NYU Silver Awards Four Social Justice and Diversity Grants

The NYU Silver School of Social Work has created a new project to increase opportunities for the NYU Silver community to promote causes important to the goals of social work. Implemented in fall 2012, the Social Justice and Diversity Grant Challenge encourages collaboration with student groups to plan and implement programs for the Silver School community.

The objective of the Silver Justice and Diversity Grant Challenge is to provide NYU Silver groups a chance to create workshops, training, and partnerships and to raise awareness on issues of race, privilege, oppression, and diversity. This Challenge was available for all students, faculty, staff, and on-campus organizations. NYU Silver has awarded four groups grants.

Titilayo Kuti, MSW '13, a social work higher education intern at the Silver School, took on the creation, implementation, and facilitation of this project. Kuti devoted her summer to developing the outline of the Grant Challenge. This role included drafting guidelines, setting an application deadline, and planning the program objectives and application process. She said, "I wanted to find a way to get students more involved in the planning and implementation of programs that are true to the mission and ideals of social workers."

In order to apply, teams needed to include one NYU Silver student group or department, as well as individuals from at least two diverse backgrounds. Groups submitting proposals were encouraged to consider personal values and biases that may come up during practice.

In December, the Committee for the Silver Justice and Diversity Grant Challenge reviewed the grant applications. The Committee was comprised of Associate Professor Alma Carten, Katherine W. and Howard Aibel Visiting Professor and Executive-in-Residence Phil Coltoff, Professor Suzanne England, and Clinical Instructor Marcella Runell Hall.

The following groups were awarded 2012-13 program grants: Students of Color Collective, Pride in Practice, Animal Assisted Therapy, and the Phi Alpha Honor Society. Their projects address, respectively, issues of criminal justice, LGBT minorities and spirituality, senior citizens and therapy dogs, and climate change. On the topics chosen by students, Kuti said she learned by working on the Grant Challenge that "social workers are very passionate by nature...I see their ambition and dreams for their programs."

Part of the grant's purpose was to incentivize students to collaborate with other NYU Silver groups and outside groups that align with social work values, such as the United Nations. Through their proposals, the groups have proven their commitment to introducing the NYU Silver body to ideas and project that are not always covered in the curriculum.

"The committee was looking for creative programs that went beyond a basic classroom lecture," said Kuti. "We believe that students will gain the most value from interacting with social justice and diversity issues outside of the format they are used to."

Kuti says of her goals for the Social Justice and Diversity Grant Challenge, "I hope students walk away from programs learning something they may not have known."