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Student Philanthropy Grant Program Named Meramec Innovation of the Year

March 04, 2014

Meramec Innovation of the Year  
Debbie Corson (left) and Becky Helbling of the Academic Service-Learning/Community Engagement Advisory Committee

The Academic Service-Learning/Community Engagement Advisory Committee’s Student Philanthropy Grant program has been selected as the Innovation of the Year at St. Louis Community College-Meramec.

The program gives Meramec students who are engaged in service learning the opportunity to identify needs of community partners and write a micro-grant proposal to request support that will move the partner’s organization forward in some way.

Becky Helbling, committee member and professor in library services at Meramec, said that retired Meramec President Lynn Suydam provided a $2,000 gift to the service learning program at Meramec, with the idea that the money would expand the program.

“During fall 2010, the Academic Service Learning and Community Engagement Advisory Committee began brainstorming ways to use this gift in a creative way.  After many ideas were suggested, discussed and discarded, we settled on the idea of using the money to provide grants to students who were working with faculty members on a service learning project,” Helbling said. “This would give students an opportunity to experience service on a deeper level by asking them to conduct a needs assessment with the community partner, think of creative ways that their needs could be met, and then to write a grant proposal for the equipment or materials their project requires.”

In its first year (2011), the committee awarded three grants to students working with Webster Rock Hill Ministries, Circle of Concern's food pantry and Educare Early Childhood Center.

Within the STLCC district, awards for Innovation of the Year are selected at each campus and the Cosand Center. Criteria include quality, efficiency, cost effectiveness, replication, creativity and timeliness. If there are innovations that cross the district in application and usage, a districtwide award may be granted. The winners from each location compete for the district Innovation of the Year, and the resulting League for Innovation plaque and recognition.