DEI Innovation Fund will augment campuses, system diversity efforts

President Kennedy, CU Foundation Board of Directors team for $5 million boost
By Staff

DEI Innovation Fund will augment campuses, system diversity efforts

Diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) efforts at the university got a boost after CU President Mark Kennedy collaborated with the CU Foundation Board of Directors to create a $5 million DEI Innovation Fund that provides resources for initiatives on each campus and at system administration.

The funding will be split evenly, with each campus and system administration receiving $1 million. The board’s finance committee approved the move last week, and final approval is expected from the full CU Foundation board soon.

CU President Mark Kennedy
CU President Mark Kennedy

“We want to foster innovation in DEI programming across the system, so we appreciate the partnership with the CU Foundation to help us do so,” Kennedy said. “There are many great ideas across the CU system to advance our diversity efforts, and we hope this additional funding will allow us to implement some of them.”

The fund aligns with the metrics in the Leaning Into the Future strategic plan, which has paused until next semester. The plan states that CU is committed to improving retention and graduation rates for underrepresented students; increasing the percentage of underrepresented populations among students, faculty and staff; and ensuring that people from all the categories of the Board of Regents’ definition of diversity feel included at CU.

“This funding should augment some of the work that is already happening across the CU system and allow us to invest in projects that we may not otherwise be able to fund,” said Theodosia Cook, system chief diversity officer.

Funds will focus on projects that address any one of the following challenges:

  • Compliance and people relations challenge: How can CU identify and address cultural breaches?
  • Attracting and recruiting challenge: How can CU attract and recruit a diverse population of students, faculty and staff?
  • Onboarding and alignment challenge: How can CU welcome or recommit new faculty, staff and students to CU’s culture and goals?
  • Learning and development challenge: How can CU provide opportunities to increase its retention and graduation rates, as well as support faculty and staff with professional and personal development?

Campus chancellors will establish a process for collecting project ideas. They will review and approve project submissions and submit to Kennedy and Cook. Chancellors will also provide quarterly updates on the project’s progress.