Brown School Awarded Grants for Community-Based Teaching

Community Engagement; Faculty; Social Work

Washington University’s Gephardt Institute for Civic and Community Engagement has awarded two Community-Based Teaching and Learning grants to support Brown School courses that immerse students in applied community projects to further their classroom learning.

Faculty members Molly Metzger, Henry S. Webber and Matthew Bernstine received a grant to support their course “Developing Sustainable Urban Communities.” The class brings graduate students together from across the university in partnership with community organizations in the city of St. Louis, including Northside Community Housing and Tower Grove East Neighborhood Association.

Grant funds will be used for community meetings, to help residents engage in decision-making processes in their respective neighborhoods. Students will focus on increasing the inclusiveness of community spaces—reaching out to residents who have not been involved previously, particularly people of color.

Barbara Levin, coordinator of the Brown School’s Alliance for Building Capacity, also received a Community-Based Teaching and Learning grant in support of her course “Community Development Practice: Basic Concepts and Methods,” which she is co-teaching with adjunct instructor Debra Moore. The course is required for Master of Social Work students pursuing the domestic track of the Social and Economic Development concentration.

Community Development Practice students will learn about best practices in community development and use that knowledge to support residents, stakeholders, and institutional partners in the Hyde Park neighborhood of St. Louis. This is the fifth semester Levin will partner with the residents of Hyde Park, who are actively organizing and engaged. Students will support the residents’ work through at least one formal community event, as well as resident meetings for planning.

The Gephardt Institute’s Civic Engagement Fund increased its funding levels following the death of Michael Brown, in order to provide more substantial support to initiatives that make a positive impact in St. Louis.

“Our students, faculty, and staff desire to make a difference in St. Louis and yet often there are hard costs for their engagement,” said Amanda Moore McBride, executive director of the Gephardt Institute and Betty Bofinger Brown Associate Professor at the Brown School. “The Civic Engagement Fund exists to remove those opportunity and transaction costs, while offering counsel and technical support from our staff on the implementation of projects.”