Cover Story

If you're passionate about improving your department's diversity-friendliness, here's a small-grant opportunity to check into.

The American Psychological Association of Graduate Students Committee on Ethnic Minority Affairs (APAGS-CEMA) offers up to two $500 grants each spring semester and up to three $500 grants each fall semester for students to develop a project to recruit, retain or enhance the training of ethnic-minority graduate students in their program. The committee suggests creative activities such as workshops, conferences, speaker series, mentorship programs and the development of student organizations that focus on multiculturalism or ethnic-minority concerns.

A four-person team from the University of Iowa won the award in 2005, and set in place an ongoing organization they're calling Community, Purpose and Passion, otherwise known as CP2 says Amina Mahmood, a member of the organization and the APAGS member-at-large, diversity focus.

"There isn't a big ethnic-minority population in Iowa City, and that really impacts people's decisions about where they want to go to school," Mahmood says. "My fellow team members thought, 'We need to do something to help our program recruit diverse students,'" as well as to develop bonds among current students.

To those ends, CP2:

  • Holds an annual cultural-diversity potluck to increase the program's sense of community, taking the position that all students have a cultural background.

  • Is reformatting the program's Web site and program materials to be more welcoming, sensitive and appropriate to students of all backgrounds.

  • Invites an annual guest speaker to talk to students about some aspect of multiculturalism. Last year, a mental health worker described her work helping children in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

The group also has accessed funds from another diversity committee at their school, boosting the fruits of their APAGS grant, Mahmood says.

-T. DeAngelis

For more information, visit the APAGS Awards Web site and look at item 11. Grant applications are due July 1 and Dec. 1.