By: Lindsey Greenberg, Gateway Center for Giving
On an icy morning in late December, over 60 organizations came together at the St. Louis History Museum to pledge their support for the Saint Louis Children’s Initiative. In the room were leaders from local nonprofits, corporations, foundations, city governments, universities, and the public school systems.
The Children’s Initiative is an effort to create a birth through college educational pipeline that is intertwined with a comprehensive social service support network in North St. Louis. It hopes to address the safety, housing, economic, and environmental factors that impact the success of the children in low income neighborhoods. Grace Hill Settlement House is the lead agency of the educational pipeline effort.
The Children’s Initiative was one of over 300 applicants for a Promise Neighborhood Grant from the US Department of Education. Although the initiative was not chosen to receive money in the first round of grants, it was chosen to receive technical support through PolicyLink which will hopefully help strengthen the Initiative’s application for the next round of funding.
This “Call to Action” meeting asked the folks in the room to stand up and pledge how they plan to support the Children’s Initiative. Specifically, the Coalition asked the audience to get involved in building the academic pipeline in the following ways:
- Agree to support the leadership of the St. Louis Children’s Initiative and Promise Neighborhoods Initiative.
- Become involved in a planning work group, the stakeholder’s governing body or the advisory council.
- Help to design and identify existing strategies, programs, and services for the Promise Neighborhood Zone that are aligned with the academic and community goals of the project.
- Identify community needs. Research best practices and provide to supporting this.
- Identify gaps in service delivery and help to identify best in class providers to deliver high quality evidence based, data driven programs.
- Share data about youth and families in the Promise Neighborhood Zone, and the interventions and services that they are receiving, and resulting outcomes.
- Coordinate communication strategies that include dialog and information sharing among neighborhood residents, parents, students, school leaders, the philanthropic community, the private sector, faith based organizations, higher education, public officials and government, and intermediary organizations.
- Focus existing resources on the children and families in the designated Promise Neighborhood Zone.
- Identify funding and resources for planning, programming, staffing, a database management system, space, volunteers, equipment, project evaluation, and technology.