2021-2022 Grant Recipients

In this first year of the program, the Racial Justice Grant Program has committed more than $55,000 to support new projects that will foster community ties and serve under-resourced neighborhoods.

Within the first iteration of the grant program, we received nearly 40 applications from across the university for the internal grant program, which funds interdisciplinary teams to drive tangible initiatives that fight racism. Teams led by both undergraduate and graduate students will collaborate with faculty and staff to make a difference on and off campus.

Working with and leveraging the expertise and assets of our campus partners and community-based organizations, these teams will help address complex issues including: disparities in health and education; strengthening the pipeline of qualified candidates aspiring to higher education, STEM careers, and the arts; and addressing the persistent disparities and vulnerabilities that communities of color face with respect to the impacts of climate change. The inaugural thirteen grantees are as follows:

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  • Puzzle Pieces Mentoring for Diversity: A path forward to help future PTs find the right fit

    Working with United Black Students to help address the gap between patients and providers, the overarching purpose of this program is to increase the visibility of the physical therapy profession for Black high school and undergraduate students, and to provide mentorship to interested students to improve their chances for successful admission into and completion of PT school.

    • Highlights from Fall 2021
      • Puzzle Pieces Mentoring for Diversity program hosted a Career Day for Breakthrough Miami 8th grade scholars. This mentoring program presented advocacy lectured to Breakthrough Miami scholars and UM UBS. Seven mentoring relationships were established because of this Racial Justice Grant project.
    • Plans for Spring 2022
      • During the spring semester, the funding from this project will be reimbursed more applicants and adjust the simulation experience for our mentees to an immersion experience at the University of Miami Department of Physical Therapy. Host an immersion experience for mentees. Continued partnership with Breakthrough Miami.

  • Public Health Survey on the Impacts of Intra-Urban Forced Displacement due to Climate Gentrification in Miami

    Working with People's Economic and Environmental Resiliency Group, Inc., this project will document the environmental and public health impacts connected to the forced displacement of low-wealth and Black and brown communities in Miami, thus arming communities with a strong evidence base to support the development of effective interventions.

    • Highlights from Fall 2021
      • Public Health Survey on the impacts of Intra Urban Forced Displacement due to Climate Gentrification in Miami collaborated with the University of Miami's Environmental Justice Clinic and PEER, a non-profit, public interest law firm, to analyze how housing conditions contribute to forced displacement and the health impacts on low-wealth urban communities. As of August 2021, the initial public health survey was released to community members and organizational partners to collect data that will be used to develop evidence-based policy actions. A Creole and Spanish version of the survey and a more comprehensive (in-depth) second survey can be optionally taken upon completing the initial survey. . In addition, with help from the University of Miami's Racial Justice Grant, this project procured gift cards for participants who completed the in-depth version of the survey. In October 2021, Daniel Suman, Professor of Ecosystem and Atmospheric Science, aided students in another portion of this project by conducting an environmental assessment on residents' housing conditions and health impacts subject to force-displacement due to redevelopment.
    • Plans for Spring 2022
      • The data and environmental assessment will be finalized at the end of the academic year in May 2022. Once the group begins collecting data, they are open to create comprehensive reports of the data to share with community partners and as a way to help educate policymakers on the importance of emphasizing the necessity of safe housing conditions in vulnerable communities. 

  • I am Enough Project

    Working with Urgent, Inc., the CRECER team will pursue a new venture, using a comic book format to help middle school-age girls learn about structural racism, internalize strong ethnic-racial identity development, develop adaptive coping skills, and foster relationship management.

    • Highlights from Fall 2021
      • I Am Enough research team designed an evidence-informed facilitator guide and anti-racism curriculum for middle school girls. The curriculum is typically focused on Black empowerment, affirmation, and validation of Black voices, institutionalized racism, and active coping skills. With the project’s community partners, Urgent Inc., the curriculum was delivered to thirty-three middle school-aged girls in tandem with a pre-existing art program hosted by Urgent Inc. While engaged with the “I am Enough” curriculum and the art program, the youth coalesced the skills they developed to produce “ABBE (A Beautiful Black Entrepreneur): I Am Enough, V.2,” a comic book that reflects the content in the “I am Enough” curriculum. In addition, partners at Urgent Inc. published and distributed this work to the Miami-Dade community more broadly. Lastly, the University of Miami researchers and leaders at Urgent Inc. provided a public forum for the girls involved with this project to present their work.
    • Plans for Spring 2022
      • Data collected will be analyzed and an executive summary with the findings will be distributed to the community partners at Urgent Inc. 


    Working with the National Society of Black Engineers, this project will help Black students in high school gain a better understanding of skills necessary to go into a variety of S.T.E.A.M. disciplines, providing the necessary confidence, skillset, and networking abilities through mentorship, tailored skill resources, and workshops.

    • Highlight from Fall 2021
      • After conducting research, STEAM-O students found that the best way to combat imposter syndrome is through mentorship and developing confidence in a wide range of areas. As a result, they created a curriculum to prepare 20 high school students with the support and knowledge they need to advance their education in Science Technology. Engineering. Art. Math (S.T.E.A.M.). STEAM-O also developed a social media page and website for students to receive more information on excelling in S.T.E.A.M.
    • Plans for Spring 2022
      • STEAM-O students who have been conducting this research received tons of volunteer applications from engineering and art students (undergraduate and graduate). Currently, two labs would like to partner with STEAM-O in science and engineering. In addition, the group plans to recruit additional volunteer applicants to reach out to other departments. The goal is to pair high school students with two mentors to create a pipeline for student participants to get started in their chosen area.

  • Frost Black American Music Exchange

    Working with the Melton Mustafa Jazz Festival, this project aims to realize an exchange of both musical and cultural information between the Frost School of Music’s Studio Music and Jazz Department and jazz musicians from South Florida’s Black community, providing opportunities for a residency and concert by community leaders at the Frost School, followed by Frost student involvement at the festival.

  • Defeat the Heat: Mapping extreme heat exposure in Miami’s Black neighborhoods

    Working with Catalyst Miami, this project will recruit “citizen scientists,” or residents who will passively use sensors to monitor temperature and humidity inside their homes and in key public spaces, allowing us to explore what heat exposure looks like in Miami’s Black neighborhoods and providing insight into best options for key adaptation strategies such as weatherization, energy assistance, urban greening, and health interventions to make strides in racial justice as well as climate justice.

    • Highlights from Fall 2021
      • Defeat the Heat, Mapping Extreme Heat Exposure in Miami's Black Neighborhoods partnered with Jane Gilbert and Florida Clinicians for Climate Action to ensure that people are provided with resources or opportunities to engage in supported advocacy around each stage of the project's issue. Students working on this project submitted an IRB to begin participant recruitment for interviews and sensor deployments.
    • Plans for Spring 2022
      • The goal is to engage 75 participants for the upcoming extreme heat season (May-November 2022). Students will begin interviewing participants in the spring semester and will start the sensor deployment.

  • The Role of CBOs in Mitigating COVID-19 Educational Disparities During Remote Learning for Black Middle School Students

    In collaboration with Breakthrough Miami, a community-based organization that serves middle and high school students in Miami Dade County, the research team will engage with economically disadvantaged gifted Black middle school students to investigate and advance the role of community-based organizations in the mitigation of COVID-19-related educational disparities.

    • Highlights from Fall 2021
      • Grant recipients collected and analyzed a significant amount of qualitative data regarding gifted Black middle school students' experiences during COVID-19. Participants shared that the survey was beneficial because it provided an outlet to process and share their experiences. The survey data was collected and analyzed.
    • Plans for Spring 2022
      • The group is currently in the write-up stage to share findings with the community organization that participated in the project. In the spring semester, the grant recipients will finalize reports and create a brief findings document for the participating organization by the end of the spring semester.

  • Black American Voices in Music: Challenging Racial Bias at the Frost School of Music

    Working with the Department of Music Education, this project will include two main components that will run in parallel to one another: a qualitative research study to assess beliefs and attitudes about racial bias and inequalities at the Frost School, and a series of eight webinars on the theme of racial bias and equity in music.

  • Black Male Student Athlete Engagement & Empowerment

    Working with the Student Athlete Advisory Committee, this program aims to provide additional support and encouragement to Black male student athletes in areas such as financial literacy, interpersonal communication, and life skills, including entrepreneurship, dreaming beyond sport, professional emails, letter writing, resume development, money management, social media networking and pre/post-game press conference interviews.

    • Highlights from Fall 2021
      • Black Male Student-Athlete Engagement & Empowerment held their first in-person event entitled Canes Cutz. The program was in partnership with Adidas and hosted by an Athletics Department Chaplin. Canes Cutz provided a welcoming and supportive space where participants could get a haircut while talking about mental health and their unique experiences as a Black male student-athlete.

  • EmpowerU: A Pipeline Towards Greater Representation in STEM

    UM’s Shark Research and Conservation Program is partnering with Breakthrough Miami to launch EmpowerU, a new program designed to provide experiential learning opportunities in marine science and research to students of color in South Florida.

    • Highlights from Fall 2021
      • EmpowerU: A Pipeline Towards Greater Representation in STEM fulfilled two deliverables outlined in their grant proposal, which included taking Breakthrough Miami High School scholars on two shark tagging trips.
    • Plans for Spring 2022
      • Breakthrough's scholars will participate in an educational session on the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science campus in the spring of the semester. In addition, they will participate in a day-long workshop centered on shark science activities. 

  • Addressing Racial Injustice in STEM towards Coastal Resilience

    Working with Booker T. Washington High School, the objective of the proposed program is to increase Black representation in STEM fields by providing opportunities for motivated black high school students to participate in research and mitigation projects on coastal resilience.

  • First Star Academy Student Career Day

    The project is an event for Black foster care youth that are part of the First Star Academy at the University of Miami, providing a cohort of 50 students from the academy with a five-hour event including a college application workshop, Black student life exploration presented by student organization leaders, and a career fair with representation in their specific desired fields of study and professions.

    • Highlights from Fall 2021
      • The First Star Academy Student Career Day took place on December 4th, 2021, at the University of Miami School of Law. Prior to Career Day, a survey on the perception of post-secondary education among high school students impacted by foster care was created and sent to students attending the First Star Academy at the University of Miami. Additionally, students who attended the event completed the post-event survey on their perceptions of post-secondary education.
    • Plans for Spring 2022
      • Data collected from the surveys distributed in Fall 2021 will be analyzed.

  • African American Coalition of Excellence

    Working with the Woodrow Wilson Marshall Association, this initiative will foster mentorship and an overall sense of community between minority faculty, staff, and students at the university, including skill-building workshops, shadowing opportunities, roundtable discussions, and one-on-one interactions that will positively impact their level of readiness in their field so that they enter the work-force with the confidence and skills needed to succeed.

    • Highlight from Fall 2021
      • The African American Coalition of Excellence launched their website during the fall semester.
    • Plans for 2022
      • Grant recipients are currently working on marketing pieces to advertise the organization and encourage people to apply. 

We look forward to learning more about and supporting the awardees and their projects as we work together to advance racial equity. If interested in supporting, volunteering, or learning more about these projects reach out to racialjusticegrants@miami.edu.