West Virginia University Student Affairs units received more than $19,000 from a new diversity program developed by the Higher Education Policy Commission to support students.

The HEPC’s Diversity for Equity program is based on the notion of diversity for equity in educational outcomes. The HEPC believes West Virginia needs to detect and foster the achievements of its diverse student population in order to meet its workforce and economic needs. This is the first year of the Diversity for Equity program. It replaces the HEPC’s Social Justice Initiatives grant program.

Grace Atebe, assistant director of the Office of International Students and Scholars $7,635 in support of the International Student Mentor program. This is the second year that the mentor program received HEPC funding. The program, which officially started this fall, received a HEPC Social Justice grant last year to fund the first year of mentors.

“Our grant will allow us to provide ongoing assistance and guidance to newly admitted international students through our International Student Mentor program,” Atebe said. “The transition from one country to another is often complicated and frustrating for our students, and our goal is to help ease the transition.”

Cynthia Drumm, director of Student Support Services, received $4,515 to support travel, leadership development, community service and a year-end wrap-up session for Student Support Services students.

“We believe it is important to provide our students with programs that promote team building and unity, assist in breaking down barriers to communication and programming that increases one’s understanding of diversity and equity issues,” Drumm said. “The HEPC grant will help us fund these programs, as well as fund cultural trips and participation in the annual Student Engagement Conference this spring.

“It was recently announced that budget cuts will be a reality for our TRIO programs this year, so we are extremely appreciate of the timing of the HEPC grants. These activities would not be possible without it.”

In addition, Jacqueline Dooley, program coordinator for Student Organization Services, received $6,972 to purchase international foods and bulk food from the Mountaineer Food Bank and to pay student worker salaries to assist with the program.

“Our HEPC grant will allow us to fulfill the needs of all students by stocking the WVU Campus Food Bank with international foods,” Dooley said. “Since financial difficulties can happen to students of all nationalities, it is important that our international students are able to obtain a supply of food that they are accustomed to consuming in their native lands.”

This grant will also fund a larger variety of personal care items to better serve WVU’s diverse student population, as well as fund workshops to teach students how to prepare healthy recipes using food obtained from The Rack.

“Offering international foods and a larger variety of personal care items will make the rack a diverse entity to better serve all WVU students,” Dooley said.

Last year, a HEPC Social Justice grant was used to purchase three freezers, two refrigerators, six sorting tables, two dollies, four additional racks, other operating supplies and 4,000 pounds of food products for the food bank.

A grand opening celebration of the campus food bank was held at Gaskins House on Aug. 22. Hours of operations are Wednesdays and Fridays from 3-5 p.m., and nonperishable food can be obtained at The Rack during Mountainlair hours.

“We are grateful for these Higher Education Policy Commission grants” said Erica Bentley, Student Affairs grants and development administrator. “We received them because of the excellent services that the Student Support Services, Office of International Students and Scholars, and Student Organization Services staff members provide for students every day. Grant funds will enhance these already great programs with every dollar going directly to programming for unrepresented WVU students.”


CONTACT: Erica Bentley, Student Affairs Grants Administrator
304-293-8944, Erica.Bentley@mail.wvu.edu


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