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Rackham Faculty Allies and Student Allies Diversity Grants


Application Opens: November 15, 2021
Submission Deadline: February 28, 2022

A core mission of the graduate school is to support faculty-led activities to strengthen diversity, equity, and inclusion in graduate programs and departments. Rackham offers two funding opportunities to promote DEI goals in graduate education: the Faculty Allies Diversity Grant and the Student Ally for Diversity Grant. The student grant is designed to assist Faculty Ally work and must be attached to a Faculty Allies Diversity Grant. However, applying for a Faculty Allies Grant does NOT require applying for a student grant.

Rackham Faculty Allies Diversity Grant

The Rackham Faculty Allies Diversity Grant provides Faculty Allies with funds to develop and build intentional diversity initiatives within their departments, in collaboration with students and colleagues. The purpose of this financial support is to improve equity and inclusion within graduate programs in meaningful and sustainable ways. It is not meant to serve as an open-ended fund for students or faculty to access when ad hoc needs arise.

As part of the grant application process, we urge Faculty Allies to engage with their departmental colleagues about what promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion would mean for their specific graduate program and students—and to consider together what that work would look like. This grant is an opportunity to experiment with new and innovative activities, events, and initiatives that foster diversity and address the needs of increasingly diverse graduate student cohorts.

The Rackham Faculty Allies Diversity Grant emphasizes efforts to enhance diversity, promote equity, and foster inclusion (DEI) for current graduate students. Proposals that seek to improve the following areas of the graduate student experience are especially welcome: climate; retention and completion; academic and professional development; career outcomes; and alumni engagement.

How It Works

Any graduate program at the University of Michigan 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 at a lesser amount). Grants cannot be used to pay faculty or staff salaries and benefits, or U-M tuition or fees.

At least one Principal Investigator (or primary proposal author) must be a faculty member who has been designated as a Faculty Ally for Diversity for their graduate program.

Rackham Graduate School reimburses the actual spent costs of authorized activities, events, and/or initiatives at the conclusion of the project. In order to receive funds, programs must submit a report on the grant activities that provides an accounting of expenditures and explains the progress toward DEI goals laid out in the original proposal. Funds must be claimed for activities taking place within the proposed grant time frame (i.e., May 2022 to July 2023).


The Rackham Faculty Allies Diversity Grant is intended as seed money. 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 four-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 a formal application for each year within the four-year cycle that 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 four-year cycle looks 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

Innovation in Specific Areas

To encourage ambitious initiatives around DEI work, Rackham is able to offer a small number of initial grants of up to $20,000 to support especially creative approaches to promoting the success of graduate students from all backgrounds. These initiatives would go beyond the typical speaker series or community-building social events and involve developing a larger framework for advancing the graduate program’s DEI goals through an interconnected suite of activities, events, and programmatic reforms.

A key goal of facilitating this kind of focused innovation is to bring more coherence to the suite of activities and events for which Faculty Allies typically request support. Thus, we will prioritize proposals that address two key areas within graduate education: the early graduate school experience (broadly defined as the precandidate years) and career/professional development. We believe these areas require sustained attention to improve climate and success for all graduate students.

1. The first-year or early graduate school experience. We know students enter graduate school with different backgrounds, levels of preparation, interests, and career expectations. How effectively does the first-year experience offered by your program (orientation, proseminar, course requirements, candidacy process, etc.) prepare students to meet their goals successfully?

  • What kinds of skills and tools are required to help all students succeed in their graduate program?
  • What do students need to know in order to navigate their graduate education in the most productive and fulfilling manner?
  • How can a program surface the “hidden curriculum” and help students meet its expectations effectively?
  • What is the best way to deliver key academic and research skills, and equip students with a strategic understanding of their graduate education?

2. Career/professional development. We know students are eager for career and professional development to be a part of their graduate education experience, but research has shown that providing this kind of skill-building as an “alternative to academia” or “Plan B” can create detrimental hierarchies among graduate students and within graduate programs. What changes are needed to embed career and professional development as part of the graduate student experience itself?

  • Would integrating career/professional development include rethinking milestones and curriculum, as well as expectations for mentoring and advising?
  • What transferable skills do all students need to have? How might programs teach those skills? And which of those skills would be better taught outside the graduate program itself?
  • What other formative opportunities might be adopted?
  • What would it look like to approach broad career preparation in a way that weaves a holistic model of professional development into every student’s program of study, irrespective of their stated career goals?

We urge those who are interested in applying for an innovation award to consult with Rackham staff to strategize their proposal. We are happy to work with individual Faculty Allies to brainstorm proposal ideas within these thematic areas and will hold a general workshop on the Faculty Allies grants and application process on January 20, 2022.

Proposal Evaluation Criteria

  • The fit between the graduate program’s DEI needs and the proposed innovation or initiatives
  • The ambition of the proposed innovation or initiatives
  • The likelihood that the proposed innovations will make a significant, lasting difference to students in the graduate program
  • Number of students impacted
  • 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

Student Allies for Diversity Grant

The Student Allies for Diversity Grant offers 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, preferably in the spring/summer term, but also during the rest of the academic year. Together, the Faculty Ally and Student Ally will implement their Rackham Faculty Allies Diversity Grant proposal, planning and preparing a set of activities to enhance their program’s diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts.

Programs applying for a Rackham Faculty Allies Diversity Grants for 2022-2023 have the option of also applying for the Student Allies for Diversity Grant to support students during the spring or summer (2022) or during AY2022-23. If programs would like to be considered for this additional, optional award, Faculty Allies should submit a Student Allies for Diversity Grant proposal as part of their Faculty Allies Diversity Grant submission.


Grants of up to $5,000 will be awarded to up to two students during the spring/summer 2022, or throughout the AY 2022-23. Programs must submit a report with the annual Faculty Allies Diversity Grant report.

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

Proposal Submission

Proposals are due on February 28, 2022 by 1:00 p.m., and must be submitted through the the online application.


  • Current status of DEI climate and work: (two to three paragraphs) please summarize the state of DEI climate and work in your graduate program, explaining any strengths as well as weaknesses around DEI issues.
  • Proposed activities: (one page) Please describe in detail the activities that you are proposing for support by the Faculty Allies Grant.
  • Gaps or challenges around DEI in your program: (two to three paragraphs) Please discuss how the proposed activities are designed to meet particular challenges in your program’s DEI efforts and clarify the specific ways in which they will support graduate students (e.g., around program milestones, climate, academic and/or professional development, retention).
  • Evidence of commitment: (two to three paragraphs) please explicate how faculty and the program are committed to and collectively engaged in the goals of the proposal, including provisions to support the proposed activities administratively.

Budget (one page)

Please list the proposed activities (i.e., invited speaker, summer writing workshop, career panel) and provide a cost break-down (i.e., activity, number of students involved), including cost-sharing, if applicable.

  • Total Budget: Include the total budget amount for all proposed activities, as well as how much is being requested from Rackham (maximum $12,000)

Letter of Support (one page)

Please provide a letter of commitment from the department chair, director, or dean with responsibility for the graduate program.

Student Allies Diversity Grant

  • SADG Proposal Part One: (no more than one page) please explain how the student will contribute to the activities proposed in the RFADG, including the specific activities, weekly time commitment, and estimated timeframe for the project. The Faculty Ally may identify one or two graduate students to support DEI work funded by the RFADG, either in the Spring/Summer term or during the AY.
  • SADG Proposal Part Two: (no more than one page) please provide a letter of support from the student’s advisor and/or graduate program director.

Award Notifications

Awardees will be notified April 2022.

2022-23 Call for Proposals

Proposals are due on February 28, 2022, at 1:00 p.m., and must be submitted through the online application. Award notifications will be sent out in April 2022.

2021–22 Rackham Faculty Allies Diversity Grant Awardees

Asterisks indicate a recipient of an additional Student Allies for Diversity Grant.

  • Benjamin Allen, Cellular and Molecular Biology*
  • Denise Anthony, Health Services Organization and Policy*
  • Patrick Barry, Law School*
  • Elizabeth Cole, Psychology*
  • Kristin Dickinson, Germanic Languages and Literatures
  • Matthew Diemer, Combined Program in Education and Psychology
  • Cherie Dotson, Pharmaceutical Sciences
  • Shane DuBay, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
  • Mara Duncan, Cell and Developmental Biology*
  • Robert Duncan, Neuroscience*
  • Monica Dus, Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology*
  • Hussein Fancy, History*
  • Maisie Gholson, Educational Studies*
  • Ben Hansen, Statistics*
  • Irene Hwang, Architecture*
  • Vesa Kaartinen, Dentistry*
  • Carolyn Kuranz, Nuclear Engineering and Radiological Sciences*
  • Michael Liemohn, Climate and Space Sciences and Engineering*
  • Marie McCarthy, School of Music, Theatre and Dance*
  • Geeta Mehta, Macromolecular Science and Engineering
  • Geeta Mehta, Materials Science and Engineering*
  • Christi Merrill, Comparative Literature*
  • Shahzad Mian, Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences
  • Daniel Michele, Molecular and Integrative Physiology
  • Rob Mickey, Political Science
  • Susan Najita, English Language and Literature
  • Akira Ono, Microbiology and Immunology
  • Damani Partridge, Anthropology*
  • Rushika Patel, Nursing*
  • Kaushik Ragunathan, Biological Chemistry
  • Emily Rauscher, Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Maureen Sartor, Bioinformatics*
  • Laura Scott, Biostatistics*
  • Kanakadurga Singer, Immunology*
  • Alan Smrcka, Pharmacology
  • Addie Weaver, Social Work and Social Science
  • Jennifer Wilson, Mathematics
  • Zhaohui Xu, Chemical Biology
  • Carolyn Yoon, Ross School of Business*

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.