JMU in the Community

IDEA grants diversify JMU's inclusion efforts


SUMMARY: With JMU being home to a multifaceted population, annual IDEA program grants are awarded to proposals that promote diversity and inclusion in new and exciting ways. The 2015-16 winners work to once again improve our campus' cultural competency, open up lines of dialogue and allow our campus to truly reflect each and every Duke.

Our Madison family is a rich tableau of people from all backgrounds, which is why the university has made diversity and inclusion a top priority. A broad demographic is represented at JMU, so it is critical that the entire population feel included, accepted and seamlessly integrated into the campus. One of the main initiatives to promote this has been the IDEA program grants. 

The Innovative Diversity Effort Award (IDEA) grant provides funding for proposals submitted by students, faculty or staff that offer unique ideas for how JMU can increase diversity efforts. This framework allows for ideas of all types, including one-time seminars, sustainable activities or even citywide measures.

Art Dean, special assistant to the president for diversity, says this program is important because it allows different populations to feel supported, both emotionally and financially. “It lends a voice and provides resources to people in key populations to hopefully bring awareness and information to JMU,” he said.

Founded in 2006, the program has since had 326 proposals submitted, with 87 of those chosen for funding and implementation. This has accumulated to $267,000 awarded in grants.

Dean said there have been a few standouts that have left a fixed legacy on the campus. One recent example is the proposal to make wheelchair basketball an intermural sport at UREC. Another, active since 2009, has been the House of Privilege program held every March where a series of vignettes enables students to see privilege in action and create a dialogue about difference. Some of the winners we even see every day, like the Rose Library Mosaic of Diversity. 

“The first thing is to recognize that individuals see things differently and need a space to bring ideas to campus,” said Mr. Dean. “This lets directors hear about new programs and figure out how to enhance that idea so it’s sustainable on campus.”

The IDEA grants for the 2015-16 cycle were awarded in March at the annual Diversity Conference, which attracted an audience of 350 people. Funded programs include:

  • “C.A.R.E. - JMU Students Engaging Refugee Families in Our Community with Creativity and Reading Education,” submitted by Kara M. Kavanaugh, Holly McCartney and Teresa Harris. This project consists of a four-week summer program for Harrisonburg refugee children from Pre-K to 2nd grade that focuses on creativity, English, reading and literacy.
  • “Global Campus Toolkit: Integrating Our International Students,” submitted by Delores Blough. This project provides a referential online resource for faculty and staff that provides the means to successfully integrate international students on campus.
  • “Space Explorers Club: Harrisonburg Boys and Girls Club After School Pilot Program,” submitted by Shanil Virani, Lori Kinzer, Calah Mortensen and John Almarode. This project provides pilot scholarships to 4th and 5th grade students in the Harrisonburg Boys and Girls Club to encourage those in the traditional STEM minority to pursue careers in science and engineering.
  • “First-Generation Faculty and Student Mentor/Lunch Pilot Program,” submitted by Frances Flannery. This project connects faculty members who were once first-generation students to current first-generation students to establish a mentorship, open dialogue and empower this population with advice and support.
  •  “The Madison Hispanic Faculty Caucus,” submitted by Karina Kline-Gabel. This project consists of a caucus that unites Hispanic faculty and students and aims to promote cultural competence for the JMU community at large.
  • “People with Disabilities Events Program as Part of JMU’s International Week,” submitted by Ken Rutherford. This project will bring Adnan Al Aboudy, a guest speaker from Jordan, to JMU’s International Week to inform students on the issue of global discrimination against those with disabilities from the lens of an Arab and Muslim disability rights leader.

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Published: Thursday, March 24, 2016

Last Updated: Thursday, January 4, 2018

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