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Rackham Faculty Allies and Student Ally Diversity Grants

Rackham Graduate School offers two funding opportunities to promote diversity in graduate education: The Faculty Allies Diversity Grant and the Student Ally for Diversity Grant. Both grants fund initiatives that help graduate students from all groups—including those that have been underrepresented in higher education—feel welcome and thrive in their studies at the University of Michigan. The student grant is designed to assist Faculty Ally work, so a Student Ally for Diversity Grant requires applying for a Faculty Allies Diversity Grant, but applying for a Faculty Allies Grant does NOT require applying for a Student Grant.

2019-20 Call For Proposals

The application opens December 10, 2018. Proposals are due on February 15, 2019, and must be submitted through the online application. Award notifications will be sent out April, 2019.

Rackham Faculty Allies Diversity Grant


One of Rackham Graduate School’s core missions is to support faculty-led activities to strengthen diversity in graduate programs and departments. The Rackham Faculty Allies Diversity Grant provides Rackham Faculty Allies—as well as faculty in non-Rackham programs—with funds to develop and build diversity initiatives within their departments in collaboration with students and colleagues. We encourage Faculty Allies and their programs to approach this grant as an opportunity to experiment with new and innovative activities, events, and projects that promote diversity and address the needs of their increasingly diverse graduate student cohorts.


The Rackham Faculty Allies Diversity Grant focuses on efforts to enhance diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) for current graduate students. Activities eligible for support include, but are not limited to efforts to improve climate; aid retention and completion; enhance academic and professional development; boost career outcomes and success for U-M graduate students; and promote alumni engagement.

Please Note

Recruitment efforts such as prospecting, application submission, evaluation, recruitment, or pre-enrollment do not fall within the purview of the Rackham Faculty Allies Diversity Grant. Rackham supports recruitment efforts through the Rackham Recruitment Grant program.

How It Works

Both Rackham and non-Rackham programs may apply for one Rackham Faculty Allies Diversity Grant per year for up to $12,000 (Rackham Graduate School reserves the right to fund proposals in a lesser amount than $12,000). Grants cannot be used to pay faculty or staff salaries and benefits, or U-M tuition or fees.

For Rackham programs, at least one Principal Investigator (or primary proposal author) must be a faculty member who has been designated as a Faculty Ally for Diversity. Non-Rackham programs that receive funding must designate a Faculty Ally to serve as point-person for the grant-sponsored programs.

If a grant is approved, Rackham Graduate School will pay the award at the conclusion of the project/activities. In order to receive funds, programs must submit a report on the grant activities that details how the grant made a difference for students and includes an accounting of expenditures. Rackham Graduate School will disburse funds on actual money spent to the project/grant designated by the grantee. Funds must be claimed for activities taking place within the proposed grant time frame (i.e., May 2019 to July 2020).


The Rackham Faculty Allies Diversity Grant is intended as seed money for Faculty Allies and their programs seeking to develop creative activities and projects to support and enhance the experience, learning, and outcomes of their diverse community of graduate students. The goal is to allow programs to experiment with initiatives or respond to needs arising from increased student diversity. But once the benefits of those activities or projects have been established with the help of Rackham funds, the expectation is that programs will find ways to make them permanent and sustainable.

The Faculty Allies Diversity Grant is thus structured on a 4-year cost-sharing model. Rackham programs can apply for support of the same project or activities for a total of four years. Programs must submit formal applications each year for which they are requesting funding. The subsequent three years of funding have a high likelihood of being approved as long as programs are actually using the grant monies and explain the benefits of the funded activities. In Years Three and Four, Rackham requires programs to commit to cost-sharing (2:1, Rackham: Unit). The 4-year cycle will look like this:

  • Year 1: Up to $12K, no cost sharing
  • Year 2: Up to $12K, no cost sharing
  • Year 3: Up to $8K Rackham, $4K program
  • Year 4: Up to $8K Rackham, $4K program

Non-Rackham programs can apply for funds annually, with 1-to-1 cost-sharing. The fourth year will be the final year that the same activities or project will be funded.

Proposal Evaluation Criteria

  • The fit between the graduate program’s DEI needs and the proposed innovation or initiatives
  • The likelihood that the proposed innovations will make a significant, lasting difference to students in the graduate program
  • Demonstrated commitment of the faculty, program, and department leadership to the proposal, including willingness to share costs and to create structures to support the proposed initiatives beyond the period of the grant
  • Number of students impacted
  • The fit between the proposed innovation and the unit’s academic and research directions

Student Ally for Diversity Grant


The Student Ally for Diversity Grant offers spring/summer funds to pay a graduate student or students to work closely with a program’s Faculty Ally on the new initiatives or projects proposed in the Faculty Allies Diversity Grant. Together, the Faculty Ally and Student Ally will implement their Rackham Faculty Allies Diversity Grant plan, planning and preparing a set of activities for the coming academic year to enhance their program’s diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts.

Programs applying for a Rackham Faculty Allies Diversity Grants for 2019-2020 have the option of also applying for the Student Ally for Diversity Grant. The student grant offers up to $5,000 to support graduate students who will partner with the program’s Faculty Ally on implementing the Faculty Allies Diversity Grant over the spring or summer (2019). If programs would like to be considered for this additional, optional award, Faculty Allies should submit a Student Ally for Diversity Grant proposal as part of their Faculty Allies Diversity Grant submission.


Grants of up to $5,000 will be awarded to support one student during the 2019 spring and/or summer term at 25% or two students during the spring and/or summer term at 12.5%. Programs must submit a report of the Student Ally’s contributions at the end of the student’s work period.

Proposal Evaluation Criteria

  • The fit between the graduate program’s DEI needs and the proposed activities to be carried out by the student
  • The likelihood that the student can meet select goals, as outlined in the Faculty Allies Diversity Grant application, in the prescribed hours-per-week time limit
  • The Student Ally should have a commitment to diversity issues and agree to serve as part of the program’s Faculty Allies for Diversity in Graduate Education

Sample Funded Proposals

Anuj Kumar, Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology, LS&A

Funded activity includes a monthly departmental DE&I workshop/event series designed in consultation with a committee of MCDB graduate students to raise awareness for DE&I issues towards improving departmental climate, professional development, and graduate student retention. The proposal was developed from discussions with the students who are most directly impacted by the proposed activities through an organic process. Topics include: Faculty of Color seminar, DE&I graduate student workshops and retreat, DE&I Town Hall and trainings from campus advocacy groups, panel on careers outside academia.

Lucy Hartley, English Language and Literature, LS&A

Funded activities include: small reading and writing groups of students with shared interests related to DE&I to establish intellectual community and seeding decentralized DE&I discussions throughout the department; spring/summer mentorship grants to provide an opportunity for students to work closely with a faculty member over the summer on creative, pedagogical, or scholarly projects; travel support, workshop series on diversity and pedagogy for graduate students and faculty; and, student social gatherings with incoming graduate students and undergraduate students in the program surrounding DE&I issues.

Stephanie Rowley, Combined Program in Education and Psychology, School of Education

Funded activities include: summer diversity research grants to encourage all students to bring papers that are underway to the point of submission while emphasizing that writing for publication builds critical and analytical thinking and communication skills that are relevant for any career that requires a Ph.D.; expand the buddy program into and through the challenging second year to lower barriers to success; networking lunch/dinner for faculty and students in which students rotate among faculty tables for small group conversations (topics on work-life balance, “how I started my research,” and/or “what I wish my graduate student self knew.”); and, diversity in the classroom professional development training.

Karen Sharon, Astronomy and Astrophysics, LS&A

Funded activities include: career workshops on a broad range of career opportunities with invited former astronomers who have embarked on diverse and successful careers outside of academia; networking and mentoring meetings for groups of graduate students to meet, network, connect, and form additional mentoring relationships with more senior members of the department outside their own research groups, through informal meetings with individuals with whom they can relate; DEI focus groups; and, travel support for conferences, trainings, and meetings.

Proposal Submission

Proposals are due on February 15, 2019, and must be submitted through the online application. The following required documents must be uploaded as a part of the application:

Narrative (no more than five pages)

  • Summary of the current status of DEI issues within the degree program, including strengths and weaknesses
  • Detailing of proposed activities, and how the activities will address the particular circumstances (climate, academic/professional development, retention, etc.) of the program in order to strengthen DEI
  • Evidence of faculty and program commitment to the goals of the proposal
  • Provisions for administrative support of the proposed activities

Budget (one page)

  • Breakdown of activities and costs
  • Commitments of financial support from other sources (cost-sharing), if applicable
  • Total budget amount and how much is being requested from Rackham (maximum $12,000)

Letter of support (one page)

From the department chair, director, or dean with responsibility for the graduate program

SADG Proposal (two pages, if submitting)

The proposal (no more than one page) should explain what part of the RFADG program the student will work on, and what the weekly time commitment will be. The Faculty Ally may identify at least one graduate student (and no more than two) from their program to work over the 2019 spring and/or summer term. As a second page, a letter of support signed by the student’s advisor and/or graduate program director should be provided.

Award Notifications

April 2019.

2018 RFADG Faculty Ally Awardees

  • Richard Altschuler, Neuroscience Graduate Program, Medical Schooll
  • Sarah Burgard, Department of Sociology, College of Literature, Science, and the Arts
  • Patricia Coleman-Burns*, School of Nursing
  • Gabriela Cruz*, School of Music, Theater, & Dance
  • Charlotte Karem Albrecht, Department of American Culture and Department of Women’s Studies, College of Literature, Science, and the Arts
  • Anuj Kumar*, Department of Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology, College of Literature, Science, and the Arts
  • Geeta Mehta*, Department of Macromolecular Science and Engineering, College of Engineering
  • Shahzad Mian, Department of Ophthamology and Visual Sciences, Medical School
  • Marie O’Neill*, Department of Epidemiology, School of Public Health
  • Akira Ono, Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Medical School
  • Ivette Perfecto*, School for Environment and Sustainability
  • Malini Raghavan*, Graduate Program in Immunology, Medical School
  • Stephanie Rowley, Combined Program in Education and Psychology
  • Teresa Satterfield Linares, Department of Romance Languages and Literatures, College of Literature, Science, and the Arts
  • Amy Schulz*, Department of Health Behavior and Health Education, School of Public Health
  • Audrey Seasholtz, Department of Biological Chemistry, Medical School
  • Denise Sekaquaptewa, Department of Psychology, College of Literature, Science, and the Arts
  • Allison Steiner, Department of Climate and Space Sciences and Engineering, College of Engineering
  • Ruth Tsoffar*, Department of Comparative Literature, College of Literature, Science, and the Arts
  • Westley Weimer, Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, College of Engineering
  • Melanie Yergeau*, Department of English Language and Literature, College of Literature, Science, and the Arts
  • Dimitrios Zekkos*, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, College of Engineering

* Indicates a recipient of an additional Student Ally Grant.

Contact the Dean’s Office

If you would like to become a faculty ally or have questions about the grant program, please email us at


The Dean’s Office is open Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

The office is closed Saturdays and Sundays and on the following holidays: Thanksgiving (Thursday and the following Friday), Christmas through New Year's, Memorial Day, Independence Day (July 4), and Labor Day.

Rackham Graduate School will be closed for the Thanksgiving holiday at 3:00 p.m. on Wednesday, November 21. We will return at 8:00 a.m. on Monday, November 26. During the holiday, there will be no processing of application materials and no updates to your Wolverine Access account. After we reopen, there will be a delay in processing application materials. Thank you for your patience as we process the high volume of materials.