DDI students on an experiential learning trip to the Bay Area

DIRHA students taking part in the final seminar of the year.

The newly launched Center for Racial Justice at UC Irvine has received a $684,000 grant to support student-focused programming aimed at reducing hate and extremism. As the campus hub for award-winning programs including the Center for Truth & Racial Healing, the Diversity, Inclusion and Racial Healing Ambassador program, and the Deconstructing Diversity Initiative, the center supports a community-based, intergenerational approach to social justice. Funding received will support program operations for two years and allow for new, expanded lessons on using multimedia to combat hate and extremism.

“This grant comes at a critical time when hate and extremism in an increasingly divided society is taking dangerous root,” says center director Teresa Neighbors.

Efforts currently underway under the center umbrella include the DDI experiential learning opportunity that allows enrolled Anteaters the opportunity to take part in an intensive educational program focused on racial issues central to U.S. society. Designed for students by students in collaboration with faculty, the program creates a safe space for diverse undergraduates to learn and engage across differences, with a particular focus on examining structures of power and privilege, equity, and social justice. Participants travel to sites of historical and contemporary importance to the experience of race in America to deepen their learning and to gain insights from those working on the ground to address issues of race in their communities, after which they develop and implement community projects to address issues related to race and drive healing in their communities.  The DDI fellows also serve as mentors to high school participants of DIRHA.  In this leadership program, high school youth attend UCI faculty- and staff-led UCI seminars, where they learn about topics spanning race, gender, and religion with the support of their DDI fellow mentors who guide them through discussions to help make materials more digestible, thought-provoking, and age-appropriate for diversity-focused projects they implement within their schools. This year, DIRHA is active in 10 Orange County high schools from San Juan Capistrano to Huntington Beach. With newly received funding, students will be able to apply what they learn in DIRHA to reduce hate and extremism in favor of connected and thriving communities.

“Youth have a great deal of power to act as pillars for communities of belonging for all,” says Neighbors. “We are excited about this opportunity to galvanize the creativity and leadership capacity of Orange County youth.”

Funding for this work began in October and runs through September 2025.

-pictured: DDI students on an experiential learning trip to the Bay Area. DIRHA students taking part in the final seminar of the year.

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