The Gephardt Institute’s Civic Engagement Fund supports WashU students, faculty, and staff working to strengthen the fabric of their communities. Grantees collaborate with community partners to develop initiatives and Community Engaged Courses that catalyze positive change and student learning. The institute offers four grant categories that support different kinds of community engagement: Course Development Grants, Grants for St. Louis Projects (Community Planning and Community Partnership), and Small Change Grants. The Civic Engagement Fund is currently accepting proposals for all grant categories in the spring 2020 cycle.
Read about our fall 2019 Civic Engagement Fund grant recipients below.
Course Development Grants provide up to $5,000 to support faculty with the development, evolution, and evaluation of Community Engaged Courses. The grants are available to all faculty teaching courses at the undergraduate and/or graduate level in any discipline or school and must culminate with the recipient teaching a Community Engaged Course.
- Photography Studio: Material & Culture: Meghan Kirkwood, Assistant Professor, Sam Fox School of Design and Visual Arts
This is the first course for those pursuing a BFA in Art with a concentration in Photography. It introduces photography as a dialogue between material and cultural histories, personal experience, tradition, and contemporary practice. The community engaged component collaborates with the University City Commission on Arts and Letters to help students investigate the history, visual profile, and community perceptions of the River Des Peres in University City. Each student will select a site along the River Des Peres and will produce a body of photographic work that examines historical and contemporary relationships embedded in their chosen site. The final body of work will be presented in two locations: as a public installation in parks throughout University City that have proximity to the river and as a more traditional exhibition in the public library.
St. Louis Projects: Community Planning Grants provide up to $1,000 in funding to support the development of new initiatives or the further expansion of smaller projects. Successful applicants propose a substantive project in partnership with community members or organizations in St. Louis and receive financial support and consultation for implementing community-based initiatives. These grants are available to all students, faculty, and staff.
- A Needs Assessment about Self-Empowerment Intervention for People with Parkinson’s Disease Living in St. Louis: Eunyoung Kang, PhD Student in Rehabilitation and Participation Science, Program in Occupational Therapy, School of Medicine
The long-term goal of this project is to improve community health by developing and implementing a community-informed self-empowerment intervention for people with Parkinson’s disease (PD) living in the St. Louis area. With this grant, the group plans to conduct a qualitative needs assessment to determine self-empowerment intervention components deemed essential by people with PD living in the St. Louis area. Findings will lay the foundation for the development of a self-empowerment intervention that is perceived as acceptable, feasible, and necessary to people with PD in our community.
- Engineers Without Borders Local Project: Naasik Syed, Class of 2022, McKelvey School of Engineering
WashU Engineers Without Borders partners with two local sustainability organizations, EarthDance Farms and Brightside St. Louis, with the goal of collaborating on renovation and development projects spanning multiple years. The first project to be executed with EarthDance is redesigning and restructuring a Seven Generations Garden to increase safety, maximize efficient use of space, and facilitate active engagement of visitors while maintaining or improving the garden’s aesthetic appeal. Seven Generations is defined by EarthDance as “an ecological concept that urges the current generation of humans to live sustainably and work for the benefit of the seventh generation into the future.” The first project to be executed with Brightside is designing and implementing a drainage system for a pavilion to prevent mud from spilling out of the plant bed lying below the roof, which clogs and creates structural defects in the surrounding porous concrete.
- Low-income Youth’s Perceptions of Environment and Health: A Photo-Voice Project: Nadav Sprague, Master of Public Health Student, Brown School of Social Work
Gateway to the Great Outdoors will conduct interactive photo-voice focus groups for low-income St. Louis students that participate in Gateway to the Great Outdoors (GGO) to explore their perceptions of environment and health. GGO is a not-for-profit organization that offers nature-based education to low-income elementary and middle schools.
Small Change Grants provide up to $500 in funding to support ongoing and new initiatives focused on cultivating civic engagement and catalyzing positive impact on community needs and priorities. Small Change Grants fund special events, educational experiences, small community projects, and more. These grants are available to all students, faculty and staff.
- Teach Me to Help: Harris Whiteson, Class of 2021, College of Arts and Sciences
Teach Me to Help is a fully volunteer-based group that teaches CPR to the students of multiple high schools throughout the St. Louis area. It is a state requirement that all students must learn CPR before graduation, but due to lack of funding and resources, many students end up taking a multiple-choice quiz in lieu of receiving hands-on experience. Teach Me to Help provides CPR learning following the American Red Cross standards by certified instructors.
- Piano Books for KEYS: Jae Hee Lee, Class of 2020, and Maureen Kleinhenz, Class of 2020, College of Arts and Sciences
KEYS focuses on providing piano lessons to children in the St. Louis community. WashU volunteers are involved in organizing the day-to-day operations of this program in addition to teaching lessons. The grant will support the purchase of new editions of primer level and level 1 piano books, allowing each student to have the books related to lesson, theory, performance, and technique and artistry.
- Our Chance to Dance, TOGETHER Performance: Jessika Baral, Class of 2021, College of Arts and Sciences
Our Chance to Dance (OCTD) is a WashU undergraduate student group focused on empowering and engaging diverse populations in the St. Louis community using free volunteer-led dance workshops. Every semester, WashU student volunteers create tailored dance choreographies and teach them to community partners during weekly dance workshops. They currently volunteer at the Central Institute for the Deaf, The Moog Center for Deaf Education, The Women’s Safe House, and the Siteman Cancer Center. The grant will go toward bolstering off-site volunteer programs and creating a showcase performance called TOGETHER. During TOGETHER, workshop participants from all community partners will join together and perform the dances they have learned.
- Design Futures Forum: Liz Kramer, Associate Director, Office for Socially Engaged Practice, Sam Fox School for Design and Visual Arts
Design Futures is a five-day forum developed to bring together student leaders, faculty, and practitioners in the fields of community-driven, engaged, and equitable design. During the five-day training, students are exposed to leadership, assets, challenges, and complexities in the host city, particularly through local tours to neighborhoods and organizations. The fourth day of the forum, Local Day, will feature a variety of community-based local tours throughout the St. Louis region. This grant is going towards purchasing snacks from local St. Louis businesses for Local Day.
- Rethinking the “Public” in Public Art: Sienna Ruiz, Class of 2020, College of Arts and Sciences
This project aims to bring an event to campus that celebrates the new mural for the Annika Rodriguez Scholars Program and strengthens WashU’s ties to minority communities in St. Louis. It will interrogate what it means to have public art on campus through a panel discussion between WashU faculty member Gonz Jove, the local Bolivian-American artist who completed the mural, and the grant applicants, encouraging participants to consider the following questions: What is allowed to count as official campus art? What does it mean to have public art on a private university? What is the importance of public art to marginalized communities in St. Louis and around the country?
- ILM(لع م): Interchange of Language and Mentorship: Summer McKenna, Class of 2021, College of Arts and Sciences
ILM strives to interchange knowledge across language and culture by connecting local Syrian refugee high schoolers and Washington University students in an after-school tutoring and mentorship program. Partnering with the English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) Program at Maplewood Richmond Heights High School, ILM aims to empower local Syrian students with one-on-one academic support and English language practice, as well as facilitate organic cultural exchanges, provide college mentorship, and deepen students’ abilities to seek similarities in diverse backgrounds. This grant seeks to fund program supplies and snacks.
Learn more about the Civic Engagement Fund and submit a grant proposal here.