The W.K. Kellogg Foundation has awarded Xavier University of Louisiana a $500,000 grant to fund the Center for Equity, Justice and the Human Spirit at Xavier. The grant will fund initiatives aimed at improving child well-being, building leaders, and advancing community engagement and racial equity through a focus on building stronger ties between community, policy and practice in education, health, environment and criminal justice reform.
Established in August 2018, the Center for Equity, Justice and the Human Spirit is a research, teaching and public engagement endeavor housed within the Division of Academic Affairs. In keeping with Xavier’s founding mission and commitment to social justice and social impact, the Center for Equity, Justice and the Human Spirit works to advance equity, achieve justice and elevate the human spirit through the practical application of knowledge and resources toward an improved the quality of life for current and future generations. The center will inaugurate research, reflection, and calls to action in the areas of pre-K through 16 education equity,criminal justice reform, and environmental justice and sustainability.
According David W. Robinson-Morris, director of the Center for Equity, Justice, and the Human Spirit, director of Corporate and Foundations Relation and assistant professor in the Division of Education and Counseling at Xavier, a major portion of the Kellogg Foundation grant will provide funding in support of an initiative to produce high-impact, solutions-oriented research regarding the creation of a more equitable public education system in New Orleans, in Louisiana, and across the nation that studies and provides equitable solutions for disparities in student outcomes in pre-K through 12 public education utilizing assessment results, graduation rates and select college-readiness measures.
“We are extremely grateful to the Kellogg Foundation for their lead investment in the work of the Center for Equity, Justice and the Human Spirit at Xavier. The Foundation’s support of our PK-16 educational equity initiatives will allow the center to research, interrogate and offer solutions relating to key factors that provoke and exacerbate disparities in student outcomes,” said Robinson-Morris.
The grant also provides additional funding to increase the visibility of the Center for Equity, Justice, and the Human Spirit through additional staffing, establishment of a fellowship program, the creation of a public education diversity workforce pipeline program, and the launch of a public lecture series addressing systemic inequities in PK-16 education, criminal justice reform, and environmental justice and sustainability.
“Our center positions itself as a site of knowledge production while transcending traditional barriers between research, community engagement, and applied practice,” said Dr. Anne McCall, Provost and senior vice president for Academic Affairs at Xavier University. “This gift from the Kellogg Foundation allows us to concentrate our efforts in this regard in public education equity, while enhancing our focus on criminal justice reform and environmental justice. It is an extension of who we are and what we have done so well at Xavier, academically, over the last 95 years.”
The center is the manifestation of the university’s call to action to reflect on its mission, actively engage in making of a better world, and put our knowledge into practice. It is the first of its kind to be housed at an HBCU and is a celebration of the life and legacy of our founder, Saint Katharine Drexel.
“Our vision for the Center for Equity, Justice and the Human Spirit has always been to establish a site for scholarly and policy-focused research, community impact, and the development of a campus community education in restorative justice practices,” said Xavier President Reynold Verret, noting that its initial focus is centered on in PK-16 education, criminal justice reform, and environmental justice and sustainability. “This generous lead gift from the Kellogg Foundation will provide a launching pad which will propel us towards all of those goals.”
For more information regarding the center, please visit www.xula.edu/centerforequityjustice.