Awarding Inclusiveness and Excellence

Diversity and Inclusion Provides Funding For Inclusive Excellence Initiatives

The Division of Diversity of Inclusion recently awarded six Inclusive Excellence Awards of up to $5,000 to support projects and initiatives that further the goals of the University of Missouri-Kansas City Diversity Strategic Plan. Project themes earning awards include research, educational opportunities, community outreach and pipeline programs, and more.

According to the Association of American Colleges and Universities, evidence shows “that integrating diversity and quality initiatives — as with the forging of elements into an alloy —produces something that is both different than its constituent elements and stronger and more durable.” Thus, inclusive excellence.

The framework for inclusive excellence, as outlined in UMKC ’s Diversity Strategic Plan, is centered on five key strategies: representation, access and success; climate and campus environment; responsive teaching, research and experiential learning; UMKC and the urban community in partnership; and instructional infrastructure and resources.

“There is often a disconnection between diversity and excellence,” said Susan Wilson, UMKC Vice Chancellor of Diversity and Inclusion. “If we do better with diversity and inclusion, excellence comes with that.”

“We hope that by giving awards, it will give others the idea to develop programs within other schools and departments,” said Wilson, adding that the entire campus community should own a piece of diversity.

Out of 21 proposals submitted, six programs and initiatives were awarded funding.

 Ideas with Promise:

“The Inclusive Excellence Award will help the School of Law succeed in providing the valuable education and resources for our students in order to help them develop their professional and personal identity,” said Ashley Swanson, Director of Law Student Services. The School of Law received $4,900 for its Courageous Conversations initiative. Swanson said the initiative aligns with the school’s desire to have culturally and socially competent graduates who will have a competitive edge in the workplace and as lawyers who help shape the future of our legal system.

“We want to fund fresh ideas that have promise,” said Wilson, adding that through these funded projects, diversity and inclusion can manifest itself in many ways. One of those ways includes establishing pipeline programs that aim to diversify professional fields with little-to-no cultural, gender or racial variety.

Realizing the need for more diverse criminal justice professionals in Kansas City, the UMKC Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology formed a partnership with Wyandotte High School’s (Kansas City, Kan.) Law Academy to establish a pipeline program to “develop a more diverse student body and, ultimately, criminal justice professional population.” According to Kristi Holsinger, professor and chair of the Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology, approximately 250 Wyandotte students have demonstrated interest in law, public safety, corrections and security careers.

“We want law enforcement to reflect the people,” said Holsinger. Similar to diversifying criminal justice professionals, the Bachelor of Health Sciences degree program is working to create a Diversity Peer Education Team training that will increase awareness on diversity health issues.

Susan Garrett, assistant teaching professor for the BHS program said they will recruit six to eight BHS students for the training “who have completed, or are completing, our Diversity in Health course.” Garrett said students will begin training on the art of facilitation during the fall 2017 semester and begin facilitating activities in the spring within the BHS program before rolling it out to other programs within the School of Nursing and Health Studies.

Wilson said that a lot of faculty and staff who do diversity and inclusion work don’t often get recognition, and the Inclusive Excellence Awards is a way to show faculty and staff that their work is valuable.

“These awards may not fund the entirety of every project, but will serve as seed money for larger initiatives,” said Wilson, adding that Diversity and Inclusion hopes to have a ceremony in celebration of the award winners when school starts back up in August.

Project Summaries:

Courageous Conversations (UMKC School of Law): $2,900

Courageous Conversations will entail “teach-ins” that focus on diverse topics. The goal is to partner with professors, staff and community members to lead various “teach-ins.”  Discussion topics include implicit bias and attorney advocacy, how to engage in difficult conversations, improving resistance and resilience in the face of conflict and aggression, and bystander intervention training.

Criminal Justice and Criminology: High School to College Pipeline for Careers in Criminal Justice (Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology): $5,000

This program will bring criminal justice scholars, professionals and UMKC students to the Wyandotte High School Law Academy classes once each semester. The Criminal Justice Department will also bring junior high school students to UMKC’s campus once each semester. The goal of this initiative is to foster a pipeline between non-white community high school students already interested in law enforcement, court systems or correctional systems with UMKC’s criminal justice undergraduate degree program.

Peer Diversity Education Team (Bachelor of Health Sciences): $4,020

The Bachelor of Health Sciences (BHS) program will develop a Diversity Peer Education Team that will allow students to gain facilitation skills, to learn curricular elements, and to be role-models and leaders for their peers. The Diversity Peer Education Team will present to students in other BHS courses. In the presentation, students will be exposed to cultural awareness, the value of diversity, and experience interactive activities to further their understanding and interest. By recruiting and training BHS students to be a partner in our diversity education efforts, we will continue to be leaders in helping our underrepresented students feel valued, feel a sense of belonging, and to succeed academically.

Kansas City Dreamkeepers (UMKC School of Education, Division of Educational Leadership, Policy and Foundations): $5,000

Kansas City Dreamkeepers is an annual celebration of student voice and expression around the issues of social justice and equity for all. Each year, Kansas City Dreamkeepers holds a contest to allow students in the bi-state Metropolitan Kansas City area to share their unique voices with the world, with cash prizes awarded. Beginning Fall 2017, Kansas City Dreamkeepers will host its inaugural Kansas City Dreamkeepers Education Symposium for students and their teachers to explore more deeply strategies for using artistic expression for academic success and to create a more socially just world.

Kansas City Speaks: Partnering with African-American educators, students, and community members to explore school integration and excellence (Interdisciplinary): $5,000

This project explores and preserves oral histories, narratives, and artifacts related to the experiences of African American educators and students who formed the legacy and struggle for educational equity during Kansas City, Missouri’s school desegregation era (1971-1997). Drawing on the past to seek new ways to integrate schools will contribute to community-wide efforts to address issues of social justice in educational communities.

Kansas City Youth Court (UMKC School of Law): $2,900

Youth Court is a peer court that acts as a diversion from the traditional juvenile justice system.  Youth offenders are offered the opportunity to have their cases heard in youth court rather than going before the Jackson County Family Court. They are represented by juveniles, prosecuted by juveniles and judged by juveniles. While the youth court is administered by adults who conduct training and are present at court hearings to ensure guidelines are followed, the sentencing decisions are made by the juvenile judges after considering the evidence before them. The primary goals of the Kansas City Youth Court are to reduce incidents of juvenile crime, provide an alternative to the formal Family Court process and promote civic involvement by the young people who volunteer to serve on the youth court.

Kelsey Haynes | Division of Strategic Marketing and Communications

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