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Sun Devils strengthen communities with Woodside Community Action Grants

palm walk
February 20, 2018

How would you change the world with $1,500? The Woodside Community Action Grant wants to know.

Now in its fourth year, the program that distributes grant money to Arizona State University students is going strong.

With the intent of funding student-led service projects throughout the Phoenix area and the entire state of Arizona, the Woodside Grant has facilitated an impressive amount of success stemming from the work of ASU students who are looking to give back and lend an extra voice to their community.

Last year, the grant was given to nine groups. ASU Now checked in on a couple of the recipients.

Putting a voice on criminal justice reform

Grace Hamm is studying tourism development and management at ASU, but one of her main passions is social and criminal justice reform.

Hamm’s grant funded a project called Devils for Justice. Members learn practical elements of leadership and cross-sector collaboration and work on social justice issues while pursuing their own social missions.

“Right now we are working on the issue of criminal justice reform and raising the profile of mass incarceration as an important social issue for the state of Arizona,” said Hamm. “Devils for Justice has allowed me to work on a real-world issue that has an impact on people. The work we are doing with the help of the Woodside Grant will help us continue to stimulate challenging but necessary conversations.”

Those conversations are now taking place at events hosted by Devils for Justice. The last one was held on-campus at ASU and featured a panel of mass-incarceration experts, whose aim was to humanize the talk so it didn’t devolve into a conversation about statistics and numbers.

More than 200 students were in attendance, and similar crowds are expected for future conversations about wrongful convictions and juvenile justice that will be held at different universities around the state.

“We are holding events at U of A, NAU and GCU in an attempt to broaden the discussion and make new partnerships,” Hamm said. “They will ultimately culminate with a roundtable between policymakers and community leaders, hopefully putting those (who) can make a change in touch with people who have recognized the need for it.”  

Working with and protecting indigenous peoples

Indigerise is an organization of members who are familiar with working with indigenous people.

The group is headed by graduate student and American Indian Studies major Laura Medina, who is tasked with bringing in resources and strengthening the indigenous network for the Southwestern United States. Their ultimate goal is to amplify indigenous knowledge as a way to shape strong communities that can overcome the many and various challenges they face on a regular basis.

“It is important because we have to prioritize both indigenous knowledge and their ways of life,” said Medina. “It’s something that colonization and the American system has worked very hard to take from us.”

Medina and company are using their Woodside Grant to try to preserve those ways of life.

Indigerise is implementing a convergence plan that uses customized activities for Native organizers while also holding events that envision the future of their land. Through these annual events and the grant money provided, they continue to provide a space the Native American community can count on.

“For the past three years we have held an Indigenous Peoples Day, which is based on the idea that we must celebrate our survival to genocide,” Medina said. “We want to keep providing a space that fulfills the needs and requests of our community.”

Next deadline approaching soon

The Woodside Community Action Grant is awarded twice a year, and the spring application deadline is quickly approaching.

Those ASU students who would like to apply for the seed-funding competition have until Feb. 25 to submit their proposal. Grant winners have until fall 2018 to implement their projects. Find application information here.