The Nia Project (Emory/Grady)

What is the Nia Project?

The Nia Project is an Emory/Grady Health System nonprofit that assists women of color in receiving mental health services.

Project Nia’s mission is “to empower suicidal African American women with a history of adverse childhood experiences and/or intimate partner violence to be resilient and flourish, heal from their interpersonal traumas, find purpose in their lives, and engage meaningfully in their communities.”

Nia is the fifth day in Kwanzaa and in Swahili means “with purpose” which references the project’s goal to help women find a new sense of purpose. The program includes assistance programs, on-call crisis management, and individual and group therapy.

How did the Nia Project start?

The Nia Project started in the early 1990s as a research intervention project for survivors of intimate partner violence and suicidal behavior. It was founded by Nadine J. Kaslow, PhD, ABPP, a tenured professor at the Emory School of Medicine and Director of Wellbeing, Resilience and Flourishing for Emory at Grady.

The Nia Project received a grant from the Centers for Disease Control in Prevention (CDC) to examine factors differentiating Black women who attempted suicide from those who had never attempted suicide. The study revealed intimate partner violence as a major risk factor for suicide attempts for Black women. They then did another study comparing risk and protective factors in Black women who were abused and attempted suicide versus Black women who were abused but had never attempted suicide.

The information they gathered about these risk and protective factors, combined with input from focus groups of abused and suicidal Black women, informed the development of their culturally informed empowerment intervention that they still use today.

What are the goals of the Nia Project?

The Nia Project’s goals are to:

  • Reduce intimate partner violence for lower-income Black women;
  • Improve any behavioral or mental health disorders caused by intimate partner violence;
  • Facilitate improved quality of life and increase community engagement;

These goals are accomplished by empowering women to build positive self-esteem and self-efficacy, providing women the adequate tools to deal with stress, and helping women stay connected in their community.

How is Emory Educational Gardens involved with the Nia Project?

The Emory Educational Gardens Project (EEGP) partnered with the Nia Project in the spring and summer of 2023. During the partnership, the EEGP gave multiple tours to administrators and members of the Nia project. EEGP also held a joint planting event where members of the project assisted in planting the largest blueberry patch on campus (18 blueberry bushes) located at the EEGP Cox Hall Garden. The EEGP continues to be in touch with the organization and is planning to assist them with garden events in the future.

To learn more about the Nia Project and how you can get involved, read here. To learn what the Office of Sustainability Initiatives is doing to advance social justice, read here. To learn about when you can volunteer in the Educational Gardens, visit our calendar or email

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