The Gephardt Institute, in partnership with the Division of Student Affairs and the John C. Danforth Center on Religion and Politics, is pleased to announce a call for proposals for Common Ground Grants. In a climate of increasing polarization and division, these grants are designed to catalyze the campus community in developing strategies to repair, address, and prevent polarization at Washington University and in the St. Louis community.  

The Common Ground Grants review committee seeks grant applications that foster a spirit of inquiry, build bridges, support civic and civil dialogue, and offer opportunities for reconciliation and learning across differences.  Grants should foster a campus culture that is inclusive of diverse identities, political ideologies, and perspectives. Special consideration will be given to grant proposals that are designed collaboratively and focus on addressing ideological divisions.  

Grant Information:

Grant Criteria

  • Proposals reflect a non-partisan and non-polarizing effort to engage the campus and/or local community across political spectrums and encourage learning across differences
  • Proposals provide meaningful opportunities for members of the Washington University community and/or St. Louis community to learn, dialogue, and catalyze positive responses to polarization.
  • Proposals focus on strategies to address , repair, and prevent polarization

Grant Size

We welcome proposals that range from $50 to $1,500.


Washington University undergraduate students, graduate students, faculty, and staff are eligible to apply. Community partners and local Washington University alumni may apply in collaboration with an individual, group, or department at Washington University.

Projects may take place between September 2019 and June 2020. Student awardees must complete their projects prior to graduation.

Grant applicants are encouraged to attend an informational meeting to learn about the proposal process.  A proposal review meeting with the Gephardt Institute is required prior to proposal submission. For proposals being completed with a community partner, applicants must submit a signed letter of support from the community organization staff person involved with the proposal.


  • Special events
  • Project or interactive activity
  • Community meetings
  • Trainings
  • Performance or art installations
  • Movie screening and dialogue
  • Civic dialogues

Funding Process

Common Ground Grant proposals must be awarded in advance of activities or projects being implemented. Grants are dispersed by the Gephardt Institute through the Civic Engagement Fund, which reimburses grantees for expenses. Grant recipients must document all purchases and expenses with itemized receipts to submit for reimbursement after completion of the proposed activity. All grantees are expected to document the outcome of the grant award through submission of a grant report form. Grantees may be requested to make presentations or offer materials/testimonial to be included in electronic and print communications.

Application Process:

  • Complete an online Letter of Intent form.
  • Schedule a proposal meeting through our Civic Engagement Fund Coordinator:
  • Prepare a budget document using the Budget Template, then convert to a .pdf and attach it to your application.
  • Letter of support from Community Partner (for initiatives that work with a community partner).

Contact Information:

For more information about the grant application process or to consult on a project idea, please email Theresa Kouo, Assistant Director for Civic Engagement Education:

Apply now! Proposals reviewed on a rolling basis.