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USU, APLU and AAMC Awarded $325K Grant to Develop Tool for Creating a More Diverse and Inclusive Climate at Universities

Indianapolis, IN – The Coalition of Urban Serving Universities (USU) and the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) have partnered with the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) to develop and pilot a tool to help universities measure institutional culture and climate, with the goal of creating a more inclusive campus community that values and supports diversity. The self-assessment tool will be paired with a scorecard to provide university leaders with a visually-appealing snapshot of the institution’s progress. The California Wellness Foundation (Cal Wellness) awarded the groups a $325,000 grant over three years to support the initiative and pilot a tool at California institutions.

The project is intentionally focused on the health professions, where greater workforce diversity is needed to support a diverse patient population and reduce health disparities. These disparities are particularly severe in the state of California, especially in underserved urban communities. To target this need, both the tool and scorecard will be tested at eight urban-based, public universities in California.

Institutional culture and climate have a profound impact on the success of health professions students and faculty from underrepresented backgrounds. Dr. Jennifer Danek, Senior Director of USU health initiatives said the tool would fill an unmet need for university leaders seeking to improve outcomes for these populations. “Many universities are already measuring campus climate, but what’s more challenging is knowing what to do with the results. This tool will help presidents and deans assess where improvements are needed and take action.”

Over the next three years, the partnering organizations will work together to develop the tool using an existing research-based framework developed by AAMC for monitoring and improving organizational culture and climate for diversity and inclusion. An initial cohort of four universities will pilot the tool in year two; a subsequent cohort of four institutions will repeat the pilot in year three.

Results of the pilot will inform legislative and educational policymakers about the tool as a strategy for increasing diversity in higher education and the workforce. Ultimately, the use of this tool by California’s universities is expected to increase diversity in the health professions, support success of students from all backgrounds, and promote greater diversity in leadership ranks.

The project is funded by a grant from The California Wellness Foundation (Cal Wellness). Created in 1992 as a private independent foundation, Cal Wellness’ mission is to improve the health of the people of California by making grants for health promotion, wellness education, and disease prevention. A total of $325,000 has been awarded to support the project over the course of three years.

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