The Social Justice Institutes (SJI) at Carlow University are making an impact. As the SJI’s new director, Ryan Scott is deepening roots and strengthening their stance as a go-to resource for the campus, the Pittsburgh region and beyond.

“Right now is a prime opportunity for SJI to reach out,” Scott said.

Founded in 2016, SJI are expanding their breadth across the many issues that resonate with their cause, such as equal opportunities for healthcare and education, access to food and shelter, and building safe communities for disenfranchised populations.

“Founding SJI director Jessica Ruffin did a fantastic job laying the groundwork. We can now leverage our infrastructure to get broader communities involved,” Scott said.

The SJI has multiple branches:

  • The Grace Ann Geibel Institute supports faculty by providing three tiers of funding: a $1,500 seed grant, a $3,000-$5,000 level to build upon initiatives and the $8,000 signature level to support programs with longevity. Projects close to home include a food security program by Janice McCall and work by Jessica Friedrichs to help the Somali Bantu population assimilate in Pittsburgh. Communities in Uganda are benefiting from projects led by Susan O’Rourke, to supply clean water, and Mary Burke, to prevent human trafficking.
  • The Center for Youth Media Advocacy includes the Youth Media Advocacy Project (YMAP). This spring, local high school students presented a showcase at the Idea Exchange, making pitches on social justice issues after researching them with YMAP partner the Saturday Light Brigade.
  • The Center for Community Engaged Learning, the newest SJI branch, is working in collaboration with the Center for Digital Learning and Innovation to develop online modules that will provide guidance to community leaders and coordinators to lead discussion about social justice issues in the community.

“For social justice issues across the board, Carlow is moving the needle in terms of education and awareness,” Scott said.

By Ann Lyon Ritchie