Thursday, December 2, 2021

The Diversity Catalyst Seed Grant supports new initiatives contributing to diversity, equity, and inclusion-related strategic goals either at the departmental, college, or university level.  The Grant supports measurable positive initiatives advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion at the University of Iowa. Selected initiatives hold promising potential for an immediate positive impact on-campus community.   

The five winners of this year's Diversity Catalyst Seed Grants are:


"Creating Mental Health Resources and Professional Development Workshops for AAPI and Asian International Graduate Students and Postdocs"
Graduate College’s Graduate Success Center, Grad-DEI, Pan Asian Council (PAC), International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS), and Graduate Student Senate (GSS)

Asian American Center

The purpose of this effort will be to enhance cross-cultural professional development programs, build mental health resources, and create support spaces for the Asian American, Pacific Islander (AAPI), Asian International graduate student, and postdoc community at Iowa.  The effort will focus on the following areas:

  • Provide mental health, self-care, and identity support for Asian American, Pacific Islander (AAPI), Asian international graduate students, and postdocs.
  • Facilitate workshops on mental health and identify for AAPI and Asian graduate students led by content experts and current UI graduate students and postdocs
  • Create resource pages on mental health, self-care, and identity experience for AAPI and Asian international graduate students and postdocs. These pages will be created by the Graduate Success Center in collaboration with AAPI and Asian international graduate students and postdocs as student development consultants.
  • Update Engaging Across Culture workshop sessions focused on teaching in the US, graduate school culture, and job seeking to include more relevant resources and information for AAPI and Asian graduate students and postdocs
  • Represent the specific challenges and stories of AAPI and Asian international students as part of the broader diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) effort at the University of Iowa.


"Little Free DEI Library"
Department of Biology

Biology Building

In alignment with The Department of Biology's strategic plan, goals set by the departmental Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) committee, and the UI's identity as a community of readers, we will create a free lending library, stocked with general and discipline-specific books focused on issues related to DEI.

A starter set of DEI-focused books will be purchased to create a lending library embedded within the Department of Biology.  Its goal is to promote conversations about race and equity in the sciences.


"Improving Service to Neurodivergent Library Patrons"
UI Main Library

Bucksbaum Campus Shoot

This project will improve Main Library's usability and inclusiveness for neurodivergent users, particularly those with sensory issues and those on the autism spectrum.

The Main Library will help neurodivergent users address the challenges of using the library's spaces and resources by providing sensory items for checkout. This will make Main Library a more welcoming place for those users with neurodivergence, whether diagnosed or not. The project can be rolled out to other campus libraries to let neurodivergent patrons know they are welcome and valued.


"Recruitment and Retention of BIPOC Teacher Education Students"
The Baker Teacher Leader Center, UI College of Education

Baker Teacher Leader Center Seed Grant project collaborators (from Left to Right: Alexei Lalagos, Amira Nash, Carmen Gwenigale)
 Project collaborators (from Left to Right: Alexei Lalagos, Amira Nash, Carmen Gwenigale)


In Iowa, students of color make up 25% of K-12 students, while teachers of color make up 3% of the teacher workforce (NBC - Des Moines). In alignment with the State Task Force to Diversify the Teacher Workforce in the state of Iowa, the Baker Teacher Leader Center in the University of Iowa College of Education has partnered with the Iowa City Community School District to create a pipeline to recruit and retain BIPOC students to become teachers.

The Baker Teacher Leader Center will provide Iowa City high school students with mentorship and professional development opportunities to inspire, motivate, and support their desire to become educators in the Iowa City Community School District.


"Wild Bill's Media Creation Studio"
UI School of Social Work

Wild Bills

The UI School of Social Work will provide a high-quality, easily accessible media creation studio in "Wild Bill's," the learning lab of the school. This studio will enable students, staff, and faculty to produce public-facing, multimedia storytelling projects promoting social justice through social work ideals and skills, including but not limited to, Wild Bill's Cup of Social Justice Podcast.  This effort will focus on the following areas:

  • Establish a dedicated space within Wild Bill's that anyone can use to record a podcast.
  • Upgrade recording equipment to make it easier for anyone to use.
  • Improve production quality by upgrading microphones, installing a mixing board, and acquiring monitoring headphones for producers.
  • Continue to create new School of Social Work podcast episodes featuring diverse topics of social justice and guests from diverse backgrounds.
  • Increase the School's engagement with a public audience on social justice and cultural competence topics.
  • Integrate creative media projects with our curriculum, giving Social Work students a new way to learn essential concepts and demonstrate their mastery.