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University campus centers form the UNC Alliance, call for student grant proposals


Josmell Perez, director of the Carolina Latinx Center, one of four cultural centers that make up the UNC Alliance, poses for a portrait outside the CLC on Monday, Jan. 31, 2022. 

Four academic and community engagement centers on campus are collaborating to examine crucial issues of equity and justice through a new partnership called the UNC Alliance.

The Sonja Haynes Stone Center for Black Culture and History, the Asian American Center, the Carolina Latinx Center and the American Indian Center came together to launch the collaborative group and put out a call for student grant proposals in January.

Krupal Amin, associate director of the AAC, said that the UNC Alliance is a new way to connect the centers to each other.

“The Alliance group is mostly just an umbrella organization to help these four centers have dialogue more efficiently,” Amin said.

She said some of the main priorities of the Alliance are cross-cultural unity and education when it comes to race and ethnicity and how they relate to social categories and movements.

“When we talk about race or ethnicity or experiences of marginalized groups, we do them in silos," Amin said. "And I think it’s really important to acknowledge that some of these histories run really parallel to each other. Some of the impacts are very similar for different groups."

Intersectional Student Projects

The Alliance's first project, Intersectional Student Projects , is supported by a grant from an anonymous donor and aims to establish deeper relationships between the campus centers.

The goals of the ISP are to form relationships and generate projects that build solidarity between the campus cultural organizations and explore meanings of community and belonging. The project also seeks to help students consider the role of UNC in local and global communities.

Proposals should be in the interest of the entire campus, according to the Alliance website, and respond to challenges faced by marginalized communities.

Project examples include events, screenings, publications and service partnerships. However, students can propose anything that they see the need for, Amin said. She said this could look like anything from art installations to miniature conferences, or other collaborative and innovative proposals.

Andrew Garbisch, a fifth-year graduate student and former member of the AAC student advisory board, said that integrating different cultures into one space is imperative in addressing racial and social injustices.

“We’re much more closely connected and historically imbricated in those issues than we sometimes see,” Garbisch said.

Students have until Feb. 15 to submit grant proposals to be considered as recipients of up to $5,000 in funding for their project. The funds are required to be spent during either the spring or fall semesters of 2022.

The Alliance has two upcoming Zoom workshops on Feb. 8 and Feb. 9 for students to bring questions or drafts of proposals. Students who are applying are encouraged to discuss their proposal with representatives from at least two of the individual centers.

Josmell Perez, the director of the Carolina Latinx Center, emphasized that representatives of the centers are there as a resource to students looking to apply.

“If they reach out to us, we can help facilitate those bridges," Perez said.

Partners involved in the Alliance will come together to evaluate the submitted proposals, analyzing factors like the budget, feasibility, research design and potential significance. 

The Alliance doesn't have an exact number of how many proposals will be chosen to receive funds, Perez said.

Looking forward

Currently, ISP is the only initiative announced by the Alliance, but Amin said there will be another grant directed toward faculty and staff. 

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The goal of creating separate projects was to minimize the competition, Amin said, so that students felt empowered to submit proposals.

“We want students to feel like they have agency to be able to really manifest what they have dreamt of in terms of these collaborations, so we will have an upcoming grant that’s faculty-staff oriented,” she said.

For future endeavors, Perez said that Alliance is working on new projects, but students are encouraged to reach out and give their ideas as well.

“We have some, what we think, are exciting ideas, but we are open to student input,” Perez said.

The Alliance provides a way that these academic and community engagement centers can collaborate and communicate, both among themselves and with the student body — something that has been a long time coming, Amin said. 

“We have a very big vision,” she said.

@natvarma I

CLARIFICATION: A previous version of the article misstated the University's four academic and community engagement centers on campus. The article has been updated to reflect accurate wording for the centers. The Daily Tar Heel apologizes for this error.