Excellence through Diversity Fund

What is the Excellence through Diversity Fund?

The Excellence through Diversity Fund provides resources for innovative interdisciplinary projects on topics related to diversity and inclusion.

The Fund may support various types of projects, including implementation of Schools’ strategic plans to diversify and enhance the climate for student and faculty populations, research on topics related to diversity and inclusion, projects that foster and support diversity on campus, and projects that involve collaborations across disciplines or traditional boundaries of academic work.

This can include cross-School research, conferences and events, large-scale faculty development work, and projects that assess the climate for diversity and inclusion at Penn. Priority is given to projects that address current issues, promote notable collaborations, and foster new understandings of diversity and inclusion.

Applications will be accepted at http://apply.interfolio.com/142099 until April 15, 2024.


In September of 1996, the Office of the Provost established “The Diversity Fund,” with the first awards being distributed in spring 1997. The purpose of this fund was to promote the University’s mission to create and maintain a diverse student body, faculty, and community, as well as to facilitate research on diversity in higher education.

In 2011, the University released its Action Plan for Faculty Diversity and Excellence, which called for new resources for faculty recruitment, improved climate, mentorship, retention, faculty development and leadership. To advance these goals, the Diversity Fund was re-named the Excellence Through Diversity Fund, and focus shifted to emphasize interdisciplinary projects related to diversity, inclusion and equity, including research, mentoring and conference support. Since 2012, the Excellence in Diversity Fund has awarded more than $700,000 to support innovative diversity initiatives.

Notable Funded Projects

In 2013, $50,000 was awarded for a project proposed by Dr. Baligh Yehia (Perelman School of Medicine) to establish and develop “The Penn Program for LGBT Health.” This project aimed to improve LGBT institutional climate and visibility, patient care, research, health education and community outreach. Key accomplishments include providing education to faculty, trainees, students, nurses, social workers, medical assistants, and patient service associates, and creating an LGBT Health Research Collective, which allows for collaboration among researchers working in the arena of LGBT health. For more information on the project, see here.

Proposed by Professor Amy Hillier (School of Social Policy & Practice) in 2013, “The Ward: Race and Class in Du Bois’ Seventh Ward” is a research, teaching and public history project committed to continuing W.E.B. Du Bois’ unfinished work of promoting the full humanity of all people. The project, which received a $10,000 award from the Excellence through Diversity Fund, includes an interactive mapping system, a walking tour, a documentary, a board game, curriculum materials, a website, and an oral history collection. See more information about the project here.

For over eight years, the Excellence through Diversity Fund has supported the Penn Faculty Pathways Program, a project proposed by Professor Stephanie Abbuhl (Perelman School of Medicine). This year-long faculty mentorship program, which aims to enhance the personal and professional development of faculty members in the first phase of their careers at Penn, provides an opportunity for 18 assistant professors in selected science, technology, engineering, math and medicine departments to address fundamental challenges in STEMM careers and leadership development.

Inspired by the success of the Pathways Program, Professor Emily Steiner (School of Arts & Sciences) proposed “The Networks in Humanities Program” in 2018, which is a year-long mentoring program for faculty in the Humanities Departments of the School of Arts & Sciences. The project received a $90,000 award from the Excellence Through Diversity Fund.

In 2019, “Signs of Inclusion: Making the Public Humanities Accessible to the Deaf Community” was proposed by Professor Karen Redrobe (School of Arts & Sciences) to provide American Sign Language interpretation and closed captioning services for lectures and online video event archives. The project received a $7,000 award from the Excellence through Diversity Fund.