MISSOULA – SARC, the Student Advocacy Resource Center at the University of Montana, recently earned a $300,000 federal grant to offer critical support for domestic violence and sexual assault prevention at UM and in the Missoula community.
The grant, from the national Office on Violence Against Women, will fund the UM PEACE Project (Prevention Education Anti-Violence Collaborative Effort). About $100,000 will be spent each year over the next three years. A bulk of the grant will fund a PEACE Project director, who will be hired by next year and add more capacity to SARC.
In addition, the grant will support a social media marketing campaign, outreach and training, and collaboration with community partners and other campuses across the nation. The project director will coordinate the work with both campus and Missoula community partners, said SARC Director Jen Euell.
“We are lucky because in Missoula there already is a lot of collaboration in the community and on campus,” Euell said. “We were able to benefit from those relationships and that’s a part of what was successful in securing the grant.”
With the new funding, SARC will be able to send a group of its staff and community partners to a national training to meet with staff from other universities also awarded the federal grant.
“Our campus and community will be trained in the current best practices in violence response and prevention, and they will be able to take that training and bring it back here and apply it on campus and in the community,” Euell said.
Another goal of the grant-funded PEACE Project is to create more anti-violence training for students, staff and faculty – particularly for marginalized groups such as BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) and LGBTQA+.
“It will be a much more strategic approach to violence prevention,” Euell said.
The grant is part of a continued effort at SARC to improve its response and prevention efforts toward domestic violence and sexual assault. Housed in UM’s Curry Health Center, SARC often is the confidential first call for students and others in the community who have experienced such violence.
To expand UM’s capacity, the University recently hired Alison Pepper, a former Missoula College professor and coordinator of prevention education at SARC, to fill a new role as director of Equity, Empowerment and Prevention.
Pepper, who will help lead the PEACE Project, is tasked with implementing diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) training and education to students, faculty and staff. Pepper will not only examine gender and sex-based harm, but also race and other identity-based harm.
Between Pepper’s new position and the incoming PEACE Project director, UM will have more resources to put toward violence prevention and DEI training, Euell said.
“My hope is both with (Pepper’s) additional capacity in this new position and this grant and the position that will come with it, we will be able to have a robust, multipronged violence prevention approach,” Euell said.
Contact: Dave Kuntz, UM director of strategic communications, 406-243-5659, firstname.lastname@example.org