Division of Equity and Inclusion Awards Grants to 13 Projects

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After more than 30 project proposals were submitted by faculty, staff and students to the UC Berkeley Division of Equity and Inclusion last fall outlining ways to create a more inclusive community on campus, 13 projects were selected Jan. 27 to share a total of $125,000 in grants.

The Innovation Grants - which will be offered for the next four years - are part of the Initiative for Equity, Inclusion and Diversity, which was established last January with a $16 million grant from the Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund. In addition to the grants, the fund supports multicultural efforts on campus and has financed efforts such as increasing the number of American Cultures courses offered on campus as well as adding five new faculty members to the Haas Diversity Research Center.

New projects will be funded each year and include multimedia and discussion-based approaches to issues such as race conflict, sexual orientation and violence prevention, according to Elizabeth Gillis, director of special projects and project manager of Innovation Grants in the Office of Equity and Inclusion.

"One of the criteria was that we wanted to fund projects that had sustainability built into them, so that when funding goes away they can continue on," she said. "Some projects are teaching video-making skills, so that we'll have videos that will be permanent learning tools for people to use.

Gillis added that the campus hopes to increase expertise in addressing community issues through teaching communication skills to faculty, staff and students.

Multimedia will be used to record the stories of LGBT students of color on campus, produce an educational video about partner violence prevention at the University Village campus housing and display art created by first-generation, low-income students on campus, among other projects.

One such project is called "ONE - Our Neighbor Expressions of Creativity, Diversity and Inclusiveness," which will create a multimedia website to be launched in April within the UC Berkeley School of Public Health in order to promote creative expression among faculty, staff and students.

The project began as a collaboration between Norma Firestone, program coordinator and graduate student adviser for Environmental Health Sciences, and Dion Shimatsu-Ong, program manager and graduate student advisor for the Health Services and Policy Analysis Ph.D. program.

"We wanted to do something for the School of Public Health that would help with morale and with people being able to see each other outside of their respective roles," she said. "We wanted to have an enhanced understanding of each of us as fuller individuals - there's so much depth in terms of talents and skills and really amazing abilities that people have."

Many of the selected projects are based on discussions between diverse groups on campus, including a speaker series about hate crime prevention on campus, forums to educate the campus on the experiences of student veterans, and facilitated dialogue between students of different religions, political parties and cultures.

Next spring, "A Place at the Table: Interactive LGBT Exhibit" at the Bancroft Library will use multimedia and print resources from the library to bring attention to the history of gender and sexuality issues and increase accessibility to the library, according to Martin Meeker, a historian with the Regional Oral History Office of the Bancroft Library.

"We want to break down the walls that sever the library from the surrounding community and are working to represent a community that hasn't been communicated before," Meeker said. "We want to welcome those community members into the library as well as people who want to learn more about LGBT issues and engage with that topic through history."


Alisha Azevedo covers academics and administration. Contact her at [email protected]

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