October 2021
Deaconess Community,

I am honored to assume the role of Deaconess’ new President and CEO and to be graced with the opportunity to serve not only today’s children, but tomorrow’s children, on both sides of the Mississippi River. To the Deaconess Foundation Board of Trustees, staff, partners, and Metropolitan St. Louis community, thank you for trusting me to lead an organization that I know we all care about deeply and for receiving me with warmth and generosity in this new capacity.
My roots in St. Louis inform who I am and the issues I feel called to address. I was born and raised in University City. My family’s history traces back to Kinloch, the oldest Black community to be incorporated in the state of Missouri. Growing up in St. Louis, I am all too familiar with the region’s segregated and fragmented history that has inflicted community-level trauma and perpetuated racial inequity. Yet, I am hopeful for and committed to a more just and equitable future we, together, will build for our children.
Ten years ago, I jumped at the opportunity to be a Deaconess Trustee when the opportunity arose because I truly believed in the Foundation’s mission and the approach to achieve positive outcomes for children, youth and their families. Deaconess does the critical work of centering children’s priorities and voices, creating conditions for our children to thrive, and increasing our community’s capacity so that youth and child advocates are better positioned to move systems that are accountable to serve us. This is what drew me to the Foundation a decade ago and why I am thrilled to return in a leadership role today.
My purpose, guided by the same spiritual and moral imperative that guides Deaconess, is to combat structural racism and to mobilize people, policy, and power for the health of underserved children and their families. We will continue to cultivate a community that values the health and well-being of all children and gives keen attention and prioritization to the most vulnerable. To help this vision come to pass, I will listen with new ears and an open heart. No voice is too small and no vision is too audacious to influence our work.
I look forward to being in community with you. I also invite you to join us for the Joint Annual Meeting of the Deaconess Foundation and Deaconess Center for Child Well-Being Boards on November 9, 2021, to learn more about our work ahead.
In service to the mission,

Bethany Johnson-Javois 
President & CEO
Deaconess Foundation
Alive and Well Communities was formed in 2017 by the joining of two separate initiatives focused on activating communities in Missouri, Kansas, and Illinois to heal and address trauma experienced by residents. The organization is dedicated to shifting cultures and systems and helping people develop pathways to healing, well-being and equity. The mission of Alive and Well Communities includes:
  • Naming racism and systemic oppression as trauma that impacts the well-being of all;
  • Disrupting systemic oppression and respond to the impact of historical trauma to foster healing for current and future generations;
  • Elevating community wisdom by centering those who are most impacted; and
  • Leading innovative solutions based on the science of trauma, toxic stress, and resiliency.
Deaconess Foundation supports Alive and Well Communities through our Responsive Grants portfolio. We are supporting their re-launched Alive and Well Youth Ambassadors program, a 9-month fellowship for students enrolled in grades 9 through 12 in St. Louis area schools. The fellowship builds the students' understanding of how trauma impacts individuals and systems-level outcomes, as well as providing the skills to advocate for change in their schools and communities.
Learn more about Alive & Well Communities on their website: awcommunities.org
Missouri’s four state scholarship programs are failing many students. The League of Student Advocates of The Scholarship Foundation of St. Louis recently released a report, Report Card on the Scholarship Programs of the State of Missouri, that examines the four state-sponsored scholarship programs: A+ Missouri, Access Missouri, Bright Flight and Fast Track. The report finds all four programs poorly designed and functionally inequitable, thereby negatively affecting all students with financial need, especially those who are Black or live in rural parts of the state. The authors, four students and policy data fellows with The Scholarship Foundation of St. Louis, say that the programs are in need of drastic overhauls. They recommend replacing the state-sponsored scholarship programs with a single program that focuses scholarship awards on students with the highest financial need.

Key findings of the Report Card on the scholarship programs document inequitable distribution of Missouri’s scholarship awards. The key findings show:

1)   Funding for Missouri’s need-based scholarship programs is consistently and grossly inadequate;
2)   Awards to students with financial need are significantly less than those made to students without financial need;
3)   Missouri’s population is 12% Black, yet Black students receive 2% or less of the awards from the A+, Bright Flight, and Fast Track programs; and
4)   Missouri’s rural population is 37% of the state, yet students from rural areas receive disproportionately less scholarship dollars from the Access Missouri, Bright Flight, and Fast Track programs (13-29%).

Recognizing that a complete restructuring of the state-sponsored scholarship programs will take time, the report outlines immediate actions policymakers can act on in the interim to better serve students:
  • Increase Access Missouri appropriations and award amounts;
  • Adjust the Bright Flight test score requirement from the top 3-5% of test takers to students who score 20% or more above the state average for ACT, SAT, or equivalent;
  • Eliminate “in demand” occupation restrictions for the Fast Track program;
  • Realign the A+ scholarship to be a “first dollar” program instead of “last dollar;” and
  • Remove the requirements for community service and attendance at an A+ high school.
Ahead of the upcoming legislative session and in light of this deeply researched and comprehensive report, join in demanding policymakers take immediate action to build an equitable state-sponsored scholarship program. Call or email your Missouri House Representatives and Missouri Senator to demand changes.
Authors of the Report and Policy Data Fellows with The Scholarship Foundation of St. Louis.
We know grantmaking alone will not create the conditions for our children to thrive. So, we have committed to leveraging all of Deaconess’ non-grant assets to complement our community investments and provide our partners with the supports needed to advance child well-being. Since the release of the results and recommendations of our Power Moves Assessment, we have worked closely with our partners to clarify our support offerings and the resources available to them. As the Power Moves assessment results indicate, our partners desired a transparent picture of the supports beyond the grant. In addition to articulating the various supports, our staff team also sought insight on how well the support offerings serve our partners.

As a staff team, we first identified the supports Deaconess offers and the ways partners could engage. We then distributed a survey to partners to ascertain which resources they engaged and how well they could access existing supports. We found the most utilized and valued supports are our peer-learning experiences and partner trainings, convening space, and amplification of partners’ work across our social media platforms. Our hope is to continue to refine and strengthen our levers of support in collaboration with our partners to meet the needs of our community.

An index of the supports beyond the grant and how they may be utilized by currently-funded partner organizations is available here.
Funding Opportunities – Visit our website for an up-to-date list of funding opportunities for 2021. There is an upcoming Responsive Grant deadline of October 31, 2021.
On Wednesday, October 13th, Deaconess was pleased to join residents in community for the first North Central Plan STL Workshop. More than 60 people attended the event, with 22 attending online and 44 in person. The workshop served as a public opportunity to connect residents and stakeholders to collectively design a path forward and complete the North Central Plan’s implementation priorities.

With the final adoption of the North Central Plan Vision Action Plan by the City of St. Louis completed at the August 18th Planning Commission public hearing, we are excited to see the Plan evolve from the early stages of development to adoption to implementation. Public response makes clear that adoption of the North Central Plan represents long-term investment in the Vandeventer and Covenant Blu-Grand Center neighborhoods.

During the workshop, attendees first reviewed the 2021 timeline for the North Central Plan and the Core Values. The group concluded the workshop with an exercise assessing each of the implementation priorities. The workshop facilitator, Laurna Godwin of Vector Communications, guided attendees through the exercise using a garden metaphor. This was an engaging and creative way for participants to think outside the box: the North Central Plan is like a garden ready to bloom. However, much like a garden, it won't happen overnight.

If you are interested in learning more about the North Central Plan or want to get involved, contact David Nehrt-Flores: davidn@deaconess.org.
Federal Police Reform Talks Have Failed - but Local Efforts Stand a Better Chance of Success

Thaddeus L. Johnson and Natasha N. Johnson | Governing

Bipartisan talks over police reform ended with no agreement on Sept. 22, 2021, with House Democrats and Republicans blaming each other for the lack of progress.

It isn’t the first time that reform at a federal level has been attempted – nor the first time it has stalled.
The sticking points this time appear to be centered around proposed changes to use-of-force procedures and plans to strip officers of qualified immunity, which shields them from being sued.

As scholars of criminal justice – one a former police officer of 10 years – we were not surprised by the collapse of bipartisan talks. Policing in the U.S. is politicized, making it harder to reach consensus in an age of polarization, even though most Americans believe that major changes are needed.

In determining the magnitude of this failure, it is important to keep in mind that policing in the U.S. is inherently local. The nearly 18,000 police departments in the country face a variety of different issues, ranging from problems recruiting enough officers – and of a sufficient caliber – to a breakdown of trust with the community. Read more >>>
"Deaconess dollars" a welcome investment in community

JoAnn Weaver | The St. Louis American

The Deaconess Foundation is accepting proposals for up to $600,000 in community investment funding through its mission-related investments initiative.

The initiative provides low-interest loans to social impact organizations with capital management and a strong commitment to advancing the health and well-being of children and families in the St. Louis region.

Kiesha Davis, director of partnership and capacity building at Deaconess Foundation, said, “We have an opportunity within our portfolio to support mission-related investments through low-interest loans to social impact organizations that have a strong commitment to the health and well-being of children and families in our region.” Read more >>>
Building Leadership Agility at the ACLU | Kary L. Moss | Stanford Social Innovation Review | October 2021

Teaching Anti-Racism Won’t Shame Kids. It Will Empower Them. | Adam Russell Taylor | Sojourners | September 2021
October 26: Dutchtown South Community Corporation hosts Lead in the Home. 7 - 8:30 PM. Register to attend this virtual event by clicking here.

October 27: L.E.G.A.L. Seminar Series: Jeryl Hayes: Reproductive Justice, hosted by ACLU of Missouri. 6:30 PM. To learn more and register click here.

Through October 31: Creative Reaction Lab is accepting applications for the Spring 2022 REFRESH Cohort. Black, Latinx and/or Indigenous youth interested in learning how to center youth and make education spaces more equitable are invited to apply.

Through November 4, Missouri Foundation for Health will accept concept papers for their Opportunity Fund. Click here to learn more and apply.

November 15: What Racism Costs Everyone: A Discussion with Heather McGee, hosted by Metropolitan Congregations United and partners. Click here to learn more.

Kids Win Missouri is seeking nominations for board members. Click here to complete a Prospective Board Member Interest Form and for more information.

St. Louis County residents are eligible for free gift cards when they are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 at a St. Louis County-sponsored vaccination clinic. Click here to learn more.

Through 2021, COVID-19 Vaccination Clinics continue at four St. Louis-area libraries. Click here to learn more about availability and to register.
On August 18th, the North Central Plan was adopted unanimously at the Planning Commission’s public hearing. The Plan was approved as written by the Steering Committee. This approval preceded the Workshop discussed in this month’s newsletter.
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