February 2021
When the weight of systemic oppression becomes too much to bear: People rise up.

When justice does not roll down like water or righteousness like a mighty stream: People rise up.

When a shared vision of transformative change is but a vote away: People rise up.

In November, voters rose to build a more inclusive democracy and transform municipal elections in the City of St. Louis by approving a ballot initiative to create nonpartisan primary elections and implement approval voting for the offices of Mayor, Comptroller, Aldermen/Alderwomen and President of the Board of Aldermen. Nonpartisan primary elections allow voters to cast votes for candidates irrespective of political party affiliation.

Nationwide, 80% of municipal elections have nonpartisan primary elections. Approval voting allows voters to vote for more than one candidate for any one office. Voters could cast a vote for each candidate they deem acceptable to hold the office. The two candidates with the most votes in the primary election advance to the general election.

The new two-part election system aims to mitigate circumstance that have often led to candidates being elected to serve within the city with less than 40% of votes in the primary election. In those instances three out of five voters often prefer a different candidate.

On March 2, 2021, voters in St. Louis city will participate in the first election in this two-part system to approve candidates for the following offices:

  • Mayor;
  • Comptroller; and
  • 16 Alderman/Alderwoman.

Then on April 6, 2021, voters will cast their ballot for one of the top two candidates for each office.

This election season, residents in the City of St. Louis have the opportunity, that they created, to elect candidates who see the People, hear the People and serve the People.

Candidates who will respond to the People – respond to the People rising up at the City Justice Center by abolishing the arrest-and-incarcerate model and unjust pre-trial detention– respond to the People rising up so that the most vulnerable among us have access to healthcare – respond to the People rising up so that they are no longer oppressed by food apartheid.

Candidates who will undergird the community-led movement to transform St. Louis into an equitable and inclusive region for our children. 

In service to our children,

Cheryl D.S. Walker, Esq.
Interim President and CEO
Deaconess Foundation

For more information on the two-part election system visit www.stlapproves.org.
IFF is a mission-driven lender, real estate consultant and developer that helps communities thrive by creating opportunities for under-resourced communities and people with disabilities. IFF is a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) that strives to strengthen nonprofits and the communities they serve by providing leadership, capital, and real estate solutions.
Deaconess Foundation provides funding to IFF through its Mission-Related Investment portfolio. Through this investment, Deaconess made low-interest capital available to IFF to provide loans to early childcare centers, charter schools, grocery stores and health clinics generating impact well. This support is well-aligned to the Foundation’s goals to ensure children have full access to quality early childhood care and education and universal access to health care.
Learn more about IFF and their available services and initiatives at: iff.org.
In late January a coalition of grassroots organizations launched The People’s Plan (the Plan), a comprehensive policy agenda designed to redistribute power and resources in the City of St. Louis. While the policy agenda was most recently informed by residents’ responses to The People’s Plan Survey, the Plan builds on six years of community organizing to build power for public policy change.
The Plan is rooted in years of findings, proposals and shared vision informed by the community and put forward in such documents as the Ferguson Commission Report, For the Sake of All, Dismantling the Divide, Environmental Racism in STL, Close the Workhouse Reports 1.0 and 2.0. The multi-issue, multi-year strategy to inspire transformation at the policy and systems levels puts forth four main policy pillars:
  1. Making STL Home by promoting universal housing, environmental justice, and livability for all St. Louisans;
  2. Funding our Future by ensuring equitable taxation and funding for youth and education;
  3. Building Inclusive Democracy by ensuring government transparency and maximizing civic engagement; and
  4. Re-envisioning Public Safety by keeping communities safe through decriminalizing and transforming responses to harm.
With the momentum of the People and The People’s Plan, now is the time to reshape public policy, shift outcomes, and create a city that is truly equitable, sustainable and inclusive.
Visit www.peoplesplanstl.org to learn more about the Plan and the anchor organizations driving forward policies within the Plan. You may also add your signature in support of The People’s Plan.
Deaconess hosted the first Just for Kids Executive Director Virtual Roundtable of the year with the Executive Directors of our Just Recovery and Anchor Institution Partners. Tosha Anderson, founder and CEO of The Charity CFO led an in-depth discussion about financial oversight and management practices. The session entitled, “How to Scale Your Accounting Without Adding People,” focused on options available for leaders to consider in their fiscal management infrastructure through leveraging technology and creating opportunity for small teams to manage robust and complex financial systems.
Future Roundtable sessions will offer opportunities for our Partners to deeply engage organizational development topics they have identified as most pertinent and timely including:

  • Human Resources Management,
  • Communications and Public Relations, and
  • Social media strategy development.

In a time when nonprofits are called to do more with less, streamlined operating solutions allow for more time on mission.

Funding OpportunitiesVisit our website for a list of funding opportunities for 2021. 
Our faith partners at Peace United Church of Christ (Peace UCC) in Webster Groves joined us in community at Deaconess Center for Child Well-Being for a virtual worship service. As Rev. Wendy Bruner, pastor of Peace UCC, records worship services at places in community around the St. Louis region, she implores the congregation to reflect on the ways in which they are “the church in the world.” Other recording locations in community include Eden Seminary and Home Sweet Home.

The service recorded in the IDENTITY Chapel at Deaconess Center was part of Peace UCC’s “Dreaming Peace” worship series. In this series, the congregation is called to consider how they live in the world now, and who they might become.

Watch Peace UCC’s “Dreaming Peace” worship here.
In September we made a commitment to keep our community informed and engaged as Deaconess’ Board identifies, screens and interviews a talented pool of candidates in the search for Deaconess Foundation’s next chief executive.

Since then, the Board has assembled an Executive Search Committee that consists of members of both Deaconess Foundation’s and Deaconess Center for Child Well-Being’s boards and community stakeholders. In addition, the Board selected the search firm Isaacson, Miller to assist with the search process.

The Committee is tasked with finding the best person to lead Deaconess and  will conduct an exhaustive, nation-wide search. In the coming weeks we will share a projected timeline for the search process and look forward to bringing our Deaconess community along with us for the journey.
Jamaa Birth Village, Generate Health together launch St. Louis 360 Doulas Initiative

Brittany Ferrell | The St. Louis American

Over the last few years, Jamaa Birth Village has instilled new hope for pregnant Black women across the St. Louis region, where the county’s maternal death rate is 37% higher than the national average.

Based in Ferguson, the epicenter of today’s civil rights movement and the movement for Black Lives, Jamaa Birth Village does the sacred work of providing life-giving care to pregnant women who are often subjected to the compounding environmental stressors and health system bias that drives the St. Louis region’s maternal health disparities.

The birthing village is a literal dream come true for Brittany “Tru” Kellman, certified professional midwife and the founding executive director of Jamaa Birth Village. After Tru endured two traumatic birthing experiences, during which she was dismissed and disregarded by her doctors, she was determined to build a safe space for Black women to receive respectful, compassionate, and culturally congruent care Read more>>>
Activists say uprising at city jail facility was a protest of 'inhumane' conditions

Rachel Rice | St. Louis Post-Dispatch

The chaos that boiled over in the City Justice Center on Saturday was an organized protest by detainees over inhumane conditions inside the jail, activists said Sunday.

Ex-Incarcerated People Organizing (EXPO) St. Louis held a virtual rally to express its support of the detainees and provide resources to families of those in custody the day after more than 100 in the city jail broke out of their cells, smashed windows and set fires on the fourth floor of the downtown building. A corrections officer was attacked by detainees and had to be hospitalized. He was treated at a hospital and released.

“They are demanding proper heat, they want proper (personal protective equipment), proper clothing and visits from families, who can visit them from the other side of the glass,” EXPO St. Louis member Tracy Stanton said in the online news conference Sunday. “This was an act of courage that was staged to reinforce these issues because their needs are still not being met.  Read more >>>
February 17: Black and Latinx Policy & Legislative Advocacy Training Part 1, hosted by Alive and Well Communities, ACLU of Missouri and Reale Justice Network. 6 PM – 8 PM. Click here for more information.

February 22: Communities and Mayoral Candidates Roundtable, hosted by the St. Louis Community Health Workers Coalition. 6 PM – 8 PM. Click here for more information and to register.

February 24: Black and Latinx Policy & Legislative Advocacy Training Part 2, hosted by Alive and Well Communities, ACLU of Missouri and Reale Justice Network. 6 PM – 8 PM. Click here for more information.

February 27: Text Out the Vote: Voter Education Text Bank, hosted by ACLU of Missouri. 1 PM. Click here for more information.
March 8-12: Virtual Missouri Child Advocacy Days 2021. Click here for more information and to register.

March 9: St. Louis Public Schools Board of Education Meeting. 6:30 PM – 7:30 PM. Click here for more information.

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On Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, our Board Chair, Rudolph Nickens, gave the Keynote Address at St. Louis Community College’s virtual MLK Day. Join us in watching the keynote:
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