JANUARY 15, 2021 — UTSA has been awarded a three-year, $5 million grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to support the university’s community partnerships in advancing racial justice.
The grant, administered through the Mellon Just Futures Initiative, supports visionary, unconventional, experimental and groundbreaking projects that address the long-existing fault lines of racism, inequality, and injustice within democracy and civil society.
UTSA’s project—Democratizing Racial Justice—will be a transformative, community-based People’s Academies for Racial Justice. Through the People’s Academies, selected community fellows and faculty fellows will collaborate on a public-facing project each year of the grant as determined by that cohort. Grant funding will further support community dialogues with key scholars working in fields related to social justice.
The project will be led by UTSA’s Jackie Cuevas, Alejandra Elenes and Rhonda M. Gonzales.
The project was developed and will be led by Jackie Cuevas, associate professor and assistant chair of the Department of Race, Ethnicity, Gender and Sexuality Studies and director of the Women’s Studies Institute. Project co-leads are Alejandra Elenes, professor and chair of the Department of Race, Ethnicity, Gender and Sexuality Studies, and Rhonda M. Gonzales, professor and chair of the Department of History.
“These academies represent a path-making effort to bring together activist-scholars, students and community members to formulate community-centric, ethical collaborations where people of color remember histories, respond to community needs, conduct collective research and imagine thriving futures where racial justice is possible,” said Cuevas.
Project partners include the UTSA Institute of Texan Cultures, which will manage and promote an online repository of DRJ archives, including oral histories, public murals or other materials. The nonprofit Esperanza Center, led by director Graciela Sanchez, will serve as the anchor community organization for facilitating the People’s Academies. Northwest Vista College will serve as institutional partner for the companion Educators’ Academies for Ethnic Studies and Sandra Garza, coordinator of the Mexican American Studies Program at Northwest Vista College, will serve as project liaison for participating Alamo Colleges District campuses.
“Higher education plays a key role in simultaneously advancing the social mobility of individuals and promoting stability and prosperity of our communities,” said Kimberly Andrews Espy, provost and senior vice president for academic affairs. “Hispanic Serving Institutions such as UTSA can play an even larger role in addressing inequality and injustice because of our longstanding commitment to advancing educational attainment for underrepresented groups.”
Overseen by the Mellon Foundation’s Higher Learning Program, the Just Futures Initiative was launched in 2020 to address systemic inequities that disproportionately impact communities of color, as highlighted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The programs seek to improve access to and accelerate demographic transformation in higher education and to support humanities education that builds and centers more complete and accurate narratives for a fuller account of the human experience.
UTSA is one of only 16 universities in the U.S. and the only institution in Texas to be awarded a grant through the Just Futures Initiative.
“The DRJ project was conceived to leverage our department’s and UTSA’s own interdisciplinary strengths in the humanities, ethnic studies and intersectional gender studies, and then build on those strengths through the external partnerships,” said Elenes. “DRJ was developed as an academic-community collaborative—and one that will serve as a model for innovative humanities and ethnic studies education in the region.”
In total, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation is awarding more than $72 million to support multidisciplinary and multi-institutional collaborative teams producing solutions-based work that contributes to public understanding of the nation’s racist past and can lead to the creation of socially just futures.
Interested in wellbeing programs, events and resources? Every Wednesday at noon you can stop by virtually and ask any questions you may have about Student Health Services, Counseling and Mental Health Services, and the PEACE office.Virtual Event
Floor captains play a critical role in emergency preparedness, safety awareness and crime prevention techniques throughout the university. They focus on safety and security initiatives while providing guidance and direction to building occupants. During emergency activations, they assist with required evacuations and reentry, shelter-in-place commands, interface with police and other first responders, and help those who may require assistancer.MyTraining Webinar
Roadrunners who plan to learn, teach, live, work or research at UTSA this summer are invited to attend one of these town halls where members of UTSA's Public Health Task Force will share updates from their recently released 4.0 report. The town halls will be a terrific opportunity to ask questions and learn more about summer campus operations.Virtual Event
Honors College students will be presented with their stoles to wear to Commencement. The Honors College provides stoles only to students who are eligible to graduate with honors.Retama Auditorium
Victory celebrations in San Antonio always include honking car horns, and we are carrying that tradition over to UTSA. If you are in San Antonio, join us for a nostalgic Commencement Drive around the Main Campus. This new tradition began in May 2020 and will begin at the Brackenridge (BK 5) parking lot adjacent to the Child Development Center. Vehicles can begin gathering at 5:00 p.m. The parade begins at 5:30 p.m.Brackenridge (BK 5) parking lot, Main Campus
In person ceremony for students recieving their doctorate degrees.H-E-B Student Union Ballroom, Main Campus
In person ceremoney for University College students.Retama Auditorium, Main Campus
The University of Texas at San Antonio is dedicated to the advancement of knowledge through research and discovery, teaching and learning, community engagement and public service. As an institution of access and excellence, UTSA embraces multicultural traditions and serves as a center for intellectual and creative resources as well as a catalyst for socioeconomic development and the commercialization of intellectual property - for Texas, the nation and the world.
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UTSA is a proud Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) as designated by the U.S. Department of Education.
The University of Texas at San Antonio, a Hispanic Serving Institution situated in a global city that has been a crossroads of peoples and cultures for centuries, values diversity and inclusion in all aspects of university life. As an institution expressly founded to advance the education of Mexican Americans and other underserved communities, our university is committed to ending generations of discrimination and inequity. UTSA, a premier public research university, fosters academic excellence through a community of dialogue, discovery and innovation that embraces the uniqueness of each voice.