Carlow University Receives It’s On Us Grant from the State of Pennsylvania

Carlow University has received a grant from the State of Pennsylvania to educate, prevent and respond to sexual violence.

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$27,940 Grant Focuses on Preventing, Addressing, and Responding to Sexual Violence

Pittsburgh, Pa. – Carlow University has received an “It’s On Us” grant for $27,940 from the Pennsylvania Governor’s Office and the Department of Education to help the university prevent, address, and respond effectively to sexual violence.

“Thank you to Carlow University for its leadership and commitment to ensuring the safety, well-being and success of Pennsylvania’s next generation of leaders,” said Wil Del Pilar, PhD, the Pennsylvania Department of Education’s deputy secretary of postsecondary and higher education, in a letter to Carlow.

As part of the grant, Carlow, which is a university founded by the Sisters of Mercy, has developed a mercy-centered approach, that includes modeling positive behaviors for men and women; educating and empowering students; and reducing risks.

“With this grant, we seek to enhance visibility of existing services and create new programs to combat sexual violence on campus, reduce barriers to reporting, and to build our capacity for sustainable leadership on this project,” said Jennifer Carlo, PhD, vice president of Student Engagement and dean of students at Carlow University.

The three goals of this initiative are:

Goal 1:  Launch “Have MERCY!”, a values-based, robust, campus-wide education and awareness initiative to enhance visibility of existing services and create new programs to combat sexual violence on campus.

Under this goal, Carlow will provide information and programming each year during first year student orientation, as well as provide information delivered online, through videos, and from speakers on topics such as dating violence, alcohol and sexual assault, and gender-based violence.

“We want to greatly enhance awareness of education and prevention efforts on campus through a robust, multimodal, University-side series of conversations, videos, education pieces, and programs called Voices of Carlow,” said Carlo.

In addition to the above approaches, there will also be a campaign in which members of the University community – students, staff, and faculty – make a personal commitment to stop sexual and gender-based violence through personally taking the It’s On Us pledge and by using designated hashtags on their personal social media outlets.

Goal 2:  Reduce systemic, psychological, and knowledge barriers to reporting gender-based violence.

Carlow currently uses e2campus for emergency notifications, and wants to expand its coverage by adding student-oriented features that will allow students to send tips in an emergency or when an assault is threatened or taking place, and allow students to access an emergency hotline in addition to the campus police.

“We believe that both of these options will remove barriers to reporting and enable students who do not yet wish to make a police report to nevertheless share information,” said Carlo.

The university also will create a Sexual Violence Guidebook that would be available as a smartphone app to allow students to access information and resources easily, conveniently, and anonymously.  For students without a smartphone, the university will provide a flashdrive preloaded with the guidebook and the same information and resources that can be accessed through a smartphone.  It is hoped that this will both raise awareness of gender-based violence and remove barriers to reporting and accessing resources.

Goal 3: Build a sustainable and proactive system of leadership across the University on issues of gender-based violence.

All of the university’s first responders – the Carlow University Police, conduct board members, first year mentors, resident assistants, and graduate resident directors – currently receive basic training in how to respond to reports of sexual assault.  The university wants to enhance and expand that training by engaging more community partners and sponsoring three inservices for each group every semester.  It is believed this will enhance the skills of these individuals when addressing gender-based violence, as well as keeping an emphasis on these issues and the need to be proactive in addressing them.

“Students frequently report gender-based violence to individuals with whom they feel most comfortable, and of course we support that,” said Carlo. “However, when they report to faculty and staff who are not trained Campus Security Authorities, there’s a risk that those individuals may not be equipped to respond in the most appropriate ways.  We want to work with our community partners to create a special training series that would prepare faculty and staff volunteers to become advocates and points of contact for survivors with basic crisis training, specific guidance on gender-based violence survivors, and reporting and resources.  We believe that this will reduce barriers to reporting, provide students with more reporting options, and increase the number of individuals on campus who are proactive advocates on these issues.”

As part of this initiative, Carlow plans to send two staff members to “train-the-trainer” programs on bystander awareness, so that the university will be able to then regularly provide that training on campus to groups including athletes, resident students, and those training to be future providers in our nursing, education, and social work programs.


About Carlow University
Carlow is a private, co-educational, Catholic university located in the heart of Pittsburgh’s “Eds, Meds, and Tech” district. Founded by the Sisters of Mercy, Carlow’s graduates, curriculum, and partnerships reflect its strong commitment to social justice; ethical, forward-thinking and responsible leadership; and service to the community that has a meaningful impact. Undergraduate and graduate degrees are offered in three colleges: Health and Wellness, Leadership and Social Change, and Learning and Innovation. Carlow graduates are in demand for their professional expertise, in fields ranging from nursing, the sciences, and perfusion technology to counseling, education, and forensic accounting; their entrepreneurial spirit and creative mindset; and their ability to manage change.  Carlow’s eleven athletic teams are known as the Celtics, a reflection of the university’s Irish heritage and roots.

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