he United States Department of Justice’s Office of Violence Against Women (OVW) has awarded the offices of counseling services at North Carolina A&T State University, Bennett College and Shaw University a grant of $549,999 for the consortium’s “Be the Change: Resources, Intervention, Services, and Education” project. Led by N.C. A&T, the consortium is the first of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) in the history of OVW. The award is part of 61 grants issued by the OVW totaling $25 million to help student victims of sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence and stalking.
“Our grant was a collaborative effort to raise awareness, reduce and ultimately prevent sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking on our campuses. We want our universities to be safe places for all to live, learn and [be] free of violence and sexual crimes,” said Dr. Vivian Barnette, executive director of Counseling Services at N.C. A&T.
The grant is funded for three years and will strengthen responses to crimes of sexual assault and domestic violence and enhance collaboration among local law enforcement and victim advocacy organizations.
“Our decision to unite as counseling center directors made our application stronger. We hope to become a resource for all HBCUs and other minority serving institutions to model culturally appropriate services for students that attend them,” said Barnette.
Additionally, the grant will focus on organizing and encouraging men and other groups to work as allies to prevent sexual assault crimes, particularly in underserved communities. Each campus will offer effective training, services, prevention strategies, culturally appropriate policies and coordinated community responses for victims of sexual assault.
The grant allows the consortium to use OVW Technical Assistants, who are experts in the field, to build upon the project, enhance responsiveness to survivors, campaign and train incoming students and campus and community partners to become active bystanders, thereby making strides toward ending sexual assault and violence.
OVW provides leadership in developing the nation’s capacity to reduce violence against women through the implementation of the Violence Against Women Act and subsequent legislation. Created in 1995, OVW administers financial and technical assistance to communities across the country that are developing programs, policies and practices aimed at ending domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking.