Select Page

Rackham Faculty Allies and Student Allies 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.

Rackham Faculty Allies Diversity Grant

One of Rackham Graduate School’s core missions is to support faculty-led activities to strengthen diversity, equity, and inclusion in graduate programs and departments. The Rackham Faculty Allies Diversity Grant provides Faculty Allies 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 emphasizes efforts to enhance diversity, promote equity, and foster 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 encourage student-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.

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 2021 to July 2022).


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 a formal application 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


In order to encourage ambitious initiatives around DEI work, Rackham is able this year to offer a small number of initial grants of up to $20,000 to support highly creative approaches to promoting the success of students from all backgrounds. These could include collaborating with adjacent departments to develop collective workshops or activities; organizing a major conference that engages students, faculty, and alumni; offering a writing boot camp for faculty and students. Here, the funding model would be: Year 1, $20K; Year 2, $12K; Year 3, $8K/Rackham + $4K/program; Year 4, $8K/Rackham + $4K/program.

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

Current Budget Restrictions

At present, the university is still operating under budget restrictions due to the financial impact of COVID-19. As you work through budgets and activity planning for 2021-2022 Faculty Allies Grants, please keep in mind that Rackham is still unable to fund hosting, travel, outside consultants, or any expense considered non-essential. Given these constraints and the uncertainty around how long pandemic restrictions will be in place, we urge you to develop activities and initiatives that assume there will be only limited in-person gatherings into the 2021-2022 academic year. We encourage you to be creative in finding ways to support students, create community, and further your DEI efforts.

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 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 2021-2022 have the option of also applying for the Student Allies for Diversity Grant. The student grant provides support to graduate students who will partner with the program’s Faculty Ally on implementing the Faculty Allies Diversity Grant over the spring or summer (2021) or during AY2021-22. 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 support one student during the 2021 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

Proposal Submission

Proposals are due on February 22, 2021 by 11:59 am, and must be submitted through the online application. The following required documents must be uploaded as a part of the 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 2021.

2021-22 Call for Proposals

Proposals are due on February 22, 2021, at 11:59 p.m., and must be submitted through the online application. Award notifications will be sent out later in 2021.

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.