The Meridian Society officially launched its philanthropic mission in October 2003 with its first official meeting. It is an organization of women dedicated to supporting a variety of SIUE programs. The Society’s name is based on the fact that the 90th Meridian, exactly one-fourth of the way around the world from the Prime Meridian, runs through the SIUE campus. The first Meridian Awards were given out in the spring of 2004.
Since then, the Meridian Society has awarded more than 129 community based projects totaling for more than $255,000.
Six programs for a total of $16,799 are being submitted to the membership as follows:
Note: The information in italics for each award is the text from the abstracts which are submitted in the Meridian Award application.
Amphibian diversity and abundance at the Watershed Nature Center (WNC)
Amphibians are often used as indicators of environmental quality as they use both aquatic and terrestrial environments. The current work has three primary goals: (1) document the numbers and diversity of amphibians at the Watershed Nature Center (WNC) in Edwardsville, (2) establish baseline for comparison with regional sites subject to higher levels of disturbance, and (3) develop educational and outreach tools that will enhance the information available to students and visitors to the WNC. The results of this study will be used to identify specific wetland areas in the WNC that are used by amphibians, and how use changes over the course of the year. This information will provide new opportunities for educational experiences at the WNC and will aid in developing and documenting conservation goals of the WNC. Specific educational goals will be addressed by providing more information on amphibians to visitors to the WNC (K-12 students, Edwardsville residents, visitors) and the development of hands-on activities. Conservation goals will benefit as the data generated from this work can be used as a guide for development and management decisions. The results of this work will be posted on the WNC website, incorporated into WNC brochures and newsletters, and presented at regional and state meetings.
Special Needs Dental Care Program
The School of Dental Medicine, in partnership with the Southern Illinois Healthcare Foundation and Touchette Regional Hospital, is engaged in the Special Needs Dental Care Program with a goal to increase oral health services for special needs children. The Special Needs Dental Care Program is focused on serving low-income children who have cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, autism, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, and other neurological disorders and genetic syndromes, as well as children with heightened anxiety due to age or other factors. The program provides an affordable dental care option for families with no place else to turn. It is the only program in Illinois outside Chicago that offers dental anesthesia for children on Medicaid.
Hydroponics and Urban Gardening for Girls
Hydroponics and Urban Gardening for Girls (HUGG) is a summer camp for elementary-aged girls living in underserved communities. The program will partner with the Madison County Housing Authority to help introduce their resident children with high quality activities that are all about improving their quality of life and their community with STEM. These girls will have the opportunity to make a unique garden that other residents can use to grow food and flowers, as well as learn space-age technology to grow plants without any soil. Kids will gain valuable tools to help them in their future like proper nutrition and developing mobile apps. In learning about how to garden in urban environments, we hope to interest these girls in STEM careers and improving the world around them in the future.
Empowering Women in Southern Illinois: Networking and Trade
The Illinois International Trade Center at SIUE (ITC) and the newly formed “W” Network of Downstate Illinois are joining forces to support professional women in southern Illinois. This proposal is seeking Meridian Society support to benefit the Empowering Women in Southern Illinois initiative. Currently, our region does not count with a cohesive networking group that can bring women from all sections of southern Illinois to connect, inspire one another and become new and better leaders; running global businesses and organizations as well as creating a healthier future for themselves, their families and their communities. This request would allow the ITC and its partners to organize regular networking events as well as educational programs focusing on leadership, entrepreneurship, international business opportunities, balancing of work and family life, and other unique challenges being faced by women, particularly in minority groups. It is envisioned that through this initiative, southern Illinois can achieve an improved environment for professional women where they can be empowered and enabled to act upon new opportunities, not only in Illinois, the U.S. but also around the world.
SIUE Head Start/Early Head Start
SIUE Head Start/Early Head Start is a nationally recognized quality early childhood education program that promotes school readiness for children and self-sufficiency for families. Services are available to St. Clair County expectant parents and families of children ages six weeks to five years old. SIUE Head Start/Early Head Start program serves more than 1,556 youth (720 in East St. Louis). The program includes 14 early childhood centers, seven managed directly and seven collaborations. Services include a rigorous school readiness program, educational programs for family members, and health and dental screenings. Both programs include children with special needs and English as Second Language Leaners (ESL). The SIUE Head Start/Early Head Start Program has limited funding for marketing. The program is seeking a Meridian Award to rent three billboards at strategic locations throughout St. Clair County to market the program and make community residents aware of the importance of early childhood education.
WNC STEM/STEAM School Kits
Faculty in the SIUE Department of Biological Sciences will partner with the Nature Preserve Foundation (NPF), a non-profit that manages the Watershed Nature Center (an Edwardsville City Park), to develop and distribute an integrated STEM/STEAM science curriculum that reflects the unique characteristics of the Watershed Nature Center. The lessons will reflect the characteristics and learning opportunities of the three native habitats represented at the Watershed Nature Center: wetlands, forest, and prairie. The curriculum will be designed for use by classroom teachers or trained Watershed volunteers through partnership of the NPF Director of Programs (a former District 7 instructor with a masters in curriculum and instruction and certification in science and art) and biology faculty members. The Watershed Nature Center will function as an outdoor classroom.
Eight programs for a total of $18,550 were submitted to the membership as follows:
Note: The information in italics for each award is the text from the abstracts which are submitted in the Meridian Award application.
The Campus Kitchens Project is a national organization with a goal to cultivate leaders to develop a national network of local solutions to the serious issue of hunger in the country. The Kimmel Student Involvement center and SIUE Alliance of Students against Poverty (ASAP) are collaborating with The Campus Kitchens Project to start a program at SIUE that will serve the Metro East area. This service is expected to serve roughly 500 individuals a year who are challenged with the problem of hunger. The Sodexo Foundation has recently rewarded Kimmel and ASAP a grant supporting the start –up of this program at SIUE but additional funding is needed for it to be fully operational. This is a pilot project with hopes of full sustainability through various SIUE department collaboration and donors in future years.
Good reading skills are in incredibly important fundamental ability which aids children throughout their lifetime. Literacy habits are established early in a child’s life and having repeated exposure to high quality reading material fosters success. Additionally, it is important for children to be introduces to health-related topics at a young age such as caring for their bodies, proper nutrition and physical activity. SIUE School of Pharmacy students in their first professional year will provide health-related reading programs in area schools and early childhood education centers. In the areas with the highest risk for illiteracy, we will also be providing a book for each child to take home. The book will be coupled with information directed to parents and guardians to extend learning outside of the classroom, thus providing these children with additional keys for continued success in school and beyond.
The focus of this project is a two-fold: helping Main Street Community Center beautify their main entrance while providing service learning opportunities. Main Street Community Center hopes to create a warmer and more welcoming front entrance while offering educational opportunities to the community at large; the Office of Educational Outreach hops to offer classes that will help the community center reach this goal while allowing students to learn new skills.
A total of four classes will be offered. All of these classes will allow the participants to give back to the Community Center while learning new skills.
Recently educators and researchers have begun to tie “non-cognitive skills” such as “grit” to college persistence and completion. Grit has been defined as “perseverance and passion for long-term goals.” This project will build upon the success of the current Meridian Award supported Grit after-school program and partnership between the SIUE East St. Louis Charter School and the SIUE School of Education. Directed by the Assistant Dean for the School of Education and lead by two additional core SIUE faculty from Psychology and the English Language/ Literature, the project will continue to offer an after-school program to the students at the SIUE East St. Louis Charter high school designed to help hone and improve the students grit skills and channel those skills towards academic achievement. Drawing upon the expertise of SIUE faculty, the after-school program will involve students in challenging activities and then ask them to reflect on their grit through a series of composition and documentation activities, including a project newsletter. The program will be studied in ascertain its effectiveness and to add to the professional literature in this area.
The Lessie Bates Davis Neighborhood House has collected hundreds of photographs and documents from its century of service in East St. Louis. It’s achieves are in disarray and unusable, and the integrity of the materials is threatened with improper storage. The East St. Louis Action Research Project (ESLARP) will partner up with the neighborhood house to organize, digitize, and help preserve these historical images and memorabilia. ESLARP will recruit student volunteers to set up a production station using the institutes already purchased high resolution scanner and computer equipment. Throughout the several volunteer work days, students will digitalize and catalog archival material in order to preserve them and make them useable. A complete set of images will be given to the Neighborhood House, while another will be uploaded to the virtual East St. Louis Historical Society on the SIUE website. In the end, this project will benefit the entire community by giving the Neighborhood House a functioning archive, by drawing attention to the work of the Neighborhood House, and by preserving the proud history of the community.
The SIUE Early Childhood Center and the Early childhood Education Program in the School of Education (SOE) in partnership with Children’s Home & Aid Society Child Care Resource and Referral (CCR+R) are planning a science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics (STEAM) conference for educators of young children at the Morris University Center (MUC) October 24, 2014. This conference will include a keynote speaker and multiple sessions. The interdisciplinary nature of the STEAM conference will stimulate new ways of collaborating. Our hope is that area educators will begin to build relationships with faculty outside of SOE to take advantage of all SIUE has to offer. STEAM is gaining momentum as educators realize the importance of introducing concepts when children are young and eager to explore them. The registration goal for STEAM conference is 200 people. Given the current budget limitations and most early childhood programs, we are requesting $5,000 to help cover the keynote speaker and printed materials to reduce registration cost to participants.
The Center for STEM and NCERC at SIUE have partnered to propose an intensive, science immersion program geared toward students from low-income, high-risk areas. Students will participate in biofuels-based learning unity designed to increase critical thinking skills, build interest STEM- based disciplines, and expose them to new career opportunities. Students will continue this immersion by conduction independent research projects, culminating the students’ participation in the SIUE Regional Science and Engineering Research Challenge in Spring 2015.
This powerful collaboration of SIUE researchers, educators, students and staff will expose young minds with otherwise limited educational opportunities to a creative learning environment that allows them to expand their ideas beyond the classroom. Upward Bound to Biofuels will expose a new generation of talented young students to the opportunities that exist at the university and develop a regional pipeline of students interested in careers in the biofuels industry.
The IL SBDC at SIUE requests Meridian Society support to increase public awareness of and direct support of microloans as an alternative financing source in the Metro East region. Microloans fill an important gap between traditional bank financing and “easy- to – get, but hard- to –pay- off” pay day loan shops. These loans – from $500 to $50,000- are considered a financial lift during startup and challenging business phases. This is especially true for those setting up operations in economically depressed and “under-banked” communities.
This request would allow the SBDC and its partners to organize and convene the region’s first Microloan Summit in August. The Summit would bring together the Metro East community leaders, banking officials, small business owners and development agency representatives to focus attention on and share information about microloans while formulating strategies to expand program funding, communications and usage within key target communities.
Twelve programs for a total of $23,595 were submitted to the membership as follows:
Note: The information in italics for each award is the text from the abstracts which are submitted in the Meridian Award application.
In today’s society, in which resources are increasingly scattered and every effort to preserve resources counts, it is vital to promote sustainability in our communities and to educate the younger generations to live sustainably. The partnership between Granite City Youth Center and the three SIUE units (a group of students in the Senior Assignment class in Public Relations in the Department of Speech Communication under the supervision of Dr. Sorin Nastasia, the Office of Sustainability, and the Office of Educational Outreach on campus) will provide a framework for addressing sustainability regionally. As part of their Senior Assignment in Public Relations in the Department of Speech Communication, a group of students supervised by Dr. Nastasia will plan, program, organize, and evaluate a family-oriented, hands-on sustainability event followed by a series of sustainability talks in collaboration with and at the location of the Granite City Community Center. The project will be enhanced by the contributions of the office of Sustainability on campus which will provide the sustainability-related expertise and the Office of Educational Outreach on campus which will bring know-how public-relations, sustainability, and community education capacities and in doing so it will help youth and other residents in these communities become more aware of sustainability issues and more willing to live sustainably. The proposed project is planned to become an ongoing initiative towards community sustainability by the end of the Meridian Society Award period through additional external grants and enhanced collaborations between SIUE and regional communities in regards to the cause of sustainability.
Cellobration is a performance, usually sponsored by the SIUE Music Department that takes place every April. The purpose of Cellobration is to bring out the competitive cello spirit, recruit quality cellists and engage as many teachers, students, and parents from our local community. The evening features cello players of all ages and strives for a high level of cello playing. Cellists gather together for an afternoon of rehearsal, fun, learning and performance. For some students this event is the only opportunity to showcase their talent. Next year, with financial assistance, we aim to expand the Cellobration to a two day workshop, including clinicians for students, workshops for teachers, professional networking experiences, and enrichment classes. Expanding this event will make it one of the few if not only cello-centered workshops within the quad state area.
Aminata Cairo and her Applied Anthropology students from the Spring of 2013 semester will engage with the Trans Visibility project of St. Louis to create and publish children’s literature for the Transgender Community. The director of the Trans Visibility project has revealed that there is little to no literature available for children to read in this marginalized population. Students will engage in anthropological field research and will collect stories that will be used to create a number of children’s stories for elementary age students from transgender families. University students will work with the committee of the transgender community to select the stories for publication. Collaboration with the Edwardsville children’s librarian and a children’s book illustrator will assure the production of two professional quality children’s books. The books will be published and made available at the LGBT center in St. Louis, the SIUE Library, and the public libraries in the Metro St. Louis area.
Recently educators and researchers have begun to tie “non-cognitive skills” such as “grit” to college persistence and completion. Grit has been defined as “perseverance and passion for long-term goals.” This project will build upon the ongoing partnership between the SIUE East St. Louis Charter School and the SIUE School of Education. Directed by the Assistant Dean for the School of Education, the project will offer an after-school program to students at the SIUE East St. Louis Charter School designed to help hone and improve the students’ grit skills and channel these skills towards academic achievement. Drawing upon the expertise of SIUE faculty the after-school program will involve students in challenging activities and then ask them to reflect on their grit throughout the creation of the digital story. The program will be studied to ascertain its effectiveness and to add to the professional literature in this area.
This proposal seeks $5,000 from the Meridian Society for academic year 2013-14 to support an International Speaker Series. It builds on SIUE faculty and student interest in increased international programming, an SIUE series piloted in different formats and different venues over the past year, and partnership with STL council on Foreign Relations and the World Affairs Council of STL. The series complements other recent international initiatives. Requested funds will support five speakers selected from potential presenters identified as global affairs experts, contacted about their interest but not yet asked to participate. For 2013-12, presentations will be scheduled for October, November, January, February and March. All will be anchored to an undergraduate class in the department of Political Science but open to a larger audience of University and community members. Each presentation will be evaluated by a mix of resources, including audience size, an educational outreach questionnaire and reaction to YouTube video copies. For funding beyond 2014-14, discussions with the Tri-City Port District will be accelerated.
The Friends of Lovejoy Library are seeking funding in the amount of $2,500 to support the Friends of Lovejoy Library High School Writers’ Contest. Every year since 1995 the Friends of Lovejoy Library have conducted a High School Writers’ Contest to engage high school juniors and seniors in Southern Illinois challenging them to display their passion and showcase their skills and ambitions. Prizes of $500, $300 and $100 are awarded to the top three writers in three categories; fiction, non-fiction and poetry to encourage their educational inspirations. The writers’ entry applications were distributed on October 29, 2012, and submissions are due back by February 8, 2013. The awards banquet will be held on April 24, 2013.
The contest is presented to more than 30,000 students at 57 public and private high-schools in the following 11 counties surrounding SIUE: Bond, Calhoun, Clinton, Greene, Jersey, Macoupin, Madison, Monroe, Montgomery, St. Clair and Washington. A number of these schools now utilize the contest as part of their English curriculum. The High Schools Writers’ contest is unique to the region and fulfills a great need. Every year approximately 500 students take advantage of this creative outlet to build their future. There are no other local writing contests with such a broad range of topics. Every student that makes the commitment to enter the contest is awarded a certificate of recognition for their effort. The twelve winning writers’ entries (including honorable mention winners) are published in a booklet, which is distributed to all participating high schools and the students themselves. There is also an Awards Banquet to honor their achievement. The winning authors, their parents, teacher and principals are invited to celebrate their accomplishment. Sponsors and friends of Lovejoy Library attend the banquet to present the awards to the students.
Handicap This! is a humorous, yet poignant stage show presentation that depicts challenges of living with a disability and the judgmental attitudes and perceptions of others. This production is being sponsored by the Dept. of Special Education and Communication Disorders (SECD) in collaboration with SEEC (Socially and Educationally Engaged Community, Inc.), a nonprofit agency that provides individualized, community-based supports to people with developmental disabilities. The show has broad appeal and will be offered free of charge to the SIUE community, school personnel, community members and organizations supporting those with disabilities. The production aligns with the university statement on diversity and supports long-term goals related to community engagement and harmonious campus climate. The show is scheduled for April 21 in the MUC ballroom.
Hospice is the fastest growing sector of specialized healthcare in the United States. Born out of volunteer, faith-based service, today’s hospice organizations are required by Centers for Medicare and Medicaid services to recruit, train, and deploy volunteers in the delivery of care to their patients. The Hospice Volunteer Initiative, a student-led community partnership, seeks to increase the representation of young, compassionate, civic-minded students within the hospice volunteer ranks. During the first year of service, the Hospice Volunteer Initiative has met with overwhelmingly positive response from the students and area hospice organizations alike. With more than 200 volunteer hours logged to date by 201 trained student-volunteers, The Hospice Volunteer initiative is making its mark in the surrounding community. Continued recruitment and growth of volunteers and additional hospice organizations, as well as ensuring the ability to sustain the service, are the primary goals of the second year.
The Gardens at SIUE supports the educational goals of the university, engages visitors in campus life, and provides a haven for relaxation and enjoyment. In 2012 The Gardens at SIUE Master Planning committee identified growing educational opportunities in out gardens as a priority set aside a 1.5 acre Family Garden site that will developed over the next five years as a safe place for hands-n gardening activities, nature based exploration, and community engagement. It is in the spirit of deeper engagement with the community that we look forward to launching our first summer program for campus kids in May of this year, It’s Your Garden- Grow It! This pilot program, in partnership with the Girl Scouts of Southern Illinois, is the first step in connection families to the tremendous living resources that is the gardens at SIUE.
While the students of the Southern Illinois University School of Dental Medicine have provided oral health education in Madison County Public Schools for many years not, the SIU School of Dental Medicine and the Madison County Regional Office of Education cooperatively formalized the program into a continuous, systematic and longitudinal oral health education program during the fall semester of 2009-2010 academic year. Participating in the formal program, now in its fourth year, SIU School of Dental Medicine students have presented an excellent oral health education program to over 32,000 elementary, middle and high school students in Madison County. As we begin planning for the fifth year of the program, our proposal is to enhance the Oral Health Education program by introducing two proven oral health education activities: a Cavity Model and a Wheel of Smiles. By adding these tools to the existing oral health education kits that the dental students bring to every presentation, we can better engage, and therefore better educate the public school students with the importance of good oral health.
Prescription and over-the-counter misuse/abuse is steadily increasing in the adolescent population. Many negative physiological, psychological, and social problems occur as a result of this risky behavior although national resources may be available to educate students regarding these dangers, many local school administrators and students are at a loss on how to address these issues. The SIUE School of Pharmacy would like to provide services to elementary, middle and high schools within Madison and St. Clair Counties of Illinois to serve as a subject presenter to highlight the risk associated with this increasing trend. The “role-model-style” presentations provided by the college students is unique and provides vast opportunities for the youth to be open minding when discussing the issues and addressing their concerns. The program will also offer support to parents/educators by providing them a toolkit to continue the education process of this topic once the School of Pharmacy has provided the initial training to students. This program has the opportunity to affect thousands of students/educators in the Metro-East.
Maternity shelters have become a necessity in today’s society because they provide a safe place for young women, who find themselves in a crisis pregnancy, and have chosen to keep their child. Such a maternity shelter in Fontebella Maternity Shelter, which provides a safe and welcoming home to many young women in need in Southern Illinois. During their time at the maternity shelter, women need to plan for their future and find ways to support themselves and their child. This is probably the only time in their life when they can focus on themselves and their needs. They are in desperate need of learning skills that will help them find a job and keep it. To address this need, we are proposing to create and deliver workshops for women residing in Fontebella Maternity Shelter in goal setting, time management, professional etiquette, as well as provide individual coaching on resume building and finding a job. Learning these skills will prepare these women towards greater independence and self-reliance and it will impact greatly their lives as well as those of their children. We would also like to assist them in building a professional wardrobe, which is necessary when looking for a job.