Micro Grants Advance DEI at William & Mary

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A little can go a long way. Through its Innovative Diversity Efforts Awards (IDEA) initiative, the College of William & Mary (W&M) is using small amounts of funding to create a large impact by fostering a sense of equity, inclusion, and belonging on campus.

Open to faculty, staff, and students, IDEA grants typically provide between $500 and $1,500 to proposals that advance DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion) principles on campus. These can amount to full or partial funding for workshops, speaker series, documentary films, and faculty training, among other programs.

The awards have existed since 2011, but funding grew in 2022 with the creation of the Stuart Calvin, Frances Gloria, and Julie E. Williams Fund for Diversity Programming at W&M. Since then, 19 projects have been funded by IDEA grants, seven of which were approved in February 2024. The proposals are all reviewed by a group known as The Collective, which is composed of faculty, students, and staff who are dedicated to DEI.

Fanchon Glover, EdD

“What excites me about this group of projects is the diversity of the array of ideas and collaborations. There are workshops that focus on our full community — faculty, staff, students and alumni,” said Fanchon Glover, EdD, W&M chief diversity officer. “Adding to the cultural experience of all members of our community is very important, and these creative and innovative ideas really make a difference. As we embrace our values of curiosity, discovery and belonging, these projects really aid in that goal.”

Funded projects have touched on issues related to race and ethnicity, neurodiversity, gender and sexuality, and language and culture. The col-lection of individuals and proposed DEI programs applying for the grants vary significantly.

For example, a lecture series on race and religion — led by Endowed Professor of Judaic Studies Michael Daise — brings scholars from diverse backgrounds to W&M’s campus through a 2024 IDEA Grant. Topics discussed in the series include the impact of abolition and slavery on religious communities in the U.S. and Nigeria, respectively, and how those concepts tie to race today.

Another effort is an American Sign Language class operated by the W&M Libraries Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Committee. Having launched this spring, the class is open to students, faculty, and staff who wish to learn sign language and, in doing so, improve services and education and create a better sense of belonging for deaf and hard-of-hearing campus community members.

IDEA has also funded several initiatives focused on advancing diversity in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) fields, including the Mentoring for Careers in Physics Pilot Program for Undergraduate Women, and a workshop series that integrates DEI into the classroom at W&M’s Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS). The former program provides mentorship, career development, and networking opportunities for women wanting to enter the physics workforce, while the latter effort introduced methods for VIMS faculty to address hidden biases, celebrate underrepresented scientists, and apply DEI ideals in the classroom.