UNK Receives $900,000 Grant Towards Sexual Assault Response


UNK- The University of Nebraska at Kearney has been awarded a U.S. Department of Justice Office of Violence Against Women grant for $900,000. The grant is being funded over three years.

The award, a renewal grant, was one of only 30 in the nation selected for funding. In 2010, 226 agencies across the nation applied for the original grant. Of those, 64 were funded.

"For this grant renewal round, only current recipients of the 2010 award could apply, and of the 64 who were eligible, only 30 received awards," said Dr. LeAnn Obrecht, project director and UNK director of Counseling and Health Care/Women's Center.

UNK was the only institution of higher education among the grant recipients.

The grant, titled "Building Victim Services, Prevention and a Coordinated Community Response in Rural Central Nebraska," will help fund services for victims of sexual assault, stalking and relationship violence in Buffalo, Dawson, Franklin, Harlan and Kearney counties.

"In each of the three years of grant funding, there will be persons from among the seven community-wide entities who will be sent to a nationally acclaimed, multidisciplinary conference on sexual assault, stalking and relationship violence," Dr. Obrecht said. "The intent is to attend this multidisciplinary conference as a team, thereby fostering teamwork and collegiality back home in our communities.

"The grant funding is enabling the UNK Women's Center, in collaboration with The S.A.F.E. Center, to pull together the (formerly) fragmented network into a cohesive, integrated and comprehensive effort," she said.

"Further, the grant will improve and expand timely, specialized victim services and mental health counseling at both centers, with an increased focus on serving the surrounding five-county service area and offering services after business hours."

Among the improved services for victims is the development of a Sexual Assault Response Team (SART) comprised of campus and community members.

Also, a prevention educator graduate assistant has been added to the UNK Office of Multicultural Affairs to reach students of color, and a third, half-time counselor will be added to the two full-time licensed professional counselors who now serve the UNK Women's Center and The S.A.F.E. Center.

While victim services are addressed by the grant, prevention is also a key goal, Dr. Obrecht said.

"Each semester, a community-wide event will be offered to educate about sexual assault, stalking and relationship violence," she said.

In addition to the educational events, a communications specialist will be hired to educate using sustained multimedia campaigns that reach not only the campus and the community but across all five counties.

"The goal is to promote the safety and well-being of women in rural central Nebraska by creating and implementing strategies to increase awareness, and prevent sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence and stalking," Dr. Obrecht said.