Aurora Center gets almost $300,000 in federal funding

Aidan M. Anderson

The federal government gave the University’s crisis intervention and advocacy service a grant Wednesday which will account for nearly half of the organization’s annual funding.

The Aurora Center for Advocacy and Education was one of five organizations selected from more than 50 that received $298,524 from the Grants to Reduce Violent Crimes Against Women on Campus program. The amount will be used over two years to fund its salaries, programs and services.

This is the fourth time the center has received the funding since 1999.

The grant, combined with approximately $175,000 of annual funding provided by the Office of Student Affairs, will drive the center, which “operates a very tight ship,” Aurora Center for Advocacy and Education director Jamie Tiedemann said.

The center does not receive money from Student Services Fees. Its services are free to University students, faculty members and staff members but are used mostly by students, she said.

“We do this not for the money,” she said. “And I like that.”

The Office on Violence Against Women, which awarded the grant, gives priority to programs that strengthen violence prevention on campus, provide victim advocacy and outreach to underrepresented populations, such as disabled and international students, according to its Web site.

The Aurora Center offers all of these, Tiedemann said.

Jessica Bills, a child psychology and family violence prevention senior, works as an intern at the center. The continued funding is important and reflects the hard work of the center’s staff and volunteers, she said.

“All of our volunteers are phenomenal people,” Bills said. “We’re all very passionate about ending violence toward women.”

Coordinator and University almuna Jill Lipski said the grant is necessary to the life of the organization.

“We couldn’t do the work we do without this funding.” she said. “Without this grant we wouldn’t be here.”

The Aurora Center works closely with the University Police Department to help victims of sexual assault and domestic or relationship violence.

University Police Chief Greg Hestness said he was happy to hear about the grant.

“We’re fortunate to have an in-house service like (the Aurora Center),” he said. “The folks at Aurora offer options to victims who might want to make a police report but don’t.”

The center is critical in putting together a victim’s case and moving forward with the victim’s recovery, Hestness said.

The Aurora Center has been on campus since 1986 and offers legal advocacy to victims of sexual violence and domestic or relationship violence. It also specializes in violence prevention and awareness training.