37 Schools awarded “It’s On Us” grants to combat sexual assault

HARRISBURG – More than two dozen institutions of higher education are receiving It’s On Us PA grants of up to $30,000 each.

Gov. Tom Wolf established It’s On Us PA, the nation’s first statewide campaign, nearly five years ago and has made Pennsylvania a national leader in improving campus safety.

“Sexual violence will not be tolerated. All colleges and universities must be safe for students. The It’s On Us PA grant program was created to provide colleges and universities with supports and resources necessary to shift campus culture and promote healthy relationships,” Wolf said.

“Students, staff, and educators across the commonwealth have done tremendous work through It’s On Us PA to protect learning environments and ensure they are free from sexual assault, harassment, and violence. These grants will further build on the work they have done to hold people accountable.”

The grants provide funding from January 2021 through May 2022 to implement strategies on campuses to address goals of the Governor’s It’s On Us PA campaign, which include:

Improve awareness, prevention, reporting, and response systems regarding sexual violence in schools, colleges, and universities to better serve all students.

Remove/reduce barriers that prevent survivors of sexual violence from reporting and/or accessing vital resources by creating a more consistent, empowering reporting process for student survivors of gender-based violence.

Demonstrate significant, proactive, and sustainable leadership to change campus culture by challenging Pennsylvania’s education leaders – including college and university presidents, as well as students, teachers, faculty, staff, families, and communities to pledge to improve their institutions’ climate around sexual assault.

“PDE remains committed to investing in efforts that help ensure that campuses remain safe, inclusive, and welcoming spaces that are conducive to learning,” said Acting Secretary of Education Noe Ortega. “The It’s On Us PA campaign has cultivated change on campuses across the commonwealth and PDE is once again pleased to support programs that increase awareness and strive to end sexual violence.”

Programs or activities considered for funding included campus-wide training for students, faculty, and staff; institutional campaigns to raise awareness and understanding of the reporting process and resources available to and rights of survivors of sexual violence; programs that enhance awareness of available resources and students’ rights or seek to increase mechanisms for anonymous reporting; and efforts to improve capacity to collect federal- or state-required data.

Since 2016, the Wolf Administration has awarded 150 It’s On Us PA grants totaling nearly $4 million to more than 70 post-secondary institutions, including public and private two-year and four-year colleges and universities.

The It’s On Us campaign is a national initiative started by the Obama Administration to raise awareness about sexual assault; teaching participants that assault includes non-consensual sex, advising them on how to identify dangerous situations, empowering them to intervene, and urging them to create an environment of support for victims and survivors.

In recognition of the first major state laws to combat sexual assault, Governor Wolf signed legislation in June 2019 encouraging more students to report sexual violence. Part of the state budget package, one of the laws requires post-secondary institutions to offer online, anonymous options for students to report sexual assault. The other law protects students reporting sexual assault from being disciplined for violating school drug, alcohol, or other policies.

The 37 postsecondary institutions selected for grants include: Albright College, Cabrini University, Chatham University, Cheyney University, Community College of Allegheny County, Community College of Philadelphia, Delaware County Community College, Dickinson College, Drexel University, Duquesne University, East Stroudsburg University, Eastern University, Gettysburg College, Haverford College, Holy Family University, Indiana University of PA, Johnson College, Juniata College, Lackawanna College, Lafayette College, Lincoln University, Lock Haven University, Manor College, Marywood University, Mercyhurst University, Montgomery County Community College, Muhlenberg College, Pierce College, Penn State University, Point Park University, Robert Morris University, Rosemont College, Seton Hill University, Slippery Rock University, St. Vincent College, Temple University, Thomas Jefferson University, University of Scranton, West Chester University, Widener University, Wilkes University, and York College of PA.