Spring ISD, PVAMU partner to connect paraprofessionals with careers

Prairie View A&M University (PVAMU) has landed a half-million-dollar grant from Indianapolis-based Lumina Foundation for its newly-established Ruth J. Simmons Center for Race and Justice. Lumina is an independent, private foundation committed to making opportunities for learning beyond high school available to all, especially for students who are Black, Hispanic, and Native American.

The $500,000 grant will support the proactive measures PVAMU is taking to counter racial injustice and educate and train students to be prepared to contend with discrimination and the fight for justice. In addition to supporting staffing and operations, the grant will fund an Activist in Residence program at the Center, which will provide students the opportunity to learn with exemplary activists who have brought positive change in an area of diversity and inclusion.

The Center will also host a Justice Symposium, which would invite notable scholars on race and justice to the university to discuss a broad range of topics, from voter suppression to societal healing.

“We are supporting efforts to eradicate and dismantle systemic racism in areas that support and complement the work of Lumina Foundation,” said Danette Howard, senior vice president, and chief policy officer at Lumina. “In the wake of George Floyd’s brutal death in police custody last year, Lumina reaffirmed our commitment to the Racial Justice and Equity Fund and pledged to support efforts to dismantle systemic racism.”

In 2017, Lumina’s fund awarded more than $2.5 million to advance social justice initiatives following racial violence at a “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, and deadly counterdemonstrations. According to a release from Lumina, these projects were aimed primarily at improving the climate around race relations on college campuses.

The foundation announced an additional $15 million commitment during the next three years to fund a wider array of projects. The first of these projects include nearly $3.2 million to 11 organizations, including PVAMU.

“Grants like this give us the opportunity to expose our students to top-rate scholars and practitioners and invites them into national conversations about the promotion of justice and equality,” shared Endowed Professor of Political Science Melanye Price, Ph.D., who also serves as director of PVAMU’s Center for Race and Justice.

“Fighting racism and discrimination and upholding justice must always be among our highest callings,” said PVAMU President Ruth J. Simmons, who initiated the idea for the Center last June in a letter to the PVAMU community.

“We are currently in the process of getting all of the Center’s initiatives finalized so that our students can have access to them as quickly as possible,” said Price.

A formal launch of the Center is planned in February. Follow @PVAMU for updates.