The President's Challenge

The President's Challenge 2021 – Racial Justice and Equity Response Grant


(Note: For information on the 2022 challenge, please visit the President's and Chancellor's Challenge.)

A grant program, developed in partnership with Johnson Controls, and American Family Insurance that provides funding for innovative, interdisciplinary, collaborative work that addresses critical issues and opportunities facing the City of Milwaukee. This round of the President’s Challenge will focus on the urgent issue of elevating and advancing racial justice and equity across the various communities that comprise our city. Watch a recording of the President's Challenge Information Session. 

2021 President's Challenge Winners

Dr Noelle Brigden

Restorative Justice in Movement: Trauma-Informed Athletic Practice Partnership
Principal investigator: Dr. Noelle Brigden, associate professor of political science

Restorative Justice in Movement is a collaboration with the Milwaukee Turners at Turner Hall to promote embodied empowerment for women from communities disproportionately impacted by incarceration. The trauma of mass incarceration and forced absence is a gendered violence, experienced differently by men and women, but widely shared in the Milwaukee Black community. Thus, the program’s first cohort of participants will be an intergenerational group of women who identify as friends and family members of incarcerated people. They will participate in movement workshops focused on several different athletic modalities: powerlifting, yoga, self-defense and rock climbing. Participants will build their cohort community through support of their shared athletic pursuits. They will also have the opportunity to engage researchers in an oral history project and be invited to co-create the research and programming for future iterations of the program.

Additional Marquette faculty team members: Dr. Alison Efford, associate professor of history; Dr. Kristof Kipp, associate professor of exercise science; Dr. Heather Hlavka, associate professor of social and cultural sciences; Dr. Abir Bekhet, associate professor of nursing; Dr. Jennifer Ohlendorf, assistant professor of nursing; and Dr. Julia Paulk, associate professor of languages, literatures and cultures.

Dr. Nil Lodh

Determine health and well-being of African American community in Milwaukee’s North side via assessment of telehealth and health monitoring intervention
Principal investigator: Dr. Nilanjan Lodh, assistant professor of medical laboratory science

This project will determine how telehealth interventions—the shift of in-person monitoring to remote monitoring due to the pandemic—has affected the health disparities among the African American population in Milwaukee, as well as support existing community-led intervention efforts related to telehealth and remote health monitoring for African American communities. The overall project goals are to evaluate new telehealth interventions in African American community in Milwaukee related to remote monitoring of chronic health conditions, such as diabetes and asthma, which have rapidly emerged as major factors of comorbidity and premature mortality in African American population. It will also build and/or strengthen relationships with community partners in health care and other agencies working to reduce disparities.

Additional Marquette faculty team members: Dr. Aleksandra Snowden, assistant professor of social and cultural sciences, and Dr. Praveen Madiraju, associate professor of computer science.



The program supported proposals up to $50K for one year and applicants were encouraged to address one or more aspects within the following focus areas:

  • Social and Cultural
    • Includes, but not limited to: utilization of the arts; immigration; data ethics, including bias in coding; carceral reform; economic development; institutional, or industry policies and procedures; housing and/or food insecurity.
  • Health Services
    • Includes, but not limited to: disproportionate impacts of COVID-19; emotional and mental health; healthcare analytics, healthcare delivery, population health, health communications, and public health.
  • Education
    • Includes, but not limited to: cradle-to-career pipeline; early education; talent development; virtual curriculum; innovative models for delivery; inequities in digital access; inequities in STEAM education; representation in staff and curriculum.

Partnerships with community organizations are highly recommended from the ideation phase through the development of the proposal.

Criteria for project funding included:

  • Description of intended outcomes, methods to evaluate project impact, including clearly articulated metrics, ability to sustain outcomes
  • Engagement with a community organization
  • Ability to complete meaningful work in the one-year timeframe
  • Experience and composition of the team
  • Level of student involvement

Questions for considerations in proposal stage:

Will you be conducting research that involves human subjects? Learn more here. 

  • Yes
  • No

Do you anticipate any intellectual property/disclosures coming out of this work? Learn more here. 

  • Yes
  • No

Budgets for the projects are to be developed for use within a one-year framework (July 1, 2021-June 30, 2022)


For information on the 2022 challenge, please visit our page on the President's and Chancellor's Challenge.

Please email questions to