Chan to lead two new projects addressing racism and social injustice

Anita Say Chan
Anita Say Chan, Associate Professor

In July 2020, Chancellor Robert J. Jones announced the creation of the Call to Action Research Program to Address Racism and Social Injustice, a $2 million annual commitment by the University of Illinois to respond to the critical need for universities across the nation to prioritize research focused on systemic racial inequities and injustices that exist not only in communities but in higher education itself.

On November 2, Chancellor Jones announced that 22 projects have been funded through this new program. Associate Professor Anita Say Chan will serve as a lead on two projects: "Dignifying Digital Connection: Addressing Race and Class Privilege in Broadband Infrastructures for East Central Illinois Families, Students and Seniors" and "Reparative Data and Media Initiative: Extending Racial and Research Justice in Champaign County."

"Dignifying Digital Connection: Addressing Race and Class Privilege in Broadband Infrastructures for East Central Illinois Families, Students and Seniors," which received $100,000, will be co-led by Tracy Smith in Technology Services. It is a partnership with the Housing Authority of Champaign County, Project Success of Vermillion County, Cunningham Township, and Champaign Urbana Public Health Department, PCs for People, local community members, and the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Development, who earlier awarded the project $50,000 under their Broadband Ready grant. The project will increase household access to computing devices and hotspot connectivity for under-served communities in East Central Illinois, while working with project partners to broaden understanding of the barriers that often keep local households and social services organizations alike from participating in new technology initiatives.

"Reparative Data and Media Initiative: Extending Racial and Research Justice in Champaign County," which received $40,000, will be co-led by Katie Shumway in the School of Social Work. It will support Champaign-Urbana civic groups through workshops on data management, technology use and social media skills and a fellowship and grant competition to support technology needs. Community members from CU Trauma & Resilience, Cunningham Township, and the Champaign County Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities Board will be involved in the project.

Chan directs the Community Data Clinic at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) and co-leads the Just Infrastructures Initiative with faculty in the Grainger College of Engineering. She has served as a Fiddler Innovation Faculty Fellow at the NCSA, Provost Fellow for International Affairs and Global Strategies at the University of Illinois, and Faculty Affiliate at the Data & Society Research Institute in New York City. Chan received her PhD from MIT in the history and anthropology of science and technology studies.

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