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From the Desk: IU first lady celebrates philanthropy anniversary, shares funding opportunities

Dec. 9, 2015

Applications are open for the 2016-17 Women’s Philanthropy Leadership Council grant awards. This is our fifth cycle since we began awarding grants to benefit the IU community across all eight campuses and around the globe.

Laurie Burns McRobbie

IU first lady Laurie Burns McRobbie | PHOTO BY INDIANA UNIVERSITY

Women’s Philanthropy at IU began in 2010 as an initiative to more effectively engage alumnae and women friends of IU in building its future. Scores of women have contributed to the Women’s Philanthropy Leadership Council Fund, and each year, we grant more than $100,000 to programs and initiatives that better the IU community at large. We consider all proposals, but we’ve identified four key areas for funding. These priorities reflect Women’s Philanthropy’s goals within For All, the IU bicentennial campaign.

One priority area is globalization -- extending the impact of IU across the world. We support programs with educational impact like Books & Beyond, a 2013 grant recipient. Our award supported the publication and delivery of a book collaboratively written by IU student authors and students at Kabwende Primary School in Rwanda. IU students then used these books to lead a three-week camp at the school, teaching English to both students and teachers. Another 2013 award funded four students to travel to Liberia and Burma as part of the Center for Constitutional Democracy, giving them real-world experience creating new constitutions that strengthen these countries’ pluralism and democracy.                            

The WPLC is also dedicated to improving public health, and our grant awards have provided a range of services to those without access to basic healthcare. A 2014 grant recipient, the IU Dental Student Outreach Clinic provides dental care to low-income and homeless adults in Indianapolis, and has transformed the health and smiles of its constituents while providing IU School of Dentistry students with hands-on experience. A two-campus grant to IU East and IU Kokomo in 2015 funded the Family Nurse Practitioner Program to connect under-served populations with primary healthcare providers and quality healthcare.

We believe every person from every background should have the opportunity to lead and thrive. That’s why we fund diversity-focused applicants like IU Kokomo’s Science Rocks!, a two-week summer science camp for middle-schoolers from underrepresented populations. A 2012 grant recipient, Science Rocks! fosters enthusiasm for science, math and technology, increasing the likelihood that participants will pursue majors and careers in STEM. A 2014 WPLC grant funded a sexual assault study, published October 2015, to gather information about the prevalence of sexual misconduct, relationship violence, and victimization incidents by IU Bloomington students. The results have already fueled educational initiatives on campus.

My career background in technology fuels a personal interest in attracting more women to a field where there is ample opportunity for success, growth, and leadership. The WPLC is working to increase the number of women in STEM fields by funding programs like IUPUI’s School of Informatics and Computing Informatics: Diversity Enhanced Workforce, a 2015 grant recipient. This program teaches IT skills in select Indianapolis high schools, preparing students for academic and future career opportunities in IT. A 2013 WPLC grant enabled IUB’s Center of Excellence for Women in Technology to award scholarships to 5 female informatics students, funding their attendance at the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing conference -- the world’s largest gathering of women technologists. Through conference networking, one of those students even landed a job at IBM.  

Do you have a program in mind with the potential to effect change in the IU community? I encourage you to apply for a 2016-17 WPLC Fund grant.

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