The University of New Mexico’s Women’s Resource Center (WRC) was awarded a $300,000 grant through the Office on Violence Against Women's "Grants to Reduce Domestic Violence, Dating Violence, Sexual Assault, and Stalking on Campus Program," one of 25 grant programs authorized by the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) of 1994 and subsequent legislation.

With increased attention and uncertainty around the new proposed Title IX regulations, this grant speaks to UNM’s unwavering commitment to increasing the quality and availability of support and advocacy to all members of our community. Through collaboration with both on and off campus partners and student leadership, the VAWA grant will provide funding to help achieve numerous aims.

The WRC’s overarching goal is to Increase the UNM community’s capacity to provide holistic, trauma-informed and culturally-sensitive victim advocacy and support on campus. This will be addressed through services that support mental health and physical health, including the development and implementation of counseling groups and workshops tailored to students’ needs in collaboration with UNM’s Counseling and Psychology programs.

With Student Health and Counseling (SHAC) and North Campus support, the WRC will utilize an evidence-based, peer-advocate system to support survivors in understanding and navigating health services, including accompanying students to appointments and identifying educational needs.

In addition, the WRC will enhance legal support, identifying the most pressing legal needs of students involved with Title IX-related issues. Working with Legal Aid, local law firms and the UNM School of Law, the WRC will create relevant online legal resources and educational videos, translated and subtitled with the dominant languages spoken on campus.

Finally, the VAWA grant will enable the WRC – via their Campus SMART Team – to work with community-based educators to create and conduct essential victim support service trainings for campus police, investigators, health practitioners, sanctioning and conduct staff, advocates and other first responders on campus.

For all of these initiatives, graduate assistants will play crucial roles in the creation and implementation of every project.

“Our idea is to keep the leadership and vision in student hands,” said Jessica Holland, director of the Women’s Resource Center. “This grant is really reflective of our origins as one of the first higher education women’s resource centers in the country. It (the grant) really looks at how we can increase the capacity of support across our entire campus, sustainably, with a focus on what resources we have and how students can play a leadership role.”

Next week, representatives from the WRC and the grants principal investigator, Rosa Cervantes, director of El Centro de la Raza, are off to the Training and Technical Assistance Institute for new grantees, where they will begin to hone and refine their plans for maximizing the benefits of the awarded grant.