Posted on Curry School of Education & Human Development | By Ellen Daniels
The University of Virginia received a $25,000 grant from Lumina Foundation’s Fund for Racial Justice and Equity, a project of Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, to fund a project that will train UVA undergraduates and develop a curriculum to empower youth to promote racial justice. This effort is part of the Initiative for the Study of Equity Through Community Engaged Scholarship, one of UVA’s pan-University institutes.
From a pool of 312 nationwide applicants, UVA was one of 19 colleges and universities selected to receive funding from Lumina’s Fund for Racial Justice and Equity. The fund was created last year in response to racially motivated violence in Charlottesville on the campus of the University of Virginia.
The grants announced today came about because the foundation saw an urgent need to improve the atmosphere around race on campuses across the country.
“As a philanthropic leader, Lumina shares a deep passion and concern about the nation’s racial climate, especially on college campuses,” said Jamie Merisotis, president and CEO of Lumina Foundation. “These campuses have shown a willingness to address racial disparities at a systemic level: They recognize that achieving equitable results is about more than promoting diversity – it’s about whether the institution fosters a climate in which every student feels welcome and has the same opportunity to earn a degree or certificate of value, regardless of race or ethnicity.”
In partnership with Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, Lumina evaluated grant applications submitted in response to a request for proposals. The number of applications indicates a strong desire throughout higher education to improve campus culture through community dialogues, faculty and staff development, and other creative approaches. Lumina received proposals from a wide breadth of institutions, including two- and four-year, public and private, large and small, and minority-serving.
Nancy L. Deutsch, director of Youth-Nex: The UVA Center to Promote Effective Youth Development, one of the investigators and a leader on the initiative, said she is thrilled to see Lumina directing money towards racial justice on college campuses and extremely pleased to see the energy and initiative around this issue at UVA.
“It is time for colleges and universities to take racial climate on their campuses seriously,” Deutsch said. “What happened in Charlottesville last summer peeled the Band-Aid off of wounds that run deep. It is the responsibility of all institutions of higher education to dedicate resources to making our campuses not just positive climates where all students feel welcome, but also campuses where students are learning how to promote equity and social justice as change agents in their own communities.”
The team of investigators includes Dayna Bowen Matthew, the William L. Matheson and Robert M. Morgenthau Distinguished Professor of Law and the F. Palmer Weber Research Professor of Civil Liberties and Human Rights at the UVA School of Law, and Barbara Brown Wilson, assistant professor, Urban and Environmental Planning, UVA School of Architecture.
“This partnership with Lumina Foundation will enable our community-engaged faculty to launch an important pilot curriculum that strategically expands the reach of the Equity Initiative, said Louis Nelson, Vice Provost for Academic Outreach at UVA. “This will be an important catalyst for the University’s rapidly expanding portfolio of data-driven and ethically informed community-engaged research and teaching.”
The Initiative for the Study of Equity Through Community Engaged Scholarship is a pan-University initiative established by UVA to focus research on intellectual and social challenges to achieve the most impact. As such, The Initiative for the Study of Equity Through Community Engaged Scholarship seeks to produce high-impact, interdisciplinary scholarship that addresses systemic inequities through community-engaged research. Further, this initiative will develop ways to translate its research into interventions that concretely contribute to repairing historic inequities, broken trust, and trauma experienced in places where leading research universities can apply their considerable intellectual and other resources to educate students, disseminate knowledge, and collaborate with communities to build just, sustainable and democratic institutions that support an equitable society.