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Institute awards over $30,000 to fund students’ STL community projects

The Gephardt Institute is pleased to announce the inaugural recipients of the Transform Grant, the largest award in the Institute’s newly launched St. Louis Impact Fund. In the 2023-2024 cycle, the Institute will award over $30,000 to five projects co-designed by Washington University students and community organizations aimed at advancing regional priorities.  

“The Transform Grant through our St. Louis Impact Fund illustrates the Gephardt Institute’s next bold step in living into Washington University’s commitment to be in, for, and with St. Louis as outlined in the University’s Here and Next strategic plan,” said Gephardt Institute Associate Director for Community Engagement Sam Babb. 

Launched in October 2023, the Transform Grant received an overwhelming number of applications with funding requests totaling over $160,000. To best meet community needs, participants refined their applications and project plans through a series of activities including asset mapping, ecosystem scanning, budgeting, and incorporating community and campus feedback during the three required Transform Grant workshops.  

Grant recipients were carefully chosen by a selection committee that considered how each project aligned with St. Louis regional priorities and fulfilled mutually agreed-upon terms and timelines between students and community partners.  

While each project has a unique timeline and duration, all will launch in February 2024 with financial support of the Gephardt Institute’s St. Louis Impact Fund and guidance from Sam Babb, Associate Director for Community Engagement.  

 “These students have illustrated commitment to our St. Louis community, regional priorities, and advancing mutually beneficial solutions,” said Babb. “We are elated to support these five projects and look forward to launching the next round of applications in Fall 2024.”  

The Transform Grant is the largest portion of the St. Louis Impact Fund — which also includes Engage STL Grants, Mini Grants, and Partnership Extension Grants. Applications for Engage STL Grants and Mini Grants are accepted on a rolling basis. For more information about the St. Louis Impact Fund, contact Sam Babb, Associate Director for Community Engagement. 

These are the project proposals and the organizers who were selected to receive Transform Grants: 

In their project “PromOting Healthy Living Workshops,” Occupational Therapy graduate students Mia Pearce and Hannah Launius, along with the WashU Chapter of the Coalition of Therapy Advocates for Diversity, will work with the Northside Youth and Senior Service Center to conduct a series of 10 workshops per year, led by OT students, to help seniors take a more active role in their own health and well-being.  

Quilter Mac Barnes ’26 will collaborate with Maxine Clark of Delmar DiviNe and local digital transformation artist Matt Bryan to create a publicly accessible and interactive quilt that inspires a sense of curiosity and heart for the North Delmar area of St. Louis. “Quilts as Civic Engagement: An Interactive History of St. Louis and the Delmart Region” will be a permanent exhibit displayed at Delmar DiviNe and is intended to inspire others to use their unique talents and their hearts to create an impact on the region.  

Darsh Singhania ’25 and the student group Heart for the Unhoused will work with Students in Transition (SIT), a group that supports St. Louis Public Schools, and the WashU Office of Sustainability on “Project EmpowerED: SLPS Homeless Youth Support Project.” They plan to utilize the resources and service of the WashU student body to give back to the community via projects like assembling college readiness and hygiene kits, load and transport donations, and staff positions at the SIT office. 

For their project “Wellness Advocacy in the St. Louis Immigrant Community,” Matthew Boyd ’24, Nicole Chen ’24, Keona Dordor ’24, Dylan Mack ’24, Usman Salim ’24, and Elisabeth-Monique “Elmo” Tossa ’24 will work with the International Institute of St. Louis. Their goal is to design and execute an event focused on mental health and wellness for the immigrant and refugee community in St. Louis. 

Class of 2024 students Donovan Dixson, Sylvie Raymond, Cameron Thompson and Jasmine Yang will work with the Sam Fox Health Communication Design Studio to support Black Power Blueprint’s Uhuru Wa Kulea Women’s Health Center project. Black Power Blueprint is an initiative of the African People’s Education Defense Fund, and the students will use their grant funding to support the organization’s women’s health initiatives by creating online health resources and communications materials to promote the health center.