Spring 2020 Diversity Innovation Grants


These grants, ranging from $250 to $2,500, are intended to promote projects and activities that move our community values from ideals to actions. The funded projects include workshops, trainings, events, research and more.

Training in Photovoice, a Participatory Action Research Strategy

Victoria Banyard, School of Social Work (Faculty)
Spring of 2020
Rutgers faculty, staff and students of the School of Social Work Center on Violence Against Women and Children and the Department of Labor Relations Center on Women and Work will recieve training in Photovoice during a two-day intensive hands-on workshop during the Spring of 2020. The purpose of this training is to better position Rutgers researchers to engage with marginalized communities in inclusive research design, development of interventions and in communicating with policy makers and other stakeholders. Photovoice is a qualitative research strategy that documents voices from marginalized communities about social problems where they can express their ideas and suggest solutions.

CROWN Conference

Patricia O'Brien-Richardson, Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy (Faculty)
January 29th 4-7PM, Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy
The 2020 CROWN Conference aims to educate and illuminate the campus community and the community at large on a single, unifying topic everyone can relate to, hair. This conference seeks to address and explore the impending CROWN Act in New Jersey, an act aimed at eliminating hair discrimination, via a multi-prong and interdisciplinary approach of education, advocacy, policy, community engagement, public health, social justice, and human rights. This opens the gateway for addressing pervasive systemic issues, such as hair discrimination, with the goal of bridging a culture of equity towards systems transformation. The conference will be open to the campus and the larger community to build capacity and knowledge for advocacy as part of a community of solutions for change.


People and Stories/Gente y Cuentos at the Unity Square Community Center

Marcy Shwartz, School of Arts and Sciences (Faculty)
Spring of 2020 
This project will provide a four-week reading and discussion program in the Spring of 2020 semester through People and Stories/Gente y Cuentos at the Unity Square Community Center in New Brunswick. The program will bring together Spanish-speaking residents from the Unity Square neighborhood with Rutgers undergraduates from the Department of Spanish and Portuguese to read short stories in Spanish and share their own life experiences through an exploration of the story.

Cultivating Adult Scientific Role Models - 4H/NB Public Schools Collab

Raquel Vega, School of Environmental and Biological Sciences (Staff)
Spring of 2020 
The 4-H Youth Development program at the School of Environment and Biological Sciences (SEBS) has been working on developing and expanding partnerships with New Brunswick youth through collaborations with the New Brunswick School District. To promote family involvement in high-risk communities, the Department of Youth Development at Rutgers’ SEBS will collaborate with colleagues at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, WISCIENCE (Wisconsin Institute for Science Education and Community Engagement) department to develop a Training and Service Learning Program for Rutgers Scientists and Undergraduates in STEM disciplines to teach after school Family Science Programs within the local K-8 school district to underserved youth.

Windows of Understanding 2020

Cassandra Oliveras-Moreno, Mason Gross School of the Arts (Staff)
The proposed project is a Freedom of Expression workshop presented by Mason Gross School of the Arts, The New Brunswick Community Arts Council, and Highland Park Arts Commission. as part of Windows of Understanding 2020. The workshop would address freedom of speech and expression in the classroom and wider community, particularly as it pertains to the arts. It will be facilitated by a panel of representatives of the National Coalition Against Censorship, an organization committed to supporting and advocating for marginalized voices. The 2020 run extends from January 20-February 29 and focuses on the themes of Immigration, Mental Health, Mass Incarceration, Food Insecurity, Violence, and LGBTQ+ issues.

What Your Students Want You to Know

David Goldman, School of Arts and Sciences (Staff)
Spring of 2020
“What Your Students Want You to Know” is a program designed to give our diverse population of students the opportunity to educate faculty on their experience here at Rutgers. Inverting the typical power dynamic of the classroom, panelists will have a platform to share their perspectives as members of minority student groups and to address questions from an audience of interested faculty members.  This program will bring together the School of Arts and Sciences Office of Undergraduate Education with the Cultural Center Collaborative, student organizations, and faculty. Bringing these groups in conversation will help faculty see their students more fully beyond the constraints of the classroom environment.

K-12 Diversity Event

Ilona Arnold-Berkovits, School of Social Work (Staff)
Spring of 2020 on the Rutgers-New Brunswick campus
The purpose of the event is to host a presentation and discussion around an unusual approach to promote and sustain diversity and inclusion: increasing the probability of college acceptance for students from high schools with higher proportions of economically disadvantaged students. The approach would benefit not only student opportunities and campus culture at Rutgers and other universities, but also at K-12 schools nationally. Representatives and members of applicable Rutgers University departments and groups will be invited to the two-hour event.

Empowering Voices of Diversity

Darren Clarke, Graduate School of Education (Staff)
The "Empowering Voices of Diversity" Schools Outreach Project will build on the existing GSE efforts to develop teachers to be engaged in and committed to excellence, equity, and social justice in their teaching practice. Our vision is to prepare educators so that they are able to educate and engage with students regardless of their background. Six South Africa Initiative alumni will serve as outreach ambassadors to provide teacher training for (5) NJ public schools using curricula innovations inspired by their transformative learning experience in the South Africa program. There will be one collaborative planning meeting in February, followed by an April and May training session here at Rutgers. We anticipate up 50-75 teachers will participate in each session.

Songs We Sing

Jimmy Dumas, Institutional Planning & Operations (Staff)
The Songs We Sing is a songwriting workshop for 10 students from diverse backgrounds where they can express themselves in a culturally uplifting way through music. Over the span of three sessions and one performance, we will challenge the students to deconstruct how the lenses of perception regarding but not limited to identity, race, culture, gender, and class can be used to distort the truth and erode their sense of self-worth. Ideally, we will be able to have them demonstrate their resilience, power, and creativity through their lyrics and melodies.

New Brunswick Middle School Anthropology

Olivia Boss, School of Arts and Sciences (Undergraduate Student)
Spring of 2020
This project would be a formalization of an existing relationship between Rutgers’ Anthropology Department and the New Brunswick Middle School. For the past two years, Rutgers Anthropology students and faculty have given presentations to the New Brunswick Middle School sixth graders following their social studies unit on human evolution. In addition to expanding on the information they learned in class, the presentations have also discussed education and career paths related to anthropology and included a period where every student could observe, touch, and ask questions about casts of fossil hominin crania. The grant will be used to give the school a set of their own casts to further support their study of evolution. 

RUBilingual - Afterschool Project

Julio Cesar Lopez Otero, School of Arts and Sciences (Graduate Student) 
Spring of 2020 
The goal of this project is to make the most recent investigations and established benefits of speaking more than one language accessible to the public outside of academia, particularly bilingual populations who often receive misinformation on bilingualism. RUBilingual hosts workshops and forums in the tri-state area to aid in informing, educating, dispelling myths and discussing concerns with interested members of the community. We also provide specific strategies and resources for schools with linguistic minority speakers to help parents and educators support literacy development in both languages.

Latin American Philosophy of Ed Conference

Rafael Vizcaino, School of Graduate Studies (Graduate Student)
April 17th & 18th
The Program in Comparative Literature and the Advanced Institute for Critical Caribbean Studies will host members of the Latin American Philosophy of Education Society (LAPES) for a one-day symposium to explore the linkages between critical theory, pedagogy, and activism. The theme of the symposium will be on the pedagogy and activism of Latin American liberation theologies. 

Undocumented Student Art Workshop

Gabrielle Cabrera, School of Graduate Studies (Graduate Student)
This project will consist of two workshops aimed for the undocumented student population on campus. The objective is to provide a space for undocumented students and migrant students to write, perform, and/or make an art project out of their migration narratives and experience of undocumented life at Rutgers University and in the broader U.S. publics. The first workshop will host a local artist and performer from California who will share how their life experience as an undocumented migrant has shaped their art in various mediums. The second workshop will invite the campus community to share the art projects and narratives they’ve created via an Open Mic and Art House.

Rutgers Ready

Sarah Ragsdale, School of Arts and Sciences,School of Graduate Studies (Graduate Student)
Spring of 2020
“Rutgers Ready!” is a song and music video project that promotes and showcases cross-campus approaches to sustainability. The project includes a catchy original song promoting RU values of inclusion and diversity as well as innovation and creativity across the campus community. The project serves as a model for encouraging artistic involvement in achieving future sustainability. The project is a collaborative effort by the MA Political Science program in United Nations and Global Policy Studies (UNMA), the Youth Social Entrepreneurship Project, and the Honors College.

Forgiveness Workshop

May Yuan, School of Arts and Sciences (Graduate Student)
Spring of 2020
The proposed project is a workshop on the character virtue of forgiveness and how it can be applied to create mutual understanding between people of different races and cultures, as the first part of a series of events dedicated to Social and Emotional Learning within higher education. The workshop aims to teach resilience to cultural insensitivity through forgiveness, ways to facilitate communication of one’s feelings of offense (toward micro-aggressions, for example) and to cultivate the desire to help the offender to correct the misunderstanding.

Facilitating Inclusivity while Engaging Youth Outside of School

Laura Eppinger, School of Environmental and Biological Sciences (Faculty)
This two-day training and reflection would be open to all Rutgers staff to attend, and will share perspectives gained from programs run by Rutgers 4-H Youth Development professionals, utilizing Rutgers Cooperative Extension practice. This will be a resource-sharing and reflection opportunity for participants. The goal is to share guidelines for cultivating inclusivity when running programs for young people, lessons and curricula to lead with youth.It will share a space that is designated for asking tough questions about engaging with youth in ways that respect the diversity of race, ethnicity, nationality, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, economic class, and more.

Inclusivity of Public Outdoor Space - Using Nature to Build Community

Vincent Javet, School of Environmental and Biological Sciences (Faculty)
Spring of 2020, Martin Hall
This project will design and fabricate a hybrid temporary-permanent installation in the form of a parkette to transform parking spaces out front of Martin Hall for people of all walks of life to gather together and be immersed in nature. This project is part of the Department of Landscape Architecture’s material tectonics course. Using both the Blake FabLab and the RU Makerspace, students will design and build a space to promote equity and diversity, ultimately helping rebuild and reimagine part of Cook Campus from a parking lot to a space that will strengthen a sense of community and belonging, using nature as the great equalizer.

Media Portrayal of Black Activism

Charles Senteio, School of Communication and Information (Faculty)
Monday, February 17th, 4-8pm
Trayes Hall, Multi-Purpose Room, Douglass Student Center

The event will be a discussion about how the “media” portrays African American Activism. It aims to seed a discussion of how activism has been portrayed in the context of broadly defining “media” which can take on various mediums. The event will feature a speaker and diverse panel to engage in discussions on this topic. 

English Department - Committee on Bias

Mukti Mangharam, School of Arts and Sciences (Faculty)
Spring of 2020
The Committee for Bias Awareness and Prevention (CBAP) in the English Department aims to build an inclusive environment within the department by raising awareness of issues surrounding racial, gendered and sexual discrimination in the academy. The Committee focuses particularly on faculty and graduate students, aiming to foster conversations around inclusive forms of pedagogy and community building. Two events will be hosted for graduate students and faculty members to discuss pedagogy and hear guest speakers. The Committee for Bias Awareness and Prevention also aims to provide funding for graduate students to restart a previous graduate student group, the Anti-Racism Colloquium, that will hold readings, book discussions, film screenings, and discussions on inclusive forms of community building.

Social Work Teaching Podcast

Laura Curran, School of Social Work (Faculty)
Spring of 2020
This purpose of this project is to fund a series of podcasts focused on issues related to building and sustaining a diverse and inclusive learning environment in the social work classroom. In the podcast, we will 'interview' a series of social work faculty, field practicum instructors, and social work students about their experiences related to diversity and inclusion in the social work classroom and field education settings.The podcasts will be hosted on the RU youtube channel and also highlighted on the SSW website and social media outlets.

Make Your Mark Conference

Siddhi Shah, School of Arts and Sciences (Undergraduate Student)
The Mark Leadership Conference is one of the largest student-run conferences in the nation. It is a unique and innovative experience where 20+ speakers from diverse backgrounds come together to share their stories of how they made their mark on the world in an all-day event. The annual event is designed to provide students of Rutgers University and regional institutions a unique opportunity to acquire knowledge, cultivate passions, and encourage conversations with inspiring students and professionals from all walks of life. 

International Women's Group

Hsiu-Fen Lin, School of Social Work (Graduate Student)
Spring of 2020
This project ”Honoring our Role: Women Sharing Real-Life Advice, Stories and Recipes Woven into our Souls” is to help an invisible group, International Women’s Group (IWG) at Rutgers, to publish a book with the stories of its members. The IWG is a volunteer organization that was founded in 1988 by volunteers from the Rutgers community. This project invites international women from all over the world to write down their stories in English which for many, is their second language. The book contains personal short stories, advice for their younger selves and family recipes. This project empowers women to overcome language barriers and embrace cultural differences.

Biomedical Applications of 3D Printing

Yoliem Miranda Alarcon, School of Engineering (Graduate Student)
The project is a workshop geared towards high school students from the New Brunswick-Piscataway area who are interested in STEM fields and the applications of 3D printing in the Biomedical Sciences. This multi-part event will include a tour of the Biomedical Engineering (BME) Department labs and the Makerspace shop, a hands-on workshop for students to use hand-held 3D printers, a lecture portion to learn about the current uses of 3D printers in regenerative medicine, and two demonstrations in the BME labs and the Makerspace shop. With this workshop, we hope to excite high school students from underrepresented communities to pursue careers in STEM.