Racial Justice Mini-Grant Program

About University Life’s Racial Justice Mini-Grant Program

Many across our campus community are deeply engaged in efforts to promote racial justice at Columbia and beyond. University Life invites students to apply for the Racial Justice Mini-Grant Program and share innovative ideas to address racism, particularly anti-Black racism.

Seeking Great Ideas

Got a great idea for an event? An app you’re interested in developing and launching? A workshop you’d like to offer other students? These kinds of projects and more could receive funding through this program and deepen the University’s commitment to antiracism.

In an open letter to the University community in July, President Bollinger affirmed Columbia’s commitment to antiracism, writing, “Columbia is an old institution by the standards of the United States, and it has its share of shameful periods and moments of great progress. I hope we can collectively add to the latter. Across the University, there are many people reflecting on what can be done.” In response, schools and offices throughout Columbia, including here at University Life, have developed initiatives, research projects and programs to address systemic racism. Funding awards will range from $50 to $1,500.  

University Life thanks the Office of the Vice Provost for Faculty Advancement and Institute for Religion, Culture and Public Life for its co-sponsorship support of this program

Program Goals

To receive funding through the Racial Justice Mini-Grant Program, your project should meet one or more of the following goals:

  • Provide opportunities, such as workshops or training, to educate our student community to understand and unlearn racism and anti-Black racism, effectively act or advocate to address racism, and understand the intersectional dynamics of oppression.
  • Broaden the conversation on antiracism. One example would be hosting a panel discussion to highlight new or rising voices on this topic.
  • Strengthen our campus culture of inclusion and belonging. An example would be a social media campaign or peer mentorship program.

In addition, the Institute for Religion, Culture and Public Life will support projects that focus in some significant way on the intersection of race and racism, and issues connected to religion, belief and/or secularism.

Proposed projects do not have to mirror the examples offered. We look forward to the creative ways Columbia students will offer to advance the University’s commitment to antiracism.


  • All currently enrolled students at Columbia’s 16 schools are eligible to apply.
  • All event-related projects must receive a review, in which University Life staff and other campus partners will evaluate the details of a proposed student event to ensure proper coordination and planning. 
  • Projects must be student-initiated.
  • Existing projects will be considered.

Projects must:

In addition, event-based projects must be open to all Columbia students and conducted virtually.

Restrictions and Other Important Information

  • Funding may not be used for groceries, catering or other food expenses.
  • Funded activities must be completed by April 26, 2021. If a proposed project is meant to be ongoing, please use the project description to explain why and how it will be sustained.
  • At the end of the project, awardees will be asked to submit a brief final report about project outcomes, how funds were used and how many students participated. We will share a form with awardees.
  • Awardees will be invited to discuss their project and its outcomes at a University Life-sponsored event for the Columbia community.
  • Funding may be used for materials or other related project needs, including some professional services (subject to review). 

Project Examples

Interested in racial justice? Unsure about a project? Check out these examples and see if something stirs your imagination.

  • A train-the-trainer workshop that provides participants with the knowledge and skills to implement a racial bias bystander intervention training program within their school or student organization.
  • A series of events that invites the community to explore racial identity and representation in the media.
  • A workshop series offering support to students of color, first-gen/low income, LGBTQ+ and undocumented students to help provide access to professional development opportunities.
  • Development of a tool to help community members identify their strengths and areas for growth in understanding anti-racism and racial justice and to direct them to resources.
  • An interactive web application that highlights important spaces on campus related to issues of diversity, equity and inclusion, and racial justice.

Remember, we’re here to help. If you have any questions or want to talk through an idea before applying, please contact us at universitylife@columbia.edu.

How to Apply

Complete this application form by 5 p.m. ET on Friday, December 11, 2020.

Awardees will be announced in late December 2020, and recipients will be featured in University Life programming in the Spring.

If you have questions or simply want to discuss an idea you have for this program, please reach out to us. We’re happy to talk with you. Write to universitylife@columbia.edu.