iBelong seeks proposals to build a stronger Spartan community

Posted on October 19, 2021

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2020-21 iBelong grant project “Make and Take Art with Your Art Museum” by the Weatherspoon Art Museum

Students or faculty members with innovative ideas for building deeper community engagement and connection between fellow Spartans on campus have an opportunity to submit project ideas for $500 grants, out of total of $7,400

The iBelong grant project is calling for project applications, to support projects that help build a sense of belonging among Spartans.

This project was created by the Division of Student Affairs for the purpose of understanding the true on-campus student experience and to promote a climate at UNC Greensboro where everyone feels supported and welcomed. Using research from the Culturally Engaging Campus Environments (CECE) survey, which was developed by the National Institute for Transformation and Equity, the iBelong project looks into student demographics for cultural engagement across campus. 

Senior biology major and Native American student Association President Sky Kihuwa-Mani was a recipient of the iBelong program last year. As the project lead, she launched “Invisible Students: The disenfranchisement of Native American histories and perspectives in the K-12 education system with Dr. Brittany Hunt.” The project was dreamt up as an opportunity for educators in and around UNCG to better understand their own positionality and the ways their teaching does or does not include certain populations of students, specifically Indigenous people. Kihuwa-Mani held an event where educators from across campus and within Guilford County Schools learned how to better serve and include their students. After the event, Spartans felt a greater sense of connection and empathy towards their Indigenous peers.

“I think ‘Invisible Students’ was an excellent opportunity for both Indigenous and non-Indigenous folks in and beyond UNCG to better understand the disenfranchisement of Indigenous people in the K-12 education system,” said Kihuwa-Mani. “One notable outcome is that it spurred conversations between several Indigenous leaders who participated virtually to start thinking about avenues for lobbying the NC General Assembly and NC Board of Education to improve educational outcomes for Indigenous youth across the state.” 

More winners of the iBelong project last year included:

  • Switching Lenses: Reflecting on the environment and creating a sustainable peer-support program for belonging for students with disabilities. (Merve Ozdemir, Specialized Educational Services)
  • A Stitch in Time: Individuals will share historical stories through writing, fashion, photography, and other mediums. (Kiara Bethune, Apparel Product Design)
  • First-Generation College Students and Belonging: Creating social and mental health support for first-generation students. (Ariana Watkins, Psychology)
  • Lloyd International Honors College: Fostering community and increasing opportunities for students to engage with one another. (Julie Boyer, Lloyd International Honors College)
  • Come Talk with GSA: A monthly meeting for graduate students to discuss issues and provide support for student concerns. (Lexi Hoopman, Graduate Student Association)
  • Town Hall: Key stakeholders from the University are invited to listen to concerns and challenges faced by our commuter student population. (Daisy Santiago, Office of Intercultural Engagement)
  • Video Game Reading Group: Group play of a video game themed around inequality and social justice followed by a discussion together in a virtual space. (Vaughn Stewart, Digital ACT Studio)
  • RecWell Day: Providing students with an overview of all the programs and opportunities provided through the Department of Recreation & Wellness. (Hannah Lanzillotta, UNCG Recreation)
  • CHANCE Program: A reunion check-in event to support students who entered UNCG through the CHANCE program. (Julie Smith, Chancellor’s Fellow for Campus Climate)
  • CVPA: Students will be invited to create a participatory community exhibition of handmade symbolic totems that highlight their own unique personal interests. (Sidney Stretz, College of Visual & Performing Arts)
  • Speed Friending: A virtual event to support residential students in building friendships during the pandemic. (Paul Lentz, Housing and Residence Life)
  • Hillel: Two book groups that support students to deepen their understanding of diversity and inclusion. (Shayla Glynn, First-Year Student, and Vicki Cathcart, director of Jewish Life, UNCG Hillel)

Proposals are due Oct. 30. For more information on how students and faculty can get involved and submit an idea, visit sa.uncg.edu/ibelong/


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