Inclusive Excellence Grant Recipients

Click below for a list of our current and previous winners 

Building Capacity: Teacher Professional Development for Cultural Competence and Computer Science Micro-Credential

Project Team: Xiaoxia Newton, David Pugalee, Shanique Lee and Audrey Rorrer

This project, Teacher Professional Development for Cultural Competence in Computer Science (PD for C-3), will develop middle school teachers’ capacity for delivering high quality and equitable instruction in Computer Science across various STEM content areas by addressing a critical need: teacher training and certification. PD for C-3 advances several goals relevant to UNC Charlotte's 10-year strategic aims, including (1) urban schools and university partnership; (2) Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion; and (3) Access and Social Mobility. Our pilot project invites urban middle school teacher leaders as both participants and equal partners in building curriculum materials for a new teacher micro-credential for Cultural Competence in Computer Science (CS). The micro-credential focuses on developing a CS curriculum that is centrally anchored around cultural competence in computer science. Trained teachers are necessary in order to provide a high-quality computer science education to middle school students and to prepare them for advanced study of CS in high school. Computer science knowledge and skills enable individuals to pursue economic opportunities that contribute to upward social mobility.


Promoting equity through the understanding of Latinx heritage speakers’ literacy practices. A Charlotte initiative

Project Team: Javier García León, Paloma Fernández Sánchez, and Olga Padilla-Falto

We are applying for funds to carry out the 2023 Heritage Language Learning Symposium. The symposium aims to enhance diversity, promote equity and foster inclusion through the understanding of Latinx heritage speakers in the educational context. The event is dedicated to better serving the needs of Latinx heritage speakers at UNC Charlotte, and to promote current debates on Heritage Language Education at large. With the symposium, we also aim to strengthen bilingual/heritage language education practices by connecting scholars, language instructors, and students at the local, regional, national, and international level.


Atkins Library Community-Driven Experience (CoDEx) Study, 2022-23

Project Team: Jon B. Moore, Becky Croxton, Tiffany Davis, Tracie Krumbine

Atkins Library proposes to extend the success of the ongoing 2021-22 Black Student Experience study by implementing a yearly version of the study, with each year’s study focusing on UNC Charlotte students from a different historically marginalized or underserved community. In 2022-23, to better address the mental health crisis exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, we plan to study the student community of those who struggle with mental health and/or identify as neurodivergent. This also supports our broader goal of improving accessibility in the library.


Afterschool Coding Program for STEM Exposure

Project Team: Austin Fifield, Kaiwen Cheng, Theresa Mount, and Mark Rohlinger

Coding can be abstract to many students. By using robots to teach block coding, students can have more fun via tangible learning experiences that introduce them to STEM. This project aims to work with County Recreation Centers located in Charlotte opportunity zones where we can bring an afterschool robotics programming experience into a community. This project aims to provide afterschool classes to Title One Schools in the Charlotte area. These communities often lack access and exposure to STEM programs. We believe this program could be the first step to encourage students to believe in themselves in pursuing STEM education and careers.


Ageism: The Overlooked Intersection

Project Team: Cynthia Hancock, Kendra Jason, and Christine Davis

Age is an often overlooked part of the intersectional framework. Ageism, then, often goes unrecognized and is misunderstood. Yet, over 80% of older adults report experiencing ageism. The Gerontology Program proposes to bring in nationally recognized activist, author, and speaker, Ashton Applewhite, for conversations through a speaking engagement, classroom visits, and reception with students, faculty, staff and the community on ageism. We have the support of multiple community partners, appropriate campus units, as well as UNC Wilmington which plans to securely stream the event to their campus and community. Applewhite’s message is one that needs to be heard again and again so that in the future, age is automatically considered when we think about access, inclusion, diversity, and equity.


Scaling Equitable Learning Environments that Promote Student Success

Project Team: Heather McCullough, Kim Buch, and Dave Frantzreb

We propose a partnership between two existing university units already focused on helping faculty create inclusive classrooms that impact learning outcomes for students: the Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL) and the Student Experience Project (SEP). Specifically, we propose to leverage the positive results of the SEP model by integrating its content and strategies into the courses of faculty already engaged in a high-impact pedagogy initiative offered by the CTL, the Active Learning Academy (ALA) and the Adjunct Faculty Learning Community (AFLC). The proposal aligns directly with two Priority Areas for the grant, Education and Training and Cultural Programming, and has the potential to ultimately impact a third focus area, Institutional Excellence in Policies and Practice. The anticipated outcome of this project would impact an estimated 25 % of all undergraduate courses offered at the university across the next seven years (estimates based on history to date of these programs, as explained in our full proposal).


Graduate Recruitment of Underrepresented Philosophers (GROUP)

Project Team: Andrea Pitts and Trevor Pearce

GROUP--Graduate Recruitment of Underrepresented Philosophers-- is a two-day workshop held on campus in fall 2022 for 5-10 promising prospective graduate students in philosophy from traditionally underrepresented groups (such as African Americans, Chicano/as and Latino/as, Native Americans, Asian Americans, women, LGBTQ+ students, and students with disabilities). GROUP is designed to increase the diversity of the academic pipeline in the discipline, particularly at Charlotte, by recruiting a diverse group of undergraduates from North Carolina and nearby South Carolina universities to the philosophy department’s MA program.


Beyond Resiliency and Survival:  Addressing Interpersonal and Systemic Oppression Targeting LGBTQ, Disabled Persons at the Margins

Project Team: Terri Rhodes, Emily Brown, Daniela Recabarren, and Erica Lennon

We propose to bring Lydia X.Z. Brown to campus to speak about their lived experiences and insight into addressing bias and oppression towards persons with LGBTQ, Asian, gendered queer, and disabilities identities. We are seeking funding for honorarium and travel for a speaker for the annual OUTSpoken speaker series that highlights a LGBTQ speaker. Lydia Brown is one such speaker whose work begins at and centers intersections of disability, queerness, race, gender, class, and nation and migration. They are a writer, public speaker, educator, trainer, consultant, advocate, community organizer, community builder, activist, scholar, and attorney and have provided trainings and consultations to hundreds of individuals, educational institutions, agencies, companies, and organizations across numerous professional and academic fields on a range of issues impacting disabled, queer, trans, and negatively racialized people. Lydia Brown would engage faculty, staff, students, and community members in a evening discussion on the topic of how intersecting identities are impacted by oppressive attitudes of racism, heterosexism, genderism, and ableism and they will also share advocacy and resistance suggestions for moving Charlotte campus towards a more equitable, inclusive, and embracing climate for students, faculty, and staff.


Charlotte Strings Collective: Performing String Music by Black Composers

Project Team: Miranora Frisch and Charlotte Strings Collective

Charlotte Strings Collective is a diverse string orchestra composed of students, faculty, and alumni from UNC Charlotte, students and faculty from Winthrop University, students and alumni from Northwest School of the Arts, members of the Charlotte Symphony, local orchestra directors, freelance musicians, and private string teachers. The mission of Charlotte Strings Collective is to celebrate the music of Black composers through performance and education. In addition to featuring string music by living artists, we also highlight works by historical composers whose talents were not properly recognized and honored due to racism.


Annual Intertribal Powwow

Project Team: Michelle Stanley and Page Freeman

The Native American Staff, Faculty and Graduate Student Caucus and the Native American Student Association are co-organizing an annual Intertribal Powwow. Intertribal Powwows are an event where Native Americans from diverse Tribal Nations gather together to practice traditions and cultural practices. The Powwow at UNC Charlotte will feature dancing, honor songs, competitions, drum groups, story-telling, and Native-owned vendors. The Powwow is an opportunity for Native Americans within the UNC Charlotte community and beyond to build community with one another.


Immigrant Inclusion, Integration and Citizenship in Charlotte

Project Team: Gordon Hull, Beth Whitaker, Heather Smith, and Lan Kolano

We propose a series of four events (two film screenings and two visiting speakers) to explore how migrant communities in Charlotte negotiate issues of identity and inclusion. Charlotte is one of the most diverse large cities in the United States, and we intend to engage the topic both academically and in coordination with the community outside the university.


Lauren Anderson - First African-American Principal Ballerina for Houston Ballet

Project Team: Delia Neil and Ayisha McMillan Cravotta

The UNC Charlotte Dance Department, in collaboration with the Charlotte Ballet Academy, request support for a three-day residency for the retired African-American ballerina Lauren Anderson. Ms. Anderson was the first African-American ballerina to be promoted to principal dancer (1990) with the Houston Ballet and was one of the few African-American ballerinas to be a principal dancer of a major ballet company anywhere in the world. She has performed leading roles in many of the great classical ballets across the world. The residency will include multiple ballet technique classes at both UNC Charlotte and the Charlotte Ballet Academy and talkback conversations regarding Ms. Anderson's career and her experience and influence of being one of the few African-American ballerinas in the world at the time she was performing. We will invite community dancers to participate is special community classes. Students from the non-profit Barre Belle and Charlotte Ballet's Reach program will also be invited guests.


2023 Thriving Together Symposium

Project Team: Terrence Harper, Leigh Norwood, Jalisa Lewis, and Phylicia Currence

The Thriving Together Symposium is an annual opportunity for sharing student, staff, and faculty feedback (regarding their experiences at Charlotte in association with their diverse social identities) and sharing best practices with regard to creating a campus climate that epitomizes equity, inclusivity, and belonging. With our work occurring in student affairs, the symposium centers the needs of students; however, data gathered regarding how diverse students best feel well and supported likely has implications for staff/faculty wellness, recruitment and retention. The Symposium endeavors to share findings and best practices with Charlotte’s campus community as well as to a broader audience, including the UNC System, Charlotte community, and higher education professionals. The symposium also represents an ongoing commitment to implement feedback from students into the programs, services and general support for marginalized students at Charlotte in alignment with the strategic DEI goals of the university.


Cultural Festival 2022

Project Team: Joseph Hoff, Yongling Gorke, Nicole Ianieri, Denise Medeiros, Ryan McKeel, Chervon Moore, Kim Turner, and Adam Burden

UNC Charlotte’s Office of International Programs in collaboration with the Student Affairs Division (Office of Student Involvement and the Office of Identity, Equity and Engagement) and other departments on campus has traditionally held an “International Festival” for the last 42 years. Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, it is still on hold until we are certain we are able to host the 15,000 t0 20,000 people from the Charlotte area who attend the International Festival without having to cancel at the last minute. We are instead proposing for fall 2022 a smaller event that will highlight the cultural diversity of the UNC Charlotte campus and provide a sense of belonging for the different cultural groups on campus, both domestic and international. Thus, we are proposing a two-hour “Cultural Festival” during International Education Week (November 14-18, 2022) that will provide an avenue for the different groups to highlight their cultures for the campus community. Once again, this will be a collaboration between the Office of International Programs, Student, and the Office of Identity, Equity and Engagement.


Dia de los Muertos Campus Altar

Project Team: Ryan McKeel

The Office of Identity, Equity, and Engagement is excited to welcome back local Mexican artists Rosalia Torres-Weiner to create and install an altar for Día de los Muertos in the Popp-Martin Student Union Art Gallery. Through a two-day residency, Rosalia will design an altar alongside Art students, before inviting the entire campus community to come and celebrate and learn more about Día de los Muertos while contributing to the altar themselves, in more way than one.


Sustaining what we Start through the Critical English Educator Collaborative

Project Team: Meghan Barnes, Heather Coffey, and Lucy Arnold

The purpose of this project is to continue to develop the work of the Critical English Educator Collaborative (CEEC)--a teacher-guided, informal learning community focused on supporting prospective and practicing English teachers’ understandings of critical pedagogy. In this second year of the project, we aim to recruit ten CEEC members to form our second cohort: approximately 5 preservice teacher candidates (all of whom will be UNC Charlotte students) and 5 practicing teachers (all of whom will be UNC Charlotte graduates). We will also invite five members of our first CEEC cohort (from the 2021-2022 academic year) to provide ongoing support and professional development. Both CEEC cohorts will be invited to attend monthly meetings, wherein participants discuss a shared reading on critical pedagogy and consider its implications for the English classroom.


"Translation as a Site of Global Engagement and Democracy" — An Interdisciplinary Symposium

Project Team: David Boyd and Emek Ergun

This proposal requests $10,000 to organize a virtual interdisciplinary symposium at UNC Charlotte, where a group of distinguished scholars and translators from around the world will gather to explore translation as a site of global engagement and democracy. The daylong symposium will take place on October 11, 2022 and include four seminar sessions and two keynote addresses, where a dozen renown scholars and translators, along with a group of UNC Charlotte faculty across various departments, will discuss the critical role of translation in increasing and enhancing global connections in service of a more democratic, decolonial, and egalitarian planetary future. By enabling conversations on how to ethically connect across borders and live peacefully together in our differences, which requires translation in our multilingual and multicultural world, the symposium will contribute valuable insights to our understandings of global diversity, equality, and unity. At a time of severe upheaval around the world, exploring the politics, ethics, art, and practice of translation as a matter of global connectivity is all the more important.


Graduate Diversity Research Showcase

Project Team: Katherin Hall-Hertel, Cathy Howell, Bruce Taylor, Jill Huerta, Johnna Watson, Manuel Perez, Janet Morse, Julie Goodliffe, Aura Young, and Adoril Oshana

Graduate students often do their research in isolation. When research involves issues of equity and diversity, the research is likely to have a broad impact on the campus, the community or the target population. The Graduate Diversity Research Showcase is intended to bring together students from different disciplines who are doing DEI related research. Research that involves or impacts the broader community will be highly encouraged. Students will present their work in "3 Minute Poster" session format. The event will be linked with the 3MT competition in November. Judges will provide feedback to the students and awards will be given for the best projects in particular categories. The event will highlight the various ways in which diversity, equity and inclusion permeate research in a variety of disciplines.


Website (Re)design to Strengthen Recruitment and Retention of Diverse Graduate Students

Project Team: Andrea Pitts, Ritika Prasad, Erin Basinger, Mónica Rodríguez, and Sara Juengst

A recent study in The Journal of Higher Education notes that “over 80% of American college students reported that college websites were a primary site of information when they were looking for a college and making college decisions'' (Holland and Ford 2021). Additionally, recent internal data suggests that over ⅓ of all CLAS graduate students first learn about our programs through departmental websites and Google searches (Names-Mattefs, 2019). As graduate program directors, we likewise know how vital it is that our respective programs have an accessible web presence that encourages a diverse range of prospective students to consider our academic programs. Accordingly, this proposal for an Inclusive Excellence Grant is a collaboration between five CLAS Graduate Program Directors to create a user-friendly template for web redesign that aims to enhance the University’s recruitment and retention of underrepresented minorities and first-generation students.