Gephardt News

Civic Engagement Fund: Recent Grant Recipients

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. The deadline for Spring 2019 applications for Grants for St. Louis Projects and Small Change Grants is Friday, March 8, and the extended deadline for Course Development Grants is Friday, March 15. Applications for the Community Engagement Opportunity Fund are reviewed on a rolling basis.

Read about the Fall 2018 Civic Engagement Fund grant recipients below.

Small Change Grants provide up to $500 in funding to support ongoing and new initiatives focused on cultivating civic engagement around the world. Small Change Grants funds special events, educational experiences, small community projects, and more. These grants are available to all students, faculty and staff.

  • Afro-Surrealism/Futurism: Radical Black Imagination: Lacy Murphy, Graduate Student, College of Arts and Sciences.

The Art History Student Lecture Committee at Washington University in Saint Louis will organize a two-part event centered on Saint Louis-based, post-disciplinary artist Damon Davis. This interdisciplinary event will bring the departments of Art History and Archaeology, American Culture Studies, African and African American Studies, and other members of the University and St. Louis communities together under the common goal of critically engaging with the visual and literary representation of Black Americans. During the first part of the event, the committee will screen Whose Streets?, an award-winning documentary focused on the events that took place in Ferguson, Missouri in 2014. Following the screening and a short reception, Damon Davis will participate in a moderated dialogue with D. Scot Miller, a Bay Area curator, visual artist, and author of the Afro-Surrealist manifesto. Dr. Rebecca Wanzo, Associate Professor of Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Washington University, will moderate the dialogue, which will examine ways in which the movements of Afro-Surrealism and Futurism may be used to situate Davis’ recent work within a larger movement of Black contemporary artists imagining new mythologies in response to the tropes surrounding Black identity in America. The event seeks to foster solidarity among WashU and greater St. Louis community members and to empower Black artists, writers, and scholars.

  • Alpha Phi Omega National Convention: Gina Vellequette, Class of 2019, College of Arts and Sciences.

Alpha Phi Omega is a national, coeducational service organization founded on the principles of leadership, friendship, and service. The Alpha Phi Omega National Convention is an international conference held bi-yearly. The 2018 conference was held in Austin, Texas, and featured workshops and presenters such as author and inspirational speaker Drew Dudley. The convention centers on helping attendees to develop leadership skills and educating them on bringing those skills back to their own chapter. The Alpha Phi Omega chapter at Washington University sent a delegation of six members to the conference. Two of these members served as voting delegates for two full days of legislative sessions, voting on proposed amendments to the National Bylaws. The Alpha Phi Omega chapter will be able to use the knowledge gained by the attending members to better serve their community partners in St. Louis.

  • Hilltop Conference: Rama Balasubramaniam, Class of 2021, McKelvey School of Engineering; Jenna Patel, Class of 2021, McKelvey School of Engineering.

Hilltop is a weekend-long annual conference in March hosted by Washington University’s GlobeMed chapter that provides students and community members with the opportunity to engage with a health justice-related topic. Past conferences have been centered on themes such as reproductive justice, community-centered health work, and health and human rights. Hilltop’s theme for 2019 will be “Immigration and Refugee Health,” a globally and locally pertinent topic. Attendees will include members of the GlobeMed chapter at WashU, other students and professionals from the WashU community, students from other GlobeMed chapters at universities around the country, and St. Louis community members. The purpose of the conference is to educate attendees about the implications of immigration issues on healthcare domestically and globally through facilitated workshops and discussions. These dialogue opportunities provide a broad range of perspectives and knowledge about organizations working on immigration issues. The speakers and workshops will empower attendees to continue discussions and learning on the topic both on and off campus, get involved in work focused on immigrant and refugee healthcare, and consider how they can implement their own ideas and passions to contribute to the field.

  • WashU for a Sustainable Puerto Rico: Trent McDonald, Second Year Graduate Student in Literature, College of Arts and Sciences.

WashU for a Sustainable Puerto Rico is an event designed to provide support to Puerto Rico in the aftermath of Hurricanes Irma and Maria and to educate the WashU community about the systemic issues that contributed to the widespread loss of power and life following the hurricanes. The event will feature PJ Wilson, founder of Solar for Puerto Rico, to speak on his work installing solar panels for families affected by Hurricanes Irma and Maria. Tony Maldonado, the president of the Hispanic Leaders Group of Greater St. Louis and past president of the Puerto Rican Society of St. Louis, will discuss how financial support can contribute to a renewable recovery for Puerto Rico. J. Dillon Brown, Associate Professor of English, will provide a historical context on Puerto Rico’s vulnerability to environmental devastation. Finally, Daniel Acosta of McCormack Baron Companies in St. Louis will provide photography and video footage of his post-disaster reconstruction work.

  • Strive for College: Swetha Nakshatri, Class of 2020, College of Arts and Sciences.

Strive for College is a mentoring program founded in 2007, connecting low-income high school students from the St. Louis area with undergraduate mentors. Mentors work with mentees in a one-on-one relationship that allows for personalized academic and college application support with the goal of improving skills that lead to success in high school, college, and beyond. The grant funding helps connect mentors and mentees outside of the tutoring setting by providing food during Strive for College sessions, with each session having time dedicated to lunch and bonding between mentors and mentees. Additionally, the project aims to allow for Strive for College to host at least one event (such as a movie night) per semester for mentors and mentees to connect outside of tutoring sessions. This expansion aims to strengthen mentor-mentee bonds and contribute to the continued success of students and the Strive for College model.

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, as well as advising for implementing community-based initiatives. These grants are available to all students, faculty, and staff.

  • Women in STEM Day: Jade Cohen, Class of 2021, McKelvey School of Engineering.

Women in STEM Day gives high school students from several under-resourced schools in the St. Louis area the opportunity to explore and learn about STEM in the context of higher education and provides a collaborative space for problem-solving and design. The rising young scholars enjoy hands-on experiments with professors, a keynote presentation, a panel discussion, and an engineering design challenge. This event gives WashU students, faculty, staff, and alumni the opportunity to impart their knowledge and form mentoring relationships with high school women from the surrounding area. The overarching aim is to bring the WashU community and the St. Louis community together to promote the presence of women in STEM while offering a creative outlet to young women scholars who may not otherwise have this opportunity.

  • Equity Through Policy: Julia Greensfelder, Class of 2021, College of Arts and Sciences.

WUSTL Roosevelt Institute (WURI) is a progressive nonpartisan think-tank associated with Roosevelt Institute nationally. WURI prioritizes local policy-writing and seeks to foster local community partnerships toward this end. WURI has partnered with the Urban Land Institute UrbanPlan program in the Ferguson-Florissant School District, which teaches elementary school students the skills essential to policy creation, advocacy, and analysis. WURI plans to continue this partnership after the UrbanPlan program ends by continuing to teach policy writing skills in the Ferguson-Florissant School District to students already engaged in the UrbanPlan program. The program empowers students with skills that allow them to be active citizens and helps WashU students to connect with the communities affected by local policy decisions in the St. Louis area.