The University of Mississippi is funding six Achieving Equity Grants for faculty, staff, and students to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion through research and creative scholarship.

First funded in 2020, the competitive seed grant program explores challenges common to UM and other institutions where the knowledge gained will lead to advancements in community and campus climate issues.

“The quality of the projects for the 2021 Achieving Equity Grant competition was outstanding,” said Shawnboda Mead, interim vice chancellor for diversity and community engagement. “The increased level of interest during this cycle is testament to the robust scholarly activity that is happening on our campus, specifically related to diversity, equity, access and inclusion.”

Sixteen UM faculty, staff and student investigators will contribute to the six projects that cover a broad range of issues where equity gaps exist. The projects are funded by the Office of the Provost and managed by the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs in collaboration with the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement.

“We were thrilled to see the high level of interest in our faculty to better understand a wide variety of diversity, equity and inclusion issues and challenges,” said Josh Gladden, vice chancellor for research and sponsored programs. “We look forward to seeing the outcomes of these projects and stand ready to help all faculty interested in diversity, equity and inclusion scholarship seek funding to build and support impactful programs.”

The projects are funded for activity periods of six months to two years, and their budgets range from $1,000 to $10,000.

One of the awardees is Simone Delerme, an associate professor of anthropology and the McMullan Associate Professor of Southern Studies, is the principal investigator of a team conducting an oral history project that documents how immigrants are incorporated into the sociopolitical and economic lives of communities that were not traditional migration destinations. The oral history project will be conducted with business owners on Summer Avenue in Memphis and will be linked to national immigration issues via the Hostile Terrain 94 exhibit scheduled for fall 2021 on the University of Mississippi campus. Carolyn Freiwald, an associate professor of anthropology, serves as co-principal investigator on the project, which is titled “Crossing Borders and Boundaries: Migration in the Mid-South.”

Other awardees include Hannah Allen, Brian Droubay, Georgianna Mann, Alicia Stapp, and Peter Wood.

Fourteen proposals were received. Three external reviewers with general expertise and experience in diversity and equity issues reviewed each of the 14 proposals. Informed by these reviews, the vice chancellors of Research and Sponsored Programs and Diversity and Community Engagement made the final selections.

“The projects proposed by this year’s recipients are critically important for addressing a range of pressing issues and inequities,” Mead said. “I am looking forward to seeing the outcome of their commitments, which are central to fostering inclusivity at our university, within the state and throughout the world.”

The Office of Research and Sponsored Programs also is committed to working with the investigators to seek the level of external funding required to expand and amplify the impacts of these efforts.

Some of the agencies and organizations proposed for external funding include the National Science Foundation, National Endowment for the Humanities, Bower Foundation, W.K. Kellogg Foundation, American Psychological Foundation and Mississippi Department of Education.

Last year, seven professors were awarded four grants through the program.

Written by Shea Stewart