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Sense of Belonging Initiative

Special funding for departments and offices to develop/host student-centered activities that promote students’ sense of belonging in their department and at KCC. The call is open to any full-time member of the faculty or staff. Students regularly share with me how welcoming and helpful faculty and staff are and what an incredible place KCC is. We need to continue to ensure that we deliver not only excellent customer/student service but also that our actions show students that they belong here. It is this ability to cultivate a sense of belonging for our students that makes community colleges special and Kingsborough very special.

FALL 2022 Funded Proposals

The Art of Play 

An interdisciplinary, multi-generational community event hosted by the Education Program students and faculty. This event will showcasee the arts in education to young children through play and creativity. We plan to invite students from local public schools and UPKs.

This event will be co-organized by fieldwork students who have experience developing curriculum and planning arts activities for young children.

Proposed arts stations:

Storytelling: Prof. Julia Morris
Music & Movement: Prof. Sue Carpenter
Recycled Art: Prof. Kay Gordon

STEAM: Prof. Barbara Frawley
MultiCultural Culinary Arts: Prof. Ivana Espinet
Urban Gardening: Prof. Denise Farrelly

Proposed location: On the patio by the KCC beach

Hot dogs fries and chicken fingers to be served!

Budget Request: $1,000

Materials for recycled art creation: $100
Materials for musical instruments creation: $100
STEAM materials: $200
Gardening materials: $100
Food: $500

Let's Build a Community through the Community Farm and Urban Garden

One of the unique feature in our school is the former Urban Farm. It can be used to teach about nutritious food, environment, the issues of waste, racism tied to land ownership, and grassroots land activism. Inviting the urban farmer Karen Washington, students will form a community through engaging in farming, and nurture their sense of belongings to KBCC. If there are vegetables, we will end this gathering with a meal sharing. The event simultaneously make students aware of the critical issues surrounding the land ownership and foster the KBCC community. Inviting the faculties, staff, and students, students will meet professors and staff in casual circumstance and strengthen their bond. Various faculty members, who are using the farm as their teaching platform will introduce their classes. By so doing, students will learn  how in colleges, they need to shift their learning from following the textbook into research and creativity. This will not be a single event. Students will be invited back to engage in farming as many times as they want to.   
Please see the youtube Ted Talk of the guest speaker, Karen Washington:            


Partial funding will be paid as an honorarium for Karen Washington. If we cook food, the remaining will be used for hiring the chef and/or buying ingredients.

The S.T.E.A.M. Talent Show Let's show off the Artistic side of STEM!

The STEM Peer Mentors in the Health Science & STEM Academy propose hosting a talent show, open to all members of the college community, but particularly focused on those students who are in an Allied Health or STEM major. Many of our STEM students have artistic talents and abilities that they don't always get to show off in the classroom, and so we are hoping to give them a chance to share what they do, and have a little fun!

We would call this the STEAM Talent show, because A stands for Arts, and the arts would be in the middle of STEM. Our intention is to encourage our STEM students, who are very driven and determined to excel in their Science and Math careers, to explore, share, and connect with each other in a different way than usual, and to build a sense of community amongst themselves.

We propose to hold this event in the MAC Playhouse or in the PAC, sometime early in the Fall semester. Students who wish to participate in the talent show would sign up in the weeks prior to the event, and would be competing for one of three top prizes (gift cards to the bookstore or Amazon). We would have two categories they could enter in: Performance or Visual Art.

The entries for the Visual Art category would be displayed in the lobby of the event space the day of the performance. At the performance, the student STEM Peer Mentors would host the event, acting as the MCs and introducing each act. Staff from the Health Science & STEM Academy would be the judges, and would announce the winners in both categories at the end of the show.

We would also want to have snacks for the audience (cookies and beverages from Panda House), and would also want shirts for the event, to be given to all entrants, Peer Mentors, and Staff.

Budget Request: $890

$240 - for 6 Gift cards to Amazon or Bookstore for First ($60), Second ($35), and Third ($25) prizes in both categories (performance and visual art)

$450 - for event shirts for all participants and Peer Mentors

$200 - Snacks


Lock-It-In Early Registration

Activities and prizes during the first two weeks of Spring 2023 continuing student registration to help promote the retention and early registration of continuing students. This is an initiative that was started by academic advisors for the current Fall 2022 registration period, where we were able to reach over 200 in-person students to encourage early advisement/registration, but access to this grant will allow us to broaden our reach to even more students.         

Budget Request: $1,000

$200 for the purchase of gift cards to be used as raffle prizes for students that register/schedule appointments during the first two weeks of Spring 2023 registration;

$800 for the purchase of giveaways and programming that will be used to attract student attention in the week prior to the event and during the weeks of the event. This will include Kingsborough branded items as well as snack bags for students.


Mindfulness Meditation Training Pilot Program

President Schrader recently interviewed me in connection with the meditation group I've been leading on campus since 2007, after which she attended our weekly meditation, and then published a glowing article about it in her column in the Bay News. I think the college should begin an outreach effort to get our students using this self-management technique and a roadmap to develop a formalized program through which the college can facilitate widespread adoption of this self-supporting practice for the majority of our students.

I envision a pilot study exposing a cohort of 20 students to a meditation training program, in which students will attend sessions two hour per week, for a total of 4 weeks (a total of 8 hours), broken down into segments for lecture, instruction, meditation practice, journaling, and discussion. Two measures will be used to track impact: the Toronto Mindfulness Scale (TMS), a multi-variate validated survey instrument employing a Likert scale to track changes in attitudes toward mental contents and mental states, and a Pre- and Post-Course (PPC) survey I designed, also employing a Likert scale to track changes in students' views about their own understanding of knowledge, reality, self-control, how they handle stress, and related items. Each survey takes about a minute to complete, at most. The TMS will be administered immediately after each meditation, and the PPC will be administered only at the start of the course and at the very end of the course, to gauge impact.

I ran a similar pilot on this years ago, with positive results, but while the PSC-CUNY grants supported the research, the larger CUNY Collaborative Grants and the national grant institutes (NEH, NIH, etc.) were not receptive to this sort of research then. However, society as a whole has completely embraced meditation now, in science, psychology, medicine, etc., so the prospects of receiving large grants to do this sort of work are much more promising now. I am also a co-founder of the CUNY Contemplatives Network, which is currently investigating ways of bringing meditation more widely to students throughout CUNY, who are all under increasing stress due to COVID, inflation, political polarization, and related factors.

I'm hoping the college will use its resources (e.g., via counseling, the website, email blasts, etc.) to recruit the 20 students for the pilot. If the research results are positive, as I predict they will be again, this will provide some empirical data to justify seed grants that can be used to attract larger grants on the national level. One example would be a grant to research the difference between student performance on exams, say, in STEM courses, comparing students who took the training and students who did not. Another potential next step would be to develop a meditation instructor training program leading to an accredited certificate that our students could use to get jobs teaching meditation in health care settings. Another potential next step would be encouraging a contemplative component in various existing courses. And yet another would be a KCTL winter workshop teaching faculty how to employ a meditation component into various courses.

Finally, I am the editor of the Routledge Handbook on the Philosophy of Meditation, to be published May 17, 2022, and I am currently in negotiations with Routledge / Taylor & Francis about the creation of The Journal of the Philosophy of Meditation, for which I would be the editor-in-chief, and which promises to be quite successful, since one of the most successful journals in the past few years is the journal, Mindfulness. The CUN Y Contemplatives Network envisions a CUNY Center for Contemplative Studies as a longer-term goal, which could conceivably be homed at Kingsborough, if I were to be the principal researcher receiving significant grants towards its development.

Budget Request:$750-$900

Estimated cost of 20 meditation cushions (20 x $30 = $600) and one meditation singing bowl bell ($150-$300), for a total of $750-$900, plus the college's willingness to use our Office of Institutional Research resources (labor hours) to task its staff and/or other staff members on campus to enter data from surveys of the pilot into an appropriate, searchable database, e.g., Excel, and to then analyze the survey results and draft an official summary report that could be used to then apply for a seed grant and a larger grant from the NEH, NIH, etc. Ideally, a room on campus could be set aside as a meditation-only space that students could use solely for this purpose during the pilot, if not on an ongoing basis.

This Forum Belongs to Us

KCC explores academic and career options with students, facilitates progression through the offering of services and interventions, and validates the cultural and ethnic heritage of all students, both collectively and individually. Additionally, KCC complements a sense of belonging - and beyond – with student investment. Students know that the college is on their side, wants them to succeed, and shows investment by listening to student voices - an opportunity afforded by This Forum Belongs to Us. Educated guesses based on student needs from yesteryear cannot replace hearing from current cohorts about needs regarding academic requirements and options, extra-curricular activities, scholarship and leadership opportunities, among a host of other items, especially Covid issues.

This Forum will be a Student Town Hall in reverse. Town Halls feature college administrators who present, inform, and then respond to student questions. This Forum will feature students from TRiO and other student affairs programs who will self-select to participate in open focus groups, held on campus and simultaneously on Zoom, with the college community in attendance. Attendees will have the opportunity to ask questions at the end of each forum.

This Forum will provide students with the chance to fully express needs for progression, not in response to the content of those conducting Town Halls, but in response to open ended focus group questions so that they can tell their story in full. Deeper needs, surpassing those which are already known, may not be expressed at Town Halls if students feel rushed and stressed to articulate their points. This Forum will provide time, space, and a respectful environment for students to express needs beyond those on the surface.

The rationale for This Forum is twofold: to reinforce among students that the college is invested in hearing and responding to their needs, thereby enhancing a sense of student belonging, and to provide the campus with information heretofore unknown in order to remain a responsive institution. This Forum, commencing in Fall 2022 with 10 focus groups, 6 students per group, will afford the opportunity for the campus to learn from students as they fill in the gaps for improved reception.

Budget Request: $1,000

Towards the end of December, the $1,000 grant will be applied to an appreciation dinner for focus group participants and their guests, complete with an appreciation certificate to reinforce that the students belong at KCC and the college is appreciative of their input. They have helped us help them.

$900 Food

$100 Certificates


Creative Cafeteria Table Decals

It would be great to use the tables in the cafeteria as surfaces to adhere prints of student art work, historic photographs of campus and other creative uses. The Art Department used repositionable adhesive prints in the UnHomeless NYC exhibition and would like to purchase material to print on to use for creating artwork to share on the tables in the cafeteria.          

Budget Request: $500

$500 for roll of adhesive material:


Intuitive eating and African movement for EveryBODY  

Students will get a crash course in intuitive eating, an approach to food and African movement that helps to get rid of diets once and for all and learn how to listen to thoer body's cues to eat and move in a way that works long-term. Previously all three presenters had successful workshops with our student during Wellness Festival, April 26-th, Spring '22         This workshop will consist of six consecutive biweekly sessions organized  by Wellness Center throughout Fall '22 semester.  Six sessions will consist of combination of registered dietician(s) and body movement specialist presenting and teaching intuitive eating and body movement to enhance students own awareness and offer practical tools to improve overall health and wellness.

Budget Request: $1,000

Budget for the 6 sessions will consist of the fees 6 hours X $150.00=$900.00. Additional $100 for materials and preparation miscellaneous.   

Advisement Never Goes Out of Season

Seasonal advisement events will focus on promoting deadlines and important topics trending in that semester. Proposed events will help reach students who are not typically motivated to seek academic advisement. The goal is to establish an advisor/advisee relationship early, thus “establishing a home base”. These events will focus on building a sense of community and belonging, providing resources and holistic planning for their academic career at Kingsborough CC and beyond. These interactions will provide an opportunity to enhance campus life while establishing students' relationship with advisement that extends beyond course selection.


4 events per academic year (We kindly request an increase in budget due to 4 events proposed. To maximize student outreach, we hope to host 2 days for each event.)

Spring Semester: Seeds of Success (Seedlings & Plants giveaway)

Summer Semester: Pop-up Advisement with Ice Pops

Fall Semester: Pep Talk & Popcorn

Winter Semester: S'more Advisement (S'mores & Hot Cocoa)


It’s Not Just WHAT You Know, It’s WHO You Know: The Importance of Relationship Building 

Students who experience a sense of community will likely remain connected to the college, or at the very least have someone to talk to when times get tough. That “someone” can connect them to a staff or faculty member who will have potential solutions to help the student address their struggles. However it is important to communicate the importance of building those relationships and seeking out those supportive services up front, before the student begins facing insurmountable adversity.

This workshop will introduce students to resources on campus, communicate the importance of developing relationships and normalize asking for help. Allowing oneself to be vulnerable, and engage with professionals for the purpose of seeking help is a learned skill. Hearing from relatable guest speakers who have successfully navigated that experience will demonstrate to students that it is possible to do so safely, and productively.

We propose hiring an inspirational / motivational speaker who will discuss and emphasize the importance of relationship building, leveraging contacts and normalizing asking for help (in the context of using campus resources to address and overcome academic and personal challenges). The workshop will also include an overview of campus resources and how to access them. The workshop will be available in person and via zoom.

Budget Request: $1,000

$750: speaker fee
$250: refreshments

In order to secure an influential speaker who will draw students to this workshop, we are requesting $1000 to pay an honorarium for a guest speaker, and provide light refreshments for the in-person attendees.

Student Facing Language for Workshop Description:

Having a hard time staying on top of your assignments? Looking for a new part time job to help pay the bills while you are in school? Need connections to basic resources like food, clothing or shelter? Feeling sad or stressed about an argument you had with someone in your life? There are people on campus who can support you discretely and confidentially while helping you stay on track with your academics. Learn about our community of supportive professionals waiting to meet with you.

Whether you are enrolled in a college degree program, or continuing education/workforce training program, relationships matter. Relationships with fellow students, staff and faculty can make your academic experience more rewarding and productive. Equally important is knowing how and when to ask for help, and that it is OK to ask for help.

Balancing a course load, while managing a personal life can get overwhelming. That’s why knowing the right people to reach out to when times are tough is critical. You wouldn’t buy a shovel in the middle of a blizzard, right? You would have it accessible for when it is needed. It is the same for campus resources - you won’t need to reach out to every office on campus all the time, but it is important that you know who is available to help when and if the need arises. We are invested in your success. You made it to college - let us help you get closer to the finish line.

Everyday Superheroes - Soar Into Your Career

A Superhero themed Open House Event for the Career Center. The event will focus on constructing your "superhero" through career development. Students will learn about developing their superhero strength (professional skills), superhero knowledge (how to construct resumes, job search, & ace interviews), and superhero training (internships & volunteer work). Students will be introduced to different careers and all of the center's services. Staff will dress the part and there will be games and prizes.

Budget Request: $800
$500 - prizes & treats,
$300 - decorations

The ABCs of Tutoring: Access, Benefits, Cost-free

The Kingsborough Learning Center offers content and writing-based tutoring. We seek funding to host a myriad of student-centered activities in collaboration with Student Life, primarily in the library corridor. During national tutoring week from October 3-7, we will host a series of student games, tutoring trivia questions, and Q &A with a writing or content tutor. We have a new tutoring signup software and will have live demos to show students how to sign up. Activities better suited in enclosed spaces will be conducted at our Academic Student Lounge located at L-219. We aim to deliver three 25 mins workshops on time management, effective studying habits, and note-taking during club hours. The student will get a chance to tour the center and view tutoring cubicles and leisure reading space.

Funding will be used to purchase giveaways during all activities. Giveaways will be center-branded pencils, folders, and stress stars purchased from the 4imprint company. A breakdown of giveaway items is below.

Budget Request: $1,021.28

Budgeteer Pencil- Royal Blue: (item # 318) Unit price $0.28|Quantity 576 |Cost $161.28

Stress Reliever Star- Red: (item # 18034)  Unit price $1.47|Quantity 150 |Cost $ 220

Legal size two pocket folder- white: ( Item # 144162) Unit price $2.56 |Quantity 250| Cost $ 640
Total request =1021.28

The KCC Resilience Project: Digital Storytelling by Second Language Learners to Promote Students’ Sense of Belonging

"The American Psychological Association defines resilience as the process of adapting well in the face of adversity or significant sources of stress. Our students at KCC  understand what it means to be resilient, and their stories should be told. A Promoting Students’ Sense of Belonging Grant would allow us to explore what resilience means to some of our most vulnerable students at the college: English language learners. What does it take for recent immigrants studying at KCC to face their challenges as college students? How does KCC honor their development as an active process of becoming and belonging? How might students build resilience as they develop their identity as students within our College community? By asking our students these questions and recording their answers in a multimodal format, our aim is to showcase their voices so that other students can hear them, and tell their own resilience stories in return.

Professors Kahn (English) and Bartolomeo-Maida (Behavioral Sciences) have been linking in ESL Learning Communities for nearly a decade. In recent years, our integrative work with students has focused on the theme of resilience. As part of this work, students prepare a digital story assignment, which asks them to reflect on personal resilience while making connections to psychological concepts learned and applied from their readings throughout the semester. It is clear from watching these stories over the years that many of our Second Language learners have faced extremely challenging situations to arrive at KCC. Students have shared narratives about being nervous about entering college, failing some subjects in high school, and traumatized in their home countries due to political upheaval. Many students did not get a chance to study what they planned to in their home countries due to rigid gender norms and cultural values that limited them. We have always known these stories to hold valuable lessons and insights about overcoming adversity: the importance of emotional well-being, reflection, exercise, positive outlook, sense of control, perseverance, mental flexibility, social support, and faith/ spirituality.

Our digital story project takes place in students’ first semester at KCC, and we would like to expand the scope of these stories by investigating them in the context of students’ broader KCC education. This grant would allow us to interview students who have graduated from our ESL Learning Communities, and ask them to deepen their stories by considering the development of their resilience as Kingsborough students. Doing so would allow us to create a new digital story, The KCC Resilience Project, that highlights excerpts from these interviews and other collected artifacts that we could then share with other student populations at the College. It is our hope that this mini-grant could serve as a foundation for a broader storytelling project on campus where all learners could be invited to share their stories of resilience as college students. Psychologists tell us that a critical factor for resilience is contributing to a goal bigger than oneself; to see the purpose in something larger. We see the sharing of students’ resilience stories as potential tools for strengthening our learners as individuals and contributing to their sense of community at Kingsborough. While resilience has always been critical for the success of college students, the exploration of this topic is more important than ever due to the hardships so many of our students have faced during the pandemic and the resulting social isolation they have experienced. The creation of a KCC Resilience Project aims to promote students’ sense of belonging at the College through story.

Budget Request: $1,000

With the monies from this grant, we envision a project that we as faculty members would help steer but that our ESL students would lead. We would use Summer and early Fall 2022 to flesh out the details for gatherings with ESL Learning Community participants in which they would explore their resilience experiences as college students. We will solicit the assistance of another student with expertise in video creation to compile highlights from these sessions which will be titled: The KCC Resilience Project. In future semesters, this video might be played at new student orientation or other college-wide events, as well as shown within our linked classrooms. It could also be used an educational tool for faculty teaching within the learning communities, or for faculty of stand-alone courses to develop their understandings of how students’ sense of belonging at the college might play a role in their resilience and success.

We are projecting the budget below based on approximate costs as of this time of writing:

Student Technology Assistant: $15/hour for 50 hours = $750

Stipends for Student Participants: $25/each for 10 students = $250

Any excess funds would be used to host a resilience workshop on campus to show the KCC Resilience Project video and explore students’ reflections and insights.