Campus News

UK Women & Philanthropy Network awards $215,110 to 6 UK academic initiatives 

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Feb. 27, 2024) — The Women and Philanthropy Network at the University of Kentucky recently awarded $215,110 to six academic initiatives at UK. This brings lifetime grants by the group to $3,093,121. These six programs were the top proposals receiving votes from network members from presentations at the November 2023 Symposium. 

The largest grant — $50,000 —went to the UK College of Medicine's "Taking ACTION to Reduce Disparities in Eastern Kentucky" program. This scholarship program aims to increase the number of Appalachian Kentucky students pursuing oncology careers. With additional funding, the program will be able to provide full scholarships for six more students, which will help address healthcare disparities in underserved Eastern Kentucky communities. 

Another grant for student support went to the International Center's Explore First program. Explore First received $15,121 to provide study abroad opportunities for first-generation college students. Students will gain valuable intercultural connections and career insights through funded travel experiences they may not otherwise be able to access. 

Several other funded initiatives promote research and public engagement. The University Press of Kentucky received $39,600 to create a student internship focused on an Appalachian future and civil right series. The Gaines Center for the Humanities received $12,000 to support a student-curated exhibit called "The Monsters and Myths of Addiction in Kentucky" to foster substance abuse education and reduce stigma. 

The granted funds will also drive innovation. The Stanley and Karen Pigman College of Engineering will use its $49,800 grant to upgrade EduceLab equipment and provide more undergraduate research opportunities. Additionally, $48,589 went to the Martin-Gatton College of Agriculture, Food and Environment to expand grief counseling services to support students facing bereavement. 

“One of the most rewarding opportunities we have as members of the Women & Philanthropy Network is reviewing the academic grant proposals received each year from colleges and programs from throughout the University of Kentucky,” said Janice Birdwhistell, chair of the Women and Philanthropy Network. “Each year I am excited by the grant selection and review process, amazed by the results, and proud to be part of this group of leaders, donors and advocates that invest collectively to advocate for UK's success. We commend those programs selected and thank everyone for being part of the process."  

The Women and Philanthropy Network was formed in 2007 to motivate and unite women as leaders, donors and advocates for UK. This group of women created a new culture of service and philanthropy through their gifts of time, talent and resources, all in support of UK students.  

Individuals contribute $1,000 annually ($500 for women aged 40 and under), then pool the money to award grants that further research, provide scholarships, fund creative programs and train future leaders. Colleges and programs are invited to submit proposals and members vote on which proposals to fund.   

With financial backing from the Women and Philanthropy Network, the University of Kentucky nurtures student success, pioneers new research, and extends its impact across the state.  

For more information concerning the UK Women and Philanthropy Network, contact Christina Yue at 859-323-7950 or 

As the state’s flagship, land-grant institution, the University of Kentucky exists to advance the Commonwealth. We do that by preparing the next generation of leaders — placing students at the heart of everything we do — and transforming the lives of Kentuckians through education, research and creative work, service and health care. We pride ourselves on being a catalyst for breakthroughs and a force for healing, a place where ingenuity unfolds. It's all made possible by our people — visionaries, disruptors and pioneers — who make up 200 academic programs, a $476.5 million research and development enterprise and a world-class medical center, all on one campus.   

In 2022, UK was ranked by Forbes as one of the “Best Employers for New Grads” and named a “Diversity Champion” by INSIGHT into Diversity, a testament to our commitment to advance Kentucky and create a community of belonging for everyone. While our mission looks different in many ways than it did in 1865, the vision of service to our Commonwealth and the world remains the same. We are the University for Kentucky.