HomeGrantsAnnouncing the 2019 DEI Grant Recipients

Announcing the 2019 DEI Grant Recipients

Last fall, the Institute on the Environment established a $30,000 pilot fund to accelerate University of Minnesota projects that connect equity and the environment. Of the 24 proposals submitted, IonE’s diversity, equity, and inclusion committee narrowed the field to three to receive IonE’s first round of DEI Grants.

The first three projects hail from Duluth, Morris, and the Twin Cities, and their principal investigators from disciplines ranging from engineering to biology to the humanities. They’re a clear representation of the diverse work being done to ensure environmental justice in Minnesota and beyond.

PI Tammy Berberi, an associate professor at the University of Minnesota Morris and the campus’ interim director of equality, diversity, & intercultural programs, will lead that office’s partnership with the UMM Office of Sustainability as they co-create a new Intercultural Sustainability Leaders (ISLe) program.

ISLe will enable a group of five paid student interns from diverse backgrounds to interact with environmental activists, participate in dialogue about the effects of sustainability initiatives in their own communities, and share their findings with campus and sustainability audiences. As the investigators noted in their proposal: “These inaugural, collaborative efforts will contribute to more inclusive, sustainable futures.”

Equity in Greenspace Across Duluth Neighborhoods: Acting on Community Input is a project proposed by Abigail Clarke-Sather of Duluth’s Swenson College of Science and Engineering and the Duluth NAACP Health and Environmental Equity Committee. They have a plan to provide Duluth residents with a hands-on avenue through which to set goals for, design, plan, and implement revitalized greenspace with the help of local experts.

“I hope that we can make a difference to empower a Duluth neighborhood to organize to improve park maintenance, start or maintain a community garden and involve UMD students throughout the whole process!” says Clarke-Sather.

Lisa Philander, curator of the College of Biological Sciences Conservatory on the Twin Cities campus, takes a global view with her project, the Horn of Africa Biocultural Conservation Program. “This grant aims to promote an equitable and sustainable future by connecting a network of local resources that will help to introduce and protect the richness of biological and cultural diversity from the Horn of Africa,” she explains.

Aided by the rich knowledge of Twin Cities immigrant communities, she plans to develop ex-situ plant collections as well as educational programming that will emphasize the importance of preserving cultural knowledge and traditions to ensure a sustainable and vibrant future.

“IonE had an amazing response to our first DEI RFP last fall,” says IonE Administrative Director April Snyder. “We are excited to be able to have Duluth, Morris, and the Twin Cities campuses represented in this first round of funding – and even more excited to see what these collaborations will bring.”


Grace Becker is the Communications Associate at IonE and an undergraduate student at the University of Minnesota, where she studies strategic communication, sustainability studies, and Spanish. 

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