The Department of Justice Office on Violence Against Women recently announced The Claremont Colleges will receive a $749,998 grant to help students who are victims of sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking. The DOJ award will strengthen existing resources and fund new programming and supportive services delivered by the EmPOWER Center, established in 2015. The funding will benefit students from the seven Claremont Colleges, Scripps, Harvey Mudd, Pomona, Claremont McKenna, and Pitzer; and graduate schools Keck Graduate Institute and Claremont Graduate University.
“We are extremely pleased to be able to expand the important work of assisting the seven campuses to deliver effective, comprehensive, and coordinated strategies supporting survivors, reducing campus sexual violence, and improving our institutions’ responses to these incidences,” said Charlotte Johnson, Scripps Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students, who will serve as lead administrator for the funding. Johnson and Sharon Basso, CMC Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students, jointly oversee the EmPOWER Center on behalf of The Claremont Colleges.
The Claremont Colleges were among 45 colleges and universities in the nation, and the only higher education institutions in California, to receive the DOJ award. “We are very proud and grateful that The Claremont Colleges were selected to receive this grant,” Basso said. “The funds will allow us to further this very important work on our campuses. This is a critical opportunity for us to enhance and support the significant progress that the EmPOWER Center has made in the first year of its existence.”
Johnson explained that funds assigned to the project will support services, education, and programming provided by The Claremont Colleges, the Claremont University Consortium, and community partners, including House of Ruth, Project Sister, and the Claremont Police Department. Johnson anticipates the funding will allow the EmPOWER Center and its partners to serve more than 12,500 students at The Claremont Colleges over the next three years. “The DOJ funding further underscores The Claremont Colleges’ leadership role in addressing these issues,” Johnson added.
Under Director Rima Shah, the EmPOWER Center has significantly increased the number of students reached through orientation and other year-round education programs. The Center is building awareness and working to prevent sexual and dating violence on campuses, establishing an expanded 7C student advisory board whose members meet monthly and collaborating closely with student advocate groups who provide confidential peer-to-peer support.
According to Basso, “Rima and the EmPOWER team, including our students, are approaching these efforts in a very comprehensive, thoughtful, and data-driven manner to improve our campus climate.”
Since its official opening in January 2016, the seven-college program has also successfully doubled its in-house counseling hours; increased awareness about resources; successfully launched a healthy masculinity initiative aimed at involving male-identifying students across the consortium in programming around consent, rape culture, and healthy relationships; and implemented confidential support groups and collaborative trainings for professional and student staff who most often come in contact with survivors.
In addition to the work of the EmPOWER Center, each college supports its own Title IX office to combat sexual harassment, gender-based discrimination, and sexual violence.
“We are so excited for the tremendous resources this grant will bring to the 7Cs, said Shah, the EmPOWER Center Director. “It will help strengthen and expand our efforts and go a long way in helping to build a community of care at the colleges.”