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Inclusive Excellence Mini-Grants

Do you have ideas about how to make AU a more inclusive community? If so, we want to hear from you!

The President’s Council on Diversity and Inclusion (PCDI) invites you to apply for an Inclusive Excellence (IE) Collaboration Mini-Grant. Reach out to your fellow colleagues, classmates, professors, alumni, or parents to partner on a collaborative project that supports a climate where people of all identities and experiences are understood, appreciated, and fully included. 

Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis throughout the academic year.

Please note that the majority of mini-grant funds will be awarded during this annual application cycle. However, PCDI will still accept applications on a rolling basis pending availability of funds.

Apply online!

For any questions, contact

  • Mini-grant not to exceed $1,500.00. Funds must be spent by close of fiscal year.
  • AU students, faculty, staff, alumni, emeriti, contract workers, and parents are eligible to apply.
  • All applicants must partner (collaborate) across divisions, departments, units, individuals, and/or student organizations.
  • Project must work to advance diversity, equity and inclusion at American University. This includes:
    • Mapping to at least one recommendation in AU’s Plan for Inclusive Excellence
    • Working to positively influence the climate for AU students, faculty, staff, alumni, emeriti, and contract workers.
    • Supporting a sustainable and/or scalable effort that may continue after grant funds are exhausted
    • Striving for reasonable goals and outcomes within the timeline indicated
  • Awardees will be expected to submit a final report of project outcomes to PCDI by June 1, 2020.
  • Grant funds may not be used for personnel expenses or equipment (computers, etc.).
  • Awardees’ project outcomes will be featured during a kick-off symposium in Fall 2020.

For any additional questions not covered under the FAQs, please contact

  1. How much are the grants?
    1. IE mini-grants range in value up to $1500.
  2. What type of expenses are allowable?
    1. IE mini-grants are intended to fund programming costs (e.g., translators, videographers, food, program materials, etc.). IE mini-grants cannot be used to purchase equipment (e.g., computers) or to cover personnel expenses. 
  3. When do grant funds need to be spent?
    1. Grant funds must be spent before May 29, 2020.
  4. What type of projects can be funded?
    1. The IE mini-grant program funds a wide variety of collaborative efforts in support of fostering a climate where people of all identities and experiences are understood, appreciated, and fully included. Examples of prior years’ IE mini-grant-funded projects are available here.
  5. When does the project need to happen?
    1. Projects must take place before May 29, 2020.
  6. Can I do a project by myself?
    1. No. All projects must be rooted in collaborative partnerships. For example, student + faculty member, staff + staff, alumni + student organization, etc.
  7. I missed the deadline. Can I still apply?
    1. Yes. Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis throughout the academic year. However, please note that the majority of mini-grant funds are disbursed during the fall 2019 application cycle (application deadline: November 4, 2019).
  8. Can I apply for more than one mini-grant?
    1. Yes. 

AU Si Se Puede! Symposium

Maria Gramajo and Guadalupe Mabry

The AU Si Se Puede Symposium will showcase academic research and projects led by Latinx/a/os being completed at American University:

  • fostering a campus-wide conversation within the at-large Latinx/a/o community including AU students, staff, faculty, and alumni; 
  • providing a networking bridge between Latinx/a/o students, Latinx/a/o alumni and DMV professionals in academia and other work sectors; 
  • and advancing inclusivity, excellence, and equity within AU's Latinx/a/o community with connectivity, visibility, guidance, and potentially mentorships.

Addressing Islamophobia in Media

SOC Diversity Committee - Sumaira Akber, Priya Doshi, Bill Gentile, Jeremiah Patterson, Kristi Plahn-Gjersvold, Gemma Puglisi, Saif Shahin, Danari White, Brianna Williams, Russell Williams, and Sherri Williams

The project will work to address and analyze Islamophobic representations in media and teach those in event attendance the impact of such representations and how to avoid recycling them.

Antiracist Praxis for College Writing and Information Literacy

Amanda Click and Sarah Trembath

A committee of eight librarians and five writing studies professors, who are dedicated to both information literacy and antiracist praxis, are currently gathering, reading, and annotating scholarship in these areas: antiracist composition pedagogy, antiracist creative writing praxis, multicultural and cross cultural literature pedagogy, and critical information literacy.  

This project’s goal is to help all Library, Department of Literature, and Writing Center faculty and staff become fluent in the basic vocabulary of antiracist scholarship; to open up constructive dialogue about best practices; and to set the groundwork for truly informed faculty and staff antiracist standards and goal-setting.

This effort aims to mine the expertise of people already doing antiracist work, inspire others to begin antiracist work, increase the general competency of faculty in this area, and build bridges between entities that are passionate about these issues but currently functioning independently in their antiracist work.   

AU Latino & Hispanic Mentorship Program

Jackie Garcia in collaboration with the Latino & Hispanic Faculty and Staff Affinity Group

The goals of this mentorship program are as follows: 

  • build a supportive bridge between Latino & Hispanic undergraduate students and Latino & Hispanic staff and faculty;
  • foster inclusivity, excellence, and equity within the Latino & Hispanic student, staff, and faculty community through connectivity, visibility, guidance, and mentorship; and
  • support the personal and professional growth of mentees and mentors, through in-person, head and heart dialogue.  

Breaking Bread in Science

Kathryn Walters-Conte

“Aspects of identity such as race, ethnicity, gender, income, and first-generation status are particularly important factors in retention and success in college and in STEM fields” (National Academies).  Our goal is to build a STEM community at AU, by allowing students to share lunches with mentors in the STEM fields with whom they may identify (LGBTQ, URM, First-Gen, etc.).

*This project supported by the Office of Finance & Treasurer.

Discovering Indigenous DC: Guide to Indigenous DC Field Trip Support

Maddox Pennington and Elizabeth Rule in collaboration with Tanja Aho

This project fosters the goal of curriculum and instruction by supporting students in venturing out of the classroom and into the community to build their knowledge of American Indian activism and presence in Washington, DC. Students will select at least three of the stops on the Guide to Indigenous DC walking tour to complete, conduct some contextualizing research, and write a reflection on the experience.

This effort augments the core curriculum WRTG-101 course taught by Maddox Pennington; Elizabeth Rule's American Indian Law and Legacies course; and Tanja Aho's American Dreams, American Lives.

Earth Day 2020: Elevating Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the Sustainability Movement

Tacy Lambiase in collaboration with the Department of Environmental Science

Environmental Justice, also sometimes called climate justice or environmental racism is: The fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income, with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies. This project will host a panel discussion and networking reception focused on environmental justice to bring together students, faculty, and staff in AU's sustainability community to discuss how our programs and goals can better align with an environmental justice framework.  

Games for Diversity

Saif Shahin

The purpose of the project is to use video games to enhance inclusion and diversity on campus. The project is divided into two stages. In the first stage, Games for Diversity Trials, a small group of AU students will be invited to play a series of video games that are meant to encourage inclusion and diversity. Then, in a Games for Diversity Symposium, these students will share their experience of playing these games with the broader AU community alongside one or two invited game developers and game studies scholars.  The discussion will focus on the impact playing these games had on students' understanding of inclusion and diversity, and aspects of the games that worked particularly well and those that did not, so that games that are meant to foster inclusion and diversity may themselves be further improved.

Identity and Culture in Context: Celebrating and Understanding Identities Abroad

Emma Bozek-Jarvis and Matthew Stifter

The goal is to make sure that the inclusive excellence and equity on campus extends to the AU Centers abroad—Madrid, Brussels, and Nairobi.  AU Abroad will lead a Culture and Identity Pre-Departure Orientation Training for students attending these centers. This training will help students: 

  • interrogate their intersectionality and identity matrices as they relate to a cross-cultural context;  
  • better acclimate and claim their experiences abroad and, therefore,
  • generate positive outcomes as it relates to socio-cultural-psychological development.

Inclusive Excellence in Lawyering: Understanding Positionality and Privilege 

Center for Human Rights & Humanitarian Law in collaboration with the WCL Student Advisory Board

This project seeks to create an intentional and thoughtful space in which law students can critically think and discuss topics related to lawyering positionality and privilege that is supplemental to their current clinical and legal education.  By creating this space, students will be equipped to think critically and inspire change as they enter the complex world of human rights.  
*This project also supported by a WCL matching grant.

Pride Partners: LGBTQ+ Mentoring

Stephanie Bortruex and Richard Duncan in collaboration with the LGBTQ+ Faculty & Staff Affinity Group

Pride Partners is a program facilitated by the LGBTQ+ Faculty & Staff Affinity Group, with support from the Center for Diversity & Inclusion and AU Pride, to support the mentorship of LGBTQ+ students.  LGBTQ+ students interested in the program are matched with a Pride Partner who is either a faculty or staff member at AU that has also indicated interest in developing a mentorship-type relationship.  Students are able to connect with this individual on a whole range of topics including personal identity development, intersectionality of identities, campus climate, current issues, etc.

Promoting Inclusivity through Data Governance Management

Robin Beads, Chair, along with the entire AU Business Intelligence Data Stewards Committee (BIDSC)

What does data governance look like in an environment striving for policies and practices that promote inclusivity?  AU has a wealth of data available to many data users but we lack shared standards, transparency and best-practices related to data management leaving us vulnerable to bias and exclusivity in our actions, even if we are unaware of such risks. 

Data is the byproduct of our operations, but to make best use of it we need to change our thinking to be more proactive and start treating it as an institutional asset and this change can be accomplished through data governance. AU's Business Intelligence Data Stewards Committee (BIDSC), at the behest of AU's Business Intelligence Steering Committee, is in the early stages of a data governance initiative at AU. To help further campus understanding of data governance we propose a half-day data management intensive discussion with a leader in the field of data and process management in higher education. 

SIS Breaking Bread: Building Community and a Sense of Belonging Between SIS Faculty and Staff

SIS Staff Council - Garric Buzzard, Amy Marrion, Jessica MacArthur, and Rachel Sawyer

University units have the ability to thrive when different constituent groups—faculty, staff, and administrators—have a deep understanding of and respect for the work of colleagues across groups different from their own…all of whom carry out vital roles for ensuring that the community thrives and the climate is as diverse, inclusive, and equitable as possible. 

By bringing SIS faculty and staff together to share meaningful dialogue over a meal, this program will create a space to nurture new relationships and strengthen existing relationships between faculty and staff across roles, with the ultimate goal of building community within the school. 

*This project also supported by an SIS matching grant.

Speakers Panel for Navigating Challenges of Diversity in Public Affairs Careers

Bradley Hardy and Jocelyn Johnston in collaboration with the Department of Public Administration & Policy Diversity & Inclusion Committee: Christopher Burks, Jourdan Davis, Anita Dhillon, Aeric Koerner, and Rui Wang

This career-building and knowledge-sharing event aims to: 

  • promote a climate of inclusion among students; 
  • highlight diverse experiences in public service careers; 
  • build informal networks between students and employees;
  • increase visibility of possible career paths; 
  • prepare current students for life beyond school; and 
  • grown this session into a sustainable speaker series in the future

*This project also supported by an SPA grant.

TRANSforming Our Narratives: An AU PhotoVoice Collection

Roman Habibzai

This project aims to create an online PhotoVoice collection of trans and non-binary student, staff, and faculty experiences. PhotoVoice is a powerful community-based participatory research method that documents creator's lives from their own perspectives. 

This is a collaboration between the student LGBTQ online publication, Visible, and the Center for Diversity and Inclusion.  The TRANSforming Our Narrative team aims to advance the Inclusive Excellence Plan Goal #2 by encouraging a sense of belonging amongst trans and non-binary community members, and developing campus climate by educating the AU community about what life is like from the first-person perspective of trans and non-binary folks on campus.  

Travel Supplements for Science Internships

Kathryn Walters-Conte

As the sciences grow at the University, a consistent barrier to student success is accessing internships in the sciences. The locations of these internships (while local) are often in areas inaccessible by the metro system, for example the Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, MD or the Biotechnology companies in Gaithersburg, MD.  This affects students’ ability to pursue these opportunities and thus reduces their future competitiveness in the workforce or graduate school.  This project’s goal is to offer increased transportation options to remote locations, and remove barriers felt in particular by students of limited financial means.

*This project also supported by a CAS matching grant.

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Applications are now being accepted on a rolling basis. 


Current Projects

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Past Projects

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