Fund for Positive Engagement
Fund for Positive Engagement
Over the past two years, longstanding political and social rifts in the United States have become deeper and more overtly hostile, embittering our already polarized public life. Various groups and individuals on our campuses and in our communities have experienced identity-based threats and marginalization that have led to heightened levels of fear and anxiety within campus communities. Students whose political views differ from the majority of their peers have come to fear social ostracism. The intensification of these phenomena harms students, interferes with the achievement of higher education’s mission, and threatens the health of our democracy.
Faculty, administrators, students, and their partners are working to address a variety of challenges: balancing the right to free speech with the need to cultivate learning environments in which all students can be successful, supporting students whose safety and well being are threatened by public policy or rhetoric, responding to attacks on academic freedom, and cultivating spaces in which all students can constructively build relationships and exchange ideas with one another across differences of all kinds–including ideological differences.
The purpose of the Fund for Positive Engagement is to catalyze experimental responses to challenges arising from this new climate.
Campus Compact is committed to higher education’s public purposes and its role in building democracy. We recognize the immediate need to respond and innovate—and to connect institutions of higher education committed to repairing and preventing division and polarization. Institutions participating in this effort will contribute to the development and documentation of both preventive and solution-oriented interventions to build strong and diverse communities on and off campus.
Our goal is to provide our members with resources to enable small-scale, short-term experiments; reveal promising practices; and share what is learned from these innovation efforts across our network and beyond.
Process and Overview
- Up to 40 grants of $5000 per institution will be awarded through a national competition.
- Institutions may submit multiple applications but only one will be awarded per institution.
- Groups of institutions working on a common approach may apply together, and the award per institution will be $5000.
- Applications must be signed by the college or university president or chancellor. In the case of groups working on a common approach, each institution’s president or chancellor must sign.
- Applications will be accepted on an ongoing basis until 11:59 pm PST on July 14, 2017.
- Application reviewers will include students selected from among our Newman Civic Fellows, along with Compact staff.
- Applicants will be notified of awards in mid-August.
- Projects may be implemented at any point during the 2017-2018 academic year. All projects must be completed by June 30, 2018.
- Institutions may not include overhead costs in the budget. All funds must be dedicated to program support.
- Participating institutions will agree to:
- implement projects
- assess project impact on institutional goals through self-identified tools and the larger goals of the project by participating in a survey of grantees
- provide accessible documentation of the project (e.g., short video, blog posts, case study, or other creative form)
- share learning through Campus Compact’s 2018 National Conference or other public setting (as implementation timelines allow)
- Clarity of tie to at least one of the following goals:
- Engage with divergent or unfamiliar perspectives to foster empathy and understanding
- Develop positive relationships across difference to lift up our common humanity
- Engage in collaborative problem solving to strengthen social ties and civic vitality
- Practicality of implementation
- Efficacy of plan for measuring impact
- Strength of rationale: How will this project address the challenge and lead to positive change?
We expect that supported activities will take a variety of forms. Successful strategies that members are currently implementing are shared here, but this list is intended to be suggestive of possible directions, not exhaustive of them. The purpose of the grant program is to spur experimentation, innovation, and shared learning.
Examples of Projects
Climate transformation: Grants in this area may support a broad range of place-based strategies to tackle specific issues for the institution and the community.
Dialogue: Grants may be used to engage the campus and broader community in structured conversation about controversial issues, particular incidents that have occurred on campuses, or any variety of topics that have caused division in the community. Funds may be used for training, facilitation, food, and other costs associated with convening small or large groups.
Community-based teaching and research: Grants may be used to support new course offerings connecting students with community members to jointly address local issues, facilitate connection across lines of difference, and provide exposure to diverse perspectives for impact on student civic learning and community need. Financial support may allow faculty to include a graduate assistant to help manage connections with community organizations, engage community-based leaders as co-educators, offset costs associated with planning and materials development, etc.
While many projects may fit into one of these categories, the purpose of the Fund for Positive Engagement is to create opportunities to creatively respond to divisions among people. Our hope is that we will all benefit from the development of new and creative strategies.