A low-angle view of the campus pond with the library tower and Old Chapel spire in the distance
University News

CDD Funds $75,000 in Grants for Faculty, Students and Staff

The UMass Community Democracy and Dialogue logo

On March 27, the Office of Equity and Inclusion sent the following email to the campus community announcing the disbursement of $75,000 in grants by the university’s Community, Democracy, and Dialogue (CDD) initiative.

Formed to help the campus community navigate challenging, complex and controversial subjects in ways that bring us together, the CDD working group is a partnership of the Chancellor’s Office, the Office of Equity and Inclusion, University Relations, Student Affairs, Academic Affairs, the College of Education, and the Departments of Judaic and Near Eastern Studies, Sociology, Political Science and English.

More information about CDD can be found at https://www.umass.edu/dialogue/.

Dear Campus Community,

We are thrilled to announce that the Community, Democracy, and Dialogue (CDD) grant selection committee has disbursed $75,000 to support 33 exceptional proposals submitted by our faculty, students and staff. These grants are a testament to UMass Amherst’s commitment to promoting diverse discourse and open dialogue on critical global and domestic social issues.

Each of the awarded projects embodies our shared values and meets the criteria set forth by the CDD grant program:

  • Benefitting the UMass community: These projects are designed to enrich the experiences of our community members and will be implemented right here on our campus.
  • Addressing important issues: From international conflicts to issues of inequity and bias, the funded projects tackle pressing global and domestic challenges that resonate with our campus community.
  • Encouraging open discussion: Through a variety of activities and events, awardees will foster open dialogue and intellectual exchange on critical social issues, advancing the ideals of diversity in discourse.
  • Emphasizing collaboration: The collaborative nature of these projects underscores our commitment to working together as a community to effect positive change.
  • Ensuring audience participation: Events featuring speakers will provide ample opportunities for audience engagement, fostering meaningful dialogue and exchange of ideas.

Out of the 45 proposals received, 33 were selected for funding, with 15 granted to faculty, 7 to staff, 7 to undergraduate students (including 2 collaborations with faculty), 3 to graduate students, and 1 to a postdoctoral researcher.

The diversity of projects is truly inspiring. They range from a unit-wide reading and discussion of the book Advancing Democracy by staff in Environmental Health and Safety; to a Lunch and Learn facilitated discussion on being a Black student at a predominantly white institution and Black masculinity; to Colors of Unity, which will use a collaborative art project to explore the efforts of the Black Lives Matter and Stop Asian Hate movements to combat racism and promote inclusivity; to a discussion-oriented visit to the Palestine Museum US in Woodbridge, Conn.

These projects exemplify the diverse and innovative approaches our community members are taking to promote dialogue, understanding, and inclusivity on our campus. To see a listing and descriptions of all the funded projects, please visit our new CDD website.

These grants are a vital component of Chancellor Javier Reyes’ Community, Democracy, and Dialogue initiative, which aims to foster inclusive dialogue and navigate complex topics in ways that broaden perspectives and diminish polarization. The initiative is guided by the Community, Democracy, and Dialogue (CDD) advisory working group, composed of faculty, staff and campus leaders, in consultation with graduate and undergraduate student leaders.

As we continue to navigate challenging global events and prepare for a new election cycle, the work of the CDD becomes increasingly important. Our vision is to provide ongoing support for dialogue, inquiry and respect for differences, ensuring that UMass Amherst remains a vibrant learning community where free speech is cherished, and diverse perspectives are celebrated.

We extend our heartfelt congratulations to all the grant awardees and express our gratitude to the entire UMass Amherst community for your dedication to fostering dialogue, understanding, and inclusivity.


Nefertiti A. Walker, Ph.D.
Professor, Isenberg School of Management
Office of Equity and Inclusion