University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

Office of the Vice Chancellor for Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

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Currently Funded Projects

Call to Action to Address Racism & Social Injustice Research Program
2021–22

Community-Based Innovation

Our Lives, Our Dreams, Our Voces: Leveraging Community-Based Collaborations to Increase Representation of Latina/x Girls’ Narratives in Museums – $24,959

Project Leaders: Catherine Dornfeld Tissenbaum, Curriculum and Instruction (Education); Mónica González Ybarra, Curriculum and Instruction (Education); Idalia Nuñez, Curriculum and Instruction (Education); Kelly O’Neill, Girls Go For It! (Community Collaborator); Cynthia Bruno, Girls Go For It! (Community Collaborator)

This project amplifies Latina/x girls’ voices through co-creation of a multimodal exhibit that represents the varied cultures, languages, and histories of local Latinx communities. To combat deficit views, museum spaces must make intentional and explicit efforts to recognize Latina/x girls and afford representation of their histories, stories, languages, and cultures in humanizing and empowering ways. In this collaborative study, Latina/x girls will imagine, design, and curate an exhibit that represents and honors their aspirations, hopes, and stories. In turn, visitors gain opportunities to build cross-cultural understandings, relationships, and solidarity. We have partnered with Girls Go for It! (GGFI), a local nonprofit community organization that hosts professional leadership experiences for girls, and the Krannert Art Museum (KAM) to increase visibility of Latina/x girls’ experiences and promote equitable, authentic representation of Communities of Color in public spaces.

Rooting a Deeper Connection (RDC) Residence Program – $10,000

Project Leader: Mindy Brand, Allerton Park & Retreat Center (Office of the Provost)

Allerton Park and Retreat Center is proposing an In-Residence program that highlights and celebrates the arts and study of nature and the environment at Allerton Park, and is seeking the contributions of a person or persons from the Black or Latinx communities. Our goal is that the Resident(s) use Allerton as a source of inspiration to blend art and nature together in order to highlight the deep and significant impact they have on the human condition and vice versa. This combination of science and art has the potential to provide a vehicle for larger and more meaningful conversations. It is our hope that through artistic expression, it will be possible to advance scientific achievement in the study of nature and the environment and make it accessible to a wider population of people.

Building Community through Collaborative Public Art Projects  – $25,000

Project Leader: Jennifer Bergmark, Art & Design (Fine & Applied Arts)

Embedded in the belief that the arts can provide opportunities to highlight inequities, advocate for communities, and revitalize community school pride, we are proposing a year-long community-based pilot project that is a collaboration between the art education program at the School of Art and Design and faculty and staff at Garden Hills Elementary School. The research team will collaborate to plan and create a series of public art projects to investigate the role of the arts in revitalizing communities through civic engagement, collective care, and advocacy.

Indigenous Languages on the Move Collective: Migrants Rights and Language Justice in the Champaign Area – $25,000

Project Leaders: Korinta Maldonado, Anthropology and American Indian Studies (Liberal Arts & Sciences); Susana Simon, Pixan Konob’ (Community Collaborator); Mateo Sebastian, Pixan Konob’ (Community Collaborator); Ana Lucas, Pixan Konob’ (Community Collaborator)

The proposal formalizes an emergent and loosely organized collective developed over the past five years called the Indigenous (Mayan) Languages on the Move Collaborative Language Justice Collective (ILMC), which is housed in the Native American and Indigenous Language Lab in the American Indian Studies Program. Community and community engaged scholars comprise the collective, and we collaborate with Maya and other Latinx Indigenous community members invested in documenting, analyzing, and fostering processes integral to language justice and language activism. The collective takes the position that any collaborative intervention involving language justice requires a critical perspective on multilingualism in which Indigenous languages and their respective cultures are viewed as community assets. This project aims to create a safe space for Indigenous languages to be spoken and their communities of speakers to be valued and heard at a moment of vast migrant precarity and the deep processes of racialization. We critically practice “acompañamiento”: we engage in decolonial, ultimately anti-racist practices of walking alongside the local Pixan Konob’ Q’anjob’al Interpreting and Language Justice collective through local, national, and transnational partnerships.

Diaspora and Border Racial Justice Youth Project – $24,790

Project Leaders: Krystal Smalls, Anthropology and Linguistics (Liberal Arts & Sciences); Korinta Maldonado, Anthropology and American Indian Studies (Liberal Arts & Sciences); Mariela Agrawal, Urbana High School (Community Collaborator); Dawn Navejas, Urbana High School (Community Collaborator)

Invested in an unabiding critique of white supremacy and anti-blackness as cornerstones of colonialism, our project (the Diaspora and Border Racial Justice Youth Project (DBRJ)) uses a politics and framework of “thick solidarity” (Liu and Shange 2018), “radical reciprocity” (from multiracial Indigenous scholars), and “freedom dreams” (Kelley 2002) to implement a compound Freirian critical pedagogy that sees collaborative learning as a possible tool for justice and liberation. Organized around a multimodal storytelling project that emphasizes students’ “funds of knowledge” (Moll and Diaz 1987), this proposed program facilitates conversations about and reflections on racism, racialized identities, and social justice in the complex context of overlapping colonialities. We see the acts of convening, telling, and listening as ways to collectively advance a critical understanding of racisms, resistance, and refusal.

Systemic Institutional Change

Launching Uni High’s Bridge and Equity Program to Affirm and Support Incoming Underrepresented Students of Color – $64,115

Project Leaders: Valerie O’Brien, University Laboratory High School (Office of the Provost); Melissa Goodnight, Educational Psychology (Education); Karl Radnitzer, University Laboratory High School (Office of the Provost)

As Uni High commits to new equity-focused initiatives, we are responding to a request from students for a summer bridge program for incoming subfreshmen (Uni’s 8th graders) that addresses disparities in preparation and bolsters social supports, especially for students of color from underrepresented backgrounds. Adapting the successful Illinois Scholars Program model for Uni’s younger population, this collaboration between Uni High’s administration, Dr. Valerie O’Brien (Uni High’s Coordinator of Equity), and Dr. Melissa Goodnight (Assistant Professor in EPSY and CREA) designs and evaluates summer and academic-year programs that promote academic resilience, foster peer and student-teacher connections, and facilitate students accessing valuable school and campus resources.

Reparative Data and Media Initiative: Extending Racial and Research Justice in Champaign County – $40,000

Project Leaders: Katie Shumway, Social Work (School of Social Work); Anita Chan, Information Sciences and Media & Cinema Studies (School of Information Sciences and College of Media); Amy Leman, Agricultural Leadership, Education and Communication (Agricultural, Consumer & Environmental Sciences); Rachel Magee, Information Sciences (School of Information Sciences); Lisa Mercer, Art + Design (Fine & Applied Arts); Gilberto Rosas, Anthropology (Liberal Arts & Sciences); Karen Simms, CU Trauma & Resilience (Community Collaborator). Community Members: Danielle Chynoweth, Cunningham Township Supervisors Office; Lynn Canfield, Champaign County Mental Health Board and Champaign County Developmental Disabilities Board; Shandra Summerville, Champaign County Mental Health Board and Champaign County Developmental Disabilities Board

This project brings together an interdisciplinary group of 12 critical-race-, data studies- and public-engagement researchers to empower theories and methods in community-engaged research for racial and research justice. It responds to the documented community requests and need for digital media skills and data support in order to help CU civic groups accomplish their goals more effectively. During the funding year we will work to create two complimentary programs: 1. Data Skills and Media Making Workshop Series with three new Spring 2022 workshops (centered on visual data and sound-based, video and social media skills), run by on- and off-campus practitioners, and tailored to expand the storytelling and knowledge distribution capacity of racial justice community groups and researchers, and 2. a Digital Storytelling and Technology Fellowship and Grant Competition that civic groups can apply for during Fall 2021 to support technology needs, and that will distribute four $5K awards. Fellows will be selected for their active projects in racial and social justice and will build a cohort that will collectively attend our Spring 2022 workshop series.

Racial Justice Practicum at the College of Law – $75,000

Project Leader: Margareth Etienne, Law (College of Law)

The death of George Floyd has reignited a nationwide discussion over the topic of racial justice but it has also brought clarity to the central role that law the legal profession must play in tackling racial injustices in our society. To help address racial injustice in the legal profession, the College of Law plans to launch an inaugural Racial Justice Practicum in the summer of 2021. The Practicum—with its innovative curricular, research and practice component—is part of the College of Law’s commitment to address racial justice will require an ongoing effort for years to come.

Combating Anti-Asian Racism – $74,994

Project Leaders: Soo Ah Kwon, Asian American Studies (Liberal Arts & Sciences); Susan Koshy, Asian American Studies and Unit for Criticism and Interpretive Theory (Liberal Arts & Sciences); Junaid Rana, Asian American Studies (Liberal Arts & Sciences)

The Department of Asian American Studies in collaboration with the Unit for Criticism and Interpretive Theory proposes a year-long public speaker series and symposium to address the problem of anti-Asian racism. These events aim to combat the lack of awareness and understanding of historical and contemporary forms of anti-Asian racism, and to develop new frameworks for understanding present day racial justice struggles. Drawing on the new public openness to addressing anti-Asian racism, and the galvanization of Asian American communities in the face of racial violence, the proposed events mobilize a range of testimony, dialogue, artistic expression, activism, and scholarship, to examine the distinctiveness of anti-Asian racism, to build cross-racial coalitions, and to expand knowledge of contemporary racial politics. We conceive of this issue as broadly constructed to include the range of Asian American communities that have been historically and currently racialized. The series will culminate in a year end conference, papers from which will be published in an edited volume.

Societal Impact

Implementation and Sustainability of the ASPIRE (Ambitions and Stories of young People Inspiring Resilience and Excellence) Program – $100,000

Project Leaders: Carla Hunter, Psychology (Liberal Arts & Sciences); Shardé Smith, Human Development and Family Studies (Agricultural, Consumer & Environmental Sciences); Tracy Dace, DREAAM-Driven to Reach Excellence in Academic Achievement. Community Member: Shandra Summervile, Champaign County Mental Health Board and Champaign County Developmental Disabilities Board

This assessment project will evaluate the ASPIRE program, which aims to promote the racial identities, social connectedness, health, and educational achievements of middle-school-aged Black boys and girls by using storytelling activities. Guided by the Evaluation Guide for Culturally Specific Youth Development Program, we aim to (a) identify strengths and areas for improvement of the ASPIRE program, refine the program based on pilot data and feedback from community stakeholders, and implement ASPIRE and collect additional evaluation data.

Social Music Curation, Exploration, and Co-creativity for Anti-racist Teaching in K-12 Classrooms and Community Groups via Inclusive Artificial Intelligence – $100,000

Project Leaders: Lav Varshney, Electrical & Computer Engineering (Grainger Engineering); William Patterson, Ghetto Genius (Community Collaborator). Community Members: Deron Bell, My Music Ed; Lauren Parks, House of Miles East St. Louis; Michael Manson, Musical Arts Institute

This project will develop and implement artificial intelligence (AI)-based music co-creativity to support anti-racist teaching in K-12 classrooms. The project has three interwoven stages. The first musical curation stage involving participatory, community-driven digitization of Black cultural wealth in collaboration with artists in the community. The second musical exploration stage brings community artists, educators, and K-12 students into creative dialogue with the curated music to develop cross-cultural skills and understanding. Finally, the third musical co-creation stage has students and community members producing an album of original music honoring and expanding Black cultural wealth. This project aims to center Black cultural wealth that connects historical and contemporary musical practices; support critically creative musical collaborations that build cross-cultural competence; and foster social change in communities by developing knowledge of self among educators, students, and community members.

The Impact of Racial Bias on Providers’ Communication Behaviors with Women of Color during Perinatal Period – $100,000

Project Leaders: Tuyet-Mai Hoang, Social Work (School of Social Work); Karen Tabb, Social Work (School of Social Work)

Focused on understanding the mechanism of racial bias and its impact on providers’ communication behaviors with Women of Color, this project explores barriers to patient-provider relationships that are critical to detecting and preventing adverse outcomes for pregnant Women or Mothers of Color. The goal of this project is to model the effect of colorblind racial ideology (CBRI) on observed providers’ empathic communication behaviors in audiotaped clinical interactions, to understand and address systematic racism and health disparities by reducing barriers to treatment in clinical interactions.

Online Certificate Programs for Community Health Workers: From Overlooked and Under-Researched Employees to Well-equipped Frontline Agents in the Fight to Reduce Health Disparities in Communities of Color  – $100,000

Project Leaders: Andiara Schwingel, Kinesiology & Community Health (Applied Health Sciences); Wandy Hernandez-Gordon, External Organization (Community Collaborator); Susan Aguinaga, Kinesiology & Community Health (Applied Health Sciences); Ruby Mendenhall, Sociology and African American Studies (Liberal Arts & Sciences); Leticia Boughton Prince, External Organization (Community Collaborator); Jennifer McCaffrey, Illinois Extension (Agricultural, Consumer & Environmental Sciences); Brandi Barnes, Interdisciplinary Health Sciences Institute (Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research & Innovation)

Community Health Workers (CHWs) have shown to effectively serve as liaisons between health and social services and the community, and assist in outreach, community education, informal counseling, social support and advocacy – despite their limited formal health training. COVID-19, in addition to the many other health issues these communities experience, underscores the importance of culturally and linguistically sensitive approaches to health across the life course. CHWs are well positioned to make a difference in the fight to reduce health disparities, and this project offers an opportunity to better equip them for this critical role. Using a community-based participatory research approach, we plan to establish a much-needed coalition that includes Community Health Workers (CHWs), Illinois researchers, University of Illinois Extension, and the Illinois Community Health Workers Association (ILCHWA) to develop, evaluate, and disseminate online learning strategies through certificate programs that will train CHWs to address their community health needs.

Partnerships for Equity, Access, and Representation in STEM (PEAR-STEM) – $99,494

Project Leaders: Eva Pomerantz, Psychology (Liberal Arts & Sciences); Lara Hebert, Undergraduate Programs Office (Grainger College of Engineering). Community Members: Beth Hand, Urbana Neighborhood Connections Center; Janice Mitchell, Urbana Neighborhood Connections Center; Tracy Dace, DREAAM-Driven to Reach Excellence in Academic Achievement

The proposed Societal Impact project, Partnerships in Equity, Access, and Representations in STEM (PEAR-STEM), is a collaboration of Champaign-Urbana (C-U) community organizations and initiatives, the Chicago Pre-College Science and Engineering Program, and University of Illinois (UIUC) Psychology, Engineering, and Education faculty as well as specialists in public engagement and science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) teaching and learning. The overarching goal is to address inequities in preparation for STEM careers among K-12 students, with efforts to identify how to optimize preparation among Black and Latinx students.

Illinois Community Media Project – $100,000

Project Leaders: Angela Aguayo, Media and Cinema Studies (College of Media); Julie Turnock, Media and Cinema Studies (Media). Community Members: Evelyne Tardy,Cunningham Children’s Home; Miriam Larson, Independent Media Center, Urbana; Rachel Storm, Urbana Arts and Culture Commission

The Illinois Community Media Project seeks to expand and enliven the mission of the University of Illinois to serve the people of the state of Illinois and beyond for the 21st century though an emphasis on community media. Community media are forms of production and screening that address the interests of underserved people before commercial interests, providing a platform for the expression of diverse perspectives. Helping to build media making capacities in Illinois communities, amplify underrepresented voices, and create the infrastructure for a richer, more diverse media community on campus, the Illinois Community Media Project unites the educational, scholarly, and community outreach missions of the publicly engaged university.

Racial Equity and Justice in the State Courts During the Post-Pandemic Transition – $100,000

Project Leaders: Jason Mazzone, Law (College of Law); Brian Gaines, Political Science (Liberal Arts & Sciences); Robin Fretwell Wilson Law and Institute of Government and Public Affairs (College of Law and U of I System)

Although professionals had debated the merits of virtual courtrooms for years, no court made significant use of online proceedings until almost all courts were forced to do so, abruptly, in March 2020 as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, courts have operated during the pandemic under a patchwork of make-shift technologies and procedures that were not designed for legal proceedings and without any data on how racial equity among court users might be affected. States courts are now transitioning from temporary, emergency procedures to long-term approaches that will define the operations of the legal system for decades to come. Without the input of social scientists, stakeholders, and members of affected communities, courts risk making permanent online hearings and other procedures that fail to account for—and worse, exacerbate—systemic racism. This project will provide courts with some of the tools they need to implement practices that promote racial equity in their post-pandemic operations.

Understanding Racial Disproportionality in Finding Permanent Homes for African-American Children in Out-of-Home Care: A Study of Subsidized Guardianship – $92,043

Project Leader: Theodore Cross, Children & Family Research Center (School of Social Work). Community Members: Dagene Brown, State of Illinois; Julie Barbosa, State of Illinois; Kimberly Mann, State of Illinois; Lina Millett, State of Illinois; Monica Mosley-Cantrell, State of Illinois; Monico Whittington-Eskridge, State of Illinois

Support from extended family can provide the nurturance and protection that children need when birthparents cannot take care of them safely. When children are removed because of maltreatment, the goal of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) is to return them to a safe, stable, loving and permanent home as soon as possible. Ideally children are reunified with their birthparents, but when this cannot be done safely, DCFS seeks other permanency options.

When a child is traumatized, they do best when their entire extended family rallies around them. This has been a source of strength for African American families in dealing with centuries of systemic racism as well as trauma affecting individual families. In this study, the Children and Family Research Center (CFRC) in the School of Social Work at UIUC will partner with DCFS to explore one underutilized permanency option well-suited to many African American families: subsidized guardianship (SG). We will study racial disproportionality in the use of subsidized guardianship in DCFS and gather information designed to counter bias and educate stakeholders about the value of SG. We will also engage a racially diverse group of undergraduate and graduate students from the School of Social Work in the research team. SG provides support for extended family to care permanently for children in cases of maltreatment, while maintaining support for and protecting the dignity of birthparents who remain the child’s mother and father and do not have their parental rights terminated.

Blueprint for Transitional Justice in the US: Building on Lessons and Insights from Global Perspectives – $95,000

Project Leaders: Colleen Murphy, Illinois Global Institute (Liberal Arts & Sciences) and Law (College of Law); Flavia Andrade, Social Work and Women and Gender in Global Perspectives Program (School of Social Work and Liberal Arts & Sciences); Jerry Davila, History and Illinois Global Institute (Liberal Arts & Sciences); Teresa Barnes, History, Gender and Women’s Studies, and Center for African Studies (Liberal Arts & Sciences). Community Members: Allan Boesak; Elna Boesak

Combatting racism and social injustice requires that the U.S. pursue transitional justice, which is the process of facing systemic wrongdoing, past and present, in order to transform the relationships among citizens and between citizens and the state. Over 40 countries have pursued transitional justice to address histories of violence, state impunity, authoritarianism and racism. Transitional justice processes seek truth, justice, reparations, reform, and guarantees of non-recurrence. Our project will map and adapt international experiences with transitional justice as a foundation for a framework to redress the U.S. history of racial and gender-based injustice. This multidisciplinary project responds to the theme of systemic racism and social justice within the societal impact track of the Call to Action.

Combating Systemic Racism in Access to Nature, Open Spaces, and Parks and Recreation Resources  – $93,428

Project Leaders: Monika Stodolska, Recreation, Sport & Tourism (Applied Health Sciences); Kimberly Shinew, Recreation, Sport & Tourism (Applied Health Sciences); Elsie Hedgsperth, Urbana Park District (Community Collaborator); Corky Emberson, Urbana Park District (Community Collaborator)

Due to historical and contemporary systemic racism and exclusionary practices, people of color have had unequal opportunities to access natural environments and recreation resources at the community and national levels (Scott, 2014), making them less likely to obtain the same benefits of nature and recreation as non-Hispanic Whites (Lee et al., 2019). Based on our previous study, which identified constraints experienced by African American, Latinx, and Asian American residents of Urbana, IL, the Urbana Park District (UPD) undertook a number of steps to increase access to nature and recreation opportunities among diverse residents. The study we are proposing would provide a formal evaluation of their efforts, identify additional strategies UPD can employ to engage local residents of color, and create a blueprint that will be shared with managers and stakeholders of federal, state, and local natural environments and recreation recourses across the U.S. on how to dismantle systemic racism and increase access to nature and recreation among people of color.

Dignifying Digital Connection: Addressing Race and Class Privilege in Broadband Infrastructures for East Central Illinois Families, Students and Seniors – $100,000

Project Leaders: Tracy Smith, Technology Services (Office of the Chief Information Officer); Anita Chan, Information Sciences and Media & Cinema Studies (School of Information Sciences and College of Media). Community Members: Andrea Linsay, PC’s for People; Kimberly David, Project Success; Matt Schmit, Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Development; Stephanie Burnett, Housing Authority of Champaign County

We propose to work to dignify civic connection and minimize digital inequity via an expanded civic collaboration recently funded by the State of Illinois to address the broadband gaps that most acutely impact the state’s marginalized and infrastructurally isolated populations. Newly seeded with a $50K Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity’s (DCEO) Broadband Ready “Digital Equity” grant, our multi-sectoral partnership network began work in March 2021 to establish a baseline assessment and model for understanding the socio technical inequities that persistently prevent diverse vulnerable populations — spanning low-income seniors and families with school-age children facing poverty in Illinois – from accessing stable broadband connectivity in East Central Illinois. For such populations, who are disproportionately black and brown, addressing inequalities in coverage are known to not simply get resolved through growing the state’s broadband infrastructure. Other factors, including household access to computers, sustained hotspot connectivity, digital literacy skills, and often overlooked human elements around “digital life and dignity” – are critical in overcoming civic disconnection/alienation and building digital connectivity.

Holding Police Accountable for Systemic Racial Injustice: The Illinois SPOTLITE System – $98,477

Project Leaders: Scott Althaus, Political Science and Cline Center for Advanced Social Research (Liberal Arts & Sciences); Michael Schlosser, Police Training Institute, Jennifer Robbennolt, Law (College of Law); Jay Jennings, Cline Center for Advanced Social Research (Liberal Arts & Sciences)

What is measured, matters. Illinois law requires policing agencies to report each use of lethal force, to measure racial disparities in these incidents, and to report this information to the public. But this has not happened. The Illinois SPOTLITE system will fill this gap by creating accurate, comprehensive, and accessible data about lethal force incidents in Illinois from 2014 to the present. This data will empower communities, enhance accountability, identify agencies most in need of reform, and facilitate rigorous evaluation of reform efforts.

Business Certificate for Incarcerated Students – $88,073

Project Leaders: Rebecca Ginsburg, Education Policy, Organization & Leadership (Education); Denise Loyd, Business Administration (Gies College of Business); Mark Peecher, Accountancy (Gies College of Business); Ellen Ritter, Education Policy, Organization & Leadership (Education); John Tubbs, Digital Media (Gies College of Business) Community Member: Mike Muneses

The Education Justice Project and the Gies College of Business plan to design and deliver an Accounting Certificate to individuals incarcerated at Danville Correctional Center. The unemployment rate among formerly incarcerated individuals is nearly five times the rate for the U.S. generally. This certificate will offer a means to self-reliance, livelihood, and social participation to individuals, predominantly minority, who form one of the most overlooked and marginalized populations in the U.S.