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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 or alumni to partner on a collaborative group project that supports a climate where people of all identities and experiences are understood, appreciated, and fully included.

  • Mini-grant not to exceed $1,500.00. Funds must be spent by April 30, 2019.
  • AU students, faculty, staff, alumni, emeriti, and contract workers are eligible to apply. All applicants must partner with at least one current faculty or staff member. Project must be collaborative and involve more than one person.
  • Project must work to advance diversity, equity and inclusion efforts at American University. This includes, but is not limited to:
    • Enhancing the climate for students, faculty, and staff
    • Building a One AU community
    • Fostering civil discourse
    • Promoting curricular and co-curricular collaborations
    • Engaging in relevant research
  • Project must support at least one of the recommendations put forth in the AU Plan for Inclusive Excellence.
  • Mini-grant funds may not be applied toward personnel salary or equipment (computers, etc.). Funds are intended for direct program expenditures.
  • Awardees will be expected to submit a final report of project outcomes and lessons learned to PCDI by May 15, 2019.

AY 2018-19 Awards

Eleven projects received grants for academic year 2018-19. The funds must be used by April 30, 2019, and grant recipients will submit reports detailing the outcomes of their projects and the lessons learned by May 15. 

Hosting a State of STEM at AU: Summit in the Spring of 2019 Meg Bentley

Project affiliate: Underrepresented Students in STEM (USS) and the Initiative on STEM Education, Equity and Ethics

The primary goal of this mini-grant is to be able to fund a State of STEM at AU Summit for current STEM students, all STEM faculty, and STEM alumni who work in the DMV area. STEM is a growing set of disciplines right now at AU. With the launch of the Don Meyers Technology Building in 2016 and the new Hall of Science building opening in Fall of 2020, it is an exciting time to be a STEM student at AU and a good time for students and faculty to take stock of the current state of STEM at AU and to establish short- and long term goals about Inclusive Excellence in STEM. The Summit will be a 3-hour long event, held the week after Spring Break in the spring 2019 academic semester.


AU Latino & Hispanic Mentorship Program Vince Chapa and Jackie Garcia

Project affiliate: AU Latino & Hispanic Faculty & Staff Affinity Group

The AU Latino & Hispanic Mentorship Program aims to:

  • build a supportive bridge between Latino & Hispanic 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.

The AU Trans Experience: Then and Now Perry Zurn, with Leslie Nellis, Matt Ferguson, Stephen Masson, Hana Hentzen, and Scout Pruski

Project affiliates: Department of Philosophy and Religion: Perry Zurn (Assistant Professor) Matt Ferguson (MA Student) Stephen Masson (MA Student) American University Library Archives and Special Collections: Leslie Nellis (Associate Archivist)

The AU Trans Experience: Then and Now project aims to explore and celebrate transgender experience at American University over the past several decades. The project will have four primary components: 1) archival work, 2) interviews with current and former transgender students, 3) a curation of transgender research happening at AU, and 4) a multimedia, interactive display on the first floor of the Library. The ultimate goals are to enhance a sense of belonging and history for the transgender community at AU, to raise awareness about transgender experience within the broader AU community, to appreciate current transgender research being conducted at AU, and to provide a rich springboard from which to imagine the future of trans life at AU.


Disability, Access, and Teaching: A One-Day Symposium Tanja Aho and Perry Zurn

Project affiliates: Critical Race, Gender & Culture Studies Collaborative (CRGC): Tanja Aho (Visiting Assistant Professor); Department of Philosophy & Religion: Perry Zurn (Assistant Professor); Institute on Disability and Public Policy (IDPP): Derrick Cogburn (Professor, School of International Service) & Filippo Trevisan (Assistant Professor, School of Communications); Academic Support and Access Center (ASAC): Lindsay Northup-Moore (Director of Disability Support); Center for Teaching, Research and Learning (CTRL): Kiho Kim (Executive Director); Center for Diversity & Inclusion (CDI): Shannon Smith (Assistant Director, Student Success and Transition)

With this one-day Disability, Access, and Teaching symposium, we aim to bring together our campus and local communities to better understand and foster accessible, inclusive learning environments. While a number of faculty members at American University focus their research on disability, and student and faculty resource centers engage with questions of disability, it is rare for students, staff, faculty, and administrators to come together for a sustained conversation about accessible pedagogy and disability theory. We aim to facilitate precisely that conversation.

This symposium will offer plenary sessions, workshops, and presentation slots, as well as other interactive formats in which we can together discuss how we want to realize truly accessible classrooms and foster disability studies as a field at American University. Primary goals include showcasing the disability studies work being done at American University, fostering a campus conversation about disability and access, and providing networking opportunities for all AU campus members who work on or with questions of disability and access.


American University Spring Self-Care Circles Yoo-Jin Kang, Shatina Williams, Jacquelin Darby

Project affiliate: Health Promotion and Advocacy Center, Counseling Center

Recognizing that traditional psychotherapy is not always culturally congruent for all students, one of our main goals is to provide a space for self-reflection, insight development, and developing coping and self-care strategies are warranted for students who may be at the margins of benefitting from traditional interventions and services offered by the university.

The Spring Self-Care Circles will provide students with a wide variety of self-care and self-coping modalities including mind-body techniques, art therapy, and group sharing/ team building.


Multicultural Leadership Institute: Activate, Develop, Deploy Calvin Haney

Project affiliate: Office of Campus Life, Center for Diversity & Inclusion, Student Activities

The goal of this project is to provide a cohort of 30-50 students with an opportunity to spend a weekend building their ability, capacity, and competency to become student leaders of Inclusive Excellence.

The Multicultural Leadership Institute will activate new levels of cross community/cultural collaboration, develop student leaders who understand the power of Inclusive Excellence as a mission and call to action, and deploy their talents to the work of driving co-curricular involvement in programming and advocacy programs that further the reach and impact of Inclusive Excellence to improve campus climate.


I'm White, Now What?: Using Privilege to Disrupt Systems AJ Springer and Paul Norton

Project affiliate: University Communications and Marketing

Inclusive excellence cannot be achieved without significant buy-in and advocacy from white faculty, staff and students. I'm White, Now What? seeks to bring together and organize AU's largest demographic to complement the changes in curriculum currently taking place at the university. This project will bring Aja Taylor and Nicole Newman of the Two Brown Girls Consulting Cooperative back to campus to facilitate a thought-provoking one-day training session.

This project was also funded during the spring 2018 mini-grant pilot.


Inclusion Challenges - An American Muslim Experience Hosein Nahidian and Sharjil Hasan

Project affiliate: Office of Information Technology

Through a series of engagements open to the AU community, this project will create space to share inclusion challenges faced by American Muslims in a post 9-11 America. We will discuss issues stemming from Islamophobia and misinformation about Islam and Muslims in mainstream America and how bias, alternative facts, and propaganda impacts everyone.


The 1st annual NAACP Image Awards AU NAACP

Project affiliates: The Black Alumni Alliance, all black undergrad orgs, the Center for Diversity and Inclusion

The primary goal of this project is provide an opportunity to award and celebrate outstanding Black students, alumni, and faculty. However, we will open the awards to all POC and allies as we realize the positive work our partners do also impacts our Black student experience and thus should also be celebrated.

Modeled after the National NAACP Image Awards, we will have categories such as "AU Legacy Award", "AU Rising Star Freshman", "AU Alumni Impact Award", and even awards for outstanding housing and dining staff. Additionally, we will have collaborative awards to highlight the important work we do as a community, such as, "Most ground breaking Social Justice collective", "Most Inclusive Programming for a student organization", and "Most Intersectional Student Group."


Continuing the Legacy; MLK Day of Service Reception Jose Cadiz

Project affiliate: Center for Community Engagement & Service

The MLK Day of Service is a 25+ year tradition at American University.

Following the 2017 MLK Day of Service, AU hosted a week of events to honor the legacy of the honorable Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. by engaging the university community with opportunities of volunteerism, lectures, panel discussions, performing arts, music, and continued engagement in Washington, DC communities.

This mini-grant will help fund a reception that honors two current students (undergraduate and graduate) and an alumni for their commitment to service and social justice.


Encouraging Inter-Religious Dialogue among all Faith GroupsAlexander G. Zestos

Project affiliate: Chemistry, College of Arts and Sciences, Orthodox Christian Fellowship

Only by firsthand learning about different religions can we be truly tolerant and accepting of different faith-based groups. Through a series of events, this project aims to foster and encourage inter-faith dialogue among all of the faith-run student groups at American University including Christian Groups (Orthodox Christian fellowship, Non-denominational, Latter-Day Saints, Catholics, Episcopalian/Anglican, Lutheran, Christian Science, Assemblies of God (Chi Alpha), CRU, Presbyterian, Baptist, Methodist, and others), Jewish (Orthodox and Reformed), Hindu, Buddhist, Islamic (Shiite and Sunni), Humanist, Quakers, Unitarian Universalists, Bahai, Sikh Agnostics, Atheists, and other groups as well.

Past Projects

Get inspired by looking at the past grant projects.

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