February 2023
Deaconess Community, 
With intention, each February we celebrate and honor the rich and dynamic history of Black Americans. This history – the lived experiences of Black women, children, men, families, churches, and communities that have been catalogued in volumes lining library shelves, depicted in theaters on and off Broadway, illustrated in portraits and exhibits from coast to coast, and recounted from generation to generation in the privacy of homes across the globe – makes up the very soul of this country. It is our shared story, permanently imprinted in the soil of earth. 

There are ongoing and renewed attempts to strip our stories, her stories, histories, their stories, any stories that truthfully recount Black American history in the United States. Across the country there are blatant efforts in state legislatures and local municipalities to erase Black American history from bookshelves and libraries and curricula and classrooms alike. The ultimate goal is to rewrite America’s racist past and absolve America of any responsibility for the harms inflicted on Black Americans – harms that are inextricably tied to the racial inequity and injustice that exists today. 

This tactic is not novel. 

Throughout history, marginalized populations have had their voices stifled. We have witnessed attempts to erase stories through revisionist history. 

The power lies in our own storytelling. We mustn’t stop telling, penning, nor audio-recording our stories – the painful and the joyful. 

Through brokenness, history’s survivors are validated when able to speak their truths and hold others accountable. The truth is not in the third party who did not live the experience but desires to dictate the narrative. Our tragedies need to be told and honored in our own words. Our joys need to be told and honored in our own words. Our full lives need to be told, documented, and honored unfiltered and unrevised. 

Know that the effects of silencing our stories harm Black, brown and white communities, and we ALL pay financial, social and emotional costs. 

In service to the will of the Spirit and the mission,
Bethany Johnson-Javois
President & CEO
Deaconess Foundation
Apply For Funding

Policy Campaign/Collaborative Grants are offered to support timely public policy efforts that pursue change through grassroots advocacy, civic engagement, and community organizing.
Funding is unrestricted and supports general operations. Funding can be used to address urgent and emerging organizational needs, support salaries and benefits, invest in technology, strengthen communication efforts, and to meet other operational needs.

This grant may support:
  • Efforts which advance coordinated local or state public policy advocacy and organizing campaigns driving meaningful, systemic change that may include voter engagement, education and mobilization;
  • Expansion of organizing capacity to respond to the ever-evolving legislative and electoral landscape;
  • Development of research and analysis, convenings and community campaigns that generate innovative approaches to solving policy challenges; and/or
  • The testing and incubating of opportunistic or innovative initiatives that are well-positioned to advance policy change such as ballot initiatives.

Opens: January 30, 2023
Closes: March 13, 2023 (Extended Deadline)

The total distribution amount that will be awarded this grant cycle is $100,000. The total award may be distributed in the following manner:

• One campaign/collaborative effort receives the full grant award of $100,000; OR
• Two different/unrelated campaigns/collaborative efforts receive $50,000 each.

Grants will be awarded for one year and are non-renewable.
CDF Freedom Schools®
We are excited to welcome scholars and their families this summer to our network of CDF Freedom Schools®!

The six-week program provides a full day of literacy skill-building enrichment, afternoon activities, field trips, meals, and snacks at no charge to families. Programming will be from June 12 - July 21, 2023.

The enrollment application for scholars in kindergarten through 5th grade opens on Wednesday, March 1, 2023.
We are hiring college students as Servant Leader Interns (SLIs) for our summer 2023 CDF Freedom Schools® program! Applications are currently being accepted.

SLIs are responsible for the front-line care and nurturing of the children. Using the Integrated Reading Curriculum, they serve as facilitators in the classroom. 

SLIs have access to further leadership development and networking opportunities geared toward continued direct service and advocacy on behalf of children and families.
Congratulations to Deaconess Foundation Board Trustee Rev. Jay Wiesner

Rev. Wiesner is Senior Pastor at Zion UCC in Troy, Missouri and has joined the Missouri Mid-South Conference staff as the new Youth Ministry Resource Coordinator. He is a Member in Discernment with the Eastern Association. Learn more.
Make Transformations Today for Our Future Generations

Bethany Johnson-Javois, president and CEO of Deaconess Foundation, presented “Transformed People Transformed Systems" at St. Louis Forum. She shared information on the call for change as presented in the 2022 Children of Metropolitan St. Louis – A Data Book from Community – Vision for Children at Risk. Data affirms that systems actively work against black children and family well-being in the St. Louis region and our nation. Bethany facilitated exercises that allowed women in leadership to delve into their purpose and their responsibility to disrupt the status quo. Learn more here and view the resources shared.
The Foster & Adoptive Care Coalition (FAAC) strives to create permanency in foster children’s lives by recruiting and supporting foster and adoptive families in the metropolitan St. Louis region. Only 13% of local, non-relative foster parents are African American/Black. In comparison, twice the number of African American children are placed into foster care over Caucasian children. 

FAAC's RESPOND program seeks to dismantle social injustices and recruit more culturally competent foster parents. Matching foster care children with foster parents from their culture of origin increases a child's overall well-being, adjustment, and mental health. Since the 1990s, FAAC and RESPOND have supported hundreds of families throughout the St. Louis Community.  
Deaconess Foundation provides funding to FAAC through the Responsive Grant portfolio to support their efforts to identify barriers for the African American community in the foster care system, advocate to legislators to reduce those barriers and help families obtain licensing, and increase the number of African American foster parents. Addressing and removing policy barriers that families face helps increase the number of the culture of origin matches in foster care and improves a child's well-being.
Learn more about FAAC and how to become involved here.  
Ingrassia proposes giving St. Louisans the right to counsel during eviction proceedings

Andrea Y. Henderson | St. Louis Public Radio | February 2, 2023

ST. LOUIS — Renters in St. Louis could soon have the right to counsel during eviction proceedings, under a bill filed last month by Alderwoman Christine Ingrassia.

Board Bill 180, now in committee, also would require landlords to disclose information to tenants about their rights to legal representation. The measure would offer free legal representation for St. Louis renters and create a coordinator position to run the program.
Tenants who face eviction and show up to court without an attorney are putting themselves in a difficult situation and could possibly become homeless, said Ingrassia, D-6th Ward.

“There are just much better outcomes for both tenants and landlords when both parties are represented by an attorney versus having a landlord who has lawyered up versus a tenant who is left to their own devices in order to make sense of a very complicated and complex legal eviction system,” she said. Read more.
Missouri Child Advocacy Day

There are more than 200 advocates from across the state registered to attend Child Advocacy Day in Jefferson City. Register today to join!

You will have the opportunity to rally with hundreds of advocates from around the state on the Capitol lawn, visit legislators, enjoy a networking lunch with other advocates, and attend informational sessions in the Truman Building. 

If you are traveling from St. Louis, transportation will be provided. Deaconess Center for Child Well-Being will be one of the departure locations. Register for transportation here.
Upcoming Events
  • March 7 & March 14: "What to Expect in Early Learning Programs & Enrollment" by Greater East St. Louis Early Learning Partnership. Register.
  • March 11: "Citizenship Belonging & Participating" at Eden Theological Seminary. Register.
  • March 13: "East St. Louis Candidates Forum: Mayoral and Councilman" by United Congregations of Metro East. Save the Date.
  • March 20: "East St. Louis Candidates Forum: School Board and Treasurer" by United Congregations of Metro East. Save the Date.
  • March 21: Child Advocacy Day (Missouri State Capitol) by Kids Win Missouri. Register.
  • April 11: Phase 2: Community Outreach & Action by Community Organizing and Family Issues (COFI). Register.
  • April 27: 2023 Annual Conference: Unhoused in Missouri...Empowered or Forgotten by the Metropolitan St. Louis Equal Housing & Opportunity Council (EHOC). Save the Date.
Now Hiring

The state legislatures in Missouri and Illinois are in regular session through May. While there are hundreds of bills filed each year, we will share some of those we are monitoring in our Legislative Watch roundup.

Bipartisan supported effort to extend postpartum health coverage may be in jeopardy. Both parties support the extension of full Medicaid benefits for women during pregnancy and one year after.

GOP fast tracks bill making it harder to amend Missouri Constitution by initiative petition. Lawmakers are seeking to make it harder to amend the Missouri constitution through the initiative petition process, changing the voting process from needing a simple majority to 60% or higher.

This bill establishes a "Parents' Bill of Rights" and prohibits teaching of certain concepts that typically fall under the umbrella term of critical race theory.

Illinois poised to require paid leave for workers. In January, the Illinois legislature passed the Paid Leave for All Workers (PLFAW) Act; it's now awaiting Governor Pritzker's signature. Private employers must provide paid earned leave to employers for any reason. This expands workers' rights, particularly those who are nonunionized and earn a low wage.
Upcoming Election Information

Illinois - Consolidated Election
  • February 28: Primary Consolidated Election.
  • March 13 & 20: East St. Louis Candidates Forum. Save the Date.
  • April 4: General Consolidated Election Day.

Missouri - Municipal Primary Election
  • View partner Action St. Louis' Voter Guide.
  • Now-March 6: In-person absentee voting open.
  • March 7: Municipal Primary Election (City of St. Louis, vote for an entirely new board of aldermen).
  • April 4: General Municipal Election Day.
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