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Members of School of Social Work receive Diversity Innovation Grants

Hsiu-Fen Lin, a doctoral candidate, meets with some of the international women living on Busch campus every Wednesday, and each one brings a breakfast dish from their culture. – Photo by Courtesy of Tre Anglin

The School of Social Work's Division of Diversity, Inclusion and Community Engagement awarded Diversity Innovation Grants to members of its faculty. 

Diversity Innovation Grants were given to individuals who proposed ideas and strategies to “encourage conversation and connection across race, religion, class, immigration status, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, ability and nationality to create opportunities for belonging and to strengthen a sense of community,” according to Division of Diversity, Inclusion and Community Engagement website.

The grants were given to Victoria Banyard, professor and associate director for the Center on Violence Against Women and Children, Laura Curran, associate professor and associate dean for Academic Affairs, Ilona Berkovits, director of research and evaluation at the Institute for Families and Hsiu-Fen Lin, a doctoral candidate. 

Banyard and Debra Lancaster, executive director of the Center for Women and Work and co-creator of the project, spoke on their proposal.

“Our proposal is to bring two expert trainers to Rutgers to do a training in Photovoice, which is a participatory action research strategy. Funds will be used to support a two-day intensive hands-on workshop on Photovoice during the spring of 2020,” Lancaster said. “Photovoice is a community-based participatory action research method (that) has been applied to a wide range of projects throughout the world.”

Banyard said this workshop will bring together a variety of people from the University community. Lancaster said it will be held on April 30 and May 1 and applications are currently open.

“The two-day intensive workshop will bring together researchers and staff from across units, centers and schools who are likely to have at least several things in common, including an interest in better understanding and solving social problems and improving the quality of life for vulnerable or marginalized communities,” Banyard said.

Berkovits discussed why she chose to apply for this grant.

“I applied for the grant based on a concept I was working on: To systemically encourage diversity in K-12 schools through the use of a higher education diversity initiative,” she said. 

Berkovits said it is important to have a higher education diversity initiative.

“Perceptions could be changed by formalizing and publicizing a college admissions diversity initiative that considers each applicant’s school context. Specifically, as the percentage of economically disadvantaged students in an applicant’s high school increases, colleges would increase admissions consideration for that applicant,” she said.

Lin said she plans to use the grant to publish a book that compiles the stories of international women currently living on Busch campus with their families. She said she meets with several of these women every Wednesday, where each of them brings a breakfast dish from their culture.

“In addition to talking and speaking, we can try to learn to write down their stories using their own voices,” she said. “Can you imagine helping a group of women tell their story in the second language? I think that would be an achievement for them.”

The Division of Diversity, Inclusion and Community Engagement focuses primarily on emphasizing a diverse education and promoting personal and professional growth to foster a climate of inclusion within a diverse community, as well as establishing partnerships to support coordination with existing campus diversity efforts, according to the website. 

It also allows members of the University to get involved through Rutgers peer education programs. Individuals can sign up to be a peer educator, where they can help provide workshops, become a Douglass Inclusion Ambassador or join the Honors Diversity Peer Education Program, according to the website.

The applications for the spring semester are currently open and anyone from the Rutgers community could apply, ranging from students, staff or faculty members, according to the website. Approximately 5 to 10 grants will be awarded.

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