Additional Projects Supported by BreakingGround Grants

Shaun KaneAccessibility Hack Day (Shaun Kane, UMBC Information Systems): This weekend-long event held at UMBC will support UMBC students in developing and testing new ideas for making video games that are accessible to people with various disabilities. Students will be recruited to propose ideas for video games that are accessible to people with disabilities. They will then form project groups and will spend the weekend building prototypes of their projects. Faculty and student mentors will be on-hand to provide guidance. Participants will demonstrate their projects, which will be judged by a panel of experts, including representatives from the National Federation of the Blind and the Maryland Technology Assistance Program. The top projects will be awarded prizes.

The broader goal of this project is to jump-start interest among UMBC students, and in the broader community, for developing innovative technical solutions for people with disabilities. We will encourage students to continue the projects begun at this event as research projects (supervised by our group), class projects or independently. We will also encourage students to release their projects publicly. (Awarded 2012-2013).

IRC LogoArt of Transformation — Art of Transformation supports Baltimoreans in telling their own stories to counteract misleading narratives about life in our city. This project is being developed by the Imaging Research Center at UMBC in collaboration with Baltimore Imagining Group (big) a coalition of individuals from Baltimore arts, community, and social justice organizations. Collaborators include Culture Works, The US Department of Arts and Culture, Equity Matters,New Lens, and Wombwork Productions. (Awarded 2015-2016).

Michele Wolff (Square Photo)Applied Learning Experience Summer Forum— Michele Wolff will lead this Applied Learning Experience (ALE) that will bring faculty and staff together to design a program for improving student success. The course participants will explore best practices related to ALEs, design an initiative that will integrate ALEs with existing courses to enhance student success and research potential funders for an implementation grant. The course will culminate in drafting a proposal for grants to fund the ALE course integration. (Awarded 2014-2015).

Applied Learning Experience (ALE) Summer Workshop — A team of faculty and staff members organized by Hannah Schmitz (Coordinator for Public Service Scholars Programs, The Shriver Center), Steve Freeland (Director of Interdisciplinary Studies), Simon Stacey (Director of the Honors College), and Michele Wolff (Director of The Shriver Center) continues to develop and carry out plans for infusing applied learning experiences across the curriculum and gauging their impact on student learning. (Awarded 2015-2016).

Breaking Taboo: Young Adults Speaking Openly about Mental Illness— Psychology professor Jason Schiffman, staff member Nicole Mooney and graduate students Eryn Bentley and Danielle Denenny will grow their mental health programs designed to reduce stigma, including awareness panels, campus flashmobs, student speaker training and art exhibits. Breaking Taboo will also conduct an empirical evaluation of a film chronicle the journey of UMBC students with mental illness to assess its impact on increasing empathy, reducing stigma and encouraging treatment. (Awarded 2014-2015).

barbara bourneCommunity Arts Project (Barbara Bourne, Education): This project will provide UMBC education students and faculty with opportunities to work with schools in diverse communities and showcase art as a platform for learning both in and out of the classroom. It will also enable parents, community members, teachers and children to collaborate on a project designed to enhance school facilities/grounds, deepen family and community involvement in schools, and increase avenues of communication between school faculties and families. Teachers, students and parents will join department faculty and students to create public art that might be as simple as decorating bricks to trim a school community garden or as grand as creating a mosaic to beautify a school lobby. The most import product of this work will be the culture of collaboration it fosters.

This project is one in a series of ongoing efforts of the Department of Education’s Professional Development Schools and continues the Elementary Education program’s emphasis on integrating the arts into teaching and learning.The Community Arts Project will increase UMBC teacher candidates’ awareness of, and experience in, working with racially, ethnically, economically and linguistically diverse populations and promote sense of shared purpose among teachers, students and parents, as well as local and UMBC communities. This initiative will also create an increased awareness of the role of the arts in teaching, learning and community building. (Awarded 2012-2013).

Lee Blaney (square)Engineers Without Borders—The UMBC chapter of Engineers Without Borders (EWB-UMBC) is a student-driven group that is completing an ongoing clean water project in Isongo, a small agricultural community in Western Kenya. This semester, Lee Blaney (Chemical, Biochemical and Environmental Engineering) will expand EWB-UMBC’s work to engage students in the arts, humanities and social sciences as collaborators. Initial goals include: (1) making a video documenting the project and its impact; (2) designing a bilingual English-Swahili flyer to promote good hygiene in the Isongo community; and (3) creating a play to actively convey the flyer’s message. The broader EWB-UMBC project will continue for five years and has the potential to profoundly impact both life in Isongo and the careers and perspectives of UMBC students involved in this work. (Awarded 2013-2014).

Charlotte KenistonFood for Thought (Charlotte Keniston and  Romy Jones (Square Photo)Romy Hübler, Graduate Student Association): Pigtown Food for Thought seeks to educate Pigtown/Washington Village youth about healthy food choices in order to empower them to become advocates in their families and among their neighbors. UMBC graduate students will offer cooking classes for 6-8 Pigtown youth, and will also work with them to make container gardens in their own backyard, harvest produce, and learn how to shop for healthy foods in a neighborhood facing challenges in its supply of nutritious food options. These activities will culminate in a community event where participating youth will share with their community what they have learned.

Throughout this process, the graduate students will begin to understand in a very direct way what a food desert is; why one exists in Pigtown; how food deserts impact health; what can be done to address the situation; and what role the community, businesses and the government play in finding and implementing solutions. Graduate students who work in this area will have opportunities to collaborate with one another and with community partners in organizing seminars and workshops to reflect on their experiences and share their expertise. (Awarded 2012-2013).

The Garden — Undergraduate students envisioned and developed plans for a community garden for the UMBC community, building on the work of previous undergraduate groups. The students have secured a location for The Garden (above the Albin O. Kuhn Library, near the UMBC police station), and forged relationships with faculty members that will lead to connections with courses and research. The Garden will become a forum for community building and for students’ leadership development, innovation, and immersion in issues of food justice and sustainability. (Awarded 2013-2014).

Imagining UMBC Undergraduate Fellowships — Undergraduate students interested in working together to harness the power of the arts and humanities to inspire positive social change participated together in the Imagining America conference. The group is developing practical projects that will apply the insights they gained at the conference to opportunities at UMBC and in Baltimore. Jessica Cook, Associate Director of the Sondheim Public Affairs Scholars Program, has served as the group’s convener. (Awarded 2015-2016).

LIMA: The Community Arcade Machine— Students working together through the Interdisciplinary Studies program will develop a video game console and multi-player games that encourage collaboration and build community. The first console will be placed on a residence hall floor, and the project leads will assess the console’s impact on the floor’s culture and students’ experiences with an eye toward developing additional consoles and games for other campus locations. (Awarded 2014-2015).


constantinevaporisJulie RosenthalThe Longwood Apartments Project— Constantine Vaporis and Julie Rosenthal, Asian Studies, have partnered with Food on the 15th, a Howard County, Maryland non-profit, to develop a free food pantry for the residents of Longwood Apartments in Columbia, Maryland. This is a community outreach project involving Asian Studies students as well as the entire UMBC community and residents of Howard and surrounding counties. (Awarded 2013-2014).

Researching Civic EngagementLanguage Literacy and Culture doctoral students will assess BreakingGround grant-supported courses and civic engagement activities as a part of their research training and coursework with professors Bev Bickel, Craig Saper and Rita Turner. (Awarded 2012-2013).

Returning Women Students Peer Mentoring ProgramReturning Women Students Peer-to-Peer Mentoring Program— Returning women students (or adult learners or mature students) are 25 years or older and completing their first undergraduate degree face a unique set of transition challenges. The Women’s Center launched the Returning Women Students Peer-to-Peer Mentoring Program to address these challenges by creating a learning community of returning women students. (Awarded 2014-2015).

Katie CanoRICA-Baltimore (Catherine Cano, Shriver Living Learning Center): This project will take place at the Regional Institute for Children and Adolescents-Baltimore (RICA-Baltimore), where kids with emotional disturbance disorders are state-sanctioned to live for treatment and schooling. UMBC students from the Shriver Living Learning floor will provide fun and informative workshops on basic life skills, such as how to do laundry, make simple meals or go grocery shopping. Through interactions with the youth at RICA-Baltimore, UMBC students will also act as positive role models and promote a sense of community in the residence. UMBC students will work collaboratively with the RICA-Baltimore youth to help them gain the necessary skills to succeed in their lives outside the facility and to advocate for themselves. (Awarded 2012-2013).

rosa radaService Fest— Undergraduate students Rosa Rada, Michael Allen and Jaelyn Bos will work with the Shriver Center to host a service fest to encourage UMBC students to become involved in community service. The service fest would introduce students to community groups in the area and foster ties to Baltimore City. Students will also be encouraged to sign up for the PRAC-095 course to further reflect on their service. (Awarded 2014-2015).

nohebakerSpringfield Woods Stewardship Project— Timothy Nohe, Matthew Baker and Colin Studds will work with Miriam Avins from the Baltimore Green Space and students from the Friends School of Baltimore to geo-tag visual and audio data for Springfield Woods in Baltimore. The geo-tagged information, as well as videos on conservation, native trees, invasive species and smart tree planting will then be incorporated into a website. The project will connect art, experts and volunteers to urban forests and foster stewardship of the Springfield Woods. (Awarded 2014-2015).

Student Affairs Imagining America Fellowships — Staff members in UMBC’s Division of Student Affairs interested in working together to harness the power of the arts and humanities to inspire student learning and engagement participated together in the Imagining America conference. The group is developing strategies for infusing ideas from Imagining America into the work of the Student Affairs Division. Craig Berger, Coordinator of Student Life for Campus and Civic Engagement, has served as the group’s convener. (Awarded 2015-2016).

TEDxUMBCcroppedTEDxUMBC— Undergraduate students Rebecca Behnke and Niranjani Chidamber, graduate student Ioannis Balanos, staff members Delana Gregg and Dinah Winnick and faculty member Stephen Freeland will organize TEDxUMBC, an event that will feature “ideas worth spreading.” The theme of TEDxUMBC is “Reaching New Heights” and will present talks by UMBC students, faculty, staff, alumni and community members with fresh and multidisciplinary ideas. After the event, the talks will be recorded and shared to engage the community. (Awarded 2014-2015).

WOC Telling Our StoriesTelling Our Stories: I’m Not/I Am— The Women of Color Coalition will partner with the Women’s Center to develop and implement a spring project aimed at combating racialized gender stereotypes, specifically targeting harmful biases against women of color students. The project will 1) raise awareness and launch a critical dialogue about racialized gender stereotypes on campus and in the community at large, and 2) empower women of color students to resist these limiting stereotypes and create their own counter-narratives. The project will begin with a visually striking poster and social media campaign featuring women of color students rejecting racialized gender stereotypes that they’ve encountered. The “I’m Not” campaign will be featured prominently on campus and posted on social media. Subsequently, a series of workshops led by local artists and activists will help participants develop various skills to tell their own identity stories through song-writing, poetry, story-telling, and other forms of artistic expression. (Awarded 2014-2015).

Video Stories of Urban Change— Kate Drabinski will add video elements to the stories she tells on her blog, The goal of this blog has been to capture moments in Baltimore’s history and present and to connect place-based reflections to larger questions of how a city comes to be itself. The video features will help tell stories of movement and change over time. Dr. Drabinski incorporates her blog into her Gender and Women’s Studies courses. (Awarded 2014-2015).

Trisha WellsVolunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) — UMBC staff members Trisha Wells (Director, Administrative and Business Services, Student Affairs) and Meghann Shutt (Asssitant Director, Shriver Peaceworker Program) organized this IRS-supported program, which connects tax preparers with people in the UMBC community with low incomes (below $53,000) so they can maximize their tax refunds. Trained UMBC student volunteers provide free tax return preparation assistance and help the people they serve to gain financial literacy. The UMBC Department of Economics has committed to offering internship credit to student tax preparers, and the Baltimore Cash Campaign will provide training to the volunteers. (Awarded 2015-2016).


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