The Gephardt Institute was established 13 years ago with a bold vision galvanized by Congressman Richard Gephardt and continually embraced by Chancellor Wrighton and Provost Thorp: That Washington University students are inspired and equipped to contribute to the life and health of communities around the world. Since that time, the world has seen unprecedented challenges that reaffirm the urgent need for engaged citizens and engaged universities, poised with the knowledge, skills, and commitment to seek solutions to these challenges and improve the quality of life for all.
The Gephardt Institute for Civic and Community Engagement heeds this call by fostering a vibrant culture of civic engagement throughout Washington University, realized by engaged citizens, scholarship, and partnerships that advance the collective good.
This summer marked the conclusion of Leading Together: The Campaign for Washington University. Since the campaign’s launch in 2009, we have expanded the breadth of the institute and depth of our mission, redefining our conceptions of meaningful engagement and partnership on campus, in St. Louis, and beyond. Through the generous support of donors of all ages, stages, and capacities, we raised over $5.8 million over the course of the campaign, which has allowed us to further expand our reach, advance student learning and community impact, and build the foundation to magnify our impact in the decades to come.
We are pleased to share a sampling of our key outcomes since 2009, all of which are possible through the contributions of our supporters and partners.
Giving Over the Course of the Leading Together Campaign
Institute Growth and Accomplishments
Educating Students for Lifelong Engaged Citizenship
- We established the Civic Scholars Program with an inaugural cohort of 5 students, which has grown to support 18 students per cohort through a rigorous two-year curriculum, immersion trips, and $5,000 summer stipends that support each scholar in a substantial civic project or internship. 54 Civic Scholars have graduated from this highly selective program with exemplary skills and enduring commitment to civic leadership. We will graduate 34 more scholars in the next two years.
- We launched Engage Democracy, a university-wide initiative to equip the campus community with the civic skills needed to participate in a thriving democracy. The initiative builds on demonstrated successes, including our voter registration and engagement efforts. During the 2016 election, our student voting rate increased by 11% from 2012 and exceeded the national average among colleges and universities.
- We have seen consistently higher rates of community service among Washington University undergraduates compared to our top peer institutions. 61% of undergraduate students participate in community service during college, through programs such as our Each One Teach One tutoring initiative and over 60 student-run groups addressing poverty, global health, environmental justice, and a range of other social and public health issues.
Catalyzing Partnerships that Respond to Community Needs and Priorities
- We have awarded over $200,000 in grants through our Civic Engagement Fund. Student, faculty, and staff grantees have used these funds to develop a wide range of Community-Engaged Courses and community partnerships that address pressing social and economic challenges in St. Louis, the nation, and the world.
- We marked the 10th anniversary of the Goldman Fellows Program, a competitive fellowship that builds the capacity of St. Louis nonprofit and governmental organizations through fellows who serve as full-time summer interns. In total, 115 Goldman Fellows have received over $400,000 in summer stipends, combined with professional development and regional immersion experiences. They have contributed over 34,500 hours to 84 local organizations.
- We serve as a bridge-builder between St. Louis community organizations and Washington University departments and groups in support of partnerships that simultaneously advance regional priorities and enhance student learning. Through over 600 community partnerships, Washington University contributes nearly 1 million volunteer hours annually to initiatives in the St. Louis region.
Infusing Civic Engagement Throughout the Washington University Experience
- From our roots as the Gephardt Institute for Public Service, we expanded and re-named the institute, resulting in a university-wide mission and comprehensive approach to civic engagement. Our talented and dedicated team is now comprised of 12 full-time staff, 7 part-time and adjunct staff, and 22 undergraduate and graduate students who fulfill essential institute roles through the Gephardt Student Internship Program.
- We have supported the development of Community-Engaged Courses across all academic schools through training, consultation, funding, and the facilitation of community partnerships. Washington University offers over 80 courses that bridge academic learning with real-world experience in local communities.
- We partnered with the Washington University Alumni Association to establish WashU Engage, an alumni civic engagement initiative that includes community service projects and Common Reading Program book discussions in local communities. To date, over 1,400 alumni and parents have participated in 117 events across the country.
- The Peter G. Sortino Directorship of the Gephardt Institute was endowed thanks to a generous gift from the Danforth Foundation. This gift honors the late St. Louis civic leader Peter Sortino, who embodied the institute’s values of humility, empathy, and integrity.
Stephanie Kurtzman, Peter G. Sortino Director of the Gephardt Institute, expressed her appreciation to those who have given to the institute through gifts of all sizes, and who continue to advance our mission and values. “Thank you for your support of the Gephardt Institute,” she said. “Together, we will continue to lead our Washington University community toward a vibrant culture of civic engagement that contributes to the health and vitality of communities near and far.”