the Department of African American Studies, has been named one of the 20 new Career Enhancement Fellows for the 2023-24 academic year by the Institute for Citizens & Scholars. She received the fellowship for her project titled “A Home Away From Home: Recreation Centers and Black Community Development in the Bay Area, 1920-1960.”

“My current project, A Home Away From Home: Recreation Centers and Black Community Development in the Bay Area, 1920-1960, argues that black-run recreation centers played a pivotal role in the black community as sites of racial uplift and political activism.”

Novoa’s work links literature in urban history and African American history to demonstrate the unique circumstances the city landscape presented to African Americans and how they responded to those circumstances and shaped them, especially during World War II. In particular, the project examines how black-founded and black-directed recreation centers acted as an affirmative alternative to the confrontations and humiliations that awaited them at segregated recreational venues and public amusements and accommodations. This project relies primarily on archival sources, including center documents, personal papers/letters from the directors, photos, and newspapers.

“Completion of this project will contribute to urban history, African American history, and the growing area of recreation & leisure. Bringing together historiographical conversations of respectability politics, early California racial history, and recreation & leisure allows for a fresh perspective on the use of city space.”

The fellowship year will allow Novoa to dedicate sufficient time to conduct extensive research and produce engaging narratives. It will also significantly enhance her teaching resources for future courses.

Novoa is a 19th and 20th-century United States historian focusing on post-1865 African-American history. She completed her Ph.D. in American history from the University of California, Berkeley, and joined the AFAM Department at CSUF in 2020. She is interested in researching the social experience of African Americans in cities, sports, environmental justice, and recreation and leisure. As an instructor, she aims to teach students how to contextualize contemporary political, social, and cultural expressions of Black identity. She has been awarded a Career Enhancement Fellowship through the Institute for Citizens & Scholars, supported by the Mellon Foundation, for the academic year 2023/2024. She has a forthcoming article in California History.

The Career Enhancement Fellowship, funded by the Mellon Foundation and administered by The Institute for Citizens & Scholars, provides career development opportunities for underrepresented junior and other faculty members in humanities, social sciences, and arts. The program offers a six-month or one-year sabbatical stipend (up to $35,000), a research, travel, or publication stipend (up to $1,500), mentoring, and participation in a professional development retreat. The Career Enhancement Fellowship has supported over 400 junior faculty members, creating a network of scholars committed to eradicating racial disparities in core arts and humanities fields. For more information about the Career Enhancement Fellowship, eligibility requirements, and the next application cycle, visit

Alan Van Fleet