Gephardt News

Civic Engagement Fund Projects Go Virtual in 2020

The Civic Engagement Fund is a resource for Washington University students, faculty, and staff that provides funding for civic projects and community initiatives in St. Louis. Among the different Civic Engagement Fund Grants, the Community Partnership Grant specifically supports the development of new initiatives, as well as the further expansion of smaller projects. These projects are implemented in partnership and collaboration with community organizations or residents in the St. Louis region.

This Spring, Allison Farrell, MSW, Program Coordinator, K-12 Education at Social Systems Design Lab, received a $5,000 Community Partnership Grant for her project­­­ in partnership with the Jennings School District, Systems Thinking for Education Equity Partnership (STEEP), SkipNV, EdHubSTL, and Educators for Social Justice. This project worked to develop and pilot a systems thinking curriculum for engaging students in understanding social justice issues in their communities and implementing impactful service-learning projects. Systems thinking and system dynamics are hands-on tools that can help students amplify their voice by examining complex community issues and designing solutions using a systems lens.

While this project, and the Jennings School District, adapted to a remote approach in March due to COVID-19, Allison and the Jennings team were able to move their meetings to an online format. During the summer, Jennings teacher Carmen Stayton and Allison were able to lead a month-long social justice club with 4th-6th graders in an after-school program. The Social Justice Club culminated in a student-led march in July, allowing students to apply their systems knowledge into socially distant civic action. This Civic Engagement Fund collaboration between Allison and the Jennings School District produced systems-thinking curriculum that can be dispersed as a resource for teachers of all grade levels and districts in St. Louis, helping students develop the tools to be change agents in their own communities.

If you are a WashU student, faculty, or staff member with an idea for a community partnership initiative or project expansion in the St. Louis region, consider applying for a grant through the Civic Engagement Fund. Grants vary in purpose, scope, grant size, and deadline. The Fall 2020 deadline for Community Planning Grant applications is November 13.

Please note that this year’s grants are available for remote initiatives only and must adhere to university COVID-19 guidelines.

Learn more about our available grants and the application process:

Article by Ebee Grellier