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1818 Grants Program Seeks Projects to Continue Sparking Lasting Change


Sparked by SLU’s 200-year history of service, engagement and living for others, Saint Louis University students used a grant inspired by the University’s bicentennial to plant the seeds of change for the better.

Neuroscience students teach via a 1818 grant

SLU students share their love of neuroscience with elementary school kids as part of a 1818 Community Engagement Grant. Submitted photo

Now the window is open for the next generation of passionate Billikens to spark fires for good through SLU’s 1818 Community Engagement Grants.

Students can apply for awards beginning Tuesday, Sept. 3, through Monday, Sept. 30, through the Center for Community Service and Engagement (CSCE).

1818 Community Engagement Grants award up to $1,800 for student-led projects crafted to address the real-world issues, from bringing robotics to life for children to working to expand access to menstrual hygiene products with a local non-profit.

Seeding Lasting Impacts

More than 1,100 children and adults from across St. Louis were impacted by an 1818 grant last year. The 18 projects selected in 2018’s inaugural grants class involved 306 SLU students and faculty members in positively impacting the St. Louis community, and student projects involved partnerships with 48 area non-profits.

As the new school year dawns, 16 of the 18 funded projects already have plans in place to continue this. Sustaining projects’ impact year to year is another way the program is carrying forward SLU’s historic mission into its third century

“The grants program’s goal is to empower students to identify issues they care about, and to enable them to begin to make positive change happen, through hands-on, sustainable projects connected to and in partnership with specific communities and non-profits,” Bobby Wassel, Ph.D., assistant director of the CSCE, said.

Grants funded therapeutic movement and dance workshops led by members of SLU’s chapter of Movement Exchange. Movement Exchange used its grant to buy maracas and other instruments to add to its work with KEEN St. Louis, a group dedicated to providing equal opportunities for recreation, fitness and friendship for children and young adults with disabilities.

Movement Exchange workshop

SLU student Victoria Birchem leads kids and fellow Billikens at a workshop by Movement Exchange, a student group that received a 1818 grant to connect kids with disabilities to culture and the joy of dance. Photo by Amelia Flood

Another 1818 grant paired students and SLU staff members with men transitioning out of prison into new lives through an astronomy and star-gazing project.

Other grants supported the design and creation of a trauma-informed play space at Our Lady’s Inn, pollinator gardens and clothing closets serving on and off-campus clients.

“These grants represent the many ways that Billikens live out our Jesuit value of cura personalis in tangible, meaningful ways,” Wassel said, “and these projects are indicative of the focus on active, engaged compassion SLU students develop as part of their education, in and beyond the classroom.”

The First Class of 1818 Grants

Expansion of the St. Louis Diaper Bank to include feminine hygiene products and access to long-term resource assistance.​

Move to Change: Dance as an Instrument for Community Wellness and  Cultural Competency

Provided youth struggling with physical and mental disabilities a chance to express themselves through dance.

SLU Feminine Hygiene Closet
Expansion of the St. Louis Diaper Bank to include feminine hygiene products and access to long-term resource assistance.
SLUper Fitness Day

Health and wellness day for under-served youth that included activities, demonstrations, and education.

Trauma Centered Play and its Effect on Child Development

Transformed the playroom at Our Lady’s Inn to better stimulate and nurture children experiencing trauma.

More Than Math
Initiated the Math Fact Scholars Club, an enrichment program designed to advance math skills of K-6 students at St. Louis Catholic Academy.
OverMatch Mentoring
Education initiative that prepared under-resourced high school students for the college admissions process.
Robotic Operations Billiken Outreach (R.O.B.O.)
Connected youth living in the Ville neighborhood with SLU engineering students for robotics education.
The Sibling Support Network
Creation of kits for local schools to implement a support group for siblings of kids with developmental disabilities.
Act on Potential: Increasing Neuroscience Education in St. Louis City Youth
Education program for youth focused on the neuroscience behind decision-making, as well as the field in general.
Building Bridges for the Future
Provided children ages 3 to12 with an introduction to how the study of science bridges to health care professions.
Cultivating Full Minds and Fostering Mindfulness
Redesign of Gateway 180 homeless shelter’s tutoring space for children.
P3 (Plant-i-ful Pollinators Program)
Partnership which built and distributed pollinator gardens to 20 elementary schools in St. Clair County.
Astronomy in Prison Program
Provided incarcerated men a monthly workshop on astronomy, including hands-on use of a telescope.
Community Leaders in Action
Assessed and strengthened family development programs offered, particularly to St. Louis's Hispanic population.
Confidence in Clothing: Economically Empowering Youth
Created a professional development program for under-served youth involved with mock trial competitions.
Trauma-Informed Training Initiative and Mural Project
Trauma training for 75+ SLU students tutoring youth, as well as beautification of local schools through mural-painting.
Queer Closet
Permanent project that equipped queer SLU students with resources needed to find clothes for all body types & genders.
Week of speakers, workshops, simulations, and direct action on and off-campus related to the topic of immigration justice.

Have a Passion for Change? Apply for an 1818 Grant

Want to learn more about service at SLU?

Connect with the Center for Service and Community Engagement

Saint Louis University is a Catholic, Jesuit institution that values academic excellence, life-changing research, compassionate health care, and a strong commitment to faith and service. Founded in 1818, the University fosters the intellectual and character development of more than 13,000 students on campuses in St. Louis and Madrid, Spain. Building on a legacy of nearly 200 years, Saint Louis University continues to move forward with an unwavering commitment to a higher purpose, a greater good.