The Cabrini community’s commitment to preventing sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking (SADDVS) on campus and in local communities has been recognized by the Department of Justice’s Office of Violence Against Women in the form of a $298,352 grant.
The grant will be fulfilled through the Barbara and John Jordan Center for Children of Trauma and Domestic Violence Education, which empowers teachers, leaders, and other professionals to better recognize and prevent various forms of assault. This year, through the leadership of Jordan Center Director Colleen Lelli, EdD, the Center has encouraged bystander intervention on campus, helped to establish trauma-informed professional development programs in the West Chester School District, and hosted the 11th annual Domestic Violence Education Symposium in October.
“This grant enables us to make our work more intentional and focused, and we have a vision for how we want to do that,” said Lelli, who is also a Professor of Education. “The Jordan Center will be the hub for this information on campus, and we can support colleagues and other departments with programming through this grant. It’s going to be great for our campus.”
Structured over three years, the grant’s first year is designated for strategic planning. Grant co-director Michelle Filling-Brown, PhD, Associate Provost, Academic Affairs, said this planning phase provides an opportunity to craft a unified program that educates incoming and current students about SADDVS and bystander intervention.
“We know that there is already education happening in Orientation, including training of athletes and training through Resident Assistants in our residence halls,” Filling-Brown said. “But this grant brings those people together to be more thoughtful and intentional around what we want incoming students and existing students to know.”
In addition to this education, the grant supports the creation of a campus-wide response team trained not only in trauma-informed intervention and response to instances of SADDVS, but also in compassionate care for victims of these acts of violence.
This funding from the Department of Justice validates much of the advocacy and education work the Jordan Center has facilitated on campus and locally — work that sexual assault survivor and civil attorney Sarah Klein called the “Gold Standard” in higher education during lectures she delivered at Cabrini’s 2019 and 2021 Domestic Violence Education Symposiums.
“This Jordan Center, the students here, the work you guys are doing is proactive, not reactive,” Klein said during the 2021 Symposium on October 5.
Lelli and Filling-Brown agreed a major focus of their work — including the recent It’s On Us education campaign, also supported through a federal grant — is about preventing violence.
“We want to create a sustainable environment on campus in ways that are preventative,” said Filling-Brown. “When [Klein] said we are the ‘Gold Standard,’ Colleen and I decided we were going to own that and live up to it, so we can be proud of how we are keeping students safe.”