“What is at the core of why our democracy functions as well as it does? In the end, it is because of the presence of our citizens, engaged in our governance and in the communities they live in – helping people who need help and being involved in the dialogue that has to go on in a democracy”  

Congressman Dick Gephardt, Founder, Gephardt Institute

Our Mission

We build mutually beneficial partnerships with the St. Louis community, create civic engagement opportunities for students, and prepare them to lead change wherever they live and work.

Our mission is to foster a vibrant culture of civic engagement throughout Washington University by catalyzing student learning, participation, and impact in civic life.

Our Goals

  1. Educate students for lifelong engaged citizenship
  2. Catalyze partnerships that respond to community needs and priorities
  3. Infuse civic engagement throughout the Washington University experience

Our Strategic Plan

Released in March 2021, the Gephardt Institute Strategic Plan details our commitment to high-quality initiatives, measurable impact, coordinated and community-driven efforts, seamless civic education, and focused attention on the greatest challenges facing St. Louis. Explore our strategic plan in-depth on our website here.

Our Values

The following values guide the Gephardt Institute as an organization and serve as a shared compass for civic and community engagement at Washington University. Although each value can function independently, they are intentionally organized as a continuous cycle that starts with inquiry and empathy before ultimately arriving at action—mirroring the process of engagement.

These values will be applied and detailed in contexts such as staff recruitment and training, curriculum development, practical guidelines for effective community engagement, and program selection criteria.

InquiryWe believe that humility, intellectual curiosity, and reasoning form the foundation of informed and responsible civic engagement.
EmpathyWe believe that seeking and considering multiple perspectives transforms how individuals and communities engage with one another.
CollaborationWe believe that partnerships are most impactful when rooted in shared goals and decision-making.
IntegrityWe believe that upholding ethical behavior, respecting others, and honoring commitments are cornerstones of trusting and reciprocal partnerships.
EquityWe believe that effective civic engagement fosters access, opportunity, and dignity for all, and addresses structural and power imbalances.
ActionWe believe that effective civic engagement is an active process requiring courage, dedication, and participation.

We are dedicated to supporting all members of the Washington University community seeking to connect your academic, professional, and personal commitments with meaningful community engagement. Please reach out, and we will work with you to identify options that will turn your passions into action.