November 2020
Deaconess Community,

It is my honor to join Deaconess Foundation as the interim president and chief executive officer. I appreciate the warm and encouraging welcome messages. During this period of transition, I will support the Foundation’s Board and Executive Search Committee and guide the remarkable staff as we press forward with clear vision and strategy to advance child well-being. Last week, over the course of a two-day team energizer, we as a staff team began outlining work plans for 2021 which include: (1) Finalization and approval of the North Central comprehensive development plan; (2) Implementation of recommendations from the 2020 Power Moves assessment; and (3) Conversion of constituent relationship management technology, including staff training.

On Tuesday, November 10, during the Joint Annual Meeting of Deaconess Foundation and Deaconess Center for Child Well-Being the boards affirmed the appointment and expansion of the Executive Search Committee to include key voices of the Saint Louis Community and philanthropic sector. The Foundation Board Chair, Rudolph Nickens, Jr., director of Equal Opportunity and Diversity for Missouri’s Department of Transportation will chair the Committee. The following board members and community stakeholders will serve on the Executive Search Committee:

Board Members

  • Karissa Anderson - Advocacy Director, The Scholarship Foundation of St. Louis
  • Patrick Brown - Community Development Executive, Ameren Missouri
  • The Reverend Wendy Bruner - Pastor, Peace United Church of Christ (Webster Groves)
  • The Honorable Michael Butler - Record of Deeds, City of St. Louis
  • Dale Fiedler - Retired, Southern Illinois Healthcare Foundation
  • Vanessa Foster Cooksey – President & CEO, Regional Arts Commission of St. Louis
  • Elizabeth Noonan, Esq. - Principal, Elizabeth Noonan Consulting, LLC

Community Stakeholders

  • Susan Taylor Batten, ABFE: A Philanthropic Partnership for Black Communities
  • Cenia Bosman, Community Action Agency of St. Louis County
  • Bridget McDermott Flood, Incarnate Word Foundation
  • Rebecca James Hatter, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Eastern Missouri
  • The Reverend Rev. Josh Privitt, St. Peter’s United Church of Christ
The Boards also affirmed the Isaacson, Miller search firm to assist in identifying, screening and selecting a talented pool of candidates. The firm focuses on engaging candidates in the education, advocacy, public policy, philanthropic, direct service arenas and faith-based community. Our goal is to keep you informed and engaged, so we will provide updates throughout this process.
Peace and grace,

Cheryl D.S. Walker, Esq.
Interim President & CEO
Deaconess Foundation
The St. Louis American, the only African-American newspaper continuously published since 1928 and the longest continuously published weekly newspaper in the St. Louis area, established The St. Louis American Foundation in 1994. The St. Louis American Foundation is dedicated to enabling the African-American community to increase its access to careers in Business, the Sciences and the Humanities. The mission combines a primary interest in promoting educational opportunity with critical support for activities that move individuals towards being self-directed and pursuing constructive futures. The Foundation has distributed more than $5 million in local community grants and minority scholarships.

Deaconess Foundation funds The St. Louis American Foundation through the Deaconess COVID-19 Fellowship. The grant enabled The St. Louis American newspaper to hire its inaugural Deaconess Fellow to fulfill a one-year fellowship to support narrative journalism narrowly focused on sharing the personal stories of Black people and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic across all coverage areas. The funding is a part of Deaconess’ investment in Black-led COVID-19 equitable relief and recovery efforts. Deaconess Foundation also partners with the St. Louis American Foundation and the Scholarship Foundation of St. Louis to provide nearly $100,000 per year in local nursing scholarships.

Learn more about The St. Louis American Foundation at stlamerican.com
In the weeks leading up to the November 3rd election, Deaconess Foundation encouraged our community to learn about the issues on the ballot, critically engage with them and to vote with children in mind. We asked that you consider your voice, your vote and your civic engagement as essential to building a community that is just for kids.
Though the election is over, our civic engagement must continue. We encourage you to enter relationships of accountability with your elected officials. Email the local, state and federal officials elected to represent you. Sign up for their newsletters. Call and write letters as issues affecting children arise. We must hold policymakers accountable for creating conditions that allow all children and youth to flourish. Children and youth do not have lobbyists, and they do not have a vote – so we must be sure that an equitable and just future is built for them.
Getting—and staying—involved beyond the casting of a ballot is a commitment to a better, more just future for our children.
In alignment with Deaconess Foundation’s long-term power-building strategy for the St. Louis region, Deaconess continues to offer supports beyond existing grants in capacity building for multi-year investment partners. Beginning in the first quarter of 2021, Deaconess will offer access to the Core Capacity Assessment Tool (CCAT) for our Anchor Institution partners and our COVID-19 Just Recovery cohort.

The CCAT tool, developed by TCC Group, is the leading online assessment for measuring nonprofit effectiveness in relation to core capacities crucial for organizational success – adaptive, leadership, management, and technical – as well as organizational culture. Deaconess has long partnered with TCC Group to provide access to this helpful tool which helps partners assess organizational effectiveness, highlights internal strengths and challenges, identifies priority areas of focus and helps to inform action planning.

As part of Deaconess Foundation’s grantmaking portfolio, the Just for Kids Anchor Institution program represents a significant investment of financial resources and consultative support to strengthen and ground systems change and community organizing efforts for child well-being in the St. Louis Region. Likewise, the Just Recovery cohort will receive training, coaching, and peer support for capacity building alongside funding to frame a just recovery and assure public will for a sustained public policy response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Participation in the CCAT process will expand organizational capacity and, thus, increase the movement’s capacity to create a community that is just for kids.
A community action tank with diverse, flexible meeting rooms, classrooms, administrative offices for non-profit organizations and open-air community spaces, Deaconess Center for Child Well-Being encourages collaborative, systems-focused civic engagement for children and youth. Deaconess is committed to ensuring the Center’s sustainability as movement infrastructure to advance child well-being in the St. Louis region. In an effort to optimize efficacy, Deaconess Center became a member of The Nonprofit Centers Network (the Network), a national industry association with the mission to increase the capacity and effectiveness of the nonprofit sector by supporting the development and ongoing operations of multi-tenant nonprofit centers and other quality nonprofit workspace. The membership gives Center staff and Board membership access to thought leadership on nonprofit centers. 
This month, within the community of peer conveners and facility operators, The Nonprofit Centers Network highlights Deaconess Center’s commitment to racial equity. Racial equity is vital for the sustainability of the Center’s work, and the Deaconess Center for Child Well-Being Board of Directors commits to policies, practices and procedures of governance which reflect its desired outcomes. These commitments include, but are not limited to:

  • Diversity - seeking a board demographic composition aligned with the community of children we serve
  • Inclusion - listening to and prioritizing the perspectives of indigenous and impacted people when making decisions; and
  • Equity - monitoring organization performance with goals for equitable outcomes, meaningful data disaggregated by race and metrics for success in historically under-represented groups.

Deaconess Center expanded its Board of Directors to include neighborhood residents in governing and decision-making. On Tuesday, November 10 Ms. Audrey Ellerman, a retired home-health nurse and resident of the Covenant Blue Grand Center neighborhood, was appointed to Deaconess Center’s board. The Center’s operational practices prioritize Black-owned vendors and contractors. From theory to practice, Deaconess Center’s expressions of governance embody Deaconess’ vision of child well-being through racial equity.
Online Series Tackles St. Louis Region's Struggle with Environmental Racism

Becca Clark-Callender | St. Louis Public Radio

Black kids in St. Louis are 10 times more likely to go to the hospital for asthma, 2.4 times more likely to have lead in their blood, and, along with all other Black residents, twice as likely to have reduced access to healthy food.

Those are just some of the issues the Environmental Racism Solution Series tackles in online discussions designed to educate.

The five-part discussion series, all hosted on Zoom, is a follow up to Environmental Racism in St. Louis, a report published last year by the Interdisciplinary Environmental Clinic at Washington University School of Law. Read more>>>
East St. Louis community leaders share trauma-informed plans to reduce youth violence

Deasia Page | Belleville News Democrat

Residents, community leaders and teens in East St. Louis highlighted efforts to address youth trauma during a virtual gathering on Thursday night. The event, titled “Working Together for Youth,” informed listeners on how the community is working to eliminate systemic conditions that foster youth violence in East St. Louis.

The gathering was hosted by East Side Aligned, a movement that uses community collaboration to improve the lives of East St. Louis youth. Through videos and guest speakers, Thursday’s event shared results made through the implementation of East Side Aligned’s FIRST STOP plan, a solutions-based effort that uses trauma as a framework to explore violence in the community. Read more >>>
Tuesdays: Parents of Court-Involved Youth Meeting, hosted by Metropolitan Congregations United, 6 PM. Text #loveyouth to 31996 for more information.

November 20: 2020 Racial Equity Summit – An Online Gathering of Advocates, hosted by Empower Missouri, 12 – 2 PM. For more information, and to registerclick here.

November 30: Deadline to apply for Forward Through Ferguson Racial Healing + Justice Fund grants. For more information and to apply, click here.

December 2-3: Missouri Advocates Retreat, hosted by Missouri Foundation For Health. 10 AM – 4 PM each day. To register and learn more, click here.

December 3: Close The Workhouse Movement Meeting, 6 -- 8 PM. Email closetheworkhouse@gmail.com for more information and to get the link to join.

January 19: Membership Assembly hosted by Metropolitan Congregations United. For more information, click here.

Organization for Black Struggle is hiring an Executive Director to carry forward and build on OBS’ 40-year history of multi-issue organizing for Black liberation in the St. Louis region. For more information, email: contactus@obs-stl.org
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The Boards of Deaconess Foundation and Deaconess Center for Child Well-Being convened virtually for the Annual Joint Boards Meeting on Tuesday, November 10th. The generative discussion began with a presentation of state-level data from the American Association of Pediatrics on children and COVID-19 and concluded with a conversation on the impact of the pandemic on local residents with Sylvester Brown Jr., Deaconess’ COVID-19 Fellow for The St. Louis American.
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