Funded Projects 2022-23

In July 2020, Chancellor Jones announced a $2 million annual commitment by the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign to focus the intellectual and scholarly talent of our university to examine two of the greatest challenges facing our society and seek new solutions. Recognizing the critical need for universities across our nation to prioritize research focused on systemic racial inequities and injustices that exist not only in our communities but in higher education itself, the Call to Action to Address Racism & Social Injustice Research Program provides support for academic research and the expansion of community-based knowledge that advances the understanding of systemic racism and generationally embedded racial disparity.

Research Focus Areas 

For 2022, the Call to Action to Address Racism & Social Injustice Program focused on three critical research areas that are some of the most important and complex challenges facing local communities, states, and our nation:

  • Systemic racism and social justice
  • Law enforcement and criminal justice reform
  • Disparities in health and health care

Projects included but were not limited to:

  • Research that can lead to the removal of barriers that inhibit access to education, opportunity, support, and resources.
  • The interrogation of structural and institutionalize systems of disparity and disenfranchisement.
  • Strategies for increasing perspective taking and understanding.
  • Strategies for the reduction of violence and harm that can increase racial equity, well-being, safety, and belonging.

Proposals could focus on a single research area or apply an intersectional approach via examining the complex configurations of social determinants and how those social constructs interact to yield outcomes. Three funding tracks were available, up to $75,000, for the projects beginning July 1, 2022 and ending by June 30, 2023.

Community-Based Innovation

Addressing disparities in health outcomes in our local African American community – $25,000

Project Leaders: Dr. Manabu Nakamura (College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences, Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition, Department of Nutritional Sciences); Crystal Hogue (Champaign County Christian Health Center); Dr. Jeffery Trask (Champaign County Christian Health Center); Flora Adams-Williams, PA (OSF HealthCare); ­Ashleigh Oliveira (College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences, Department of Nutritional Sciences) 

The EMPOWER lab at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) provides an online nutrition and lifestyle program aimed at treating chronic diseases associated with obesity.   

Obesity is disproportionately more prevalent among people of color resulting in similarly disproportionate complications associated to this disease. African Americans are 60% more likely to be diagnosed with diabetes, 2.1 times more likely to die from diabetes, and 3.1 times more likely to be diagnosed with end-stage renal disease as associated with diabetes than non-Hispanic whites. Achieving and maintaining a healthy weight can reverse or prevent these conditions; however, access to this kind of preventative care is lacking in underserved populations.  

In collaboration with our local healthcare providers and community leaders at the Champaign County Christian Health Center (CCCHC) and Order of St. Francis (OSF) HealthCare, we will recruit underserved participants including African Americans who do not readily have access to preventative healthcare.  

To prepare for an intervention in our local community, we will begin by gathering demographic information from which we will tailor the EMPOWER program to fit the needs of target population followed by a pilot study. Our intention is to address racial disparity in health outcomes and act on a local level with the potential for nation-wide impact. 

Social Movements as Curriculum in Schools – $24,412

Project Leaders: Asif Wilson (College of Education, Department of Curriculum and Instruction); Lilly Cruz (El Griot & Areito Project [EGAP]); Noemi Cortes (El Griot & Areito Project [EGAP]); Omar Lopez (Former Chicago Young Lord Minister of Information); Johanna Fernandez (Author of The Young Lords: A Radical History, The University of North Carolina Press); Tayler Showalter (Chicago Public Schools Teacher piloting the Young Lords curriculum)

Social Movements as Curriculum in Schools—a partnership between UIUC’s College of Education and El Griot and Areito Project (EGAP), an intergenerational Chicago grassroots organization that creates spaces and experiences using Caribeño stories of liberation, resistance, and joy—seeks to explore ways that 6th-12th grade teachers transform social movements of the past into pedagogy and curriculum for their students. Dr. Asif Wilson, Assistant Professor of Social Studies Education, College of Education, will direct this series.   

Up to (20) 6th-12th classroom teachers from Chicago schools in communities where the Young Lords, a Puerto Rican community-based organization started in 1969, will be invited to apply for participation in a two-day professional learning series. During the two-day professional learning experience, participating teachers will gain access to a newly developed curriculum on the Young Lords, primary resources available in digital collections, and create curricular plans to integrate the curriculum in their classrooms. The related research study will use qualitative methods to understand and locate how and why the participating teachers integrate local, often erased social movements of the past into contemporary teaching and learning experiences. 

Addressing COVID-19 Health Disparities in Partnership with Local African American Churches – $24,936

Project Leaders: Dr. Cherie Avent (College of Education, Department of Educational Psychology); Bishop Lloyd Gwin, (Church of Living God(Love Corner)); Dr. Amanda Gray (Unit 4’s Center for Family and Community Engagement); Dr. Melissa Goodnight (College of Education, Department of Educational Psychology); Dr. Nidia Ruedas-Gracia (College of Education, Department of Educational Psychology); Emily Stone (College of Education, Office of Public Engagement)

The disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on African American communities is not unique: ethnic and racial disparities in health outcomes are longstanding issues that stem from the compounding effects of racism across multiple dimensions of people’s lives. Concomitantly, guidelines for collective safety and individual health protection are rapidly changing as the pandemic evolves. During this shifting informational landscape, many African Americans are weathering the continuing psychological, financial, and educational fallout of COVID-19 while seeking support in accessing basic resources and understanding changing advice. Local pastors in Champaign and Urbana have dedicated their time to combatting COVID-19 healthcare inequities and barriers. This project is a collaboration between Church of the Living God (Love Corner), Unit 4’s Center for Family and Community Engagement, and the College of Education’s Department of Educational Psychology and Public Engagement Office to continue our collective work with local African American congregations to address ongoing COVID-19 issues by: 1) piloting diverse methodologies for a culturally responsive needs assessment, 2) developing community-initiated interventions to tackle COVID-19 issues, 3) evaluating these interventions’ strengths and weaknesses to identify next steps in our efforts, and 4) producing impactful research that draws upon our needs assessment, interventions, and evaluation experiences.

Establishing a Community-Based Curriculum Materials Collaborative for Health Justice Science Education – $25,000

Project Leaders: Christina Krist (College of Education, Education Curriculum & Instruction); Barbara Hug (College of Education, Education Curriculum & Instruction); Rachel Whitaker (Liberal Arts & Sciences Microbiology); Rebecca Smith (Veterinary Medicine, Pathobiology); Ellen Moodie (Liberal Arts & Sciences, Anthropology); Helen Nguyen (Engineering, Civil & Environmental Engineering): Jacinda Dariotis (ACES, Human Development & Family Studies; David Krist (Medicine); Brittany Vill (Medicine); Enrique Suárez (University of Massachusetts Amherst); Monica Ko (University of Illinois Chicago)

This project will establish a Collaborative that will ultimately work toward adapting K-12 science curriculum materials to focus on health justice issues relevant to communities in Champaign County. A key limitation of most science curricula is that the experiences and science knowledge centered tend to be those of dominant (white, middle-class) groups. Thus, status-quo science education does not address the interests or needs of systematically marginalized communities or support students in taking action toward change. In order to re-shape the curricular landscape, we must broaden the conception of curriculum designers to include diverse partners and stakeholders: school leaders, community education and justice leaders, teachers, families, and students.  

Over the course of a year, this project will bring together interested community partners through a series of workshops to identify generative intersections of goals and expertise. Ultimately, external funding will be sought to extend the work of this Collaborative to co-design locally-relevant and impactful health justice education experiences that foreground students’, families’, and community-based organizations’ deep knowledge. The Collaborative will challenge power imbalances between families and school systems, foster reciprocity and agency, and position us to engage in curricular co-design to improve science and health education for students and communities. 

Systemic Institutional Change

Minoritarian Aesthetics – $74,345

Project Leaders: Christopher Jones (College of Fine & Applied Arts, Department of Art+Design); M Cynthia Oliver (College of Fine & Applied Arts, Department of Dance; College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, Department of Arican American Studies, Department of Gender & Women Studies); Sandra Ruiz (College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, Department of English, Department of Latina/Latino Studies, Department of Gender & Women Studies, Department of Dance, Department of Theatre, Department of Comparative Literature, Unit for Criticism & Interpretive Theory, Department of Asian American Studies); Liza Sylvestre (College of Fine & Applied Arts, Krannert Art Museum, Department of Art+Design)

Minoritarian Aesthetics is a two-part critical engagement project. It values minoritarian practices and community involvement in art as a critical lens to examine and manage the complex worlds we communally navigate. This interdisciplinary and intersectional project centers the voices of underrepresented groups – Women, Queer, Disabled, and People of Color – with certainty that the “voice in minor” is, in fact, instrumental to local, regional, national, transnational, cultural, and intellectual practices. The Minoritarian Aesthetics project places performance, via the minor aesthetic, at the center of humanistic, artistic, social, and cultural inquiry. In doing so, it interrogates the social, cultural, and political landscapes to expose how art informs the world, and how the world informs art. Project components have been constructed specifically to create points of connection between different approaches to minoritarian identities and lived experiences.  

The Minoritarian Aesthetics cohort will work together to establish a Minoritarian Aesthetics Lecture Series (that include performances, artist talks, round table discussions, studio visits, and workshops) and formulate 8-week accelerated courses that allow students to directly interact with the artists visiting during the lecture series. With the support of a Project Manager and Graduate Assistant, we will establish a Minoritarian Aesthetics archive within the UIUC library system. 

Building a Race and Immigration Dialog on Global Exclusions with New American Welcome Center (NAWC) to Recognize and Redress the Racial Structures in Immigration Policies and Processes (BRIDGE) – $75,000

Project Leaders: Ken Salo (College of Fine & Applied Arts, DURP); Faranak Miraftab (College of Fine & Applied Arts, DURP); Gloria Yen [(University YMCA based New American Welcome Center (NAWC)]; Krystal Smalls (College of Liberal Arts & Sciences; Department of Anthropology); Emily Knox (School of Information Sciences); Millicent Mabi (School of Information Sciences); Nasrin Navab (College of Fine & Applied Arts, Visiting Artist); Billy Keniston (History Alum, Independent Historian); Raquel Goebel (College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, Departments of Spanish & Portuguese); Annie Abbott (College of Liberal Arts & Scicences, Departments of Spanish & Portuguese); Kate Abney (College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, Department of International Programs); Nikia Brown (College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, Department of International Programs)    

Our Building a Race and Immigration Dialog on Global Exclusions (BRIDGE) collab project will uncover possible pathways towards creating and sustaining local antiracist immigrant communities. We will co-facilitate a workshop of antiracist study and dialog circles (ASDC) with our YMCA–based New American Welcome Center (NAWC). Participants will reveal, archive, and map how they challenge and change the racial legacy of US immigration policies. On completion, they will curate their products into an arts-based event as part of a public dialog to build antiracist solidarities. We use social justice pedagogies including participatory storytelling, mapping, archiving, and arts-based public engagements to unveil concealed stories of resistance against resurgent racial profiling of Latino residents, anti-Asian violence, and other manifestations of anti-Black racism. Our workshop will proceed as 16 weekly 3-hour study dialog circles to produce personal “picture” migration timelines situated within the longer racial history of US immigration policies. Each historically situated timeline will center how immigrants reframe the confusion created by racial categories, and legal classification practices. Our inaugural participants will be recruited from leaders of the NAWC’s Spanish-, Mandarin/Cantonese-, and French/Lingala-speaking immigrant communities. We will engage a broader community of antiracist allies at a concluding art-based public dialog circle.  

Trauma-Informed Simulations: A Strategy to Address Community Mental Health Trauma Resulting from Systemic Racism and Police Violence – $75,000

Project Leaders: Chi-Fang Wu (School of Social Work); Kevin Tan (School of Social Work); Terry Ostler (School of Social Work); Alice K. Cary (U of I Police Department); David Chih (Student Affairs, Asian American Cultural Center)  

In this Call to Action, we take a trauma-informed approach to address the institutional structures that sustain the mental health sequelae of racial trauma and police violence through live simulations enacted in community libraries. These simulations will be developed through a collaboration with the School of Social Work, the UIUC Police Department, and four UIUC cultural centers, starting with the Asian American Culture Center, each representing key stakeholders to address systematic racism in the university and broader communities. They will be informed by lived experiences of racism, hatred, and police violence that have taken place in our university and community and aim to promote racial healing and increase community trust in police. Eight simulations will be delivered over the course of the 2023 academic year that will form a training program that will be pilot tested at the UIUC Police Summer Training Institute in Summer 2023. Through our interdisciplinary partnership, we will develop a formalized tool kit that includes annotated simulations on systemic racism, police violence, and racial healing that can be used in trainings for police and for university cultural centers across the US.  

(Re)framing the student veteran: Intersectionality and military-connected student services in higher education – $74,874

Project Leaders: Michael C. Lotspeich-Yadao, Ph.D. (College of Applied Health Sciences, Chez Veteran Center, Department of Kinesiology and Community Health); Dustin D. Lange, Ph.D. (College of Applied Health Sciences, Chez Veteran Center); Chung-Yi Chiu, Ph.D. (College of Applied Health Sciences, Department of Kinesiology and Community Health; Nathan R. Todd, Ph.D. (College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, Department of Psychology)

The Chez Veteran Center (CVC) has found that student veterans and other military-connected students (VMS) are a highly diverse subpopulation at Urbana—spanning race/ethnicity, gender identity/sexual orientation, disability status, and many other identities. VMS do not shed identities or trauma of historical injustices when they don the uniform. As a result, these additional social forces can hinder psychosocial adjustment, well-being, and academic performance. From a programmatic standpoint, we find that a critical barrier to addressing these intersectional forces is the lack of knowledge about diverse experiences. Dynamic voices and intersectional theory will offer a fresh perspective on how institutional barriers in higher education may hinder adjustment after service for all VMS.  

The goal of this project is to a) elucidate how intersectionality can further contextualize the physical, mental, social, and financial stressors that impact psychosocial adjustment for VMS after service, and b) postulate how military-connected student services (MCSS) may consider this theory in programming and services.  

From this preliminary investigation, we will a) develop and implement a strategic diversity, equity, and inclusion management plan for the CVC, and b) pilot launch a continuing education opportunity for MCSS practitioners nationally. 

Societal Impact

Promoting Indigenous Andean Heritage within the Latino Population: Creating a Community of Practice for Learning Quechua Language and Culture – $32,149

Project Leaders: Carlos Molina-Vital (College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, CLACS); Marilyn Manley(Rowan University, NJ); Alana DeLoge (University of Pittsburgh, PA) 

Promoting Indigenous Andean Heritage within the Latino Population: Creating a Community of Practice for Learning Quechua Language and Culture is a project addressing the Societal Impact focus area of the Call to Action Research Program. It aims to strengthen the identities of Latinos who suffer social injustice by including and representing their Indigenous Andean heritage. Both within Illinois and in the United States today in general, Spanish-speakers form the largest minority group, and there is significant diversity, including members of mixed Hispanic and Indigenous ancestry. We believe that people of Quechua origin, the most widely-spoken Indigenous language in the Americas, will be interested in finding ways to reclaim and (re)connect with their Andean heritage. Within the Latino population, Indigenous identities like Quechua are often overlooked, when not fully erased in oversimplifications of ethnic identity. More specifically, we want to provide a means for Latinos of Andean (Peruvian and Bolivian) ancestry to connect through their shared Indigenous origins, cultural practices, and linguistic background. We propose to create and promote virtual and physical spaces for interaction to create bonds that will strengthen and make visible a shared Andean identity for these Latino communities within Illinois and throughout the United States.  

Reinterpreting Africa: Centering Diverse and Authentic Cultural Voices in a Museum Gallery – $75,000

Project Leaders: Monica M. Scott (College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, Spurlock Museum)

Museums are colonial institutions that traditionally prioritized academic knowledge and devalued traditional knowledge and lived experience. As museums evolve within the 21st century world, structures of power within these institutions must shift. The Spurlock Museum of World Cultures is addressing its role in fostering cultural homogeneity, bias, inaccessibility, and exclusion. This shift acknowledges the questionable ways the Museum came to own some objects, the erasures of history, and the implicit use of racial stereotyping in describing objects.   

Reinterpreting Africa: Centering Diverse and Authentic Cultural Voices in a Museum Gallery aims to reinterpret the Museum’s Gallery of African Cultures through intensive community evaluation. This project underscores the Museum’s intention to respect diverse knowledge systems and to assemble multiple curatorial voices—including authentic cultural voices—to expand research on its collections and develop new exhibits that collaboratively engage the broadest community. Reinterpreting Africa honors the validity and authority of first-person narratives and promotes processes that use the strengths of the campus and community to build a transparent and civically focused museum.    

Understanding Challenges and Strategies to Assist Foster Care Providers in Meeting the Needs of African-American Children Involved in the Child Welfare System – $75,000

Project Leaders: Robin LaSota (School of Social Work); Jennifer Manthei (University of Illinois-Springfield, Anthropology); Tiffani Saunders (Memorial Health Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion); Valarie Chavis (Culturally Fluent Families); Rosalyn Lindsay-Simmons (Primed for Life); Chequita Brown (College of Education) 

Studies show that Black children do better when placed with Black foster parents, where they can develop a strong cultural identity and integration in the Black community, which are associated with better mental health resilience and social well being. However, approximately one fourth of foster care placements in Illinois are transracial. The goal of this qualitative research project is to understand parenting strategies and training needs for positive youth identity development and supports for navigating experiences of racism among foster and adoptive parents and their children, drawing from the lived experiences of Black birth parents, and White and Black foster parents, raising Black children in care. How can we prepare and support transracial foster families in addressing needs of Black children in care? What can we learn from Black foster and birth parents’ experiences to improve positive racial identity and community integration for Black children and youth in foster care? How can we adapt the “best practices” found in popular, academic, and professional literature and media to provide appropriate training and support? The project engages complementary strengths of UIUC and UIS researchers, Illinois family advocates and race equity leaders, child welfare leaders and practitioner s and training specialists to translate research into practice.  

Closing the Racial Disparity Gap in Juveniles Transferred to Adult Court – $74,984

Project Leaders: Doug Smith (School of Social Work); Ebonie Epinger (School of Social Work); Lisa Jacobs (School of Law, Loyola University); Robin Fretwell Wilson (College of Law) 

This project will collect data from case files of all juveniles who were transferred to adult court from years 2019-2022.  Black youth are disproportionately transferred to adult court, which is known to have a negative impact on youth who lose the protections of the juvenile system.  This project investigates whether Black youth are disproportionately transferred when other factors are held constant such as number of prior charges, severity of offense, and age.  Furthermore, we investigate whether accomplice liability laws, which assume culpability of all youth present during an incident, are disproportionately affecting Black youth and represent a form of structural racism.  The data generated in this project will be novel and have high potential for policy changes that lead to more equitable outcomes in the juvenile justice system.  

Supergraphic Landscapes: Spatializing American Blackness – $75,000 

Project Leaders: Joseph Altshuler (College of Fine & Applied Arts, School of Architecture); Nekita Thomas (College of Fine & Applied Arts, Department of Art & Design); Ruby Mendenhall (College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, Departments of Sociology, African American Studies, Urban and Regional Planning, and Social Work); Sarah Ward (SkyART, South Chicago); Jonathan Kelley (Lawndale Pop-up Spot, North Lawndale); Chelsea Ridley (Lawndale Pop-up Spot, North Lawndale)

In summer 2020, in response to the murder of George Floyd and the national reckoning with systemic racism, community groups nationwide rallied to create large-scale, typographic street murals affirming “Black Lives Matter.” Street murals like these provided a point-of-departure and motivation to establish Supergraphic Landscape Lab (SLL), an interdisciplinary design research laboratory that operates at the intersection of architecture, graphic design, and landscape architecture to study the societal impact of the built environment on collective wellbeing. SLL takes a critical race design approach: racism is a system, and systems are imagined, designed, and executed. Therefore, graphics, designed objects, street landscapes, and built things manifest underlying societal structures that might be redesigned. SLL challenges spatial disciplines to go beyond traditional functions (e.g., wayfinding) and into the realm of placemaking, restoration, and worldmaking. SLL engages how spatial disciplines can construct social infrastructures that underpin a more just and joyful built environment.  

This project has three phases: 1) Community-based research in South Chicago and North Lawndale interrogating the spatialization of race and racism; 2) Co-Design Workshops engaging community members to design creative placemaking prototypes that combat space-based racism and celebrate identity; 3) Disseminating a design toolkit empowering other communities to enact SLL approaches.  

Empowering youth impacted by violence in Champaign County to promote health equity: A photo-voice project – $74,285

Project Leaders: Liliane Windsor (School of Social Work); Jeffrey Ford (Retired Judge); Sam Banks (Don Moyers Boys and Girls Club) 

Violent crime reports in Champaign County have risen by approximately 50% from 2019 to 2020. The increase is expected to be higher for 2021. Most of these have disproportionately impacted the Black community. This project will follow community based participatory (CBPR) principles to develop infrastructure to collaboratively define, explain, and address violence in Champaign County. In the project, emerging adults at risk for engaging in violence will participate in critical dialogues with a diverse team of peers, professionals, formerly incarcerated people who are committed to promoting community health, community members impacted by violence, and family members to merge their experiences with scientific knowledge and identify resources available at the community and at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The project will include youth between ages 17 to 25 to: 1) implement a photo voice project to express youth’s perspectives through a photo exhibit; and 2) establish a sustainable youth collaborative board that will serve as a long term vehicle to elevate the voices of emerging adults at risk for engaging in violence and develop solutions to promote peaceful solutions to conflict and healthier communities.  

Interactive Cultural Competency Training for Healthcare Providers to Address Disparities in Black Maternal Health – $74,533

Project Leaders: Charee Thompson (College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, Department of Communication); Mardia Bishop (College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, Department of Communication); Dan Cermak (School of Information Sciences); Tiffani Dillard, MD (Carle, Obstetrics & Gynecology); Robert Dignan (Center for Innovation in Teaching & Learning); Joseph Maurice, MD (Carle, Obstetrics & Gynecology)  

The project is an interactive cultural competency training for healthcare providers to reduce health disparities among disenfranchised patient populations. By the end of the training, providers will be able to: (a) recognize the health inequities experienced by patients; (b) identify their own implicit biases and utilize strategies for managing them; and (c) communicate with patients in a culturally centered manner that demonstrates respect and builds trust. The project’s first iteration centers on Black maternal health, as Black women experience higher rates of maternal morbidity and mortality than any other race.   

Disparities in health care are attributed, in large part, to healthcare providers’ implicit biases and poor cultural communication and cultural education. The project meets an unfulfilled need for a population-specific implicit bias cultural competency training with a curriculum developed using interactive technologies that promise (a) learning through immersive experiences, (b) long-term cost effectiveness, and (c) expedient dissemination and implementation. The training utilizes video enactments of patient encounters, as well as object, text, and graphic overlays, to enhance interactivity and learner engagement. The project serves as a pilot of the core curriculum, with plans to develop iterations of the curriculum for providers caring for different patient populations (e.g., LGBTQ+, Hispanic, Amish).  

Illinois Children’s Autism Resources for Equitable Services (Illinois CARES) – $75,000

Project Leaders: Amy Cohen (College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, Department of Psychology); Meghan Burke (College of Education, Department of Special Education); Noa Hannah (College of Applied Health Sciences, Department of Speech Hearing Sciences); Sadie Braun (College of Applied Health Sciences, Department of Speech Hearing Sciences); Jeanne Kramer (College of Agriculture, Consumer, and Environmental Sciences, Department of HDFS); Joseph Cohen (College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, Department of Psychology); Beverly Baker (United Way of Champaign County); Monica Miles (Crisis Nursery); Katie Harmon (Champaign County Regional Planning Commission); Dionne Smith (Carle Pediatrics); Brandon Meline (Maternal & Child Health Bureau, CUPHD)

The Illinois Children’s Autism Resources for Equitable Services (Illinois CARES) project aims to make interdisciplinary diagnostic services and supports for autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and related conditions readily available to underrepresented youth in our community. This will be accomplished through offering no cost, interdisciplinary evaluations utilizing gold standard measures to families seeking an evaluation. After the diagnostic evaluation process, caregivers will be partnered with educational navigators who provide personalized assistance in advocacy to help reach next steps for intervention implementation in the school and at home. Illinois CARES offers the creation of a novel interdisciplinary assessment structure with a clear route to supports in the community and school, to be targeted specifically at closing the gap for underrepresented youth, while prioritizing the training of the next generation of clinical leaders to carry on this work.  

Understanding young adults’ perceptions of East Asians and mechanisms for improving cultural awareness, competency, and inclusivity – $75,000 

Project Leaders: Angela Lyons (College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences, Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics); Tim Liao (College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, Department of Sociology)

The COVID-19 pandemic brought to the forefront anti-Asian biases and racism that previously had been sporadic and overlooked, especially towards those of East Asian descent. The negative effects of racism and discrimination can be particularly harmful to young adults who are at a critical stage of development. The extent to which these biases may be impacting them is still not well understood. This project aims to deepen our understanding of the experiences of young adults of East Asian descent and the impacts that their peers’ cultural (mis)perceptions may be having on their identity formation, social networks, relationships, mental health, etc. This project is among the first studies within the state and the nation to measure cultural awareness, competency, and inclusivity of East Asians among local young adults. This project focuses on the Champaign-Urbana community, with the intent to replicate and scale the project to other communities and states in the future. The results from this project will inform recommendations and best practices that will improve cultural awareness, competency, and inclusivity of East Asia in our schools and community, and reduce anti-Asian biases, stereotypes, and misperceptions.  

Determining Racial Bias in Drinking Water Quality Among Private Well Users in Chicagoland – $73,810

Project Leaders: Evan Rea (Prairie Research Institute, Illinois State Water Survey); Margaret Schneemann (U of I Extension); Sheena Martenies (College of Applied Health Sciences, Department of Kinesiology and Community Health); Steven Wilson (Prairie Research Institute, Illinois State Water Survey) 

Over 1.9 million Illinoisans get their drinking water from private wells. However, unlike public water supplies, drinking water from homes utilizing private wells is not required to be tested or subjected to Safe Drinking Water Act standards. It is the responsibility of private well owners to monitor water quality in their wells to ensure safety. Many studies of private wells focus on water quality and aquifer location, but few have examined the potential racial and economic bias in water quality.  

Our goal is to examine the racial, ethnic and socioeconomic disparities in private well water quality in the Chicago metropolitan area and promote good well stewardship. By using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) data, we will determine the spatial intersection between known and unknown private well water quality. We will identify areas where data on well quality are not available and where health disparities might exist by combining water quality data with demographic and socioeconomic indicators. Once identified, our outreach efforts will target private well owners in regions with unknown well quality and enroll them in a study where we will ascertain owner knowledge and beliefs about well stewardship and provide free testing services, comprehensive data reports, and mitigation recommendations.  

Building Tenant-based Capacity to Address Bed Bug Infestations in Low-Income Housing – $74,973

Project Leaders: Daniel Schneider (FAA, Urban and Regional Planning); Andrew Greenlee (FAA, Urban and Regional Planning); Temeka Couch (Housing Authority of Champaign County); Vinisha Singh Basnet (College of Fine & Applied Arts, Department of Urban and Regional Planning, College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, Department of Entomology)

Bed bug infestations disproportionately affect low-income residents, creating disparities in the health consequences of infestation.  They are also associated at the community level with higher rates of eviction, and housing insecurity. This novel partnership addresses health disparities caused by bed bug infestations in low-income housing.  We partner with the Housing Authority of Champaign County (HACC) and their commercial pest treatment company to develop a tenant-based inspection and control capacity for the identification and control of bed bug infestations in HACC-supervised housing. We also train tenants in novel approaches to pest management that can potentially lower the risk of lease noncompliance and housing displacement.  By the end of the project, tenants will be qualified to sit for the Illinois General Standards Exam for pest control application, will lead community conversations around pest management with fellow subsidized housing residents, and will test the effectiveness of both traditional and emerging treatment strategies for bed bugs, with equity implications for tenant housing stability.  

Yellow Peril Redux: From Coolies to Concentration Camps, Trade Wars, and Coronavirus – $75,000

Project Leaders:  Dan Shao (College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, Department of EALC); Matthew Brown (Academy on Capitalism and Limited Government); Steve Witt (College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, International and Area Studies Library and Center for Global Studies);  Shuyong Jiang (College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, International and Area Studies Library); Ian Wang (Champaign County History Museum and U.S.-China Cultural Exchange Center); Michelle Zhang (Society of Heart’s Delight, San Jose, California)  

Our project focuses on anti-Asian racism expressed as “Yellow Peril.” American misrepresentations and misperceptions of East Asians specifies a complicated response to the shifts in the balance of international relations. The rhetoric of “Yellow Peril” dates to the “Asian invasions” of the late 19th century and continues today. The pandemic inspired a resurgence of this rhetoric and its consequences. Our project situates “Yellow Peril” in the U.S. as a history of systemic racism complicated by U.S.-East Asian relations and mutual (mis)understanding between different cultures. It draws on our research and teaching expertise and extends our relationships with community partners inside and outside of Illinois. We are building on a foundation of work to make available an array of resources for the public, educators, researchers, and students, including a digital humanities project that will be accessible to academic and non-academic communities, translations for teaching “Cultures in Contacts” and “Cultural Competence”, and engagement to integrate community-facing activities into undergraduate and graduate teaching. We anticipate supporting initiatives such as the Teaching Equitable Asian American Community History (TEAACH) Act (HB376) established July 9, 2021 in Illinois and other similar efforts in states such as New Jersey (S4021/A6100 and S3764/A3369, January 18, 2022) and California.  

Creating a Sustainable and Continuously-Updating Registry of Police Shootings  for Every Community in Illinois – $74,985

Project Leaders: Scott Althaus (College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, Departments of Political Science, Communication, Cline Center); Jay Jennings (College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, Cline Center); Jennifer Robbennolt (College of Law); Michael Schlosser (Police Training Institute)

Communities throughout Illinois are calling for reforms to address racial inequities in police uses of force. But without clear data that clarify the nature and extent of these racial disparities, it has been difficult to drive a productive conversation on reform efforts that addresses the concerns of Illinois communities, clarifies how well or poorly local law enforcement agencies are performing, and assesses whether recent reform efforts have been producing desired results. Our project fills all three gaps by creating localized, nearly real-time data to support evidenced-based reforms. Building on a project funded last year with Call to Action resources that accurately reports racial information for every police-involved shooting in the state of Illinois between 2014 and 2020, this new project will build a sustainable and continuously updated data system that reports these incidents in nearly real time from 2021 forward. This dashboard will allow citizens of Illinois to benchmark local levels of police-involved lethal force against statewide averages, compare local agencies to others in the state, and identify racial disparities in lethal force incidents. The dashboard will permit citizens to monitor and continuously assess lethal force encounters with the ultimate goal of holding police accountable to the communities they serve.  

Champaign County Guaranteed Income Project – $74,858

Project Leaders: Christopher Larrison (School of Social Work); Brent Robert (College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, Department of Psychology); William Schneider (School of Social Work); Elsa Augustine (Interdisciplinary Health Sciences Institute, Center for Social and Behavioral Science)

Housing insecurity has reached historically high levels across the nation and disproportionately impacts low-income Black, Latinx, Asian, and mixed-race families.  Champaign County is not immune to this problem despite having a reasonably priced housing market and a higher-than-average rental vacancy rate.  During the past decade, traditional homeless services have not decreased the number of sheltered homeless children identified under the McKinney-Vento Act in Champaign County. This Call to Action project will design and implement the Champaign County Guaranteed Income Project (CCGIP), a micro-pilot of guaranteed basic income for families of school-age children experiencing homelessness in Champaign County. The goal of CCGIP is to design an effective, unconditional cash transfer program that decreases the number of families with school age children experiencing sheltered homelessness in Champaign County.   

To achieve this, the CCGIP will first develop a profile of families with children identified as homeless by the McKinney-Vento Act in Champaign County; then design a guaranteed basic income (GBI) program based on the profile of these families and community input; and implement and evaluate the GBI program with ten families to pave the way for program expansion.  

Funding Support for CREA’s Evaluation of the LIFT Champaign Program – $38,000

Project Leaders: Anthony B. Sullers Jr., Ph.D. (College of Liberal Arts and Science, Department of African American Studies); Rodney Hopson, Ph.D. (College of Education, Department of Educational Psychology); Cecilia Vaughn-Guy, M.S., OTR (College of Education, Education Policy, Organization & Leadership); Larry Washington, M.Ed. (College of Education, Education Policy, Organization & Leadership)

The LIFT Champaign Program (Leading Individuals and Families to Transformation) is a partnership between the City of Champaign and the Champaign Unit 4 School District designed to improve the lives of their African American youth and families. The program aims to provide intense wraparound support services and the resources to build on the participants’ strengths to help them achieve personal, academic career, and interpersonal goals. The Office of the Chancellor – Office of Public Engagement and the 

Center for Culturally Responsive Evaluation and Assessment (CREA) in the College of Education at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has been tasked to conduct the program evaluation of the LIFT Champaign program to help determine the quality and effectiveness of the program in reaching its shared goals. Using a culturally responsive evaluation (CRE) framework, this evaluation will help various LIFT Champaign program stakeholders identify program weaknesses/limitations and provide suggestions for improvement. It will also ensure sustainability and institutionalization of the program as an innovative model in supporting participating African American youths and their families within the City of Champaign and Champaign Unit 4 School District. 


Enacting Collaborative Partnerships to Develop a Sustainable School-Based Mental Health Intervention to Counter Negative Effects of Racial and Violent Trauma on Black Youth in Champaign Unit 4 Schools – $25,000

Project Leaders: Jarrett Lewis (College of Education, Department of Educational Psychology); James Harden (Champaign Unit 4 School District); Amanda Gray (Champaign Unit 4 School District); Sara Sanders (Franklin STEAM Academy); M Lydia Khuri (College of Education, Department of Psychology); Lindsey Trout (School of Social Work); Amy Cohen ( College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, Department of Psychology); Joseph Cohen, College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, Department of Psychology); Emily Stone( College of Education, Department of Public Engagement)

Contextualized mental health services for Black youth are particularly needed because of the disproportionate impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, racial trauma, and increasing gun violence on their mental well-being and school engagement. This project will address mental health disparities affecting Black youth via a community-university collaboration by developing a model for implementation and evaluation of a trauma-focused, culturally informed school-based mental health intervention. The project has two central aims: (a) identify and amend practices that may reinforce structural racism and negatively impact Black students’ mental health and (b) implement a school-based mental health intervention to address the impact of racial and violent trauma on Black youth at a Champaign middle school, Franklin STEAM Academy. This project is an ongoing collaboration between Champaign Unit 4 School District administrators, Franklin STEAM Academy administrators and mental health practitioners, and the University of Illinois Clinical-Community Psychology, Counseling Psychology, and Social Work faculty to support and prioritize Black youth’s mental health in Champaign Unit 4 schools.


The Use of Social Capital by School Leaders of Color: Peer Networks for Attaining Racial Equity and Justice – $25,000

Project Leaders: Osly Flores, (College of Education, Department of Education Policy, Organization & Leadership)

Communities of color have historically used community cultural wealth (Yosso, 2005) to improve the educational outcomes for students and communities of color. Through a qualitative research approach, the research will explore this phenomenon with appropriate complexity and contextualize emergent theory about how school leaders of color navigate and interpret their practice toward equity. The aim is to understand how school leaders of color establish and use informal peer networks and how they use such networks for equity. The outcome of this study will inform both local and state leadership practice and UIUC’s principal endorsement curriculum.