Marketplace of Ideas Finalists Use Innovation and Collaboration to Address Needs of Children and Families in North St. Louis

By: Karl Guenther, Incarnate Word Foundation

This summer, approximately 750 senior citizens in North St. Louis will have locally grown vegetables delivered to their door by the 4-H teens who tended a community garden. Forty youths – and their parents – will participate in a weekly program to help them establish healthier relationships. Twenty fathers will learn entrepreneurship skills and develop business plans to minimize family distress.

Marketplace of Ideas Project Submissions 2010-2011 Book Final.pdfThese are among the seven innovative projects presented Thursday January 27th as part of the Marketplace of Ideas Showcase at De La Salle Middle School in The Ville neighborhood. Over 75 people attended the event to hear about the good work going on in North St. Louis communities. This standing room only crowd was made up of community residents, agencies, government officials, religious institutions, businesses, schools, and foundations.

Project proposals were solicited and reviewed by a panel of community members as part of the Marketplace of Ideas, a community funding program piloted by Incarnate Word Foundation with the support of other local funders to address the needs of children and families in North St. Louis. It seeks to spur collaboration between community members and to highlight the richness of community activity in North St. Louis.  Seven finalists emerged as a result of the initial competition. Each received $5,000 in start-up funding from Incarnate Word Foundation.

The second phase of the Marketplace of Ideas took place Thursday with finalists showcasing their projects to a panel of six other foundations with the opportunity to receive up to $15,000 in additional funding. The panel included Missouri Foundation for Health, Lutheran Foundation of St. Louis, Trio Foundation, St. Louis Mental Health Board, Daughters of Charity Foundation of St. Louis, and Roblee Foundation.

“The Marketplace of Ideas is about showcasing the positive things happening in North St. Louis,” explained Bridget McDermott Flood, executive director of Incarnate Word Foundation. “These seven projects show how much can be done when grassroots organizations work together to address community needs. We have a lot to celebrate in our community and the Showcase gives us the opportunity to do that.”

The seven finalist projects involve 29 community organizations representing non-profits, business, faith-based organizations and city and state agencies.

The projects are:

  • Fences for the Future: A mentoring program that will partner young men in JeffVanderLou with a local business, Pinkston Ornamental, to build fences and learn job skills. Sts. Theresa and Bridget Catholic Church is also a partner.
  • Transforming Our Community: Strengthening Families: A weekly program of St. Louis Healthy Families and Crossroads Community Connections at Central Baptist Church in which 40 youth will learn about responsible relationships and 15 parents will develop stronger parenting skills.
  • City Greens 4-H Teen Leaders: 750 seniors will receive fresh produce delivered to their door and grown by local teens. The project is a partnership of Catholic Charities- Father Tolton Center, 4-H, Seniors at McCormack Place, Seniors on the Move, City of St. Louis Community Development Agency and the Missouri Department of Agriculture.
  • Fresh Soil: An initiative of Urban St. Louis K-Life that builds on its weekly program for 80 JeffVanderLou high school students by building expandable learning center classrooms to accommodate more students. The project partners with local agencies to add conflict resolution, financial literacy and other courses to the teen program. Partners include Windsor Crossing Community Church, Refuge and Restoration, Justine Petersen Foundation, Makeover for Life Outreach, St. Louis Healthy Families and St. Louis Public Schools.
  • O’Fallon Park Jazz Concert Series: The Acts Partnership, in collaboration with 21st Ward Alderman Antonio French, Dr. J. Aaron Hipp at the Institute of Public Health at Washington University and The Sheldon Concert Hall will build on the refurbishing of O’Fallon Park by establishing a summer jazz concert series.
  • Urban Expressions: Building on an existing Saturday class at Most Holy Trinity School in Hyde Park, the Rebuild Foundation will partner with Architecture for Humanity and the Landmarks Association to engage and train youths as docents to tell the stories of their neighborhood through art and architecture tours, as well as to publish a tour book.
  • Parents as Entrepreneurs: Building on a successful parenting program at Clay Elementary School, the Epsilon Lambda Charitable Foundation of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity will engage the Center for the Acceleration of African-American Businesses and Justine Peterson to assist fathers in developing entrepreneurship skills and writing business plans with the goal of increasing economic stability.

To view all of the project proposals click here and for more information about the Marketplace of Ideas Showcase, visit the Incarnate Word Foundation online at www.iwfdn.org.

Check out the St. Louis Beacon’s article on the event.

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