Adding Vibrancy through Our People: Volunteers for St. Louis

Washington University in St. Louis is committed to maintaining a vital community of businesses and residential neighborhoods near its Danforth and Medical Campuses.

Neighborhood Revitalization
The Washington University Medical Center Redevelopment Corporation (WUMCRC) has helped revitalize physical structures in neighborhoods surrounding the Medical Center, leading to an economic and social renewal of the immediate community. During the past two decades, the redevelopment corporation has revitalized the area north of the Medical Center by spurring about $430 million in residential, commercial, and institutional reinvestment. WUMCRC works closely with neighborhood groups in the area in addressing employment, public improvements, home repair and security, and public safety issues.

Since 1996 WUMCRC has been working with local neighborhood groups and stakeholders in the Forest Park Southeast neighborhood to stabilize and revitalize this important area. A communitywide neighborhood plan, sponsored by WUMCRC, outlined a $200 million physical and human services plan. To date, the Medical Center institutions have invested $23 million in the plan's initiatives, which have attracted more then $80 million in investment from the public and private sectors. More than 200 new and rehabilitated homes have been completed, with an additional 50 affordable rental units in the development process. In addition, a 90-unit elderly-assistive living complex that opened in November 2002 and the Adams School and Community Center campus are neighborhood centerpieces. WUMCRC recently recruited the Herbert Hoover Boys and Girls Club to assume control and operations of the Adams Park Community Center; through this partnership, programming has increased tremendously. Washington University also has provided adult employment, security, senior home repair, youth summer camps, and after-school programs in this neighborhood.

WUMCRC has work under way to re-energize Manchester Avenue with new retail, housing, public improvements, and community services. The redevelopment corporation is working with a group of Manchester stakeholders to form a Community Improvement District, which will create a stable source of funding for security, beautification, cleanliness, public improvements, and marketing along the strip.

Another example of neighborhood support is Washington University's 26-year supporting membership in the Skinker-DeBaliviere Community Council—an organization that has fostered improvement efforts to increase stability and attract investment in the area adjacent to the Danforth Campus.

As part of its commitment to Skinker-DeBaliviere and University City, Washington University owns 177 apartment buildings, occupied primarily by graduate and professional students. Also, to encourage home ownership in neighboring areas—including Skinker-DeBaliviere, Forest Park Southeast, portions of West End, and northeast University City—Washington University offers forgivable loans to eligible full- and part-time faculty and staff who wish to purchase primary residences in these neighborhoods.

The University has partnered with the Bank of America and the Regional Housing and Community Development Alliance in rehabilitating a 1907 warehouse in the heart of downtown St. Louis' Washington Avenue Loft District. The building provides living and working space for practicing artists and showcases art in the Des Lee Gallery.

In addition, the University supported the cross-county expansion of MetroLink, which opened in August 2006. Connecting Washington University and its neighbors to major employment and retail centers, this eight-mile extension is revitalizing neighborhoods, promoting clean air, and reducing traffic congestion. As part of its support, Washington University provides free boarding of any Metro bus or train through a Universal Transit Pass available to full-time students, benefits-eligible faculty and staff, and full-time employees of qualified service providers performing daily tasks on its campuses.

Caring Neighbors
The Washington University Neighbors' Council was formed in 1999 to help ensure mutual respect and understanding. Made up of neighborhood representatives from areas surrounding the University, the council provides information and advice on municipal and neighborhood issues and goals, informs area neighborhoods of University initiatives and programs, and provides a forum for neighbors to make suggestions to the University.

Public Service
Focusing attention on public service—its value, its importance, its interest—is the Gephardt Institute for Public Service, which started in February 2005. The institute provides services and programs intended to promote informed civic engagement, political participation, and public service. A major gift honoring former U.S. Representative Richard Gephardt, a native St. Louisan who represented Missouri's third district for 28 years and twice ran for United States president, created the nonpartisan institute.

Social Research
The George Warren Brown School of Social Work is wrestling with issues such as child welfare, productive aging, alcoholism, and the prevention of AIDS. The School's Center for Social Development focuses on helping individuals and families build assets for life goals such as homes, education, and enterprise development; increasing participation in the economy and society; promoting strong communities, active citizenship, and interracial harmony; and creating responsive, effective human service and community development organizations. Named by the National Institute of Mental Health as the first social work research development center in the nation, the School's Center for Mental Health Services Research addresses scientific knowledge gaps around mental health services.

The Department of Psychology is an area in Arts & Sciences also researching social issues—such as new ways to provide legal, medical, and welfare services in St. Louis and the reasons high school students drop out. The School of Medicine is also very active in programs related to social issues.

Social Entrepreneurship
The Skandalaris Center for Entrepreneurial Studies has launched the Social Entrepreneurship and Innovation Competition. With the goal of finding and encouraging innovative ways to deliver needed public goods and services, the competition features $150,000 in awards, including $35,000 for a youth-related venture. The competition also sponsors workshops and activities to support participants.

Volunteerism: Service to Society
From working with abused and neglected children to combating illiteracy, racism, and world hunger, members of the Washington University community recognize the importance of volunteerism. Students, faculty, and staff have been involved in hundreds of volunteer and service activities, including:

  • Adopt-A-Grandparent.
  • STONE Soup, an organization to help feed the homeless.
  • The Charles Drew Community Blood Donor Program, which is increasing the number of African-American blood donors.
  • S.A.G.E., or Service Across Generations, a student organization meeting weekly with older adults in nursing homes.
  • Activity programs for neglected and problem children.
  • Tutoring and recreational events for underprivileged children.
  • Food and clothing drives for area residents.
  • Fundraising projects for AIDS patients, abused children, and people suffering from catastrophic diseases.
  • Caring for drug-addicted babies.
  • Weatherizing homes for the elderly.
  • Educating youth about environmental issues.

In the 2009-10 academic year 891 students participated in Campus Y programs. The volunteers provided 46,176 hours of service to 10,780 people locally, nationally, and internationally. The estimated impact of these service programs was $962,769. Campus Y programs, which develop student leadership, are directed at such issues as literacy, social justice, and intercultural exchange.

Since its establishment, the George Warren Brown School of Social Work has worked closely with social agencies in the area and the region. Each social work student gains hands-on experience through at least 1,000 hours of field work, choosing from practicum sites throughout the metropolitan area.

School of Medicine students, as well as attending physicians, volunteer for the Saturday Neighborhood Health Center, a clinic for people who lack insurance and have limited access to health care. Students also work with chronically ill children and their families through the Pediatric Outreach Program. First-year students have banded together to offer CPR training to residents of the neighboring community through Community CPR.

Washington University Law assists in providing services to people who could not otherwise afford legal help through its Civil Justice Clinic, Civil Rights and Community Justice Clinic, Criminal Justice Clinic, Interdisciplinary Environmental Clinic, and five other clinics. In addition, more than 190 law students work part- or full-time at offices committed to providing legal services to the indigent. The law school's Public Service Project matches students interested in volunteering for community service with more than 50 nonprofit organizations, governmental agencies, and public interest law firms.

Through Service First, about 1,200 Washington University students helped clean, update, and renovate 12 St. Louis public schools in September 2010.

"Into the Streets" introduces more than 300 students each year to a day of community service at agencies like Annie Malone Children's Home, Gateway Greening Inc., St. Louis Effort for AIDS, and the St. Louis Abused Women's Support Project.

Resources for Nonprofit Agencies
Nonprofit organizations can receive advice on business management issues through the Taylor Community Consulting Program offered by the Olin School of Business.

Active Faculty and Staff
Faculty and staff also serve on many civic, educational, and cultural organizational boards, including the following:

  • Alzheimer's Disease & Related Disorders Association, St. Louis Chapter
  • American Youth Foundation
  • ARCHS-Area Resources for Community and Human Services
  • Arthritis Foundation-Eastern Missouri Chapter
  • Barnes-Jewish Hospital
  • Childhaven Inc.
  • Children's Home Society of Missouri
  • Cinema St. Louis
  • Citizens for Modern Transit
  • City Center Redevelopment Corporation
  • City Faces
  • Clayton Chamber of Commerce
  • CoLibri Housing Cooperative
  • College School of Webster Groves
  • Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis
  • Dance St. Louis
  • Danforth Plant Science Center
  • Desegregation Task Force
  • Edgewood Children's Center
  • Family Support Council
  • Fathers' Support Center
  • Girls Incorporated of St. Louis
  • Grand Center Inc.
  • Justine Petersen Housing & Reinvestment Corp.
  • Komen St. Louis
  • La Clinica
  • Life Crisis, Inc.
  • Magic House/St. Louis Children's Museum
  • MERS/Missouri Goodwill Industries Inc.
  • Missouri Botanical Garden
  • Missouri Foundation for Health
  • Missouri Safe Drinking Water Commission
  • Missouri SAVE Coalition
  • Municipal Theatre Association of St. Louis
  • Nature Conservancy of Missouri
  • Nidus Center for Scientific Enterprise
  • Parkinson's Disease Association
  • Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region
  • Ranken Jordan Home for Convalescent Crippled Children
  • Saint Louis Art Museum
  • Saint Louis Symphony Society
  • St. Louis Children's Hospital
  • St. Louis City Planning & Urban Design Agency
  • St. Louis ConnectCare
  • St. Louis Regional Chamber & Growth Association
  • St. Louis Science Center
  • St. Louis Volunteer Lawyers & Accountants for the Arts
  • Shakespeare Festival of St. Louis
  • United Way of Greater St. Louis Inc.
  • Woman's Exchange of St. Louis
  • Young Audiences of St. Louis

Cooperation with the Zoo, Garden, and University of Missouri-St. Louis
Washington University in St. Louis works closely with the Saint Louis Zoo, the Missouri Botanical Garden, and the University of Missouri-St. Louis. Faculty and graduate students assist with major scientific efforts at the zoo and the garden. In addition, the director of the garden, Peter Raven, holds an appointment as the George Engelmann Professor of Botany in Arts & Sciences at the University. Washington University has joined UM-St. Louis in two important programs: providing nontraditional students opportunities to study engineering, and establishing the Joint Center for East Asian Studies to promote and coordinate the study of East Asia in the St. Louis area.

Wildlife and Environmental Research
The University makes strong contributions in the area of wildlife research and conservation. Tyson Research Center, a 2,000-acre field station, affords numerous opportunities for research, environmental studies, preservation, and education. In addition, Tyson is host to the Wild Canid Survival and Research Center; Tyson also continues to share some of its facilities with the World Bird Sanctuary. Tyson has a weather station and monitors acid rain as part of the National Atmospheric and Deposition Program.

Giving to the Community
Washington University faculty and staff contribute generously each year during drives for the United Way of Greater St. Louis and the Arts and Education Council of Greater St. Louis.

Proud of St. Louis
In the late 1970s the University embarked upon a national identity program that displays a strong commitment to the St. Louis region: "Washington University in St. Louis" is now one of the most recognizable names among colleges and universities nationwide. When the Web emerged as a global communications medium, we adopted the Web name "wustl" in recognition of our St. Louis ties. (Our full Web address is

Another significant commitment to the St. Louis community is Washington University's publication and distribution of Seeing St. Louis, a visitor's guidebook that has enjoyed national distribution and sales. This critically praised book led the University to produce a second volume for national distribution, Seeing Beyond St. Louis, that charts day trips from St. Louis in all directions within 100 miles.

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