Storytelling grant will enhance understanding

  • Published Tuesday, September 19, 2017

A new grant will allow Renton Technical College (RTC) students from diverse backgrounds to share their life stories with the college community.

RTC was one of 40 institutions to receive funding from the Campus Compact Fund for Positive Engagement to bridge divides on campuses and in communities. The $5,000 grant will fund the new “We the People” storyteller series. It will build upon the work of the cross-cultural dialogue series student leaders started last year, which included conversations related to race, gender, disability, religion, immigration, and sexual orientation.

“We hope that the We the People Series will help build empathy and understanding of faculty and staff about the experiences of our students,” said Jessica Supinski, Director of Student Programs and Engagement. “This will help create a more welcoming and supportive environment for our students to pursue their education.”

The five-part series will move beyond general discussions about diversity and put a face to the experience. Students will share their personal stories on topics such as the experience of refugees and/or undocumented students in the U.S., as determined by student leaders. Supinksi says the series will foster the development of student leaders on campus, and will likely lead to the creation of at least two new identity-based student organizations.

RTC President Kevin McCarthy said the grant supports the College’s goal of being a welcoming and inclusive community. The College is moving forward with a diversity, equity, and inclusion plan to help improve instruction and student support services so they are more culturally responsive and inclusive.

“The series will enable us to expand our efforts to provide a place of understanding at such a divisive time in our country,” McCarthy said.

The Fund for Positive Engagement is a direct response by Campus Compact to the divisive and destructive climate in the United States that took shape during the 2016 presidential campaign and has continued in its aftermath. The purpose of the Fund is to catalyze experiments in bridging divisions among people and groups in communities across the country.

Campus Compact is a Boston-based nonprofit organization working to advance the public purposes of higher education. The selection process was highly competitive, as Campus Compact received nearly 300 submissions from institutions across the country.

The storytelling series will begin in October, and details will be posted at www.rtc.edu.

Renton Technical College engages a diverse student population through educational opportunities for career readiness and advancement, serving the needs of individuals, the community, businesses, and industry.

For more information, contact Katherine Hedland Hansen, Director of College Relations and Marketing, at 425-235-2356 or khansen@rtc.edu.