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2021-22 Anti-Racism Grant Recipients

Congratulations to the 2021-22 cohort of Lindy Center for Civic Engagement Anti-Racism Mini-Grant recipients! Each recipient submitted a project through our application process detailed in the previous link - the following list is organized by project and includes descriptions of the project and bios and pictures for individuals who submitted and worked on the project. 

Project: Anti-Racism Resources for New Math Teachers in West Philadelphia 

Award Recipient: Kaleb Banks

Kaleb’s project is to empower teachers to grow their instructional educational toolkit with anti-racist practices. New Teacher Math Professional Learning Academy (NMTPLA) will connect with a West Philadelphia school to assist first and second year teachers with their lesson planning and anti-racist professional development.

smiling person with glasses, white shirt, and tie and gray backgroundKaleb (he/him) is a graduate student in Drexel’s School of Education pursuing a Masters of Science in Education Improvement and Transformation. He is a co-founder of TDR Ideas, LLP, a service and mission-driven consulting partnership, an Education Consultant with Encyclopedia Britannica, and a former K-12 charter school educator with experience working with students from various backgrounds in all academic subjects. Outside of his teaching, Kaleb is interested in social and political philosophy. He hopes to continue his graduate studies to consider how the history of philosophy has been regarded as an element of teaching and learning and the impact on social and political thought, especially towards our ethical obligations. The New Math Teacher Professional Learning Academe project is the culmination of academic and professional experiences. While working in charter schools in Louisiana and Washington, D.C., he reflected on his experiences to consider what could assist new teachers with their professional learning to support retention. Additionally, this project considers the relationship between teaching and learning and the impact of professional learning on student achievement. With the uncertainty of COVID-19 on teaching and learning, this project was developed as an intentional method to provide additional resources and support to schools, teachers, and families.

Project: Supporting a “Right to Redemption” for Community Members of Mantua and Powelton Neighborhoods through Commutation and Re-Entry Workshops

Award Recipients: Noah Desimone, Caroline Szerenyi, & Brielle Brown

Partnering with a Mantua community group Revolutionary Visions and a group of incarcerated men and women called Right to Redemption, these law students from Drexel’s Stern Community Lawyering Clinic’s will connect community members with incarcerated loved ones who are seeking clemency from the Pennsylvania Board of Pardons. During the project, three sessions will be conducted by the students and qualified families will be selected to continue taking part in the clemency clinic.

  Smiling person wearing gray blazer and blue shirt and tieNoah (he/him) is a second-year law student at Drexel Law and longtime Philadelphia area resident interested in lawyering in the public sector after graduation. Before he attended law school, Noah knew he wanted to be involved in a legal aid clinic assisting members of the community—just like the CLC—so I am thrilled to be working on this project, which empowers members of the community to navigate the commutations process. I am even more thrilled and thankful to have the backing of the Lindy Center in this project.
  black and white photo of person standing against a wall smiling wearing a jacketCaroline (she/her) is a third-year law student interested in post-conviction work and public interest. She is working with the Stern Community Lawyering Clinic and West Philadelphia community organizations to help make justice accessible.
  Smiling person with black shirt and blue blazerBrielle is a 3L at Drexel University Kline School of Law. Our project is community participatory commutations. Thus, we are looking to fill gaps within our legal system, which often leave families isolated as their loved ones seek a commutation. It is our hope that the families in this clinic find emotional support as they move together through the unpredictable and political commutations process. One of my career goals, is to use my law degree to help dismantle inequitable systems that fail people of color.

Project: Writing Exchange Between Incarcerated Men, Drexel Students, and West Philadelphia Community Members

Award Recipient: Chelsea Martin

Chelsea will be working on creating a political education study group centering on abolitionist texts and writing prompts to forge communal bonds between Drexel Students, community members currently located in West Philadelphia, and those who have been taken from our communities by the mass incarceration system.

  Person smiling with arms outstretched wearing white hat and pink jacketChelsea (she/her) is a third-year student at Drexel University; she has a major is Global Studies with a concentration in Human Rights and Global Justice and two minors: French language and culture, and Middle Eastern North African Studies. Chelsea is very passionate about the liberation of all oppressed peoples and seeks to utilize political education as a tool to achieve this pursuit. Her career goals tread along the same path of utilizing her critical and creative writing skills to make political education more accessible to all, as well as community organizing to bring the changes we need to see in the world.

Project: Resources to Address the Effects of Racism on Youth

Award Recipient: Riley Tien

Riley is working to prepare materials for a virtual assembly about the psychological and developmental effects racism has on people, particularly young people in schools. His plan is to compile a variety of resources on these effects and tools to address them to share with Drexel students and potentially local schools and youth programs.

  Person smiling in front of a porch and window wearing a gray sweatshirt and glassesRiley (he/him) a junior (fourth year) psychology major and data science minor. My project focus is on creating materials for minority adolescents to evaluate previous experiences of racism and the coping strategies they used, and to propose possible alternatives to unhealthy behaviors. The second portion of the project will be a self-report survey that evaluates minority populations' uses of coping strategies in the instance of racism. My current goal is to pursue clinical psychology in graduate school!

Project: Interactive Training Panel for Community Mediators

Award Recipients: Turea Hutson & Karena Escalante

Turea and Karena’s project focus is based on dialogue and conflict resolution between Drexel community researchers and residents of West Philadelphia Promise Zone neighborhoods. Their project will engage community mediators through an interactive training panel that addresses issues related to racism in their community.

  person standing outside smiling, wearing gray blazer, blue shirt, and necklaceTurea (she/her), MEd is a second-year student in the Drexel University PhD program with a concentration in Educational Leadership and Policy. She currently serves as the co-editor of the Emerging Voices in Education (EViE) Journal. She is a Cum Laude and Distinguished Dean’s List graduate of Arcadia University, where she received her BA in Elementary Education and her MEd in Literacy Studies and TESOL. Social justice and equity were a primary focus of Hutson’s undergraduate and graduate studies, and she spent much of her time researching ways to make schools a more equitable space for marginalized students to learn. Hutson’s interest in education policy led her to run for the school board in her hometown. She served for seven years. She served as president of the board for three years. Hutson’s research interests include equity, education policy, racial trauma, intersectionality, autism spectrum disorder in diverse communities, and student identity.
  Smiling person with long dark hair and wearing white shirt Karena (she/her) is a Philadelphia-based doctoral student at Drexel University’s School of Education. Originally from Pomona, California, she earned her B.A. in psychology from Grinnell College and her M.S. from Johns Hopkins University. As a graduate assistant in the Justice-oriented Youth (JoY) lab, her research entails community-based urban and youth studies to advocate for collective leadership. After teaching in Hawai’i for several years, she found her passion in emancipating Indigenous perspectives through education, specifically for English learners. She seeks to produce research that is ethically moral, celebrating diversity and illuminating cultural relevance within the education system. As a Latina and first-generation Ph.D. candidate, Karena describes herself as a passionate, de-colonial ethicist committed to advancing sustainable equity through dismantling systems of oppression within academia and educational research.

Project: Arts Workshop for West Philadelphia Youth on Race and Racism

Award Recipient: Obadiah Baker

Obadiah’s initiative for his project is to increase awareness among West Philadelphia youth and engagement with problems related to racial justice through the arts. By doing this, Baker will collaborate with an artist and local community partner to facilitate a one-day anti-racism art workshop and group discussions.

  Smiling person wearing a suite and tie with gray backgroundObadiah (he/him) is a native of Cleveland's Hough community, infamous for the Hough Riots of 1966. Growing up in a lower-middle-class household of six siblings, Mr. Baker faced challenges as a Black male in a disadvantaged and underserved impoverished inner-city community. This understanding of intersectionality and how it affects a person's advancement inspired his antiracism research and community activism. In 2021, Obadiah produced and composed a film score for a documentary film called "The Shadow Between Us" with The Silhouettes from America's Got Talent about systemic racism and healing the divide through shadow dance. This film won "Official Selection" in the 2022 Toronto Black Film Festival. A graduate of the Interlochen Arts Academy, New England Conservatory of Music, and the University of Arkansas Grantham, Military Intelligence and Civil Affairs Army officer, Afghanistan War Veteran, aerospace and defense quality manager, award-winning independent film producer, and now a Fulbright semi-finalist scholar, Obadiah rose above his circumstances to achieve great success. Wanting to give back, he founded Tender Heart Crusades in 2009, a nonprofit organization that directs its attention toward community involvement. Today, Obadiah continues to make great strides through scholarship, film, music, manufacturing, the Army, and community service.

Project: Lessons of Da Land Co-Curricular CBL

Award Recipient: Alexis Wiley

Wiley developed and led a 12-week cocurricular program in the fall of 2021 titled "Lessons of Da Land: Food Sovereignty and Land Justice in Black Philadelphia." They led 12 students—half Drexel students and half community students—through the course, offering an exploration of the dynamics of food sovereignty and land security in the Black community of Philadelphia by looking at the histories of community agriculture, food apartheid and land tenure. Course website


Person smiling outside wearing a gray sweatshirtAlexis (they/them/theirs) is a senior undergraduate environmental science major in the Department of Biodiversity, Earth and Environmental Science at Drexel University. As a native Philadelphian with roots in the Carolinas, their background informs their interests in studying system and spatial ecology to understand the ways in which Black communities connect with nature throughout American history. In addition to their studies in environmental science, Alexis has worked with Sankofa Community Farm as a farmer, educator, and community organizer since 2020.

The enrichment of their farming and formal academic education contributed to the development of the community-based, land-centered educational program Lessons of Da Land that Alexis designed and facilitated in 2021. Modeled after the African diasporic practices of centering community, building together and collective resistance movements, the program offered 12 weeks of immersive learning with Black agriculture and ecological literature and Black land-based culturally centered organization in Philadelphia.

After completing their undergraduate degree, Alexis plans on continuing working with Sankofa Community Farm and facilitating more Lessons of Da Land sequences before pursuing graduate school. Their graduate school interests include studying the ecological impacts of slavery on American ecosystems and African-descended peoples’ relationships with nature. Ultimately, Alexis wishes to continue to pursue studies in Black radical ecology to continue collaborating with their community on liberatory land-based practices and education.”