Antigonish, Nova Scotia, Canada

StFX’s Frank McKenna Centre for Leadership introduces Racial Justice Leadership Grants for students

July 7th, 2020

The Frank McKenna Centre for Leadership at StFX is pleased to introduce an annual funding opportunity for Black and Indigenous students, The Racial Justice Leadership Grants, which are designed to provide students with funding and institutional resources to support projects that include research, organizing and outreach work, or advocacy in activism in the area of racial justice.

The McKenna Centre will annually offer up to six Racial Justice Leadership Grants of $4,500.

“With the introduction of these grants, the McKenna Centre wishes to contribute to wider efforts in our community and at StFX to take much-needed, decisive action in order to combat the continued presence of racism and the ongoing systemic exclusion and disenfranchisement of Black and Indigenous students in Canadian society and in higher education,” says the McKenna Centre team.

In addition to funding specific projects, the grants offer students opportunities to participate in the effort to shape the future of StFX, and provide students with opportunities for disseminating their work and ideas and with platforms for their voices.

This includes providing students with a web-presence for their projects, offering them the opportunity to present their work at events such as the Xaverian Leaders Symposia, the Friel X-Talks, and the annual StFX Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Summit.

The grants will be matched through the Jeannine Deveau Educational Equity Endowment Scholarship Fund at StFX, with strong potential to become a multi-year project. The Deveau Fund is designed to make it easier for Mi’kmaq/Wolastoqiyik and African Nova Scotians to access a university education. Ms. Deveau ’44 gifted $8 million to StFX, and the fund has the potential to grow to $13 million as it is tied to a matching initiative from other sources.  

“When presented to (Deveau Fund administrator) Bill Gunn, he was encouraged by the potential outcomes of this project and the impacts it could have on decolonizing some of the policies within the education system,” says StFX Director of Development Wendy Langley.

McKenna Centre officials say the grants will offer students the opportunity to connect and collaborate with a range of projects and organizations at StFX working on equity, diversity, and inclusion.

“By supporting individual projects and by integrating student leaders in university planning efforts and initiatives, the grants aim to provide students with the opportunity to positively shape our university and to assist us in improving it for future generations of Black and Indigenous students.”

The centre welcomes applications by students from all fields and disciplinary backgrounds (undergraduate, graduate, professional, and part-time), and international students.

Grants can be used to fund brand new projects, but they can also be used to further cultivate projects associated with a particular course or program of study, to continue ongoing projects first developed through a different funding opportunity, such as summer research mentorships, to further support honours and advanced major projects.

The centre invites proposals that range from traditional academic research to projects that blend academic work with social engagement in the form of activism, advocacy, or community outreach.

Applicants are encouraged to explore the topic of racial justice broadly by leveraging their disciplinary and academic background as well as the knowledge connected to their own sociocultural background and the complexity and diversity of Black and Indigenous lived experience.

From studying racial bias in medicine and scientific research to examining the effects of the under-representation of Black and Indigenous scholars in the education system, the McKenna Centre team say they are excited to see applicants explore the widest possible range of projects that deploy academic research in unison with social engagement to indicate necessary paths toward racial justice.

Interested students are asked to apply by August 15, by submitting an application package that includes a resume, 1,000-word project description, a one-page time budget that outlines a rough plan for how they will spend the hours the grant funds and two letters of support that speak to the quality of the applicant’s proposal and abilities.

Applications are to be emailed to:

The McKenna Advisory Board will adjudicate applications immediately following the deadline and inform the six grant recipients, who can begin their work in September.

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