Team Projects Earn BMCC President’s Fund Awards


September 23, 2021

The BMCC community has been eagerly waiting to find out which projects are receiving funding through the President’s Fund for Excellence and Innovation. The fund was established in December 2020 through the generous and ground-breaking donation of philanthropist and author MacKenzie Scott in recognition and support of the exceptional mission and success of BMCC.

The President’s Fund was established to support BMCC’s efforts to improve student learning and success, enhance research and knowledge creation, and advance socioeconomic mobility through the transformative power of education. In early 2021, the entire college community was invited to submit project proposals that adhere to the guiding principles of the fund and support the mission and vision of BMCC and meet one or more of the thematic areas of needs, which include addressing food and housing insecurity, improving student learning and engagement, incorporating career development opportunities, and reducing social and economic equity gaps for students.

“I am proud of all the teams who submitted proposals for the President’s Fund for Excellence and Innovation,” said Anthony E. Munroe, BMCC President. “Creative approaches and transformative ideas were evident in every proposal. The projects selected for funding went through a rigorous review process by committees and represent a broad spectrum of areas where our institution can continue to advance the intentions of Ms. Scott, who recognizes our on-going efforts to bring equity and inclusion across our academics, support programs, and the learning experience of our students.”

The three review committees: Teaching and Curriculum Initiatives, Innovative Programs and Transformational Student Support, comprised of BMCC students, faculty and staff, reviewed and scored each of the submissions. The committees selected the following seven teams and projects to receive funding from the President’s Fund for Excellence and Innovation.

Project: The BMCC Public Health Academy
Amount awarded: $125,000 (Project Timeline: 2 years)
Project Team: Lesley Rennis, Health Education; Sara Crosby, Leadership Academy; Gloria McNamara, Health Education; and Lisa Grace, Health Education
Project Description: In response to the pandemic and the demand for a skilled, diverse, public health workforce, the Health Education Department and the BMCC Learning Academy will implement a Public Health Academy (PHA). The purpose of the PHA is to establish a public health education and workforce pipeline that meets the needs of BMCC Community Health Education and Public Health students and the growing need for public health professionals in NYC underserved communities. The program will 1) increase the number of minoritized, and low-income students who enter and successfully graduate from community and public health undergraduate programs, and 2) prepare a diverse population of students for meaningful public health careers. The proposed project leverages existing BMCC leadership and success programs, aligns with the College’s strategic priorities to improve student outcomes and provide greater access to opportunities and services, and addresses long-standing issues of retention, completion, and transfer among Black and Hispanic health sciences students.

Project: Restoring Good Academic Standing through the Gaining Academic Insight & New Strategies (G.A.I.N.S.) Program
Amount awarded: $114,000 (Project Timeline: 2 years)
Project Team: Neda Hajizadeh, Student Life/Counseling; Robert E. Cortes, Student Life/Counseling; Carei Thomas, Academic Advisement and Transfer Center; and Gregory Farrell, Learning Resource Center
Project Description: The project focuses on the exploration of a new cohort program for first-time academic probation students: Gaining Academic Insight and New Strategies (G.A.I.N.S). G.A.I.N.S will begin with an assessment using the LASSI (Learning and Study Strategies Inventory) to create an individualized plan for each student on probation. Students will meet with their advisor to make sure that the course schedules align with the challenges they identify in the LASSI. Each G.A.I.N.S student will be assigned an Academic Success Advocate with whom they meet for extra guidance and support. After successful completion of the program students will be encouraged and guided to enroll in other BMCC cohort programs. The goal is to increase student’s agency, self-advocacy, and responsibility for their academic progress through understanding their struggles. This project aligns directly with many of BMCC strategic goals, most importantly reducing probation rates and increasing student retention. It directly aligns with the goal of increasing the cohort experience and using data supported interventions that are culturally responsive, and trauma informed.

Project: Drilling Down to Scale Up: B-UMLA Pilot Project
Amount awarded: $130,000 (Project Timeline: 2 years)
Project Team: Shawn Grant, Business Management; Ashtian Holmes, Urban Male Leadership Academy (UMLA); and Peter Hoontis, Business Management
Project Description: The Business Management Department, in collaboration with the Urban Male Leadership Academy (UMLA), proposes to establish an UMLA program in the Business Management Department (B-UMLA) to address the equity gaps in the retention and graduation rates of Black and Latino male business majors (“target group”). This proposal requests $130,000 for a two-year period (Fall 2021-24) through the Innovative Programs focus area to be applied towards implementing a comprehensive program to close the equity gap by improving the retention rate for first year students in our target group from 43% to 53% within two years of the project’s implementation. In addition, the B-UMLA focuses on the following Thematic Areas: 1. address student basic needs, 2. improve student learning outcomes and engagement, 3. reduce equity gaps in student retention, transfer, and graduation rates, 4. incorporate career development programming, 5. enhance existing academic, student support, and 6. contribute to institutional efforts aimed at improving and reducing equity gaps and growing enrollment.

Project: The Virtual Campus: Using the BMCC OpenLab to Create Community, Foster Sense of Belonging, and Increase Student Engagement
Amount awarded: $63,612 (Project Timeline: 1 year)
Project Lead: Christopher Stein, Media Arts and Technology; Gina Cherry,
Center for Excellence in Teaching, Learning and Scholarship (CETLS); Syelle Graves, Library; and Thomas Harbison, E-Learning
Project Description: Since its launch in 2019, the OpenLab has garnered interest among faculty and staff, particularly those who are involved in open educational resources (OER). These faculty and staff and their activities have been the largest driver of students to the OpenLab. They have been supported by a part-time learning experience designer, Syelle Graves, as well as CETLS, Library, and E-Learning staff. This project seeks to directly engage students and student-facing offices through the OpenLab by providing them with the same kind of support system that faculty now enjoy. The OpenLab is well suited to projects that involve community building, student interaction, student profiles, and portfolios. We see potential for student engagement and support through the OpenLab with programs and departments across Student Affairs and Academic Affairs, and more, but greatly need additional staff in order to fully carry out this potential.

Project: Social Justice & Equity Centers
Amount awarded: $168,128 (Project Timeline: 2 years)
Project Lead: Tammie Velasquez, Women’s Resource Center
Project Description: Diversity. Inclusion. Intersectionality. Social Justice. Historically, institutions of higher education have been embedded in racist and sexist systems, but have also been the spaces where grassroots organizing, advocacy, civil rights, and social change have blossomed. The Women’s Resource Center (WRC) seeks to continue the journey towards social change, expand and elevate diversity, equity and inclusion through social justice initiatives at BMCC.  Funding will establish The Social Justice & Equity Centers (SJEC/The Centers; working title), an umbrella department housing the already established WRC, a new MultiCultural Center (MCC), Pride Center (PC), and Social Justice Programs (SJP). The SJEC will use inter-community (for) and intra-community (about) programming models resulting in the overall communal advancement of BMCC. The Centers will provide space for and about Black, lndigenous and students of color (BIPOC), women, queer, undocumented, and marginalized students, while also educating the BMCC community with agent identities on allyship, diversity, power and privilege. Proposed activities include affinity/dialogue series, cultural celebrations, undocu-ally training, speaker series, and an institutionalized SafeZone Training.

Project: Anti-Racist Pedagogy Summer Workshops and Faculty/Student Fellowships
Amount awarded: $80,000 (Project Timeline: 1 year)
Project Team: Mishka Anderson, Teacher Education; Gina Cherry, Center for Excellence in Teaching, Learning and Scholarship (CETLS), Kirsten Cole, Teacher Education; Mariama Faye BMCC Student Government; Shawn Grant, Business Management; and Angela Polite, Speech, Communications, and Theatre Arts
Project Description: The Anti-Racist Pedagogy Working Group in collaboration with CETLS seeks to implement projects beginning Summer 2021 with ongoing faculty and student development throughout the 2021-22 AY. This project builds on the highly successful Anti-Racist Pedagogy workshop series offered through CETLS in the Spring 2021 and attended by over 60 faculty members. Participants expressed a strong need for a more extensive exploration of the topic of anti-racist pedagogy. The team plans to expand this work throughout Summer 2021 into Spring 2022. The overall objective of this proposed project is to increase awareness and implementation of anti-racist pedagogical practices at BMCC which aligns with the strategic goal to “increase equity, foster inclusion, and dismantle systematic racism.” The team emphasizes the need to do extensive exploration of the topics of race, racism, racial identity, anti-racism, and anti-racist pedagogy throughout a summer workshop and to offer programming through CETLS and coaching for faculty throughout the Fall and Spring semesters (as detailed in the proposal below).

Project: Black Studies Across the Americas
Amount awarded: $125,000 (Project Timeline: 1 year)
Project Team: Judith Anderson, Ethnic and Race Studies; Jessica Levin, Internships and Experiential Learning; and Lissette Acosta, Ethnic and Race Studies
Project Description: The Department of Ethnic and Race Studies (DERS) is partnering with the Office of Internships and Experiential Learning to request funding for a collaborative international research program, “Black Studies Across the Americas.” In this hybrid program, cohorts of DERS faculty, faculty from fields not traditionally associated with Ethnic and Race Studies (Business, Mathematics, Science, and CIS), BMCC students, and students from international institutions in Latin America will work together to complete research projects in Black Studies and create educational outcomes that will benefit their respective communities (websites, course assignments, projects, resources, or presentation materials). Potential collaborating institutions are located in sites where we have established relationships through study abroad and which serve Afro-descendant populations: Argentina, Brazil, the Dominican Republic, and Peru. Faculty will be recruited across departments to mentor students throughout their research and BMCC students will receive stipends for their participation and students abroad will also receive support through their respective institutions, which will be provided with funds.


NOTE: Each of the teams receiving a President’s Fund award will be featured in articles and videos to following their progress and outcomes. Please visit the President’s Fund for Excellence and Innovation website to learn more about each of the teams and their projects.