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From SRQ Magazine, May 29, 2021

At a socially conscious and dynamic institution like New College, the synergy between community outreach and diversity, equity and inclusion come naturally.

As a small liberal arts institution with a big vision, New College knows how to maximize its impact, even with modest resources. My team in the Office of Outreach and Inclusive Excellence (OOIE) is helping New College do just that.

Through the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation New College and the Cross College Alliance in the Community Grant (often referred to as Mellon II) and the Charles and Margery Barancik Foundation Grant, we have secured strategic (and, some would say, critical) support for New College while extending the reach and impact of our office. Totaling $1.25 million, these grants have provided valuable private foundation dollars to fuel institutional priorities. 

Mellon II has provided support for the Sarasota-Manatee Arts & Humanities (SMAH) Internship Program, created by the Center for Career Engagement and Opportunity (CEO) staff (Director Dwayne Peterson and Assistant Director Maddie Tympanick); the CARES Act-powered Multicultural Action Team led by Dr. Lisa Merritt; Professor Queen Zabriskie’s Black History Month; the “Visions of the Black Experience” film series partnership with the Sarasota Film Festival; local community historian Vickie Oldham’s “Newtown Alive”; Booker High School’s Visual and Performing Arts Program; Professor Nick Clarkson’s Trans-Cultural Production project; and the Urbanite Theatre. And these are just the completed projects.

Under the program leadership of OOIE Community Outreach Director Stacey Campo, the list of projects in the pipeline is even longer.

The Barancik Foundation Grant—a $500,000, four-year grant award received in March 2020—provides scholarships for 13 Barancik Scholars. But that’s not all. The Barancik Grant has enabled New College to launch a comprehensive financial literacy initiative, and to hire Ceci Linton as New College’s first financial literacy specialist.

Ceci is doing amazing work—creating and sustaining programming (including co-curricular leadership development and financial literacy programming for our Barancik Scholars), as well as offering one-on-one counseling for all students. Her efforts will ultimately make a meaningful impact on student retention.

The Barancik Grant is an excellent example of an internal partnership as well (Maneesha Lal, who serves dual appointments in the New College Foundation and the Provost’s Office, co-authored the $500,000 Barancik Foundation Grant).

A $15,000 Community Foundation grant award was the result of a multifaceted external partnership play. The grant proposal, which supported the “Visions” film series, was an OOIE collaboration with Sarasota Film Festival, the Multicultural Health Institute and the Boxser Diversity Initiative. The Community Foundation award unlocked incremental funding from the Barancik Foundation and the New College Foundation and funded a $12,000 donation to Booker High School’s Visual and Performing Arts program. Talk about partnership!

New College’s Making a Better [New] podcast—a project created by the Committee on Campus Climate and Culture (4C)—was created to give less-frequently-heard community members a voice, while modeling respectful dialogue and engaging challenging topics of campus climate and culture.

Building bridges with local and regional education partners has also been a critical focus of the OOIE.

The New College Guaranteed Admission Program has been expanded to include six local high schools this admissions cycle. We have also collaborated with Admissions to strengthen relationships with three community colleges: State College of Florida, Valencia College and Hillsborough Community College. We have called on their campuses and hosted visits on ours, developed new articulation agreements, and explored other strategies for increasing New College’s profile among their students.

It is only with the continued support of the entire community that the OOIE can guide our campus to realize our shared vision of a more inclusive New College.

Dr. Bill Woodson is the dean of outreach and chief diversity officer at New College.