Applications are open to all U-M graduate programs for 2021-2022 Rackham Faculty Allies and Student Ally Diversity Grants.
Developed to fund initiatives that help all graduate students—including those from groups underrepresented in higher education—to feel welcome and thrive in their studies at the University of Michigan, the Faculty Allies and Student Ally Diversity Grants aim to enhance diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) efforts within graduate programs across the U-M campus.
The Faculty Allies Diversity Grant awards up to $12,000 for initiatives to improve program climates, aid student retention and completion, provide opportunities for academic and professional development, boost career outcomes and success for graduate students, and encourage engagement between students and alumni.
“The Faculty Allies program and its Student Ally component offer opportunities for people to come together to create and test new ideas that directly address inclusion and climate in graduate programs,” says Rackham Dean Mike Solomon. “All of us at Rackham are committed to not only attracting but also supporting and empowering a diverse student body as an essential dimension of excellence in graduate education.”
Applicants can also submit a proposal for a Student Ally Diversity Grant, which awards up to $5,000 to pay graduate students to work closely with a Faculty Ally on initiatives and projects under the Faculty Allies Diversity Grant.
In an effort to build long-term, sustainable DEI initiatives throughout the university, the grants are intended as seed money for Faculty Allies and their programs, and are renewable for up to four years. This approach is meant to give departments needed resources to start DEI programs and give them ample time to find means of making them self-sustaining.
“How do we build a strong and inclusive academic community? How do we build on, expand, and scale up the best practices that we have found in the academy to identify, recruit, admit, support, progress, and graduate diverse students? How do we, in fact, change and transform the landscape of graduate studies?” asks Patricia Coleman-Burns, an assistant professor emerita in the U-M School of Nursing. “The Rackham Faculty Allies Diversity Grants provide foundational and structural support to answer these timely questions.”
Through the Faculty Allies program, the School of Nursing was able to extend Coleman-Burns’s work of building pipelines to nursing school and holistic support for nursing students to its Ph.D. program. This included the development of a pre-Ph.D. institute that focused on health disparities and de-colonizing nursing science, student opportunities for coaching in analytics and writing, and a faculty guided summer research opportunity for incoming doctoral students interested in DEI.
The U-M Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures (GLL) has received both Faculty Allies and Student Ally for Diversity Grants, which have been used to hire a professional writing coach, hold research-related and professionalization workshops for graduate students, organize an annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Day event, bring German film directors of color to hold screenings and question and answer sessions on campus, and create an extensive DEI teaching and research database for the department.
“Through their work on the database, graduate students have taken on an active role in department-wide conversations on inclusive pedagogies, and have created a fantastic resource for graduate students, faculty, and lecturers alike,” says Kristin Dickerson, an assistant professor in GLL. “Ongoing DEI workshops have likewise led to more open discussions in the department surrounding climate and graduate student well-being and have generally improved the level of communication between faculty and graduate students. By allowing us to develop new initiatives with long-term impacts, the Faculty Ally and Student Ally Grants for Diversity have proven to be an invaluable resource for the department.”
In the U-M Neuroscience Graduate Program, Faculty Allies funding has been used to create community groups to enhance social support, inclusivity, well-being, and work/life balance for graduate students, as well as student-led, peer-to-peer workshops, seminars from scholars of diverse backgrounds, and science communication workshops. Earlier Faculty Allies grants were used to help the program build partnerships with Minority Serving Institutions that continue to this day.
“The Rackham Faculty Allies grants form the cornerstone of the DEI efforts in the neuroscience graduate program,” says Keith Duncan, an associate professor in the U-M Department of Otolaryngology. “This seed funding has consistently helped us nucleate creative and innovative initiatives, as well as test their efficacy.”
The grants form an important piece of one of Rackham Graduate School’s core missions—supporting faculty-led activities to strengthen diversity in graduate programs and departments.
Applications are due February 22, 2021. To apply or find further information, please visit the Rackham website.