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Grant from the Commonwealth expands Salem State University’s ongoing mentoring, inclusivity pilot program

A $55,308 grant from the Commonwealth has allowed Salem State University to expand an ongoing pilot program that aims to boost inclusivity and mentoring among faculty and students.  

The latest funding from the Higher Education Innovation Fund (HEIF) from the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education (DHE) supports “Building Inclusive and Academically Engaged Communities of Practice” (BIAC), which is now in its second year.

In 2021, the university received an initial HEIF award for BIAC, which aims to explore how to make classrooms inclusive spaces where students feel welcomed, valued for their cultural wealth, and supported in their learning.

A collaboration between the Center for Civic Engagement and Inclusive Excellence, BIAC’s faculty leads for the new grant are Professor Kathi Crow, mathematics, and Professor Binneh Minteh, criminal justice. Mentoring pods will develop tools that lead to inclusive, safe, engaging, and successful learning environments for faculty and students.  

“By funding the BIAC program, the grant ensures continuity of faculty- and student-led professional development projects supporting inclusive and engaged classroom instruction, Minteh said. “The program equips professors and students with tools to nurture inclusive classroom environments that build trust, make students feel valued and empowered to take ownership, leadership, and courage in their overall educational experience. The program will usher in a new era of progressive pedagogical techniques that motivates students and promotes inclusion and community in the classroom and across campus”.

HEIF grants were developed by the Massachusetts legislature in 2012 to help the Board of Higher Education achieve the strategic goals of the Massachusetts public higher education system.

“What is most powerful about this project is the co-mentoring model at its center. In this model, senior and junior faculty, graduate and undergraduate students mutually mentor one another. This mentoring structure realizes the premise that student and faculty at all levels have great skill and wealth of knowledge about pedagogy, classroom dynamics, and academic communities, and also all have a great deal to learn, and need the mentoring support of one another,” said Interim Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion Keja Valens. “Students in this way gain pre-professional skills and faculty increase their ability to be student-centered.”

This work expands on Salem State’s successful pilot program from last year, while building on the university’s HEIF grant from two years ago that created the Principles for Anti-Racist Community Engagement, which is now being used across the country.

Center for Civic Engagement
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