11 experiential learning projects selected for VCU’s 2021 REAL Grants

V C U logo outside of the Student Commons building.
Eleven experiential learning projects from a diverse range of VCU schools and colleges have been awarded funding through the 2021 REALGrants initiative. (Allen Jones, University Marketing)

Eleven experiential learning projects from a diverse range of VCU schools and colleges have been awarded funding through the 2021 REAL Grants initiative. Five of these projects will receive support from the REAL Challenge Grants program, while the remaining will be supported by Community-Engaged Research Impact Grants.

While this marks the second year of the REAL Challenge Grants initiative, this iteration saw an increased collaboration with Community-Engaged Research in the Office of Institutional Equity, Effectiveness and Success.

“We are excited to be able to provide support once again for some of the outstanding experiential learning projects happening around campus,” said Erin Webster Garrett, Ph.D., assistant vice provost for REAL. “The selection committee and I were overwhelmed by the caliber of proposals that came in — narrowing it down to our final list was nearly impossible.

“Equally as exciting was our new partnership with CEnR on this initiative. This collaboration has already paid dividends for both the academic units as well as the university at large,” Webster Garrett said. “A huge thank you is owed to Heidi Crapol and Amanda Hall for their proposal that we work together. Together, we can do more for more students, and that is always the goal.”

The five projects selected for REAL Challenge Grant funding are listed below, and a full description of each can be found on the REAL website.

  •  VCU Multilingual Ambassador Program, Jenna Lenhardt (co-funded by CEnR)
  •  Practical Digital Health Applications, Denise Emminger
  •  Snead Transfers Achieving REAL Success (STARS) Program, Hawley Smyth and Cait Burns
  •  The Queerantine Archive - Documenting LGBTQIA2+ Survival and Resilience During COVID-19, B. Ethan M. Coston
  •  Cultivating Children's Resilience through Community-based Art Education, Yiwen Wei (co-funded by CEnR)


“The projects we selected for funding truly exemplify the VCU mission and academic experience,” Webster Garrett said. “There is a thread of resiliency, rebuilding and recovery that runs through these proposals that I believe is exactly what VCU and our connected communities need right now. These programs will benefit many cohorts of students, both present and future, as well as our region as whole, so we are proud to be able to support them.”

The seven projects selected for Community-Engaged Research Impact Grant funding are listed below, and a full description of each can be found on the CEnR Impact Grant webpage.

  • Public Relations Research Partnership with the Sacred Heart Center: For a Thriving Latino Community, Baobao Song, Ph.D.
  • Strategic Sourcing for Food Security, David Berdish
  • Textile Waste Not Want Not: Creating Value by Diversion, Kimberly Guthrie
  • Arts-Based Methods as a Culturally Responsive Approach to Understanding the Experiences of Black Mothers, Nicole Corley, Ph.D.
  • Enhancing Student Empathy and Civic Engagement in a Community-Engaged Pediatric Asthma Research Program, Robin Everhart, Ph.D.
  • Community-engaged Research in the Biomedical Engineering Classroom, Anathea Pepperl, Ph.D.
  • Cultivating Children's Resilience through Community-based Art Education, Yi Wen Wei, Ph.D.

Learn more about the REAL Grants initiative at real.vcu.edu/grants/

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