UCLA Gives $250k to Projects Dedicated to Addressing Problems Black, BIPOC Students Face Daily

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UCLA recently granted funds to multiple projects dedicated to creating conversations about the problems BIPOC students and employees experience daily. 

As part of the university’s “Rising to the Challenge” initiative, $250,000 will be awarded to nine already named projects that are focused on the injustices and inequalities BIPOC Americans face from day to day.  

The projects revolve around conversations about defunding and reforming the police, inequality in the construction of homes in the earthquake-prone Black communities of L.A., Black representation in the political landscape and alcoholism amongst the youth. 

In addition to community life at the university, the projects will also discuss the pandemic’s effect on BIPOC students, global warming and its effects on the changing Black neighborhoods of L.A. as well as sexual assault and racial prejudice against Asians in the University of California. 

“To me, this is just part two of a vision,” said the vice chancellor for research at UCLA, Roger Wakimoto, to UCLA Newsroom. “It’s imperative that the campus increase diversity, support Black Lives Matter and help build equity. All of the ethnic studies programs require a commitment from the university, and I think my office can help.”

The “Rising to the Challenge” program was initially created in 2020 by the university’s Office of Research & Creative Activities and Institute of American Culture following the murders of George Floyd and Breonna and the Black Lives Matter protests. With the initiative, the research university devoted itself to making the experience of Black students better by adding a special advisor along with a Black Student Resource Center and increasing opportunities for upper-level students through fellowships and postdoctoral work opportunities. 

In addition to the $250,000 grants, the initiative also helped make sure BIPOC voices were heard by giving members and groups dedicated to diversity and inclusion a platform. The “Rising to the Challenge” program was also made with a focus on increasing the role of ethnic studies centers such as the Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies and the Asian American Studies Center.

Although UCLA is a diverse university, Black students are still largely underrepresented in the university’s demographics. According to a demographics report by the university, Black students represent only 5% of the school’s undergraduate population and only 6% of the school’s graduate population. 

These rates are the second-lowest of any other BIPOC community behind the American Indian and Alaska Native communities. 

About 33% of undergraduates and 22% of graduates are Asian & Pacific Islander while 21% of undergraduates and 32% of graduates identify as Hispanic. 

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