Two projects chosen for President’s Challenge for Racial Justice and Equity Response funding

President Lovell announced two project winners for the President’s Challenge for Racial Justice and Equity Response, a grant program launched to focus on the urgent issue of elevating and advancing racial justice and equity across Milwaukee’s various communities.

In partnership with American Family Insurance and with ongoing support from Johnson Controls Foundation, grants of up to $50,000 were awarded to community-engaged, interdisciplinary groups for their work on developing a trauma-informed athletic practice partnership and research to assess telehealth and health monitoring intervention on Milwaukee’s north side.

“The response of the Marquette community to our call to action in the President’s Challenge this year has been both impressive and inspiring,” President Lovell said. “Our faculty and staff developed innovative approaches to address timely and important issues affecting Milwaukee. I am excited to see the positive impact that these meritorious projects will make on our community.”

Proposals were submitted to address community needs in one of three categories: Social and Cultural, Health Services, and Education. The winning proposals were:

Restorative Justice in Movement: Trauma-Informed Athletic Practice Partnership
Principal investigator: Dr. Noelle Brigden, associate professor of political science

Restorative Justice in Movement is a collaboration with the Milwaukee Turners at Turner Hall to promote embodied empowerment for women from communities disproportionately impacted by incarceration. The trauma of mass incarceration and forced absence is a gendered violence, experienced differently by men and women, but widely shared in the Milwaukee Black community. Thus, the program’s first cohort of participants will be an intergenerational group of women who identify as friends and family members of incarcerated people. They will participate in movement workshops focused on several different athletic modalities: powerlifting, yoga, self-defense and rock climbing. Participants will build their cohort community through support of their shared athletic pursuits. They will also have the opportunity to engage researchers in an oral history project and be invited to co-create the research and programming for future iterations of the program.

Additional Marquette faculty team members: Dr. Alison Efford, associate professor of history; Dr. Kristof Kipp, associate professor of exercise science; Dr. Heather Hlavka, associate professor of social and cultural sciences; Dr. Abir Bekhet, associate professor of nursing; Dr. Jennifer Ohlendorf, assistant professor of nursing; and Dr. Julia Paulk, associate professor of languages, literatures and cultures.

Determine health and well-being of African American community in Milwaukee’s North side via assessment of telehealth and health monitoring intervention
Principal investigator: Dr. Nilanjan Lodh, assistant professor of medical laboratory science

This project will determine how telehealth interventions—the shift of in-person monitoring to remote monitoring due to the pandemic—has affected the health disparities among the African American population in Milwaukee, as well as support existing community-led intervention efforts related to telehealth and remote health monitoring for African American communities. The overall project goals are to evaluate new telehealth interventions in African American community in Milwaukee related to remote monitoring of chronic health conditions, such as diabetes and asthma, which have rapidly emerged as major factors of comorbidity and premature mortality in African American population. It will also build and/or strengthen relationships with community partners in health care and other agencies working to reduce disparities.

Additional Marquette faculty team members: Dr. Aleksandra Snowden, assistant professor of social and cultural sciences, and Dr. Praveen Madiraju, associate professor of computer science.

The President’s Challenge, funded in part by Johnson Controls Foundation, was first announced in 2018. The Next Step Clinic, which brings mental health services to the Metcalfe Park neighborhood, and surrounding communities, was announced as the first recipient at President Lovell’s annual address in 2019.

About Marquette’s corporate partners

Johnson Controls
At Johnson Controls (NYSE: JCI) we transform the environments where people live, work, learn and play. As the global leader in smart, healthy and sustainable buildings, our mission is to reimagine the performance of buildings to serve people, places and the planet. With a history of more than 135 years of innovation, Johnson Controls delivers the blueprint of the future for industries such as healthcare, schools, data centers, airports, stadiums, manufacturing and beyond through its comprehensive digital offering OpenBlue. With a global team of 100,000 experts in more than 150 countries, Johnson Controls offers the world`s largest portfolio of building technology, software as well as service solutions with some of the most trusted names in the industry. For more information, visit or follow us @johnsoncontrols on Twitter.

American Family Insurance Group
Based in Madison, Wisconsin, American Family Insurance has been serving customers since 1927. We inspire, protect and restore dreams through our insurance products, exceptional service from our agency owners and employees, community investment and creative partnerships to address societal challenges. We act on our belief in diversity and inclusion by constantly evolving to meet customer needs and preferences. American Family Insurance group is the nation’s 13th-largest property/casualty insurance group, ranking No. 254 on the Fortune 500 list. The group sells American Family-brand products, primarily through exclusive agency owners in 19 states. The American Family Insurance group also includes CONNECT, powered by American Family Insurance, The GeneralHomesite and Main Street America. Across these companies the group has more than 13,500 employees nationwide.