WWU Receives Grant to Help Combat Inequality

September 07, 2021 | Education | Aaron Nakamura

Walla Walla University’s Donald Blake Center recieved a $120,000 grant from the Sherwood Trust to provide staffing for the center and to develop a regional network of scholars committed to understanding inequality.

The grant provides the Donald Blake Center in College Place, Washington, with needed resources to grow the center and actively engage in the community.

“We hope to build a vibrant community of individuals interested in the study of race that includes educators at all levels, students, non-profit organizations and city governments,” said Cheris Brewer Current, professor of social work and Donald Blake Center director. “These linkages will be used to support researchers, collaborate on research projects, share expertise and strengthen local racial justice initiatives, with the goal of ultimately making our community a more just place to live.”

Founded at Walla Walla University in 2016, the Donald Blake Center is an intellectual community dedicated to the study of race, ethnicity and culture. The center is name in honor of Donald Blake, a biology professor and the first Black faculty member of Walla Walla College (serving from 1962 to 1969). Blake experienced sustained racism during his time at WWU, both from the campus and the broader community.

The center has successfully hosted four academic conferences featuring nationally recognized keynote speakers and including presentations from student and professional scholars from Heritage University, Washington State University, Whitman College and Walla Walla University. Additionally, the center advocates for diversity-related academic content in college curriculum and more diverse speakers at Walla Walla University events, supports qualitative research on the relationships of people of color and the police in the Walla Walla Valley and also helped to recruit students for Whitman College’s "Teach the Movement" initiative.

“We are thrilled to partner with Sherwood Trust to facilitate scholarly connections that can inform and strengthen our community,” said John McVay, Walla Walla University president. “For 30 years, Sherwood Trust has invested in the Walla Walla Valley, promoting values that create a vibrant community. Our community includes three active colleges, a host of vital non-profit organizations and engaged city governments. Walla Walla University is excited to involve wise, energetic and community-focused scholars in vigorous discovery and discussion that will help us thrive well into the future.”

More information about the Donald Blake Center is available at wallawalla.edu/dbc.

Founded in 1892, Walla Walla University enrolls nearly 1,800 students across five campuses in the Pacific Northwest, including College Place, Washington; Portland, Oregon; Anacortes, Washington; and Missoula and Billings, Montana.