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EMU awarded $300,000 Department of Justice grant

new emu logoEastern Mennonite University has named Leda Werner as the project coordinator of a new grant funded by the U.S. Department of Justice that focuses on connecting with community partners to combat sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence and stalking on campus.

The grant is for $300,000 over three years.

EMU was among 53 colleges and universities  around the United States to be selected for funding. The Department of Justice (DOJ) administers 25 grant programs authorized by the Violence Against Women Act of 1994 and subsequent legislation. This particular program — “Grants to Reduce Sexual Violence, Domestic Violence, Dating Violence and Stalking on Campus” — was allocated a total of more than $5.7 million.

Werner was previously director of the Center for Justice and Peacebuilding’s Women’s Peacebuilding Leadership Program. Since its founding, 50 women from Africa and the South Pacific have earned a graduate certificate in peacebuilding leadership.

“Along with her work with peacebuilding leaders, many of whom were working on issues of sexual and domestic violence, Leda brings considerable experience in grant implementation, collaboration with partners and monitoring and evaluation,” said EMU’s Title IX Coordinator and primary grant writer Irene Kniss.

EMU’s long-standing relationships with the Harrisonburg Police Department and the Collins Center may have contributed to the university’s successful bid, Kniss said. The Collins Center, a nonprofit sexual assault crisis center, has provided trainings to EMU students for the past five years.

“The grant requires that campuses create and support external partnerships with at least one criminal justice system and one sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, or stalking victim service provider within the community,” Kniss said. “That’s a partnership we already had in place and we’d like to see grow, for the benefit of the EMU community but also of the Shenandoah Valley community at large.”

The representatives from HPD and the Collins Center will be part of a core group, called the Community Coordinated Response Team (CCRT), which will meet monthly.

During the first year of strategic planning, this team will attend three DOJ-mandated workshops, followed by two more in 2020 as initiatives continue to be implemented.

The CCRT team will work with a coalition of internal partners including, among others, representatives of student life, residence life, faculty, human resources, Multicultural Student Services, International Student Services, student clubs and athletics. Undergraduate and graduate student representatives will also be included.

The collaborations will serve to strengthen current programming and develop new initiatives, Werner said.

Some of those programs are conducted by the EMU Counseling program, which has been undergoing an expansion of services under Director of Counseling Tempest Anderson.

“This grant will enable us to review and develop our prevention education trainings for new students, student-athletes and coaches, as well as our men’s program focused on healthy masculinity,” said Anderson, also a member of the CCRT.

Other program requirements include training for campus security; services such as a 24-hour crisis hotline, counseling services, medical attention and legal assistance; and campus bystander training, offered through a globally known prevention program, Alteristic-Green Dot.

Story by Lauren Jefferson

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