Women of Excellence Home

WOX Grants 2020

Better Beekeeping with Technology and Pollinator Plantings

Following the establishment of St. Bobnait’s Beekeeping Association last year with funding from the Women of Excellence we were able to engage hundreds of people in learning about beekeeping:  Xavier Students, local Girl Scout troops, school groups, and the Norwood community.  We used the hives as a teaching tool for local politicians and were able to change the ordinances of Norwood to allow beekeeping in city limits.  We even served XU honey at the Manresa Overnight dinner for new faculty/staff.  We propose to build on our success by increasing the number of hives from two to five, adding another location at the student farm, and integrating technology to allow remote monitoring of the hives through a web-based application called Hivetool.  The coding aspect of this technology would be another way to engage young women in a field they are underrepresented in.  We also plan on working with the Wasson Way bike trail committee to establish a pollinator garden along with other native plants next to Wasson Way near Xavier University’s campus.  We hope to use this WOX grant to make our apiary even more successful and expand it such that we can attract support from local businesses as well as engaging a more diverse audience in the importance of pollinators in our lives

Seeking Funds:  $2,500 – 1 Year Project
Better Beekeeping with Technology and Pollinator Plantings Full Proposal

The Chess Lab:  Investigating the Educational Benefits of the Game

Chess is one of the most enduring and universal games in human history. Games like chess play an important, but often overlooked role, in the fabric of a society. There is a growing body of literature that correlates chess playing at an early age with a variety of desired learning outcomes in areas of cognitive development, social development and executive functioning skills. University students will examine the experimental design of these studies as part of their coursework and learn to identify and assess a variety of cognitive and affective skills that are cultivated through playing chess. They will also have opportunities to observe and participate in the Lab School chess clubs and thereby gain an appreciation and understanding of the educational benefits associated with the game. There are three main pillars of this



            The aim of this collaborative project is to explore and investigate the educational benefits by engaging university students in the facilitation of two chess clubs at Xavier's Montessori Lab School and community outreach events. University students and faculty will learn how to identify and assess the various skills involved in playing chess at an early age and Lab School participants will gain an appreciation for the wonder of the game and improve their playing proficiency. This success of this project will be indicated by the achievement of university student learning outcomes and the growth of an enriched chess culture at the Lab School.


            Chess brings together communities: rich, poor, young, old, novice and experienced. Bringing people together around the historic game of chess is another aim of this collaborative project as we integrate Xavier students and students from neighborhood elementary schools.


            We also know that playing strategic board games like chess cultivates a variety of executive functioning skills associated with concentration, problem-solving, planning, predicting and decision making. The development of spatial skills is evident when   students begin to visualize, analyze, calculate, and evaluate. This project contributes to the cultivation of and reflection on these skills.

Seeking Funds:  $7,879 – 1 Year Project
The Chess Lab: Investigating the Educational Benefits of the Game Full Proposal

Confidential Peer Support Volunteer Program

"1 in 5 women and 1 in 16 men will be sexually assaulted while in college" (Krebs). Gender-based violence (GBV) includes sexual assault, intimate partner and dating violence, stalking, and sexual harassment and research shows that the first response a survivor of GBV receives when they disclose is critical to their healing (Campbell; Herman). Negative responses can increase feelings of shame and isolation, prompting more psychological trauma. However, receiving an empathetic response has been associated with a variety of positive outcomes, including positive life change, self-worth, and growth (Borja; Filipas). The goal of a first responder, then, is to provide a safe place that empowers survivors to seek recovery and resource paths that are right for them. An evidence-based campus model (CCC; "Transforming Ohio Campuses"; "A Safer Campus"; "Preventing and Addressing Campus Sexual Misconduct") will be used to develop, pilot, and grow a Confidential Peer Support Volunteer Program. Survivors are much more likely to disclose to a friend or peer; therefore, this program will be made up of Peer Support Volunteers (PSV) expertly and comprehensively trained and supervised to provide survivor-centered, strength-based, culturally-responsive support services for student survivors of GBV. Because trauma-informed care provides a framework for understanding the impact of trauma on survivors, communities, and those who serve them, and builds support services that are responsive to those needs (“Building Cultures of Care”), peer support services will include confidential drop-in hours for immediate support, the creation of an empathetic and empowering space, and the ability to provide options, rights, resources, and referrals, as well as ongoing, supportive follow-up services. The value of and indicators of success for this program are an increase in the number of survivors who access peer support and advocacy services, feel more empowered, feel safer on campus, remain enrolled as Xavier students and thrive in this setting, feel informed about university policies and procedures, and ultimately come forward to report their experience. Additionally, students who volunteer with the PSV Program will have the opportunity to develop their identities as student leaders, activists, and community members, and endeavor to create a campus culture of survivor support, one that cultivates empathy, fosters a culture of caring for one another, and strengthens community accountability.

Seeking Funds:  $14,260.02 – 2 Year Project
Confidential Peer Support Volunteer Program Full Proposal

Family Voices from the Border

Migrant women, children and families remain in limbo at the United States (U.S.)/Mexico border, waiting for their asylum case to be reviewed by a U.S. government official. Fleeing domestic violence, cartel violence, extortion, and other dangers to their safety and security, only 1.2% of all cases are approved to petition for asylum in the U.S. The remainder are turned away, after months of waiting at the border with no home, no reliable source of food, and no work or school to attend.

This advocacy project proposes to engage students and faculty directly with women, children and families at the U.S./Mexico border, through accompaniment, implementation of educational activities, and collection of stories to present to the Xavier community.  With a Jesuit organization as community partner in this project, Kino Border Initiative (KBI), we are guided by Jesuit mission in action.  This project offers a high impact immersive learning experience for students, enriching student lives and connecting in an authentic way with the mission of Xavier University and the Women of Excellence.

We will utilize a Photovoice methodology. Families take photos of their typical day while waiting at the border.  They share the significance of the photos in an audio-recorded interview.  Interviews are transcribed and analyzed for common themes.  The project includes the filming and production of a short documentary to create a visual and auditory experience of life while waiting at the border.  While parents are interviewed, children engage with Xavier professors and students in educational activities that involve art, music, and physical movement. The results of this project will be disseminated in at least three ways: 1) Academic manuscript documenting the impact on families submitted for publication. 2) Photos, narratives, children’s artwork and film displayed at Cohen Art Gallery on the Xavier University campus to promote increased awareness and advocacy. 3) KBI uses the project results for their international advocacy efforts.

Seeking Funds:  $9,305.92 – 1 Year Project
Family Voices from the Border Full Proposal

Gifted Endorsement Program Summer Camp Xcel

Funds are requested to support the inaugural implementation of the Summer Xcel Enrichment Camp for underserved and high-achieving middle school students in the Springboro Community during the summer of 2020. The camp will host approximately 105 campers with 7 Xavier University Graduate Students (all women) enrolled in the Special Education Gifted Endorsement Cohort in Springboro serving as the camp instructors to fulfill their field experience requirements to obtain their endorsement as Gifted intervention Specialist.  The camp will recruit middle school-aged boys and girls in the Springboro community. The camp will also include Springboro High School students from either the National Honor Society or the ROTC to serve as teaching assistants and give them the opportunity to earn community service hours.  The School of Education is focusing on forming a community partnership with the Springboro Community Schools.  The school district will provide space for the camp at no cost as well as custodial support during the camp.  Grant funds would be used to support the inclusion of all students who are economically disadvantaged that qualify on the basis of the district’s definition of service to high achieving students who are in the 90th percentile or above in achievement.  The camp will have a multi-faceted focus that will include, Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) as well as focus on factual texts that expose the students to powerful women, diversity, and individuals from an impoverished community in a West Virginia mining town through the books Rocket Boys and Hidden Figures.

The aim of the Rocket Boys meet Hidden Figures project is to provide students from the Xavier University Gifted Endorsement program the opportunity to fulfill course required fieldwork.  The goals of the camp are to expose middle school students to powerful women who have made significant contributions to the United States Aerospace Program through comparing and contrasting two works of literature that highlight individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds bother male and female and the similarities and differences between their journeys.  Xavier University students will reflect daily on their instruction provided to the campers using Xavier University lesson plan format with reflection.

Seeking Funds:  $10,000 – 1 Year Project
Gifted Endorsement Program Summer Camp Xcel Full Proposal

Grandmaster Irina Krush and Xavier Chess

The aim of this project is to cultivate the chess culture at Xavier University. We are requesting funds to invite Grandmaster Irina Krush to campus to give a lecture, compete in a simultaneous exhibition with Xavier students, and visit relevant courses. Krush is a seven-time U.S. women's champion and received the grandmaster title by the International Chess Federation (FIDE) in 2003. At the age of 14, she won the 1998 U.S. Women's Chess Championship to become the youngest U.S. women's champion in history and has competed on the U.S. national team in the Women's Chess Olympiad since 1998. Krush is also a dynamic communicator ­ she regularly writes articles and gives lectures that promote the game. Her article "Water From A Stone" was honored as "Best of Chess" in 2013 by Chess Life magazine. Not only is Krush one of the top chess players in the world, she is also interpersonally engaging. The anticipated value of Krush's campus visit relates to the intellectual challenge to and personal inspiration of Xavier students. This exposure to world-class chess talent and opportunity to interpersonally interact with Krush would be a memorable experience that illustrates a high level of expertise that is possible to achieve in the game of chess. The indicators of success of this unique project include an enriched sense of community among Xavier chess players and the growth of the chess culture at Xavier.

Seeking Funds:  $5,000 – 1 Year Project
Grandmaster Irina Krush and Xavier Chess Full Proposal

Ignatian Wilderness Immersion Experience for Women

I am requesting funds to pilot an outdoor immersion program that develops leadership skills and discernment of vocation in Xavier women through connection to nature and utilization of the spiritual exercises. In partnership with the Camping and Education Foundation, and the Center for Women in Business and Leadership (launching this semester) the grant would sponsor four female students and four female faculty to travel to the Canadian boundary waters and engage in an outdoor immersion experience centered on vocational discernment through the spiritual exercises. The aim of the Center for Women in Business and Leadership is to attract, educate, support, and elevate women. Providing experiential learning experiences that are challenging and motivating allows women to gain confidence, clarity, develop useful skills such as creativity, dealing with failure, collaboration, and problem-solving. The proposed immersion trip will use the spiritual exercises to develop clarity of purpose, leadership skills, and self -confidence using the wilderness as a catalyst for personal growth and self -discovery.

Seeking Funds:  $10,000 – 1 Year Project
Ignatian Wilderness Immersion Experience for Women Full Proposal

Independent Living Retreat in Collaboration with the Down Syndrome Association of Greater Cincinnati

Now in its 14th year, the Independent Living Retreat (ILR) coordinated by the Xavier University Occupational Therapy (OT) Department in partnership with the Xavier University Office of Residence Life and the Down Syndrome Association of Greater Cincinnati (DSAGC) has provided over 50 XU Occupational Therapy students and 50 student employees from diverse academic backgrounds with a unique opportunity. Conceived in 2007 by an XU OT alumna, the ILR was launched as a service-learning project for OT students to design a weekend residential experience for 30 young adults from DSAGC on the XU campus to rehearse the daily living skills required to increase their independence. Five OT students assist the adults with personal self-care Activities of Daily Living to promote independence, learn to modify activities to meet each individual's needs, and develop sensitivity to behavioral triggers that may impact those with sensory concerns. Students develop a deeper level of understanding of developmental disabilities and see beyond the diagnosis, recognizing the wholeness of

each participant and forging connections across differences.

The ILR not only offers XU students an opportunity to develop their therapeutic skills but it also provides an opportunity to develop the skills required to become future organizational leaders, service leaders, and philanthropic leaders within their communities. OT students act as a team while organizing, planning and executing a complex weekend event. Seven additional XU student employees from diverse academic backgrounds provide customer service for the participants. The students' leadership roles combine their professional skills with the compassion, patience and confidence necessary to effectively interact with people living with disabilities. Walking alongside and learning from young adults with Down syndrome is priceless to their careers.

It is anticipated that 85% of the OT students will report that the opportunity to experience personal contact with adults with Down syndrome will benefit them personally and professionally in their future careers. Funds received from the WOX grant will be used to offset expenses related to fees for residence hall rental, linens, meeting space and t-shirts for participants and OT students.

Seeking Funds:  $4,368 – 1 Year Project
Independent Living Retreat in Collaboration with the Down Syndrome Association of Greater Cincinnati Full Proposal

Moving Note-Taking into the 21st Century

The goal of this project is to develop a note-taking program that will have a dedicated student employee along with note-taking systems (including, but not limited to: OneNote, Audio Notetaker, Echo Pen, and Glean) to assist students with disabilities. The aim of the project is to remove barriers to note-taking encountered by students with disabilities to improve productivity for greater success in the academic curriculum. Students with note-taking assistance as an approved accommodation will choose which hardware or software program to use, with the help of the student employee, to take notes independently and rely less on a volunteer note-taker, which is increasingly more difficult to secure. The student employee will train the students on an ongoing basis. These skills and training will be able to be transferred to the use in the workplace as well. A secondary goal of this project is to provide an opportunity for Xavier Education students to learn and teach technology available for individuals with disabilities, and it will better prepare them for their professional practice.

Assistive technology (AT) provides individuals with disabilities the opportunity to participate more fully and independently in the classroom setting. Mainstream technology is increasingly available; however, it is still difficult for individuals with disabilities to acquire and learn how to use the technology to receive its maximum benefit. This lack of awareness and use of assistive technology is largely due to 1) not receiving information on available assistive technology during K-12, 2) lack of opportunity for students to handle and experience assistive technology devices prior to purchase, and 3) lack of opportunity for students to use assistive technology on a trial basis to determine if it meets their needs. This project proposes to make AT note-taking options and information more readily available to Xavier students. The student employee will meet with students in the Assistive Technology Lab located in the Conaton Learning Commons or in a study room convenient for the student. Indicators for success will be the number of training appointments scheduled and the number of students using the note-taking platforms.

Seeking Funds:  $7,713.41 – 1 Year Project
Moving Note-Taking into the 21st Century Full Proposal

Summer ICE for Middle School Girls, Part 4

Funds are requested to support Summer ICE (Innovation, Creativity and Exploration) camps for middle school girls in summer 2020. This will be the 6th ICE camp. The previous camps (2015-2019) were overwhelming successes. The camp will host approximately 24 girls, with an emphasis in recruiting girls of color and/or from low family income. Current Xavier STEM students will serve as role models and assist the faculty and STEM professionals leading the sessions. We will invite past 4 participants (now high school girls) - one each day - to come back and share their story, talk about their STEM plans, and assist with some activities. The daily activities will include special interactive sessions in science and computer labs. The girls will also work in small groups on projects that allow them to develop their problem-solving skills, persistence and confidence.  At the end of the week, the girls will present reflections on their summer camp experiences in a formal program that will be open to their friends and families. We are also planning an activity in the fall, probably October, where we bring the girls to campus and do a half-day of activities where they work with current STEM majors as well as STEM professionals in STEM activities. This will allow us to reinforce the camp message of empowerment and check on how the girls are doing in school. This year, for the first time, we will ask girls to commit each day of camp to doing particular activities during the school year related to the camp themes. We will send follow-up reminders of these commitments and encouragement to the girls every other month during the school year. The goals of the camp and follow up session are that the girls will be empowered and inspired by their experiences to take more math, science and computer science courses in their schools, to persist and succeed in these courses, and to explore these subjects on their own. This project allows women faculty, staff and students at Xavier who care deeply about increasing the pipeline for girls to STEM careers to take purposeful and meaningful action to help address the STEM gender gap.

Seeking Funds:  $8,060 – 1 Year Project
Summer ICE for Middle School Girls, Part 4 Full Proposal

2020 Summer Service Internship Program

Xavier's Summer Service Internship Program provides a unique opportunity to nurture the commitment to community engagement and social justice in Xavier students. Now in its 25th year, the Summer Service Internship Program has provided more than 500 students with a deepening community and reflection-based experience. In the summer of 2020, the program will place 20 Xavier undergraduates in carefully selected placement agencies where each student will provide service for thirty-five (35) hours per week for nine (9) weeks. The program is designed to teach the interns how to become leaders within the community and to understand the complex problems that marginalized populations face. Living together in the residence hall and gathering for reflection sessions and commons meals strengthens this experience. As a unique, full-time

immersion experience for Xavier students, the program provides three important student benefits: students are able to serve the Greater Cincinnati community in a deep and meaningful way, while learning about themselves and the world around them, and also earning necessary income from summer employment.

Indicators of Success for this project include:

  • More than 75% of 2020 Summer Service interns will express an increased understanding of social justice
  • More than 70% of 2020 Summer Service interns will continue to volunteer with their placement social service organization after the conclusion of this program
  • More than 60% of 2020 Summer Service interns will express an increased desire to participate in a year-of­ service program after graduation and/or pursue a job in the non-profit sector
  • More than 60% of 2020 Summer Service interns will express an increased desire to participate in other service opportunities at Xavier.

Seeking Funds:  $10,000 – 1 Year Project
2020 Summer Service Internship Program Full Proposal

Student Wellness Advocacy Group (SWAG) – Peer Education Program

Xavier University has entered into an innovative partnership with TriHealth to establish a campus culture of wellbeing. With the generous support of a Women of Excellence grant, Xavier's Student Wellness Advocacy Group (SWAG) has laid a critical foundation in peer-led wellness programming that will allow the partnership to meet the exciting and demanding challenges associated with engaging students in these efforts. Since 2014, SWAG Peer Educators have played a leading role in educating Xavier students about wellbeing topics such as sexual health, alcohol and drug abuse, stress management, physical activity, nutrition, and sleep.

National research and SWAG program assessment data support the efficacy of peer-led programs in raising awareness and changing behavior around health and wellness issues. Xavier and TriHealth partners have developed an eight-dimension wellbeing model for our campus community that was unveiled in 2018 and has come to life in the new Health United Building (the HUB). The SWAG Peer Educator program has been a critical component of the implementation strategy for the wellbeing model.  SWAG is now prominently located in the

HUB within the Student Wellbeing Services suite off of the building's spine, which garners higher visibility for SWAG. The peer educators have an open and welcoming space in which to invite students for one-on-one conversations and conduct wellbeing programs. Therefore, our goals for the SWAG program for the next two years entail increasing individual student interaction with the peer educators during their office hours, as well as increasing participation in programs offered through tabling, residence life, and other student clubs.

The Women of Excellence Giving Circle has provided a basis for wellbeing programming that has positioned the University well for future growth in our wellbeing initiatives.  Continued support of the SWAG Peer Educator program will position the Women of Excellence Giving Circle in the center of one of the most innovative and impactful initiatives that Xavier University has embarked upon and we are grateful for your consideration.

Seeking Funds:  $20,000 – 2 Year Project
View Full Proposal

Tressie McMcMillan Cottom

Tressie McMillan Cottom is an award-winning writer, scholar, and teacher who brings her personal experiences as a Black woman to bear on "thick" critical analyses of gender, race, and class. The Center for Teaching Excellence and the Office of Institutional Diversity & Inclusion propose to bring Dr. McMillan Cottom to Xavier in Spring 2021 for a trio of events that will give voice to this perspective, which continues to be marginalized in all spaces, including at Xavier, and invite honest, important dialogue. In a keynote address to faculty, Dr.

McMillan Cottom will address the impact of inequity in higher education and discuss teaching strategies that mitigate that impact, empowering faculty to create more welcoming, inclusive classrooms. She will also meet with Black women students for an informal breakfast Q&A, serving as a role model of Black, female excellence and providing a unique opportunity for students to engage with a leading scholar in an intimate setting. Finally, in an evening lecture and book signing open to all of campus and the public, and free to attend, Dr. McMillan Cottom will speak about her recent collection, THICK: and Other Essays, a Black women’s cultural bible which intertwines the personal, social, and political. Success of this project will be measured by attendance at each event and level of speaker/audience interaction. This proposal connects to several important goals of the University and of Women of Excellence. Bringing Dr. McMillan Cottom to campus will support Xavier’s goal to promote diversity education, scholarship, and culturally responsive teaching, and uphold the social justice ethos at the heart of our Jesuit values. These events will bring together constituent groups—students, alumni, faculty, staff, and community members—in critical conversations about gender and race and also honor and extend the legacies of women and women of color who have been historically underrepresented at Xavier, and in our communities and world. In addition, hosting such a prominent scholar as Dr. McMillan Cottom will enhance the reputation of Xavier University as a leader on issues of gender, racial, and class diversity.

Seeking Funds:  $ 10,000 – 1 Year Project
Tressie McMcMillan Cottom Full Proposal

Visionary Women, Past and Present: Clare of Assisi and Greta Thunberg

This project explores the extraordinary capacity of young women to transform the world.  By focusing attention on the visionary voices of two 17-year-old women, past and present, this project provides models of prophetic power and global responsibility that can inspire conversations within Xavier classrooms and beyond. Though separated by 8oo years, Clare and Greta model a particular kind of visionary leadership that listens out of a needy world a new way forward. Their examples teach us to courageously claim the capacity of a stronger, more transformative collective voice. In listening to the depths of their own hearts and responding to deep, creative stirrings, these women were able to transform concern, grief, and even despair into compelling motivation for change.  As I place these two women together, as I do in several courses that I teach, I see their profound example of women of conscience and dignity who, in finding their own voice, are able to awaken the collective conscience and dignity of others.

This project develops artistic and media resources that can be used within existing Xavier classes to promote simple but powerful conversations about developing our passions, finding our vocations, and becoming persons for others. In addition to having broad curricular impact, funding this project will also allow two public events in 2021, designed to stimulate thinking about how we today can respond to the call to visionary leadership on behalf of the common good.  In a time in which confusion, distress and even despair often override our belief that we can make much of a difference in our world, the shining example of young women courageously choosing to take a prophetic stance and use their convictions to model a different way is refreshing, hopeful, and critically important.

Seeking Funds:  $7,950 – 1 Year Project
Visionary Women, Past and Present: Clare of Assisi and Greta Thunberg Full Proposal

Women of English Vocational Discernment Retreat

The Women of English Vocational Discernment Retreat is an overnight guided experience in the Ignatian tradition that aims to connect upper-class years (3rd and 4th year) women English majors with each other and alumnae of excellence in order to facilitate bonding and solidarity, provide guided opportunities for Ignatian discernment in a supportive environment, engage meaningful exploration of vocation, provide instructional workshops on finding internships and careers, and create more leadership opportunities for women. The retreats will take place in early Fall 2020 and early Fall 2021. The program includes small group follow-up gatherings at least once each semester. Students will formulate a plan for moving forward in their Xavier careers and vision for life beyond Xavier. Purposefully, the retreat addresses real gaps in vocational preparation as expressed by current women English majors and faculty, such as societal and cultural stigma around their major, especially for women. English majors, the majority of whom are women, face unique challenges locating meaningful employment after graduation, and these difficulties would be more readily overcome through gaining a sense of vocation, bonding with other women in the major, and gaining more spiritual experiences by utilizing tools for discernment. Xavier recognizes vocational discernment as a high-impact practice, which fosters student satisfaction, retention, and alumnae engagement.  A high-impact retreat offers students practice with Ignatian spiritual tools that can be employed throughout life, combined with career knowledge that promotes success, satisfaction, and excellence in employment choices. It is distinctly a Xavier way.

Seeking Funds:  $6,671 – 2 Year Project
Women of English Vocational Discernment Retreat Full Proposal

Women of Excellence Endowed Scholarship

Women of Excellence (WOX) has been established as a major presence promoting women at Xavier. A critical component of our commitment to the advancement of women at Xavier is the establishment of a Women of Excellence Scholarship.

Eleven WOX Founding members joined together and made a commitment to establish a Women of Excellence endowed scholarship at a base level of $55,000. This scholarship continues to grow through individual donations as well as this grant process. The scholarship sits at over $100,000 to date. This grant will allow the corpus of the WOX scholarship to grow and provide even more financial support to one or more females students annually.

Seeking Funds:  $10,000 – 1 Year Project
Women of Excellence Endowed Scholarship Full Proposal