July 2021
Deaconess Community,

For the last eight months I have had the pleasure of supporting the thoughtful and intensive work of the Deaconess Foundation Executive Search Committee during our national search for a permanent chief executive. The search is now completed, and I extend heartfelt gratitude to our community partners, peer funders, Deaconess staff team and board members who participated in the search process.

On Thursday, July 22, we had the great honor of announcing Bethany Johnson-Javois, MSW, as the incoming president and chief executive officer of Deaconess Foundation. After a rigorous national search, Bethany was unanimously selected to lead the Foundation’s mission. As a former Deaconess Foundation trustee, Bethany is a trusted member of the Deaconess community and has an abiding devotion to the Foundation’s mission.

Bethany is currently Chief Executive Officer of St. Louis Integrated Health Network (IHN) and will join Deaconess in her new role in October. No stranger to the region or Deaconess, Bethany is a native of University City was a member of the Deaconess Foundation Board of Trustees from 2011 to 2018, serving on both the Grants & Program and Policy & Advocacy Committees. During her service, she was instrumental in guiding the Foundation’s commitment to community capacity building and providing citizens with the resources needed to shift public policy and change systems to advance child well-being in St. Louis. She also served as co-chair of the Deaconess’ Community Advisory Board during her tenure; her efforts in this role helped to amplify the voices of affected communities which then informed the Foundation’s approach to promoting child well-being as a priority for the St. Louis region.

Currently, as CEO of IHN, the nonprofit network comprising all founding Federally Qualified Health Centers, major health care systems, public health departments, and academic medical institutions in the St. Louis region, Bethany leads the charge to improve quality, access, and affordability of healthcare for the medically underserved. She has managed the network’s $4 million budget, developed staff, and created initiatives in collaboration with partners to reach more than 200,000 patients, including Black mothers and justice-involved young adults.

I look forward to warmly welcoming Bethany back home to Deaconess in the Fall, and I am excited to share news of our announcement:

In service to our children,

Cheryl D.S. Walker
Interim President and CEO
Deaconess Foundation
ArchCity Defenders (ACD) is a holistic legal advocacy organization that combats the criminalization of poverty and state violence, especially in communities of color. ACD’s foundation of civil and criminal legal representation, social services, impact litigation, policy and media advocacy, and community collaboration achieves and inspires justice and equitable outcomes for people throughout the St. Louis region and beyond. ArchCity Defenders envisions a society liberated from systems of oppression where the promise of justice and racial equity is realized; communities where the approach to public safety prioritizes investment in well-being, health, and transformation without relying on criminalization and incarceration; and people living freely in their communities, thriving regardless of their race or income.
Deaconess Foundation supports ArchCity Defenders’ community collaborations efforts through its Responsive Grant portfolio. ACD collaborates with organizers, activists, and other advocacy partners on local events, initiatives, and campaigns to build community power in furtherance of a commitment to racial justice, human dignity, and liberation. ACD is active in coalitions calling for accountability among public officials and policymakers, help to organize town halls to provide community members with an outlet to share their ideas of what it means to re-envision public safety, partners with aligned organizations and individuals to design electoral debates and forums in a way that elevates issues disproportionately impacting poor people and black people in the region, and support bailouts that bring public awareness to the harms of mass incarceration and help to free people from cages.
Additionally, ArchCity Defenders is one of five inaugural members of Deaconess’ Anchor Institution Cohort. Since the launch of the Just for Kids Anchor Institutions Program in 2018 Deaconess has invested significant financial resources and consultative support to strengthen each organization’s effectiveness and culture by enhancing their leadership, adaptive, technical and management capacities. In turn, the cohort will be better positioned to contribute to community efforts that build power, shift policy and influence the systems within which children develop and grow.
Learn more about ArchCity Defenders: archcitydefenders.org.
Funding Opportunities – Visit our website for an up-to-date list of funding opportunities for 2021. Funding opportunities with approaching deadlines include: Responsive Grants. Proposals are due July 30, 2021.
How would you finish this sentence: “Youth justice means…”?

Every summer the Children’s Defense Fund (CDF) Freedom Schools® mobilizes child advocates across the country to unite for a day of action to raise awareness about a policy/issue impacting the lives of children and families.

Deaconess Foundation has deeply engaged in the National Day of Social Action (NDSA) through our network of CDF Freedom Schools. Most recently, in 2019, Freedom Schools Scholars went to St. Louis City Hall to offer solutions to gun violence in their communities. Directly engaging with the elected officials gave our scholars the opportunity to advocate for themselves and share their ideas on how to make their communities safer.

This action showcased the unique brilliance of children: solutions offered by scholars varied from requiring extensive background checks for firearm ownership, to addressing homelessness and poverty in communities where violence is prevalent.

This year CDF is asking you to finish the sentence at the beginning of this section to express what youth justice means to you. Thousands of scholars in Freedom Schools across the country set out to define youth justice last week during CDF’s 2021 National Day of Social Action.

Engaging children and youth is especially important in determining what youth justice looks and feels like from their vantage point. They must not be excluded from visioning and building a more equitable future. We encourage child advocates, parents, guardians, and educators to engage with children on this topic, invite them to reflect on what youth justice means, and commit to furthering the National Day of Social Action’s goals throughout the year by:

● Empowering scholars to lead and participate in civic engagement.
● Amplifying local issues of youth justice to broader community.
● Educating community about alternatives to carceral youth justice.
April through June of this year, Deaconess Foundation partnered with the Interaction Institute for Social Change (IISC) to offer Facilitative Leadership For Social Change for funded partners across our grantmaking programs. This nine-week virtual workshop series led participants through a series of modules to help further develop skills for collaboration and tap into creativity in pursuit of social change. Facilitative Leadership practices provide a framework for using these tools to develop shared power – so we can collectively transform systems that unjustly concentrate power and resources.

The IISC team utilized the virtual convening space to guide participants through a variety of practical techniques to support them in advancing transformative change through facilitation. Each workshop session involved whole-and small-group discussions on a particular aspect or model for thinking about how social change happens. The course emphasized including the most marginalized and impacted groups of a given system from planning to design to implementation of a project.

Course participants expressed appreciation for the time and space to collaborate and ruminate with partners in the movement for child well-being. Due to the local and relatively intimate size of the cohort, participants were able to work through real-life issues with a Facilitative Leadership lens with colleagues familiar with the challenge. At the close of the workshop series, many participants expressed that they have a clear vision of how to apply the concepts of Facilitative Leadership in their daily work.

On Wednesday, July 21, Deaconess partnered with Eye Thrive to provide free vision care to children and youth in St. Louis City. Eye Thrive provides free eye exams and prescription glasses to elementary and secondary school age children through its mobile vision clinic. Through the mobile vision clinic stationed at Deaconess Center for Child Well-Being 16 children received free eye exams and Eye Thrive distributed 14 pairs of free eyeglasses. In most cases, eyeglasses were made and dispensed on site.
Families also received grab-and-go breakfast and lunch meals for their children and youth as a part of the free Summer Meals Program Deaconess hosted in partnership with Vision for Children at Risk and Unleashing Potential. 
We look forward to continuing our partnership with Eye Thrive to bringing much needed vision care services to children and youth at no cost. For a calendar of upcoming mobile vision clinic events, visit their website.
Missouri Supreme Court rules voter-approved Medicaid expansion is constitutional

Rudi Keller | Missouri Independent

Missouri must expand Medicaid to 275,000 eligible people who were expecting coverage under a constitutional amendment that took effect July 1, the Missouri Supreme Court ruled Thursday.
In an unanimous opinion, the court overturned a trial court ruling that the amendment, passed in August 2020 was unconstitutional because it may increase the state’s cost for the Medicaid program.
By funding the services required under federal law, the state must allow everyone eligible to access those services, the court wrote.
“With no ambiguity, the amounts appropriated and other extrinsic evidence cannot be used to alter the plain language of the purposes stated – to fund MO HealthNet without distinguishing between benefits provided to individuals who are eligible as part of the pre-expansion population and those eligible only under” the expansion amendment, the court wrote. Read more >>>
Interested in Advancing Racial Healing and Justice? This Fund Has Lessons About How It's Done

Dawn Wolfe | Inside Philanthropy

Creating a brand-new funding initiative from the ground up can be a lot of work. The task becomes even more complicated when the plan is to use a participatory grantmaking model mandating that community members manage virtually the entire process.
In most cases, the work of creating such a fund could take a while—everything from recruiting and training its community-based governing board to creating grant applications and reporting requirements, and, finally, moving the money. Add in the complications of a global pandemic, and that timeframe might stretch even longer.
But the St. Louis Regional Racial Healing + Justice Fund (RHJF) got up and running more quickly. Announced just a month after the murder of George Floyd in 2020, the fund moved money to its first round of grantees in March of this year.
The efficiency of Forward Through Ferguson and the initiative’s other funding partners in recruiting the fund’s governing board—and the efficiency of that board itself—are noteworthy. But the fact is, the seeds that allowed this relatively fast-growing effort to take off have been in the ground for a long time. Read more >>>
The Black Mandate by Jamilah King | Stanford Social Innovation Review | Summer 2021

Working With Grassroots Leaders has Changed our Foundation (and business) for the Better by Daniel Lee | National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy | June 2021

A Plea from Community Nonprofits for Investment, Equity and Less Bureaucracy by Joan Garry | The Chronicle of Philanthropy | July 2021 
July 31: Community Data Sessions hosted by Generate Health STL. 10 – 11 AM. Click here for more information about each session and to register. Participants will receive stipends and internet reimbursements.

Tuesdays in August, join Black Funders of St. Louis for their Lunch & Learn series celebrating Black Philanthropy Month and advancing the work and capacity of Black-led non-profits. 12 – 1 PM. Learn more about the series and register.

Wednesdays and Saturdays in August, canvass with Action St. Louis, Close the Workhouse and the Defund, Re-envision, Transform campaign. Volunteer canvass shifts are Wednesdays from 5-7, and Saturdays from 10 AM – 2 PM. Click here to sign up.

August 4-6: STL Racial Equity Summit with Forward Through Ferguson. Click here to register and learn more.

August 19: Kids Win Missouri’s Monthly Update Calls, 2 PM. Stay up-to-date on state and federal policies, and hear from guest speakers. Click here to register.

Through August 15: The COVID-19 Special Enrollment Period for Marketplace health insurance is open. If you have children in your household age 18 or younger, Legal Services of Eastern Missouri's Connecting Kids to Coverage program may be able to offer enrollment assistance. Call for information: 314.256.8753

Close the Workhouse is seeking feedback: what should be done with the Workhouse? Click here to complete the survey.
Generate Health is hiring a Community Network Coordinator. Click here to learn more about the position and how to apply.

Do you have an event you'd like to see in this Newsletter? Submit it here!
In April, Constance Rush, Deaconess’ Directory of Advocacy & Freedom Schools, joined a panel of Deaconess Trustee Rev. Wendy Bruner, Rev. Michelle Higgins and Rev. Dr. Deborah Krause to discuss community partnerships in the context of Freedom Schools with Peace UCC and St. John’s (The Beloved Community).
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