Grants Funded for the 2016-2017 Academic Year

The following projects were selected for funding by the annual Women's Board Grants Committee in May 2016.

Faculty Research and Support

Discovering Genetic Drivers of Leukemia

Comprising only a small percentage of the overall tumor, leukemia initiating cells (LICs) are capable of regrowing the entire tumor from just one cell, and therefore are considered cancer stem cells. Defining and targeting these LICs is an urgent question in cancer biology, as they are believed resistant to many standard cancer treatments and therefore cause cancer relapse. The overall goal of this project is to discover genes that regulate LICs in order to identify new targets for leukemia treatment that will prevent relapse so more patients can be cured. We will generate multi-colored T-cell leukemias in zebrafish to track the growth and evolution of different LIC subpopulations in live animals over time. Gene expression profiles for the most aggressive different colored leukemias will be compared with human leukemias to validate the importance of gene networks discovered with this animal model. This approach will help uncover the mechanisms leading to cancer relapse and may provide insight into new treatment targets.

Amount Awarded: $70,700

Building a Human Cellular Model to Study Neuropathy

The nature of this highly innovative proposal is to study a very common adverse effect of anticancer drugs, termed chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy (CIPN). CIPN, often times irreversible, is a condition with pain, numbness, tingling and sensitivity to cold/hot in hands and feet. The severity of CIPN is greater among older patients and African Americans. The support from this proposal will be used to reprogram patient blood with different degrees of neuropathy following chemotherapy to induced pluripotent stem cells that will then be differentiated to sensory neurons. Dr. Dolan and her team will evaluate the utility of these neurons (first of its kind) as a human in vitro model of CIPN by evaluating drug-induced morphological characteristics and electrical activity. This project will provide critical preliminary data for national funding and provide a means to develop a screening mechanism to identify new drugs to prevent or treat CIPN for cancer patients at the University and elsewhere.

Amount Awarded: $54,726

Breast Specimen Imaging and Understanding MRI Features and Correlating with Pathology

Study objective is to design and implement a specimen MRI (Sp-MRI) product to assess tumor extent, surgical margins and generate 3D volume in patients undergoing breast conservation surgery (BCS) for surgical treatment of breast cancer. Standard of care to assess tumor at the margin intraoperatively is 2D specimen radiography (SR) and the gold standard is total extent, margin assessment evaluated by pathology. Thus there is a strong need for tools such as MRI that can yield volumetric information, assess morphology of cancers and guide complete excision of tumor at a particular margin. Sp-MRI will be performed after SR and tomosynthesis but before it reaches pathology for inking. The current time for pathology is limited by histopathologic processing, this takes 12 hours. This means patients with positive margins may need second surgery. MRI may provide sufficient resolution and speed to guide pathologic interpretation and offer value in surgical decision making.

Amount Awarded: $60,000

The Arts and Cultural Institutions

Blues for an Alabama Sky and the Harlem Renaissance Celebration

In January and February 2017, Court Theatre will present Pearl Cleage’s Blues for an Alabama Sky directed by Resident Artist Ron OJ Parson as a part of the theatre’s 2016/2017 season. Blues for an Alabama Sky is set during the Harlem Renaissance, and the play draws heavily on the art and thought of the time. To enhance the production and ensure a wide impact on the University of Chicago and neighboring communities, Court will develop a celebration in collaboration with faculty and local cultural institutions to explore the theatre, visual arts, music, fashion, and philosophy of the Harlem Renaissance. University faculty led by Michael Dawson will develop the scholarly components of the celebration, which may include a course for undergraduates and scholarly symposia, while partners like the Logan Center for the Arts, the Beverly Arts Center, and the DuSable Museum for African American History will create artistic programming.

Amount Awarded: $25,000

Gwendolyn Brooks Centennial Conference at the University of Chicago

The 2017 centennial of Gwendolyn Brooks’s birth will be celebrated throughout Chicago and elsewhere. UChicago’s contribution will be a Centennial Conference designed to show and further the reach of Brooks’s work. Contemporary critical debates around race, gender, place, and space invite this focus on Chicago’s great Black female poet, as does scholarship on performance and media forms. But the Conference aims to draw participants from beyond the academy, inviting poets, artists, and activists who cite Brooks as an influence. The Conference will thus gather together Brooks’s contemporaries in the Black Arts movement, scholars from diverse institutions, and young artists honoring Brooks as their forebear. This event will be held across three South Side locations: the Logan Center, the DuSable Museum, and the UChicago Arts Incubator. Women’s Board funding will help cover space rental and associated fees; travel, accommodation, and honoraria for invited participants; and administrative and AV/recording costs.

Amount Awarded: $43,664

Fire Escape Film's Women in Film Initiative

Our female membership at Fire Escape Films is growing exponentially and there is an urgent need to implement formal programming to keep up with the advancement of our members. Fire Escape functions as a practical film school that complements the Cinema and Media Studies curriculum, and arts community at large. Fire Escape’s Women in Film Initiative (WIFI) will increase the diversity of our content, as well as student participation. WIFI will grant female writers and directors the opportunity to tell their stories and provide programming that targets creative and professional development. WIFI will create a competitive application process, the goal of which being to fund more ambitious content. Workshop series, script seminars, critiques, and speaker events will help members accomplish the long-term goals of WIFI. WIFI seeks to be the seed to grow the alumni network in film and television. At the end of this initiative, Fire Escape hopes to have a reliable group of contacts in the industry that can collaborate with current students.

Amount Awarded: $10,050

StoryArts Summer Camp

StoryArts Summer Camp is an affordable, full-day arts summer program for Mid-South Side youth. Our project-based curriculum encourages youth to develop narratives that engage both community issues and their personal experiences, stimulating the kind of inquiry and creativity that the University of Chicago promotes. StoryArts establishes community-university partnerships that are vital for offering local K-12 students robust educational and artistic programming. With the support of University of Chicago departments, undergraduate students and Chicago-based artists collaborate to design and lead the program, thus strengthening the ties between university faculty and students, Chicago-based artists, and South Side youth. StoryArts also deepens the university’s commitments to both promoting the arts and to supporting surrounding communities. The program creates opportunities for UChicago students interested in the arts, education, and civic engagement to gain experience in that work, as well as opportunities for Chicago-based artists to contribute to UChicago’s vibrant artistic community.

Amount Awarded: $22,280

Quality of Student Life

Internships for Odyssey Scholars

As part of the University’s No Barriers initiative, Career Advancement is expanding its flagship Jeff Metcalf Internship Program to provide guaranteed paid internships for all first-year undergraduates receiving the Odyssey Scholarship for low- and middle-income students. Career Advancement anticipates that many of these internships will be funded directly by the students’ employers. However, approximately 50% of first-year Odyssey Scholars have expressed interest in interning with organizations that do not typically have the resources to offer paid internships (e.g., nonprofits, arts organizations, government agencies, etc.). These students will require support from the University to fund unpaid opportunities. With generous support from the Women’s Board to supplement funding from the Provost’s Office, Career Advancement will be able to meet nearly all anticipated need for unpaid internship support, allowing Odyssey Scholars to pursue opportunities that align with their true professional interests rather than being limited by their financial status.

Amount Awarded: $50,000

Graduate Global Impact Internships: Chicagoland Nonprofits

Though college internships have become routine nationally, large-scale graduate internship initiatives are unprecedented. UChicagoGRAD’s GRAD Global Impact (GGI) internship program is a national model for graduate education, integrating academic research with skills development and creating a new generation of flexibly trained graduate students. In its first year, the GGI internship program received over 140 applications for 70 slots, and the inaugural cohort of interns included placements in six countries around the world. Strikingly, applicants showed tremendous interest in nonprofit internships in and around Chicago, where students want to have local impact while both continuing their academic work on campus and simultaneously developing skills that will serve them well in academia, industry, nonprofits, and government. Since nonprofits often do not have funds to support internships, this proposal for sustaining funding from the Women’s Board will enable an expansion of opportunities for students who are eager for these experiences while also having greater impact in the local Chicagoland nonprofit landscape.

Amount Awarded: $25,000

Future Leaders in Human Rights

Human Rights (HR) internships have been a key component of our Center’s theory-practice-theory model since 1998. More than 450 students have participated in eighteen years, and we currently award twenty-five to thirty grants each year. HR Interns have a transformative learning experience and provide invaluable service to their host organizations, which include non-governmental organizations, governments, labor unions, clinics, and international agencies. On their return to campus, they develop BA projects, write reports, provide guidance to the next cohort, and educate the campus community through presentations at a Winter Symposium. Funding for sixteen student internships is secure each year through endowments in the College and the Pozen Center, but we solicit the remaining support ($50,000 – 70,000) from individual donors, whose contributions vary from year to year. Support from the Women’s Board for five internships would help stabilize this important educational program.

Amount Awarded: $25,000

Community Outreach

The South Side Home Movie Project

The South Side Home Movie Project collects, preserves, and screens amateur home movies from residents of Chicago’s South Side. This endeavor gathers and presents historical documentation of daily life for South Side residents, covering a period from the 1930s to the 1980s. Thanks to the project’s continued growth, we now require new resources to utilize the full potential of our archive: equipment for capturing oral history interviews; mounting mobile, community-based screenings; transferring films across multiple locations; and facilitating technical and managerial oversight. We also want to involve U Chicago students more directly in the project while simultaneously enhancing our staff, and plan to hire interns to assist with the ongoing curation, documentation, preservation and programming of these materials.

Amount Awarded: $27,500

Black Youth Project High School Fellows is a platform for young people of color to express views, analyze issues, suggest policy solutions and disseminate research and news and culture that is relevant to their experiences. The Black Youth Project (BYP)—an organization founded and managed by Dr. Cathy Cohen to produce research about and amplify the voices of young people of color—seeks grant support from the University of Chicago Women’s Board to pilot a fellowship program for a small cohort of high school students from the University of Chicago Charter School UCW and the University of Chicago’s Laboratory UHigh Schools. Up to five students would be selected to learn data analysis and research interpretation, and to apply these newly developed skills to write stories and commentary for We hope to provide our student fellows an opportunity to contribute to the national discourse, especially as the country contemplates how and if young lives of color matter.

Amount Awarded: $29,000

Females Excelling More in Math, Engineering, and Science

We believe that a critical part of achieving gender parity within the tech industry lies in access to early computer science education for girls. We currently have a dedicated team organizing events and workshops that will expose female middle school students to the principles and skills that will allow them to enter technical classes, and eventually careers, with confidence. The prospect of gender parity and representation of more diverse perspectives in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) industries will also benefit university students who will pursue careers in these fields. We need additional funding in order to secure laptops for our weekly workshop series, curriculum supplies to aid hands-on demonstrations, a stipend for our student teacher, and transportation for our planned field trips.

Amount Awarded: $40,110

Maroon Tutor Match: Expanding the Reach of the
Neighborhood Schools Program

Currently, the Neighborhood Schools Program (NSP) focuses on school-based programming — one-on-one and small group individual tutoring and classroom-level support, as well as specialized placements based on programming requests from school leadership. Through this proposal, NSP requests funding to support a new program created to meet the need of local parents looking for tutoring or additional academic support for their children. The program, called Maroon Tutor Match (MTM), represents a new type of engagement – providing individual tutoring after school and on the weekends – which builds a new set of relationships between University students and local families. This extension of the current NSP model will create opportunities to increase the impact of the University’s civic engagement efforts, our students’ desire to connect to the community, and the interest of all parties in improving educational opportunities for local youth. NSP is currently running a pilot of MTM during the 2015-16 academic year.

Amount Awarded: $19,600

Engineering for Everyone: Bringing Engineering Education to the Woodlawn Children’s Promise Community

The School of Social Service Administration (SSA) and the Center for Elementary Mathematics and Science Education (CEMSE) in the Physical Sciences Division will partner with the Woodlawn Children’s Promise Community (WCPC) to: provide roughly 600 Kindergarten through 5th grade students in the Woodlawn community with high-quality, school-based engineering experiences; intensively train and support 20 WCPC elementary school teachers using the innovative Engineering is Elementary curriculum; and develop capacity and establish a model that can be used to strategically expand this engineering focus to other elementary school students and teachers in the Woodlawn community in future years. By building a strong cadre of WCPC teachers who have the resources, knowledge, and skills they need to incorporate engineering into their instructional programs—and a model for expanding this cadre over time—we will make significant progress toward enhancing STEM education for the youngest students in the University of Chicago’s surrounding community.

Amount Awarded: $50,257

Discover Nursing!

Discover Nursing! is an educational program for middle and high school students within our service area to learn and experience 21st Century nursing. The profession is rapidly changing to reflect the expanding roles, responsibilities and opportunities for nurses in an ever changing healthcare environment. Nursing is facing a significant shortage in both nurses and diversity within our profession. Our future nurses are in today’s younger students. Discover Nursing! is designed as an interactive day of learning for middle and high school students to learn about nursing and the many ways that nurses impact the future of healthcare. Students will also learn about the academic options for nursing and what they need to learn in high school to prepare for studying nursing at the college level. Discover Nursing! reflects the University’s commitment to advancing knowledge and opportunities and partnership within our community.

Amount Awarded: $7,725

The Pediatric Hearing Loss Bridge Fund

The Pediatric Hearing Loss Bridge Fund would enable the Pediatric Hearing Loss Program to provide loaner hearing aids to pediatric patients who need immediate access to hearing technology. Despite being counseled on the importance of immediate access to hearing aids our facility cannot assist in making this immediate access a reality due to hospital billing practices. Often insurance does not cover the purchase of a hearing aid and additional funding source approval often delays the process. In addition, children covered through Illinois Medicaid can only obtain hearing aids at a facility that provides durable medical equipment through their Medicaid card. The longer children go without amplification the longer they are denied access to spoken language. This proposed Pediatric Hearing Loss Bridge Fund is a resource that can provide immediate access to appropriate amplification for young children with hearing loss and serve as a guide helping families navigate through this very difficult time.

Amount Awarded: $39,388