2017-18 Campus Climate Improvement Grants

The spring 2018 Campus Climate Improvement Grants are the first of its kind at UMass Amherst. These grants, ranging from $250 to $2,500, are intended to support projects that help build community and create a more inclusive campus. The funded projects include book clubs, workshops, trainings, art exhibits, events and more.

Steve Acquah, staff, Research Art-Science Gallery and Video Exhibition
The Research Art-Science Gallery and Video Exhibition will be tailored to graduate and undergraduate students from diverse backgrounds in the College of Natural Sciences. Students will be encouraged to produce an artistic portrayal of the research they’ve been working on. In addition to the art will being displayed across campus, an official exhibition will allow students to stand by their work and talk to visitors about their research and network within the community. Videos of each student will be created to ensure students understand the importance of their research and to give underrepresented students recognition they deserve.

Benita Barnes, faculty, and Jennifer Randall, staff, Research Support Group for Doctoral Students of Color
The Research Support Group for domestic and international doctoral students of color will be lead by Director of Diversity Advancement and Associate Professor of Education Benita Barnes and Interim Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Associate Professor of Education Jennifer Randall and focus on students in the College of Education. The group will work to engage students who often feel they are left out of research opportunities. Through discussions, students will build a more collaborative and productive community.  

Raquel Bryant, graduate student, Broadening Relationships, Impacts, and Discussions in Geosciences and Ecology Lecture Series
Luncheon: Tuesday, April 24, 11:30 a.m. to 1  p.m., Commonwealth Honors College, 160 West
Lecture: BRIDGE2Science Tropical Cyclone Intensification under Moderate Vertical Wind Shear: Tuesday, April 24, 4-5 p.m., Integrated Learning Center, S211

The Broadening Relationships, Impacts, and Discussions in Geosciences and Ecology (BRIDGE) Lecture Series will help to address a lack of diversity and representation in the early career of scientists. Doctoral students in the geosciences and environmental conservation department will attend two talks on campus given by scientists from underrepresented groups. Not only will this be a way for graduate students to start discussions of the lack of diversity in the department, but it will also be a way for them to hear first-hand about the experience of those currently practicing. Learn more

Krystal Cashen, graduate student, Psychological and Brain Sciences Discussion Events
Friday, March 30, 11 a.m., Tobin Hall, Room 423
This series of informal discussions for psychological and brain science (PBS) graduate students will provide a way for students to continue discussions on diversity from previous events they have already attended. There will be monthly meetings facilitated by the PBS Graduate Student Diversity Committee with a different topic for each conversation. Discussion topics will surround specific articles, awareness and self-care, an educational speaker and more.

Kelsey (Ell) Davis, graduate student, Ally Skills Workshop for Poets and Writers
Friday, April 27, late afternoon, South College, Room E470
The Ally Skills Workshop will work to help students in the Master of Fine Arts (MFA) for Poets and Writers to better understand and respond to issues regarding racism and white supremacy within their program. This workshop will include a series of training events to educate and empower students on what to do in situations of racism and transphobia in the MFA program, and will be a part of a long-term effort to improve the program’s dedication to anti-racism.

Alexandrina Deschamps, faculty, Commonwealth Honors College Book Club
The Commonwealth Honors College (CHC) Book Club will bring staff and faculty to read and discuss the book, “What Does It Mean to Be White? Developing White Racial Literacy” by Robin DiAngelo. The group would meet three times throughout the semester. The purpose of these discussions would be to talk about white racial identity and how it complicates discussions about social justice and equity.

Kim Euell, faculty, Word! A Five College Festival of Staged Readings
Friday, April 6, 4 p.m., Fine Arts Center Atrium
The Word! festival features staged readings by college students of color whose pieces have been selected by The Five College Multicultural Theater Committee. The short plays or excerpts focus on themes of race and diversity. This year, the festival will feature the same performance at Smith College and at UMass Amherst. Learn more. 

Krista Harper, faculty, Graduate Students’ Ecologies of Support
Professor of Anthropology Krista Harper will study support and resource systems that graduate students use as they progress through their studies. The project is intended to focus special attention on understanding the campus experiences of traditionally underrepresented groups such as ALANA, international, LGBTq+, and first-generation graduate students.

Yilu Jin, undergraduate student, Workshop for Queer and Trans Communities and Communities of Color
Members of the La Mariposa Collective, a collective of queer/trans people of color in Turners Falls, Mass., will host a day-long intensive organizing workshop with queer/trans communities and communities of color on UMass Campus to establish a new on-campus group, resource or space. The workshop will focus on education through mobilization with participants will learning how to engage with their university to build the institutional support they need.

Catherine Manly, graduate student, Universal Design for Learning Faculty Workshop
Wednesdays, April 18 and 25, and May 2 and 9, 9:30-11:30 a.m., Furcolo W016
Breakfast will be served from 9-9:30 a.m. each day

This workshop will focus on improving the climate for students with disabilities on campus. Through training faculty in the concepts of Universal Design for Learning (UDL), they will be able to incorporate these principles into their courses. UDL proposes ideas on how staff can design their courses in a way that would allow students, regardless of ability, to engage in the classroom and express their knowledge. These workshops will help to lead faculty towards positively impacting the experiences of all their students. Learn more

Mitchell Manning, undergraduate student, First-Generation Mixer 
Monday, April 23, 4-6 p.m., Campus Center, Marriott Room
The First-Generation Mixer seeks to unite students, faculty and staff around the first-generation college experience. This event will feature partnerships from across campus and celebrate what it means to be “first-gen.” Learn more.

Jennifer McDermott, faculty, Advancing Inclusion and Mentoring Teaching Fellowship
The Advancing Inclusion and Mentoring (AIM) Teaching Fellowship works to connect faculty, graduate students and undergraduate students in the psychological and brain sciences field. Graduate students who receive this award will work together with a faculty mentor to implement specific practices related to inclusion into the undergrad courses that the mentor teaches.

Yvonne Mendez, staff, Jazz Music and Social Change
Tuesday, April 3, 7-9 p.m., Old Chapel
Combining conversation with a concert, Jazz Music and Social Change will bring jazz musicians Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah and Helen Sung to campus. The world-renowned artists will come together for the first time to perform beautiful music and inspire conversation around social change. Learn more.

Martina Nieswandt, staff, SkillPath Workshop 
Tuesday, May 1, 9 a.m. to noon and 1-4 p.m., LSL S330
Wednesday, May 2, 9 a.m. to noon and 1-4 p.m., LSL S330

The SkillPath Workshop will enrich the staff of research and engagement through a two-day, three-hour workshop on developing interpersonal communication skills. Increased communication and better knowledge of how to strengthen ones work environment will result in more positive interactions and motivation at work.

Jennifer Page, staff, Professional Staff Union Book Club
Tuesday, May 8, through Tuesday, July 24, from noon to 1 p.m., Location TBD
Open to all Professional Staff Union members, this 12-week book club will focus on creating a dialogue pertaining to race and racism. One book (which addresses racism issues) would be read throughout the semester and members would meet bi-weekly for facilitated discussions to express questions and concerns regarding race. The book club would also work with other organizations on campus such as academic affairs and campus life to co-facilitate sessions.

Willie Pope and Dave Neely, staff, #RaceAnd Video Series
The #RaceAnd Video Series will bring people together to envision ways of creating a more inclusive community. The project will involve groups across campus such as the Stonewall Center, Center for Multicultural Advancement and Student Success (CMASS), Student Governemnt Association (SGA), Registered Student Organizations (RSOs) and more in creating a video series for storytelling and dialogue about race and other identities. The program will come to a close with a public screening and organized discussion open to the UMass Amherst community.

Tassandra Rios-Scelso, staff, Food Security Symposium
Thursday, April 12, 5:30-8 p.m., Wilder Hall, Room 201
The Food Security Symposium strives to connect students from all backgrounds—including undergraduate and graduate students who are low-income, international, with families—to each other and to the campus and community resources. Participants will attend an event such as a film screening, art project, or donation drive to help identify the next steps in supporting students with unmet basic needs.

Aaron Shackelford, staff, Faces of the Fabulous Art Event
Friday, April 27, 9:45 p.m. Fine Arts Center Atrium
Faces of the Fabulous, an art exhibition event, will work to create a more inclusionary and welcoming space for students and staff of the LGBTQ+ community. The purpose of the event is to emphasize the identity of the FAC building as a space which has been and still is a place of celebration for a variety of identities while connecting to diverse identities that exist throughout campus. Organizations will be invited to share their LGBTQ+ resources and an artist and LGBTQ+ advocate will display their work alongside those of students and staff.

Talya Sogoba, undergraduate student, Multicultural Night
Saturday, April 28, 6-9 p.m., Campus Center in the Hatch (lower level) 
Multicultural Night aims to bring several student organizations together to raise awareness for the Angel Fund and the challenges facing immigrants in higher education. Held in late April, the night will be filled with performances and food from various cultures and numerous cultural, religious and advocacy Register Student Organizations (RSOs), which will be involved in the planning and the execution of the event.

Madeleine Werner, undergraduate students, Smart About Money Financial Literacy Resources
On behalf of Smart About Money, and in partnership with the Bursar Office, this grant seeks to develop a greater web presence to increase reach of student-facing financial literacy resources.

Nathaniel Whitmal, faculty, Luncheon for Underrepresented Faculty in the School of Public Health and Health Sciences
The luncheon for underrepresented faculty in the School of Public Health and Health Sciences will encourage meaningful dialogue between colleagues who have often felt a lack of support and respect within the college. This will be a channel for addressing these problems directly and brainstorming ideas to improve this atmosphere within SPHHS.