Innovation Grants for Faculty and Staff

4W awards three to five Innovation Grants of up to $7500 for UW-Madison Faculty and Staff. 4W Innovation Grants are provided as general support — which can be used toward summer salary, course buy out, or another arrangement with the school or department — to allow a faculty or academic staff member to devote time to develop a key initiative related to gender and wellbeing. Projects align with the vision and values of the 4W program and have a research-to-action focus that aims to enhance gender equity in communities locally or globally. Projects also employ gender analysis and/or use an intersectional feminist lens to address equity for all.

4W is proud to support the following innovators…

Jennifer Angus: Developing a Co-Design and Microenterprise Project in Nepal 

Jennifer Angus

A collaboration between UW-Madison students and women artisans around the world, this project helps to enhance the design, quality, productions, and sales of artisan handicrafts, thereby increasing economic empowerment and wellbeing. Jennifer Angus is a professor in the Design Studies Department in the School of Human Ecology. (2018)

Another project being led by Angus aims to connect artisans and expert makers working with felt in Nepal and Ecuador to each other. Connecting artisans directly to each other seeks to de-colonize the design process and promote an exchange between peers. To facilitate a meaningful exchange, Angus proposes a co-design project between the two groups using technology and ultimately having an exhibition of the felt co-design work in one of SoHE’s galleries. (2022)

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Fabu Carter: Collaborating with the African Women’s Studies Center in Kenya

Fabu Carter

This academic exchange with Wanjiku Kabira – a UW-Madison alumna, scholar of Kenyan Oral Literature, and Professor of Women’s and Gender Studies at the African Women’s Studies Center in Nairobi, Kenya – will lay the groundwork for ongoing collaboration between 4W and the AWSC. Fabu Carter is a poet, columnist, storyteller, educator, and Senior Outreach Specialist with the Wisconsin Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center, as well as Madison’s former Poet Laureate. (2019)

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Pajarita Charles: Supporting Parenting Connections for Incarcerated Mothers

Pajarita CharlesWork with the Wisconsin Department of Corrections (DOC) introduces an evidence-based parenting program for mothers in the Women’s Correctional System. This initiative will build on existing collaborations, focus on enhancing gender equity for a highly vulnerable group, offer opportunities for student learning, and provide a unique pathway to translate research into practice in Wisconsin and – with adaptations – beyond. Pajarita Charles, Assistant Professor in the School of Social Work. (2020)

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Dekila Chungyalpa: Sharing Practical and Spiritual Resources to Address Climate Change

Dekila Chungyalpa

Support for a forthcoming book will provide practical, spiritual, and psychological resources to address eco-anxiety and climate distress, particularly among marginalized and climate-vulnerable groups such as women, youth, indigenous leaders, and communities of color. Dekila Chungyalpa is the Director of The Loka Initiative at the Center for Healthy Minds. (2020)

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Larissa Duncan: Transnational Exploration of Mindfulness-Based Childbirth and Parenting (MBCP)

This project will assess the acceptability of MBCP to reduce stress during pregnancy, childbirth and parenting consistent with the needs and preferences of Latino/x/e people. The project aims to explore how a program created by a white midwife with a deep care for pregnant people, can be made accessible in new Spanish speaking contexts in Latin America. Larissa Duncan is an Associate Professor in the department of Human Development and Family Studies. (2023)

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Lara Gerassi: Identifying Barriers to Identifying Sex Trafficked Patients 

Lara Gerassi

This case study at Planned Parenthood in Madison aimed to explore barriers to identification of sex trafficking from provider perspectives. Preliminary findings suggested that providers experience role confusion related to whether it is their job to assess and intervene if a disclosure is made. Additionally, there are misconceptions of what sex trafficking is and therefore what to indicators to look for. Lara Gerassi is an Assistant Professor in the School of Social Work and co-leads the 4W STREETS Project. (2018)

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Mary Hark: Developing Papermaking Skills for Women in Rural Ghana

In 2018, Mary Hark received an Innovation Grant to support employment opportunities for women craft practitioners in Kumasi, Ghana by helping them increase product development for papermaking. It led to the first hand papermill in West Africa capable of producing high-quality papers entirely from local botanicals. Mary will use her 2021 Innovation Grant to build on this work and develop a paper bag fabrication site and sales promotion efforts in collaboration with local women entrepreneurs. Mary Hark is a Professor in the Department of Design Studies. (2018 and 2021)

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Nancy Kendall: Strengthening Education and Global Development in Malawi

Nancy KendallThis ongoing project examines education – broadly defined to include school-based programs and the many non-formal education spaces in society – and its role in international development, particularly in creating equity and voice for women and girls. Nancy Kendall is the Chair of Educational Policy Studies Program, Director of the African Studies Program, and Director of the Development Studies Program. (2016)

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LB Klein: Queering Bringing in the Bystander®: Manualizing an LGBTQ+- Specific Adaptation of a Campus Gender-Based Violence Prevention Program

This project aims to create a manual of the adapted version of the Bringing in the Bystander® College Prevention Program, that takes into account the experiences of LGBTQ+ students. This LGBTQ+-specific adaptation of BITB has the potential to both promote gender equity in higher education and to build skills for preventing sexual violence beyond a students’ time at UW-Madison or another college. LB Klein is an Assistant Professor in the Sandra Rosenbaum School of Social Work. (2024)

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Elisabeth Larson: Developing a Wellness Program for Caregivers

Elizabeth Larson

This “5Minutes4Myself” wellness program was created to provide supportive services for caregivers of children with autism and develop performance-based assessments for children. Elizabeth Larson is an occupational therapist and scientist with over thirty years of clinical and research experience working with children with disabilities and their families. (2018)

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Mary Michaud: Fostering Wellbeing through Nature 

Mary Davis Michaud

This pilot study explores how nature and green spaces can help UW employees – particularly women – manage stress and improve wellbeing. Mary Michaud is an instructor in the Center for Patient Partnerships at the UW Law School. She teaches courses on systems thinking in health care for UW’s Master of Public Health Program and focuses on increasing opportunities among low-income children and families to access nature and green space. (2019)

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Darshana Mini: Gender Justice and Workplace Equity in Indian Cinema

This project examines how discussions of gender issues are addressed in the labor organizing in Indian film industries, with a particular focus on the response of institutional film bodies to the #MeToo movement in the entertainment sector. Mini plans to map how the crisis narrative around the events surrounding #MeToo shaped media discourses and public concerns about the need for institutional guarantees for survivors who seek legal redressal against sexual harassment. Darshana Mini is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Communication Arts. (2022)

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Katherine Phelps: Exploring Gendered Embodiment at UW-Madison 

This project uses the process of “body mapping,” to explore the ways in which gender inequities like sexual violence manifest in and on the body and mediate daily experiences of body consciousness for female/feminine identifying college students. Katherine Phelps is an Instructor in the Department of Gender and Women’s Studies. (2020)

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Erika Rosales: Raising Awareness about the Impact of Immigration on Children

Erika Rosales

This ongoing project involves research, curriculum development, and educational programming on topics related to health and human rights of children in adversity around the world, with a focus on Latin American migration and the US-Mexico Border. The work has informed much of 4W’s efforts related to health and human rights, and particularly immigration’s impacts on children and families in Madison and beyond. Erika Rosales is a Human Resources Coordinator at WIDA in the Wisconsin Center for Education Research (WCER). (2019)

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Stephanie Rytilahti: Producing an Oral History of Gender and Women’s Studies Instruction UW-Madison 

Stephanie Rytilahti

This project tells stories of women from UW-Madison’s past and present through an archive of oral interviews with contributors to Women’s and Gender Studies across the UW System. Stephanie Rytilahti is the Director of the Wisconsin Women’s and Gender Studies Consortium where she facilitates the collaboration of research, pedagogical initiatives, and strategic planning of all gender and women’s studies programs and departments across the UW-system. (2019)

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Lesley Sager: Building a Makerspace in Kenya

Lesley Sager

By creating a workspace for women to make hand-crafted baskets and engage in leadership and skill-building training, this project supports health and micro-enterprise efforts for women and children in Tharaka-Niki, Kenya. Lesley Sager is a Wisconsin-based interior designer and instructor in the School of Human Ecology, as well as a 4W faculty leader for the Global Artisans Initiative and founder of the nonprofit Merry-Go-Strong. (2019)

Sager’s latest project will strengthen the ongoing campus-community partnership by bringing more awareness of the work being done by Tharaka Women’s Welfare Program, the success of grassroots initiatives, and the power of simple solutions to help solve complex problems such as domestic violence. Sager plans to continue visiting new villages, doing home visits, gathering stories, and documenting the progress of the Kiondo project. (2022)

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Laura Schlachter: Examining and Empowering Gender Diversity in U.S. Cooperative Boards

By bringing a feminist lens to cooperative governance research at the UW Center for Cooperatives, Schlachter will develop educational materials about gender dynamics on cooperative boards. Materials will emphasize the relationship between gender diversity, cooperative performance, and community impacts. Laura Schlachter is a researcher at the University of Wisconsin Center for Cooperatives. (2021)

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Erika Marin-Spiotta: Supporting Bystander Intervention and Workplace Climate Training

This project is part of a National Science Foundation ADVANCEGeo Partnership that has developed a community-based model for interactive bystander intervention and workplace climate training, which responds to two needs identified by STEMM leaders: 1) development of anti-harassment training that is relevant to STEMM disciplines; and 2) research on the unique experiences of minoritized and underserved groups. Erika Marin-Spiotta is a Professor in the Department of Geography and leads the Earth Science Women’s Network. (2020)

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Uchita Vaid: Mapping Women’s Social Networks in Informal Housing in India

This project undertakes the critical task of mapping and documenting existing social networks of women living in urban slums in India, as well as understanding the essential properties of such networks. The study argues that redevelopment policies need to be assessed from a gendered perspective to fully understand their societal consequences, which includes a systematic documentation of existing social networks and their impacts for women’s wellbeing. Uchita Vaid is an Assistant Professor in Design Studies. (2023)

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Giri Venkataramanan: Bringing Electricity to Rural India with Mahila Microgrids 

Giri Venkataramanan

This demonstration project will provide reliable energy for clean water supply, medical facilities, communications, and education at the community center. It is organized to be managed by local women’s cooperatives; the word “mahila” means “woman” in many South Asian languages. Each hamlet has a locally managed co-op branch, which owns all the electricity assets at the hamlet. Giri Venkataramanan is a Professor in the School of Engineering. (2017)

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Susan Webb Yackee: Developing Gender-Informed Leadership Seminar Curriculum

This project aims to enhance the La Follette School curriculum for the Wisconsin Women in Government (WWIG) Leadership Seminar by developing interactive faculty lectures on gender, politics, diversity, equity, and inclusion in public sector agencies. Susan Webb Yackee is the Director of the La Follette School of Public Affairs and a Collins-Bascom Professor of Public Affairs and Political Science. (2021)

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