St Francis receives funds to increase sex assault awareness, prevention efforts

Jan. 11—LORETTO — Sexual assaults and harassment have historically been a significant — but often underreported — problem on college campuses nationwide.

One Cambria County school obtained state funding Wednesday to work to address the issue.

St. Francis is one of 22 entities to receive a first-of-its kind "It's On Us PA" grant, which is designed to help schools implement strategies on campuses by improving awareness, prevention, reporting, and response systems, state Rep. Jim Rigby, R-Ferndale, announced in a press release.

The university received $40,000 through the program, Rigby said.

The funding can also be used to create proactive, sustainable ways to remove or reduce barriers that prevent survivors of sexual violence from reporting incidents or accessing vital resources.

"This is a competitive grant and I applaud the administration at St. Francis on taking the initiative and successfully applying for the funding," Rigby said. "The grant comes from the 'It's On Us PA" program, the first of its kind in our country, as Pennsylvania leads the way in trying to prevent incidents of violence on our college and university campuses."

Schools including Indiana University of Pennsylvania and St. Vincent College also received grants this week, the Department of Education's website shows.

Acting Secretary of Education Eric Hagarty said the "It's On Us Pa" campaign "cultivates change."

In doing so, it "provides colleges, universities, and postsecondary career and trade schools with the support and resources necessary," he said, "to protect learning environments and ensure they are free from sexual assault, harassment, and violence."