Mini-Grants to Support Student Wellness


plant in sun with book open

Many students at EMU face hardships that can make it difficult to succeed in the classroom. At the FDC, we believe that time spent supporting student wellness will build their strength and confidence, enabling us to be able to focus more on teaching course material. This will enable us to foster intellectual engagement and curiosity. Strong student-faculty partnerships are needed to help succeed in the classroom and produce meaningful engagement. 

To this end, the Bruce K. Nelson Faculty Development Center and the Dean of Students Office, with support from the Department of Recreation and Intramurals (Rec/IM) and E|Dining, invite faculty and students to potentially work together to implement a wellness practice into the classroom. Faculty who receive this funding will receive up to $250 to introduce practices into their classroom during the summer and/or fall 2024 terms to support student wellness with a goal of sharing these innovations campus-wide. 

Applications for this funding are judged based on (1) the quality of the idea; (2) the proposal's plan to evaluate the impact of the innovation; and (3) the ability of the idea to be scaled up to work for larger numbers of students in different classes. Applicants will be expected to share results of their innovation, perhaps on the FDC website, in the FDC blog, and/or at future CONNECT or New Beginnings conferences. They are also encouraged to share their ideas outside EMU, in conference presentations or publications. 

Faculty, lecturers, and graduate teaching fellows may work by themselves or with a student for their implementation. Students who have ideas to support wellness may choose a faculty member on their own to work with, or can ask to be placed with a faculty member to work with on this initiative. Students who participate in this opportunity will be awarded a $100 honorarium for their time and efforts as well. 

Because we look for many different types of applications that can help student wellness overall at Eastern Michigan University, we are currently partnering with Rec/IM and E|Dining to help with initiatives that include either fitness and/or food. If you are interested in proposing something dealing with fitness, contact the Rec/IM Assistant Director of Wellbeing and Programs, Sarah Joseph, who would love to discuss how you can do your initiative in the best way possible. If you are interested in doing any initiative that includes having food, you can contact E|Dining's Beth Smith (Director of Community Wellness and Sustainability). You can also contact Olivia Ford, Associate Professor, and Co-Director of Dietetics and Human Nutrition. They all are happy to work with you and make sure your initiative has the desired impact.

As always, please reach out to the Faculty Development Center if you have any questions about the application process, the implementation or any other questions!  We hope to receive lots of applications from faculty, and hope many of you will work with students as well on this program.

Due: March 11, 2024 at 11:59PM

Click here to access the application link. 

Previous Winners

Mini-Grant Awardees for Winter 2023 Classes

  • Writing Toward Wellness Expand dropdown

    Awardees: Ann Blakeslee, Hollie Hills, Bill Teepan, Carissa Mares, David Boeving, and Melissa Brooks-Yip

    The Office of Campus & Community Writing and YpsiWrites, in collaboration with the Washtenaw County Health Department's Wish You Knew mental health campaign, will be offering a series of writing workshops that will explore intersections of various genres of writing, mental health concepts, and self-care strategies. These workshops, which will be offered to all members of the EMU community, will provide participants tools for navigating daily stresses.

  • A Doggone Good Idea: A Paws-ative Wellness Intervention for the College Classroom Expand dropdown

    Awardee: John Palladino

    As a certified pet therapist, John Palladino will teach his in-person classes with his dog present and available for student interactions. He will do the same for several class sessions in another professor's class. The intent is for students to benefit from and learn about the value of pet therapy in classroom settings.

  • Guiding Teacher Candidates to integrate Academics and Wellness (Coursework and Service-learning with English Learners) Expand dropdown

    Awardee: Zuzana Tomaš

    Teacher candidates in an Introduction to TESOL course will identify their wellbeing "weak spot." They will set goals to work toward increasing wellness in this area and have an opportunity at the beginning of each class to debrief with classmates who set similar goals. We will also do an activity mini-break half way through the class and plan to develop a wellness-centered curriculum for English learners.

  • Reading for the Fun of It Expand dropdown

    Awardees: Kelly Grossmann Getz, Sarah Fabian, Kathie Mason

    Reading for the fun of it allows students to be temporarily transported from the rigors and stresses of college life and to experience new and different situations, emotions, times, places, and interests. The EMU Library is an academic library and, as such, focuses on holding scholarly books supporting students' research and academic endeavors. However, this grant enables the library to initiate a collection of "for fun" reading material--genres like popular fiction, graphic novels, mysteries and thrillers, comedy, self-help, and other best sellers--that support the student as a whole, beyond the academic experience. 

  • Addressing Student Mental Health Through Random Acts of Kindness and Self-Care Expand dropdown

    Awardee: Lolita Cummings

    The "Addressing Student Mental Health Through Random Acts of Kindness and Self-Care" project addresses both kindness and student mental health by encouraging students to be kind to themselves, which is often difficult for them to do. Specifically, students are encouraged to use grant-approved funds to take a break from class and practice self-care -- without any fear of missing assignment deadlines -- on a day they feel it's needed. 

  • Present in My Music Expand dropdown

    Awardees: Debra Gombert and Laura Pawuk

    Professor Pawuk and Dr. Gombert are proposing an exploration of the use of music in the form of personal playlists to support student wellness. Students will learn how to use their own preferred music to support or shift their emotional state.  Many of us have favorite play-lists; few of us are present to the emotional support those playlists can provide.  

  • CSD Snapshots: The Intersection of my Culture and Profession Expand dropdown

    Awardee: Audrey Farrugia

    The goal of this project is to provide an opportunity for cultural self-reflection through the Photovoice method in order to increase cultural wellness in CSD students, outside of our dedicated, multicultural course. Students will be given the opportunity to reflect on their culture and create their own Photovoice project that represents the prompt: The intersection of my culture and my profession. The cultural snapshots will be displayed in the College of Education so that students can share their work and reflect on the work of others.

  • Be Mindful of Burnout: Raising Awareness and Promoting Prevention Expand dropdown

    Awardees: Julia Burkhardt and Jodi Schumacher

    The prevention and acknowledgment of burnout is a crucial part of professional wellness and self care. For the 1st annual Wellness Week, we will be providing information regarding professional burnout in order to provide our students with the tools to prevent and acknowledge burnout in themselves and others. The week will culminate in a mini self-care retreat focused on utilizing mindfulness as preventative tools.


Mini-Grant Awardees for Summer & Fall 2023 Classes

  • Jessica Swan, Jennifer Barreto, Iman Grewal, and Wendy Burke: Joy Fest Expand dropdown
    The Department of Teacher Education hosts JoyFest, which will bring our college community together to focus on ourselves and our collective uplift and support. We will spend time together engaged in art, play, informal interactions, and open activities with the purpose of promoting health, love, healing, collective community building, uplift, and joy. Together, as equal human beings, we will work (hang out) to create joy, which we all so desperately need at this time.
  • Christina Mirtes, Jessica Grimone-Hopkins, & Martha Baiyee: Let's Eat!: Planning and Preparing Healthy Meals in our Teaching and Learning Community

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    Many of our students arrive to class stressed and hungry; and have shared that they resort to fast food as they have limited time, cooking supplies/resources, and (as college students/young adults) many have not fully developed habits of routinely cooking for themselves. The purpose of this initiative will provide our teaching and learning community with (1) Instapot and (2) Crockpots with liners to offer students opportunities to practice and develop life-long health and wellness skills of how to plan for, purchase ingredients on a budget (ECE faculty will cover this expense), prepare, and enjoy simple healthful meals together; in tandem, while exploring the ECE course content. Through modeling, we recognize that basic needs come before self-actualization, this intentional community-building initiative promotes self-efficacy, self-care, and wellness, which can be replicated in other programs within and across campus. Bon Appétit!
  • Kimberly Ferrell: Kindly Care Classroom

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    Kindly Care Classroom is a small initiative to provide our students the opportunity of self-reflection, uplift, motivation, inspiration, connecting to their peers, and social and emotional therapy from the classroom community. This is established by incorporating unique classroom educational practices as mentioned above, both from the teacher as well as from the students. These innovative strategies creates a unique connection and shifts the social and emotional learning environment positively.
  • Melissa Jones: Edible Crafts, Queer Texts, and Other Tasty Lessons

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    Crafting stations with either "take away" objects to represent class time and/or texts AND crafting/eating stations to create edible objects that do the same.
  • Valerie Pauli: Mindfulness Coloring

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    Over the course of the Fall 2023 term, I will begin each lecture with students spending 10-minutes coloring in a mindfulness coloring book provided to them. Coloring is known to help de-stress and generate creativity; therefore, the students will experience lowered anxiety and stress levels. Multiple studies have shown that nursing students experience elevated levels of stress and mental health issues as they face rigorous and demanding course work. This intervention will teach first semester, first-year nursing students one method to help alleviate stress during their time in the EMU School of Nursing program.
  • Jamie Lawler: Pay It Forward

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    Research demonstrates that social support is important for wellness (e.g. Harandi et al., 2017) and this project is desiged to increase social support within the psychology department and the Community Behavioral Health Clinic. The "pay it forward" materials will be kept in a cabinet in the clinic for students to utilize to send cards and small "tokens" to each other.
  • Rachel Radina: Virtual Wellness Workshop

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    Virtual Wellness Workshop facilitated by myself, Dr. Lateasha Myers, and Dr. Genesis Ross. The workshop would include mindfulness activities, journaling, a wellness wheel/assessment, a resource list, and additional opportunities to connect in the future.
  • Christopher Robbins & Kat Naish: Guiding/Mentoring Wellness Work in a Co-constructed Course

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    In coordination with a recent doctoral mentee who focused on wellness programs in her dissertation research and is a practicing teacher, we seek to employ her expertise in wellness on a bi-weekly basis wherein she will conduct wellness exercises with the class along with integrating individual and group-level wellness work into course assignments. We would like to see the possible effects of an integrated approach to wellness on students' experiences of the course. 

Mini-Grant Awardees for Winter 2024 Classes

  • Sarah M. Ginsberg, Lidia Lee & Leslie Blome - Creating Academic Department Inclusive Space for Students Expand dropdown
    As we work to increase the collaborative nature of education on our campus through initiatives such as TaLT, we have discovered that physical proximity is valuable to both students’ and faculty in supporting a sense of accessibility and belonging. Through the creation of an office for CSD graduate students, we invite them to be a part of our community. The social constructivism theory of learning suggests that creating shared space supports student learning “as students interact with people, the material and immaterial environment, they gain understanding and gather experience which is needed to live successful and functional lives” (Akpan et al., 2020, p. 51). Creating a place for students to be with us allows them to feel that they are welcome and supported, and that we are respectful of their place within our learning environment. In describing how faculty can be “transformative agents of change,” Morris and Bellon-Harn (2021, p. 2) talk about the value of the language of inclusion in creating a sense of belonging, particularly for underrepresented students. Creating a space for inclusion will similarly contribute to building a sense of belonging for all of our students, including those who are underrepresented. We also believe that creating this space for our students can contribute to the academic resilience for all of our students, particularly underrepresented students, by providing them with a sense of community membership and caring (Ginsberg, 2018a, 2018b).
  • Kathryn Hughesgon -  Mindfulness Meditation Journaling to Support Nursing Students’ Mental Health Expand dropdown
    Mindfulness is a useful tool to improve mental wellbeing, and journaling is one way of practicing mindfulness.
  • Lindsay Kalinowski & Jessica Stamatis - Quality Assessment of Wellness Practices in Graduate Professional Students Expand dropdown
    Physician assistant students and course instructors will meet in Rackham for a one-time event. One small group and one facilitator meet at scheduled times in a problem-based learning room in Rackham for up to one hour. Additional groups will be scheduled on the same day for all student volunteers to participate. Students will complete an electronic survey and engage in a small group discussion. The facilitator will ask open-ended questions to guide a discussion to topics of interest. We plan to submit an IRB application to collect quantitative, qualitative, and demographic data. We would expect dissemination within one year of hosting the event.
  • Meriah Sage, Emily Levickas & Jen Felts - Sensory Kits for Judy Sturgis Hill Building Expand dropdown
    Sensory Kits for Judy Sturgis Hill. 4-5 Sensory Kit Bags for classrooms in Judy Sturgis Hill. A sensory kit is a collection of items that may help calm overstimulating situations. For example, headphones can be used to reduce loud noises. A sensory kit is important because it promotes relaxation for students when the sensory inputs interfere with attention and concentration or cause them to become anxious and overwhelmed. Bags include headphones, fidgets (such as tactile tangles), calming cards, and sunglasses in bags for university students.
  • John Sonnega - Thankful Slumber: Gratitude Practice for Sleep and Well Being Expand dropdown
    The American college health association NCHA data for Eastern Michigan (EMU spring 2022) revealed that almost half of Eastern students (47.5%) sleep 6 hours or less a night during the school week. Approximately a third of Eastern Students report feeling tired or sleepy during the day every single day of the week. Similarly, more than a quarter of students state they never getting enough sleep to feel rested. Offering tips for sleep hygiene is a common public health education approach, but usually insufficient by itself. We will attempt to implement gratitude practice alongside sleep hygiene tips to help foster better well being in students. Gratitude interventions are conceptually straight forward and easy to implement with college students. It is hoped that gratitude will positively impact well-being and sleep in college students. In particular, gratitude practices have been found to help improve affective functioning (Tolcher, Cauble, & Downs, 2022), which is relevant for sleep outcomes. The proposed program will take place over the course of the semester. • Daily gratitude meditation at Bedtime. o Brief reflection on positive things that happened that day. The goal is to take a few deep breaths and recall “3 good things” that happened that day. • Weekly Musing/Journaling on Gratitude. o Intended to deepen gratitude practice beyond daily happenings. o Content categories will be assigned (Friends, Ancestors, Places, Food, etc.) • Gratitude behavioral practice. o Weekly thanking someone with a card (thank you cards). o Thanking someone from your past with a letter or phone/zoom call.
  • Aesha Mustafa - Fostering a Resilient Nervous System: Embodying Somatic Practices Toward Strengthening Leadership Skills Expand dropdown
    Raina is a Black multiracial neurodivergent queer woman with philosophies rooted in Black, queer, and feminist theologies. She would lead a workshop on the nervous system, including what it does and how instrumental it is to relationship building, effective communication, and navigating conflict in leadership roles. Raina will guide students in creating their own personal "map" of their nervous system and will be introduced to somatic (connecting the mind and body) strategies for managing nervous system overwhelm. Practicing somatic grounding strategies can help students stay grounded in difficult leadership situations. Through Raina's guidance, students will recognize how their nervous system may be triggered in leadership roles when feeling misunderstood, questioned, criticized, or rejected. Development of such body awareness and skill set will position students in a place of choice where they can trust themselves in leadership roles to build and nurture relationship skills to move between self-protection and connecting. Students will be better equipped to improve their ability to establish and maintain positive interpersonal relationships with their colleagues.
  • Jayne Yatczak - What’s Strong with Students Expand dropdown
    I am proposing to meet monthly with the new OT students during a lunch and learn and have them engage in exercises and reflections that will help them to understand their own and each other's strengths so that they can use them in the program and as clinicians. I already have additional resources about CliftonStrengths that I can use to during the lunch and learn.


Please contact us at [email protected] if you have any questions about this mini-grant program.