DOJ Awards $749,998 to Claremont Colleges to Support EmPOWER Center Services

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The Department of Justice (DOJ) Office on Violence Against Women recently announced The Claremont Colleges will receive a grant totaling $749,998 to help students who are victims of sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence and stalking. The DOJ award will strengthen existing resources and fund new programming and supportive services delivered by the EmPOWER Center, established in 2015. The funding will benefit students from all seven of The Claremont Colleges, which include Scripps, Harvey Mudd, Pomona, Claremont McKenna and Pitzer Colleges; and graduate schools Keck Graduate Institute and Claremont Graduate University. The Claremont Colleges were among 45 colleges and universities in the nation, and the only higher education institutions in California, to receive the DOJ award.

“We are extremely pleased to be able to expand the important work of assisting the seven campuses deliver effective, comprehensive, and coordinated strategies supporting survivors, reducing campus sexual violence and improving our institutions’ responses to these incidences,” said Charlotte Johnson, Scripps vice president for student affairs and dean of students, who will serve as lead administrator for the funding. Johnson and Sharon Basso, vice president for student affairs and dean of students at Claremont McKenna College, jointly oversee the EmPOWER Center on behalf of The Claremont Colleges.

Johnson explained that funds assigned to the project will support services, education, and programming provided by The Claremont Colleges, Claremont University Consortium, and community partners, which include House of Ruth, Project Sister, and the Claremont Police Department. Johnson anticipates the funding will allow the EmPOWER Center and its partners to serve more than 12,500 students at The Claremont Colleges over the next three years. “The DOJ funding further underscores The Claremont Colleges’ leadership role in addressing these issues,” Johnson added.

Under Director Rima Shah, the EmPOWER Center has significantly increased the number of students reached through orientation and other year-round education programs to build awareness and prevent sexual and dating violence on campuses, has established an expanded 7C student advisory board whose members meet monthly, and collaborates closely with student advocate groups who provide confidential peer-to-peer support. Since its official opening in January 2016, the seven-college program has also successfully doubled its in-house counseling hours; increased awareness about resources; successfully launched a healthy masculinity initiative aimed at involving male-identifying students across the consortium in programming around consent, rape culture and healthy relationships; implemented confidential support groups and collaborative trainings for professional and student staff who most often come in contact with survivors.

In addition to the work of the EmPOWER Center, each college supports its own Title IX office to combat sexual harassment, gender-based discrimination and sexual violence.

“We are so excited for the tremendous resources this grant will bring to the 7Cs. It will help strengthen and expand our efforts and go a long way in helping to build a community of care at the colleges,” said EmPOWER Center director, Rima Shah.

The EmPOWER Center serves undergraduate institutions Scripps, Harvey Mudd, Pomona, Claremont McKenna, and Pitzer Colleges; and graduate schools Keck Graduate Institute and Claremont Graduate University, the seven-college consortium known as The Claremont Colleges. EmPOWER Center seeks to collaborate closely with students, staff, faculty and community partners to build awareness and sensitivity around issues related to sexual violence, dating violence, domestic violence and stalking through prevention education, information dissemination and training programs for students, staff and faculty. The Center also provides counseling and holistic support to 7C students impacted by these forms of violence.