Digital Exclusive: Gov. Wolf awards local colleges “It’s On Us PA” grants

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EYEWITNESS NEWS (WBRE/WYOU) — On Tuesday, Governor Wolf announced 37 recipients of the “It’s On Us PA” grants to combat sexual assault on college campuses in Pennsylvania.

Wilkes University and the University of Scranton are among the institutions listed. They are awarded up to $30,000 each.

“We are excited to use the funds to facilitate meaningful discussions on our campus with our students and really to encourage our campus community members to take the pledge and take the stand against sexual violence,” Wilkes University Title IX Coordinator Samantha Hart said.

Hart is organizing the efforts in partnership with the “It’s On Us” student organization.

“It is important that we continue to provide our campus community with the skills and strategies that support a safe learning environment where students can thrive,” said Hart. “We are honored to be a grant recipient and look forward to a year of awareness events held remotely on campus.”

At Wilkes, the grant will be used to establish and continue programs that educate and train students, faculty and staff on identifying, responding to and reporting sexual violence. Some grant funds will be dedicated to training opportunities for coaches, staff and athletes, that make up 20 percent of Wilkes undergraduates.

This is the fourth year Wilkes University has received the award and the third year for the University of Scranton.

At the University of Scranton, similar efforts are underway.

“We’ve always had a really good experience working with this grant, and I can think of some real concrete situations in which training and resources from this grant made a difference in the outcome of that matter,” Christine Black, Deputy Title IX Coordinator, Assistant Director of the Office of Equity and Diversity, University of Scranton said. “A lot of what we’ve used these funds for in the past is to get that training out to the general campus so that faculty and staff have resources, have been trained and the first time someone comes to report or someone comes and says ‘Hey I need support’. It’s not the first time they’ve ever heard about this.”

Black says this year, one of the reasons the University of Scranton applied for the grant was to support their Promoting Awareness of the College Transition “PACT” Program, that is mandatory for all students in their first term on campus. It’s aimed at giving information on healthy relationships and information about resources on campus.

The Wolf Administration has awarded 150 of these grants totaling nearly $4 million to more than 70 post-secondary institutions, including public and private two-year and four-year colleges and universities since 2016.

The grants provide funding from January 2021 through May 2022.

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