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Racial Justice Fellows program taking applications from local college students

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Photo provided by the University of South Florida.

A consortium of local colleges, universities and the Foundation for a Healthy St. Pete is seeking eight students to help fight racial hierarchies in Pinellas County. 

Eckerd College, St. Petersburg College, Stetson College of Law and The University of South Florida St. Petersburg make up the participating schools, and the consortium is selecting two students from each to serve as fellows during the 2021-2022 academic year.

Julie Rocco, director of strategic investments for the foundation, says the main focus of these fellowships will be working through social issues with a racial justice lens, especially in regards to participants’ own lives and experiences. “It will be a journey of self reflection,” she said.

Fellows will be required to participate in seven approved “activities, events or discussions” having to do with race equity during the academic year, as well as a relevant six-week internship during the summer of 2022. They will earn up to $2,000 each while working in the program, made possible by the Foundation for a Healthy St. Pete via a grant. 

When applying, candidates will be asked to detail how their life experiences or identities contribute to their desire for work related to racial justice. They will also be asked to explain how students in general can lead antiracist movements on college campuses. Applications for the fellowship positions close on Sept. 13, and can be found here

Formally called the St. Petersburg Higher Education Consortium for Racial Justice, the group that will manage these fellows formed in 2020. Caryn Nesmith, the director of community relations at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg, says its goals include “focusing on how to fund research projects, the racial justice fellowship, a professional learning committee for faculty to consider issues of race, and sharing resources across our institutions to host seminars, workshops and symposia with equity and justice themes.”

The Foundation for a Healthy St. Pete helped create the consortium by funding a grant that allowed representatives from the four local colleges and universities to study W.K Kellogg Foundation’s Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation framework.

Researchers from the Kellogg Foundation developed this framework in an effort to curb racial hierarchies through education. One example of how the framework achieves this is by promoting the sharing of complete and complex stories regarding race relations.

Over 30 colleges and universities across the country have implemented learning centers using the framework, and Nesmith says establishing a similar venue in Pinellas County is another goal of the consortium and the racial justice fellowships.

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