UC Santa Cruz has received three awards from the UC National Center for Free Speech and Civic Engagement's Valuing Open and Inclusive Conversation and Engagement (VOICE) Grant Program.
VOICE provides funding for UC students, staff, and faculty who are interested in conducting research or coordinating programs and activities that further the mission of the Center.
The Washington, D.C.-based UC National Center for Free Speech and Civic Engagement explores how the fundamental democratic and academic principles of free speech and civic engagement should enrich the discovery and transmission of knowledge in America’s colleges and universities. Through research, advocacy, debate, and discussion, the Center is dedicated to ensuring that the next generation of leaders is prepared to understand, defend, and advance these values.
This year, the Center’s VOICE Initiative focuses on the theme of “Breaking Barriers” in campus expression and engagement. The VOICE-funded programs, activities, and research identify barriers, the steps that can be taken to address those barriers, and how those steps help to build community.
The three UCSC projects include Art, Prisons, and the University: Creating a Culture of Inclusivity for Formerly Incarcerated Students, led by Rachel Nelson, director of the Institute of the Arts and Sciences, in collaboration with Louise Leong at the Mary Porter Sesnon Art Gallery. The project is designed to promote and bring visibility to the work of the Underground Scholars (US), a University of California-wide initiative aimed at supporting formerly incarcerated students and other system impacted students.
Practicing Accessibility and Inclusion is a project led by Andrea Cohen, Special Assistant to the Vice Provost for Academic Affairs, and Carmen Robinson, director of Student Excellence, Engagement, and Inclusion for Baskin Engineering. This project will increase understanding and focus on accessible programs within the School of Engineering through a faculty and staff dialogue series on universal design, design thinking, understanding neurodiversity, student accommodations, inclusive language, and perspectives of accessibility from people with disabilities. The series will facilitate conversation and share with faculty and staff practical innovative tools and solutions for immediate implementation.
The third project is We Belong: Transformative Literacies for Civic Engagement, led by Sheeva Sabati, director and community liaison for the Oakes Community-based Action Research and Advocacy (CARA) Program. The award will support a collaboration between We Belong—a Community Initiated Student Engaged Research (CISER) project that aims to understand how documentation status impacts immigrant families' abilities to access services, create community, and thrive—and Oakes College's Community-based Action Research and Advocacy (CARA) program.