Illinois College is laying out plans to combat domestic violence both on and off campus, thanks to a federal grant that was awarded to the school this week.
I.C. Was one of 14 recipients in Illinois to receive Department of Justice grants made possible by the Violence Against Women Act. The funding is intended to help Illinois agencies and community groups provide critical support and protections for survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence.
Jennie Hemingway, Associate Dean of Student Success and Director of Student Development at I.C., said that more of the community than just the college will be involved in the program.
“We are really excited about it, because it allows us to partner with agencies in the community and have a much closer relationship. The Jacksonville Police Department, Passavant Area Hospital, Memorial Behavioral Health, and The Prairie Center Against Sexual Assault are all involved in the grant. They are all agencies we have had relationships with, but this really formalizes it and all agencies benefit from the training opportunities that this grant provides. So it really forms a good cohesive team, and also brings resources back to the Jacksonville area.”
Hemingway said that the college is anticipating the impact of the program will be felt on campus soon after the program is underway.
“We are excited for the opportunities it provides for our students. It allows for us to hire a coordinator whose sole focus is helping our students with education and awareness, and empowering them to recognize situations that could potentially be harmful, and to help other students they may see with issues. It really gives them a good strong foundation and tool kit. And again the whole focus is on being pro-active and empowering our students.”
Jacksonville Police Chief Adam Mefford said that I.C. approached the department about a year ago asking if J.P.D. would assist with efforts to acquire the grant.
“We didn’t have to do a whole lot for the grant, we just had to contribute a letter of support and participate that way. But what it does is, is that funding, they will be able to hire a specialized position that is not only able to facilitate things on campus, but they are going to be able to provide outside training to other services within the community on these issues of domestic violence, sexual assault, different types of things that may affect a college campus and the community at large as well.
Having that position at the college will really filter out into the community as well, and J.P.D.’s participation is that we will be able to send some of our people to some of these training’s and we will be able to help with additional training and provide some of our expertise from a law enforcement perspective- so it is a good partnership all the way around.”
Hemingway said that there will be some build up of the program before it can really branch out into the community. She said the Department of Justice grant has a blueprint for implementation and growth over time.
“The way that the Department of Justice imagines this grant is that the entire first year is spent in planning and reviewing policies and memorandums of understanding, and then years two and three are program implementation and assessment. So really, year two and year three are when we are really going to be able to speak to the impact that we are seeing not only on campus, but with also working with the partners and in the community.”
Chief Mefford said that after meeting with the school about the program, he knew it was something the Jacksonville Police Department would want to be a part of right from the beginning, and that he and his staff are excited to partner with the college in bringing awareness to stopping domestic violence in the Jacksonville area.