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Campaign for Community will offer grants of up to $1500 toward proposals concerning racial justice.

Credit: Kylie Cooper

Campaign for Community, a University-led funding initiative that aims to support dialogue about important topics on campus, is seeking proposals for projects and conversations about racial justice.  

Campaign for Community was established in 2015 following a surge of campus activism concerning the August 2014 police shooting of Michael Brown, a Black teenager in Ferguson, Missouri, Associate Vice Provost for Equity and Access and Campaign for Community co-chair Reverend William Gipson said. 

The program allows students, faculty, and staff to apply for funding for initiatives that aim to stimulate difficult conversations about topics such as race, sexual assault, mental health, and LGBTQ rights.

As of this month, Campaign for Community will offer grants of up to $1500 toward proposals concerning racial justice at Penn, in Philadelphia, and in students’ home communities. 

Pritchett appointed Gipson and University Chaplain Reverend Charles Howard to co-chair Campaign for Community in mid-May.

“Not only are we physically distant from one another, physically distant from our community, but now we are reminded of the hatred and violence towards Black bodies in this case, but more broadly, a breakdown in interracial community,” Howard said. “Let’s highlight the Campaign for Community now in efforts toward building and repairing communities.”

Applications for Campaign for Community grants will be reviewed on a rolling basis through the summer and into the 2020-21 academic year. Each application requires a detailed description of a project or event that initiates conversation and a budget listing all projected expenses. Individuals or groups of Penn students, faculty, and staff may apply for the grants.

Gipson said Campaign for Community will collaborate with the Makuu Black Cultural Center on future projects to continue the dialogue about racial justice. Howard said he hopes students who are connected to Makuu and other University cultural houses will apply for the Campaign for Community grants.

Makuu Director Brian Peterson wrote in an email to The Daily Pennsylvanian that Makuu is looking forward to helping the Penn community take advantage of Campaign for Community and helping the University and nation move forward through dialogue and action. 

“It's a critical time, and this is a tremendous opportunity to bring people together, learn, and grow,” Peterson wrote.

Associate Director of Makuu Daina Richie-Troy said Penn should prioritize educating local Philadelphia residents and ensuring that the resources provided within Penn’s educational institutions, such as the Graduate School of Education and the Penn Alexander School, are used in return to help local Philadelphians. 

Gipson added that Campaign for Community is just one of many approaches to addressing concerns about racial injustice on campus.

"I don’t see [Campaign for Community] as a monolithic response to what’s confronting us at Penn, across the nation, and the globe, but as a way for the University community to be invited in to reason together around these very difficult topics,'" he said.

Gipson mentioned that hundreds of proposals on topics related to wellness, LGBTQ rights, and feminism have been approved and funded by Campaign for Community in the past. 

Past Campaign events include an on-campus symposium on academic freedom after a Penn professor was fired from the Board of Trustees for advocating against child labor, and a film screening of “Feminist: Stories From Women’s Liberation.”

A June 3 email from Penn President Amy Gutmann regarding the death of George Floyd, who died on May 25 after a police officer pressed his knee onto Floyd's neck for nearly nine minutes, listed Campaign for Community as a project that will "propel progress in our University, city, and society toward a more inclusive and impactful university and community." A second University-wide message sent on June 8 by Provost Wendell Pritchett encouraged students to submit proposals to Campaign for Community centered on racial justice.