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DSU receives $300K grant for refuge project

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DOVER – The National Association of Sisters of Color Ending Sexual Assault has awarded Delaware State University’s Safe Space Coalition a $300,000 grant over two years to support its efforts to create a focused sexual assault response and prevention program on campus.

The University’s Hope House will serve as the base for the Safe Space Project, which will be funded by the Building the Capacity of Black Programs Funding Initiative Addressing Sexual Assault (BCPSA) award. The newly established Hope House, which is currently being used for the University’s Food Bank, drug/alcohol support groups, as well as research and experiential learning activities, will now also be engaged in the University’s sexual assault prevention initiative.

“The funding will be primarily used for DSU to support those students victimized by violence and sexual assault; to promote prevention, education, awareness, provide outreach, student experiential learning/research and to provide services to the community,”  Chair of the Safe Space Coalition and Dean of the University’s Wesley College of Health and Behavioral Sciences (WCHBS) Dr. Gwen Scott-Jones said in a statement.

Dr. Eleanor Kiesel, Associate Dean of the WCHBS, is the principal investigator who successfully wrote the grant proposal, with the assistance of Kim Graham, the Director of the WCHBS’ Trauma Academy.

Dr. Scott Jones said grant funding in support of the Safe Space Project will provide both a physical space and more importantly, a supportive and safe space for survivors, allies, and wellness professionals to engage in the work of healing and restoration.

The Safe Space Project at the Hope House will include a part-time licensed mental health professional and coordinator who will provide culturally specific prevention and advocacy for victims and survivors of sexual assault.

DSU’s Safe Space Coalition – comprised of over 100 students, parents, community members and DSU employees – serves as an advisory board  to DSU’s President and administration in creating a safer campus for our students, employees and community members. This includes a Core Coalition Group and nine Steering Committees. The Steering Committees are Campus Health, Counseling & Prevention, Communications & Customer Service, Employee Awareness & Safety, Facility & Management, Judicial Affairs & Title IX, Project Resources & Funding, Public Safety and Student Awareness, Engagement, and Safety.

“As a DSU alumna, parent, and employee, I would like to commend University President Tony Allen for being responsive to the call for action by establishing a coalition comprised of individuals that will provide him with transparent information about campus safety and recommendations for creating safe spaces on all of our campuses,” Dr. Scott-Jones said.

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