$285,000 to fund 20 equity, diversity and inclusion projects at UCCS

When the Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion called for grant proposals using funds provided by CU President Mark Kennedy to advance EDI efforts across campus, UCCS delivered.

Faculty, staff and students submitted 51 proposals across three categories: recruitment, retention and persistence of faculty, staff and students; faculty training and education; and cultural and community engagement.

The projects were reviewed and selected by the equity, diversity and inclusion task force. When the task force was formed in Feb. 2021, one of its three charges was to advise the Chancellor and Cabinet on allocating the presidential EDI funds.

“Advancing equity, diversity and inclusion work continues to be a core value and mission for UCCS,” said Spaulding. “Being able to support these units in the various areas listed reflects how much EDI efforts are a shared work and experience of units across the campus, and not merely the task of one office. There is a role for each of us to play in assuring that we are recruiting, retaining and educating about diverse perspectives at every level of campus life.”

“Financially supporting these programs creates even greater pathways to inclusive excellence for UCCS on campus and in the broader community.”

20 of the grant proposals will be funded over the next three years, with a total award allocation of $285,864.20. Take a look at the projects below.

Recruitment, Retention and Persistence of Faculty, Staff and Students

Revised First2Go Program through the First Year Experience and Parent and Family Program
Proposed by Ellen Burkart, et. al and funded with $25,000

The purpose of this proposal is to revise and adapt the current First2Go program in a manner which fosters a welcoming and inclusive university environment for first-generation students and incorporates intentional engagement with their families. With almost a third of the UCCS student population being comprised of first-generation students and the fact that first-generation student attrition is higher than non-first-generation students, it is imperative that UCCS recognize and celebrate students that are the first in their families to go to college and to support them in navigating the university.

Renewal of The Mentor Collective
Proposed by Carlos García and Megan Bell and funded with $25,000

This project will renew The Mentor Collective, an online mentoring community that ensures students have a mentor to support them through a successful academic year. The Mentor Collective pilot was launched in October of 2020, targeting students in the College of Letters, Arts and Sciences, the College of Education and the School of Public Affairs. Upper-division students in those colleges were invited to serve as peer mentors for new first-year students. As of Mar. 2021, 292 first year students were matched with 134 mentors. This proposal recommends renewing for 600 matches to be able to invite all of the incoming first-year students in all colleges.

Creation of a Rising Star Diversity Grant Pilot Program
Proposed by Jessi Smith and funded with $25,000

Through this Office of Research proposal, funds will be used to create a one-year pilot of a Rising Star Diversity Grant. The Rising Star Diversity Grant will be awarded on a rolling basis to departments who are recruiting tenure track faculty. Each mini grant will be in the amount of $7,500 for candidates to choose between a course buyout, hiring of a TA or RA, or to use the funds for summer salary.

Developing Graduate Application Process to Increase Diversity of Admitted Students
Proposed by Kelly Klebe and funded with $24,860

The proposed Graduate School project will capitalize on the small changes that were made during the pandemic year to help programs develop graduate application practices that may increase the diversity of admitted students. The project will develop resources and trainings for programs to consider biases in admission practices as well as identify and disseminate best practices on holistic admissions. Additionally, the project will fund use of implementing a platform to help departments conduct interviews, written assessments, and modeling to identify candidates that help the program reach their self-identified diversity targets.

Recruiting and Retaining Women in Cybersecurity
Proposed by Gretchen Bliss, Yanyan Zhuang and Katrina Rosemond and funded with $24,080

Over the next three years, the WiCyS UCCS Student Chapter, hosted by the Department of Computer Science, will participate in a series of activities aimed at increasing and retaining women in cybersecurity. The WiCyS mission is to bring talented women together to celebrate and foster their passion and drive for cybersecurity. The planned events will help the organization to enlist and retain women of all ages in the cybersecurity field. WiCyS plans to increase the number of women in cybersecurity through community outreach in the K-12 system in Colorado Springs.

Creation of a Diversity Hiring Program at the UCCS Career Center
Proposed by Danny Pape and funded with $24,000

This proposal will create a Diversity Hiring Program for both internships and full-time experiences for students and alumni from underrepresented populations, including, but not limited to, first-generation, limited-income, minority, LGBTQIA+ and international students and students with disabilities. Organizations and companies will sign an agreement to hire students for these opportunities and attend and provide training around equity, diversity and inclusion for campus. Students will also sign up for this program and attend training, utilize the Career Center to prep for the search and interview on campus with the above organizations.

Purchase of Diverse Learning Environment Survey and the Staff Climate Survey from UCLA’s Higher Education Research Institute
Proposed by Robyn Marshke and funded with $13,200

The Diverse Learning Environments Survey captures student perceptions regarding the institutional climate, campus practices as experienced with faculty, staff and peers and student learning outcomes. The Staff Climate Survey is designed to assess the campus climate for diversity from the staff and administrator perspective. The purchase of both surveys will allow for additional modules and benchmark comparisons to other institutions participating in the surveys. A third survey, Faculty Climate, is only available every three years with the next offering in Fall of 2022.

Direct Recruitment Through HBCU and HSI Networks
Proposed by Rose Walker and funded with $11,952

Human Resources will engage in direct recruitment through historically black college and university and Hispanic-serving institution networks. Recruiting and sourcing are similar to a sales process. To effectively find diverse talent for recruitment pipeline, UCCS needs to recruit where diversity thrives. The goal of this project is to incorporate diversity recruiting in the campus recruiting strategy by adding HBCUs. By targeting and building strategic partnerships with HBCUs we will boost UCCS’ diversity recruiting return on investment. Each job posting will go out to a network of HBCU career centers and over 30 diversity-focused sites.

One-Time Purchase of the “Love Your People” Culture Package
Proposed by Alex Baker and funded with $1,000

The Office of the Dean of Students will purchase the “Love Your People” Culture package, with materials to be used throughout the 2022 academic year. Love Your People is a training program which uses eight simple points to encourage people to be kinder and more accountable to each other and the people they serve. The major themes include: contribute, be kind, be patient, be honest, encourage people, apologize, forgive and thank those around you.

Training and Education

Increased Diversity of the Undergraduate Research Academy
Proposed by Jennifer Poe and funded with $25,000

The Center for Student Research (CSR) will aim to directly and immediately increase the diversity of the Undergraduate Research Academy (URA) and establish inclusive support for non-URA Members with a graduate peer mentor (GPM). As part of the CSR bylaws, the Center is committed to creating a new position for a GPM. This graduate student (who will ideally themselves be from an underrepresented background or working in diversity science) will join the CSR to provide close-peer mentoring to our undergraduate and early-career graduate student members. The GPM will receive training in mentoring best practices such as active listening, setting ground rules and trust building, implicit bias mitigation and inclusive mentoring strategies.

Enhanced Curriculum for Early Learning for Tribal Nation Children
Proposed by Kassy Lopez and funded with $24,972.20

The proposed initiative will enhance the curriculum in the College of Education for future teachers by bringing focus on the often neglected needs of early learning for Tribal Nation children. Integration of Tribal Nation learning, in the field of early childhood education, is not currently embedded in courses for future teachers at UCCS. Funding from this grant will allow for appropriate materials to be integrated into the Inclusive Early Childhood Education courses that reflect Tribal Nations culture and context in learning.

Matrix Center Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Expert-in-Residence Program
Proposed by Abby Ferber and funded with $12,000

The Matrix Center – in an effort to enhance diversity and inclusion within the campus and the broader community’s climate – will bring nationally recognized equity, diversity and inclusion experts to campus. Through facilitated dialogues, programs and keynotes, participants will be exposed to a broad scope of experiences and expertise from voices not traditionally accessible to the UCCS community.

Universal Design for Inclusive Teaching, Faculty Resource Center
Proposed by Sharon Stevens and Angela Dodson and funded with $9,000

This project will allow faculty to examine course content for inclusive practices according to universal design for inclusive teaching. The program will provide opportunities for participating faculty to focus on one or more of the following:

  • Engaging in ongoing self-inquiry to eliminate bias, identify attitudes, raise self-awareness, and reflect on practices.
  • Reviewing course design and instructional practice to reveal the kind of class climate, biases in content, student perceptions of instructors gleaned from the course material and learning activities, and implement strategies for more inclusive practices.
  • Creating and maintaining a culturally relevant classroom community through establishing an inclusive campus racial climate and learning to teach tolerance, become a culturally responsive teacher, practice inclusive excellence, reflect on inclusive practice, and monitor language and interactions. 

Crisis Intervention and De-Escalation Training for UCCS Police
Proposed by Grant Lockwood and funded with $5,000

Crisis intervention involves immediate and short-term psychological care aimed at assisting individuals in a crisis situation to restore social balance to the situation and to minimize the potential for long-term psychological trauma. The goal is for each UCCS police officer to participate in an 40-hour reality-based training in crisis intervention and de-escalation, wellness, and the resiliency of trauma-informed care. De-escalation is required in the state of Colorado after the passing of Senate Bill 20-217, which aimed at reducing uses of force by police officers in the state of Colorado. Officers will experience role playing with actors specifically trained to identify each officers’ areas of struggle while working through reality-based scenarios with individuals in crisis. 

Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Training for Alumni Relations and Annual Giving
Proposed by Joanna Bean and funded with $5,000

This program will enable the UCCS Alumni and Friends Association to more fully deliver on the 2030 UCCS Strategic Plan goal of Learning, Engagement and Belonging with UCCS’ 53,000 alumni and the campus community. The office’s work in this area also will support the strategic plan goals of Retention and Graduation and Partnerships and Outreach. These funded activities will advance equity, diversity and inclusion by enabling the Alumni and Annual Giving Office staff and Advancement division to become better educated on these issues, to better engage and serve UCCS alumni and to develop a more diverse and engaged pipeline of alumni ambassadors, volunteers, mentors and donors. 

New Library Collection for Cultural Exploration and Self-Reflection
Proposed by Carlos Duarte and funded with $5,000

The Kraemer Family Library will develop a new library collection focused on the intergenerational exploration of genealogy, storytelling, the arts and the self. By repurposing existing resources, the library will offer a physical and conceptual space for users to engage in cultural exploration and self-reflection with the goal of fostering a sense of community, equity and an appreciation of diversity. In addition to a new collection that focuses on the self and self-expression, we plan on offering instructional programming to community members directly related to this collection.

UCCS Asian Studies Podcast
Proposed by Colin Lewis and George Bayuga and funded with $5,000

Targeting listeners both in Colorado and nationwide, the UCCS Asian Studies podcast seeks to develop engaging programming that highlight the complexities of Asian life, politics, economics, culture, philosophy, literature, religion and history. As such, this podcast and the UCCS program in Asian Studies seek to encourage a dynamic discussion that recognizes the rich contexts of Asian life while carefully analyzing the institutional and social forces that reproduce essentialism, marginalization and oppression. Drawing together academic and cultural experts and community members, this podcast series actively seeks to dispel stereotypes, build inter-ethnic solidarities and highlight UCCS’s role in educating the public about Asia, the Asian diaspora, and Asian communities in Colorado.

Cultural and Community Engagement

Development of Voices in Action Listening Series
Proposed by Stephanie Adams and funded with $10,800

Through this UCCS Downtown series, community speakers and activists will be invited to share their experiences, struggle and perseverance in the pursuit of a more inclusive community. There is a unique power found in storytelling: the power to ignite deep empathy. By elevating the voices of those working to create a more inclusive community, this series seeks to inspire students, alumni and the public while helping connect the campus and community in a new and engaging way.  

Creative Writing Minor Authors-in-Residence Program
Proposed by Leslie Rapparlie and funded with $5,000

The Creative Writing Minor seeks funding to bring nationally-recognized authors to campus. Faculty purposefully link in-class curriculum to the work of active, working authors confronting contemporary issues. We want students to see how the work they do can cross into the working world and to hear from a diverse selection of published authors about creative writing.

Kappa Alpha Psi Educational Seminars
Proposed by Miles Jones and funded with $5,000

Kappa Alpha Psi is one of the nine historic academic and service organizations of the National Pan-Hellenic Council. Its members are committed to service and educational enhancement programming. These funds would be used for events and seminars over the course of the 2021-2023 fall and spring semesters.

Learn more about engaging with the Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion online.