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Coalition of Urban Serving Universities Announces Third Racial Justice and Equity Award Winner

March 22, 2022

Washington, DC – Aiming to address racial injustice and inequity through university-city partnerships, the Coalition of Urban Serving Universities (USU) today named The University of Toledo as the third winner of its Racial Justice and Equity Program Award. In partnership with local nonprofit organizations, The University of Toledo will focus on addressing mental health challenges facing Black and Latino/a/x students as part of a broader effort to increase student wellness on campus.

“We’re thrilled to select The University of Toledo as a Racial Justice and Equity Award Winner,” said Mitzy González, Program Manager at the Coalition of Urban Serving Universities. “We’re facing a national mental health crisis, and we know these challenges are particularly acute for college students. The University of Toledo is taking an innovative approach to tackling this challenge head-on – with a particular focus on addressing the needs of students from minoritized populations.”

Examining national survey data, The University of Toledo found that students from historically underserved populations were more likely to face mental health challenges such as depression and anxiety but less likely to seek treatment. On The University of Toledo campus, 38 percent of students seeking mental health counseling services were students of color.

“We are excited to receive the Racial Justice and Equity Award and support from the Coalition of Urban Serving Universities in our efforts to increase awareness about mental health services available to students and to destigmatize seeking care. It is OK to not be OK,” said Dr. Sammy Spann, interim senior associate vice president of student affairs and dean of students. “We are looking forward to partnering with local organizations and businesses to help more students receive the care they need and to address equity gaps for receiving that care.”

To help more students receive care they need and address equity gaps, The University of Toledo is partnering with the National Alliance on Mental Illness Greater Toledo to increase awareness about mental health services and destigmatize seeking care. The university is launching the campaign as part of its Rockets Matter initiative, which focuses on meeting students’ basic needs to advance equity and increase student success. Additionally, The University of Toledo is working with local businesses such as barbershops and beauty shops to promote culturally competent resources for seeking mental health care.

The competition was open to USU’s entire membership of 41 public urban universities. USU’s Racial Justice and Equity Scholars Program supports urban university efforts in three thematic areas – thriving students, thriving universities, and thriving communities – to explicitly address policies that produce equity gaps. Award winners must directly partner with external organizations to advance their work. Each award winner will work closely with USU over the course of 12 months to collect data, monitor progress, evaluate outcomes, and disseminate project findings. Last year, USU named the University of Texas at Arlington and Portland State University as Racial Justice and Equity Scholars. USU will announce a scholar in the remaining thematic area –thriving communities – later this year. Each winner receives a $20,000 grant to further their efforts.

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