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Grunin Foundation Awards Monmouth University $2 Million to Foster Educational Equity in the Shore Region

The Grunin Foundation has awarded a $2 million grant to Monmouth University to fund a four-year Social Justice Academy designed to support participating K-12 school systems in their ongoing social justice education and curriculum development efforts.

The Monmouth University Social Justice Academy, a collaborative effort between the University’s Intercultural Center and its School of Education, will provide K-12 educators with extensive professional development in social justice, with an emphasis on promoting educational equity. The academy will kick off in July with a year-long professional development series, including seminars and lectures led by experts in diversity, equity, and inclusion, and a two-week inaugural summer workshop to establish a strong experiential foundation for the program.

In years two through four, the Social Justice Academy will expand to include five two-week summer workshops. Participants will develop a capstone project to implement in their home schools and districts. The academy will then support project implementation through both mini-grant funding and an instructional coach for the academic school year. There is no cost to participating K-12 schools or individual educators.

“I am so grateful to the Grunin Foundation for this investment in fostering diversity, equity, and inclusion in our local communities,” said Monmouth University President Patrick F. Leahy. “There is perhaps no greater force for change than education itself when it comes to expanding perspectives and changing attitudes. I am so pleased that our talented team of scholars in the School of Education will be partnering with our Intercultural Center to implement the Grunin Foundation’s commitment to social justice.”

The Social Justice Academy initiative builds upon the Grunin Foundation’s previous investments in strengthening and enhancing local communities though social innovation and capacity-building. It also reflects the foundation’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion.

“We are dedicated to championing a just and equitable society,” said Jeremy Grunin, president of the Grunin Foundation. “Education is a critical component to making this happen and we are proud to collaborate with such incredible partners to continue moving forward with this important journey.”

Monmouth University and the Grunin Foundation will collaborate with Brookdale Community College, Georgian Court University, and Ocean County College to deliver the training and support throughout Monmouth and Ocean counties.

“We are so grateful for this opportunity to work with our school and community partners on fostering equitable learning experiences for students,” said John Henning, dean of the Monmouth University School of Education. “This grant uses a train-the-trainer model that will enable teams of teachers and counselors to model, coach, and teach about social justice in their home district. This approach will multiply the impact of the professional development offered through the Social Justice Academy.”

The Monmouth University Social Justice Academy is led by Nicole Pulliam, Ph.D. Pulliam, an associate professor in the School of Education, was named the academy’s inaugural director in late March. She teaches courses on social justice and diversity, student affairs and college counseling, and human growth and development. Outside of the classroom, she serves on a variety of University-wide committees including the President’s Advisory Council on Diversity and Inclusion and the Black and African Diaspora Forum United, and is the current chair of the School of Education’s Social Justice Advocacy Committee.

Pulliam will lead faculty from Monmouth University, Brookdale Community College, Georgian Court University, and Ocean County College to deliver the program in Monmouth and Ocean counties. Monmouth University students, as well as those enrolled at the participating colleges and universities, will have the opportunity to serve as instructional assistants and/or participants in the academy.

To learn more about the Monmouth University Social Justice Academy, visit monmouth.edu/sja.