Diversity-focused grants to fund cross-cultural programming

The University will begin giving out grants this fall to fund diversity-related events, hires and curricula.

The grant program will be funded by the provost’s office and will mark Vice Provost for Diversity and Inclusion Terri Harris Reed’s first major initiative since she arrived at the University last year. She said details, like how much money will be available, are still in the works.

“Our purpose is to get everyone on the campus involved. This is reinforcing our message that the diversity and inclusion message for the University is everybody’s responsibility,” Reed said. “It’s to find a way to educate, empower, equip the broader campus community in helping to achieve diversity and inclusion.”

Reed is the first administrator tasked solely with supporting minority populations, part of University President Steven Knapp’s focus on expanding increasing diversity on campus.

Departments, professors, classes, students and organizations can apply once the program, the first campus-wide grant initiative, launches.

Reed said funds could be used to hire a graduate student to identify curriculum options for coursework related to sexual identities or other diversity-related topics, take a group of students to a play or movie that examines cross-cultural communication or host an expert to speak about unconscious biases.

She pointed to the athletic department’s recent promotional video, “You Can Play,” which shows players and coaches expressing support for gay, lesbian and transgender student-athletes, as an example.

“It will fund all sorts of activities for individuals who have thought about how their office, their discipline, their mission or vision ties into the University’s mission or vision,” Reed said.

Washington University in St. Louis and Columbia University have similar programs, she said.

Reed said the provost’s office will initially supply the grant funds, but she plans to fundraise in the future, pitching the program to donors who are interested in diversity issues.

Associate Vice President and Dean of Student Academic Success Helen Cannaday Saulny declined to comment on grant guidelines and applications, because the details have not been finalized.

Director of the Multicultural Student Services Center Michael Tapscott, who is not directly involved in planning the grant, said the program will be a resource on campus relating to a “breadth of diversity issues.”

“When everyone within a community works together to explore and share experiences in and around diversity, everyone benefits both in the short term and the long term,” Tapscott said, adding that the grants will create “new ideas, new approaches and new communities” for GW.

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