St. Francis University, in Loretto, Indiana University of Pennsylvania and the University of Pittsburgh are among 36 colleges and universities named as recipients of nearly $1 million in grants to combat campus sexual assault.

The latest grants bring the total to nearly $4 million in grants awarded by Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration through the It’s on Us initiative. 

The Wolf administration established the nation’s first statewide It’s On Us campaign four years ago.

This was the first time schools could apply for a research grant. 

St. Vincent College, in Latrobe, was awarded a $15,000 to assess the statewide impact of the It’s On Us PA grant program and provide recommendations to improve it.

The grants help students, schools and communities to build programs to raise awareness and stop sexual assaults.

“Every student, teacher, administrator and visitor to our campuses deserves a safe environment free from harassment,” Wolf said in a press release. “We must never tolerate this behavior on our campuses or a culture that allows it.”

State and national It’s On Us leaders joined Wolf and Secretary of Education Pedro A. Rivera for Thursday’s grant announcement.

“We thank the leadership at our colleges and universities for providing students and employees with the critical programs and skills to prevent and end sexual violence on their campuses,” Rivera said. 

“Through Gov. Wolf’s continued commitment to this important initiative, we are implementing strategies that elevate awareness, engage communities and improve institutional campus climates.”

The program also helps with communities and campuses respond in a trauma-informed way with survivors when assaults occur, It’s On Us Executive Director Tracey Vitchers said at the announcement program.

Colleges and universities use the grants to create programs ranging from campus-wide training for students, faculty and staff, to institutional campaigns to raise awareness of the reporting process and the resources available to survivors of sexual violence.

Legislation passed in July requires post-secondary institutions to offer online, anonymous options for students to report sexual assaults. 

Many of this year’s grant recipients will be using the funds to implement those systems. The deadline is the end of June.

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