September 2020
Deaconess Community,
It happened again. Another human life was taken without accountability. Leaders in government stood before cameras and tried to explain it away. People in the community grieved, mourned and cried out. They were struck down and voices quelled by excursions of intimidation from the very public employees they pay to serve them.
This could describe the events surrounding the death of Breonna Taylor Wednesday in Louisville, Kentucky. The paragraph also accurately describes every day’s evening news coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic and the more than 200,000 Americans lost. With now less than forty (40) days to local and federal elections, it’s time for each and every one of us to be counted among those who have had enough with government inaction to protect our lives.
Last Thursday, David Nehrt-Flores, manager of Deaconess Center for Child Well-Being, worked with the St. Metropolitan Clergy Coalition to host a Zoom meeting with Rev. Al Sharpton of the National Action Network and hundreds of local clergy about policy advocacy and voter mobilization. Tuesday, September 22, was both National Voter Registration Day and the first day for in-person absentee voting in Missouri. I marked it by joining Rev. Traci Blackmon, associate general minister for Justice and Local Church Ministries of the United Church of Christ (UCC), in a national voter registration training broadcast by the Black Church PAC. This followed closely our work together two days before for Voter Mobilization Sunday at Christ the King UCC.
I’m excited to see such robust action by communities of faith for this election. Assuring true democracy this season will take all of us and all our energies. Deaconess Foundation is up for the fight. In fact, we’ve made a few changes to own calendars to make room for team members and partners to engage more deeply.
First, between now and the election, our staff team members are all encouraged to dedicate four (4) hours per week from paid Foundation time to engage in voter education, registration, and mobilization efforts. While we always encourage voting and provide time off to do so, this year our offices will be closed on election day, November 3, so staff members can serve as poll workers and participate in day-of get out the vote efforts. (You may see Kiesha Davis, our Director of Partnership and Capacity Building, or Matt Oldani, our Vice President of Operations, as election judges in the city and county, respectively.)
Deaconess Center for Child Well-Being is hosting free notary services for mail-in ballots. We recognize mail-in voting is now available and mail-in ballots must be legally notarized. So, we have scheduled notary hours, with community volunteers, at Deaconess Center. Local notaries will be on the campus of Deaconess Center for Child Well-Being to notarize mail-in ballots at no charge to voters on the following days and times.

  • Tuesday, October 6 (3:00 pm - 6:00 pm)
  • Wednesday, October 14 (11:00 am - 2:00 pm)
  • Thursday, October 22 (3:00 pm - 6:00 pm)
  • Monday, October 26 (3:00 pm - 6:00 pm)
For questions or to learn more about notary hours contact David Nehrt-Flores at 314.338.0273 or davidn@deaconess.org. Join us in this work. Consider becoming a poll worker or volunteering with one of our Partner organizations engaged in electoral justice work. See the links below for information on working the polls in Deaconess’ grantmaking footprint.

As I said before, this effort will take all of us. Inclusive democracy calls for all hands on deck. Roll up your sleeves. Make your plan to vote. Then, let’s make sure every voice and vote gets counted!

For our children,
Rev. Dr. Starsky Wilson
President & CEO
Deaconess Foundation
Neighborhood Leadership Fellows is an advanced leadership training program of University of Missouri-St. Louis, University of Missouri Extension (MU Extension) and the St. Louis Promise Zone-St. Louis Economic Development Partnership. The goal of Neighborhood Leadership Fellows (NLF) is to increase and amplify the voices of North St. Louis City and County residents at the civic decision-making tables in order to produce more equitable regional policies for neighborhoods. The primary geographic focus area is neighborhoods within the federally-designated St. Louis Promise Zone due to the well-documented need for more targeted investment.
Deaconess funds from our Responsive portfolio to support the nine-month leadership training for twenty-five (25) residents from the St. Louis Promise Zone. The hands-on training aims to prepare residents to become leader advocates for equity and consists of educational workshops on equitable neighborhood development, positional power, collaborative learning and tactical communication, followability and organizing.
The application for 2021 Neighborhood Leadership Fellows is now open for Promise Zone residents who want to create more equitable regional policies for neighborhoods. Applications are due no later than October 5th at 11:59 PM. Click here to learn more and to apply.
To get involved with or support Neighborhood Leadership Fellows, visit their website.
Deaconess’ policy agenda calls for increased investment in early childhood education.
On November 3rd voters in the City of St. Louis will have the opportunity to raise approximately $2.3 million per year for early childhood education services and centers in the areas in the city with the greatest need.
In the City of St. Louis there are 225 licensed early childhood programs serving approximately 10,000 children 5-years-old and under. Still, there is not equitable access to quality programs for the hundreds of children and families in the city. All children should have access to quality early childhood care and education from birth to be sure they are ready to learn in Kindergarten.
Proposition R would generate revenue for early childhood education for children aged zero to five through a property tax increase of 6 cents per $100 assessed valuation. The St. Louis Mental Health Board’s Community Children’s Services Fund would receive the funds for distribution. Upon approval, the tax would go into effect in 2021.
Vote Yes on Proposition R to increase investment in early childhood education in the City of St. Louis.
The journey to an equitable economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic will take time. So, Deaconess has allocated $300,000 in grants to support a cohort of six Black-led organizations it has identified as critical to framing a just recovery and assuring public will for a sustained public policy response.
In addition to general operating support, the cohort, receives expert training, coaching, and peer support for capacity building efforts. The cohort launched in July in an executive directors’ retreat. In a September 17, roundtable and peer coaching session, partners built upon concepts from the summer retreat, where they took a deep dive into financial modeling as a tool for scenario and strategy planning.
Roundtables and peer coaching sessions create space for leaders to engage and connect with one another around issues that impact the sustainability of systems change work. Looking ahead, the executive directors began developing their peer learning agenda for the coming year.
The Foundation’s Just Recovery Cohort includes:

Funding OpportunitiesVisit our website for an up-to-date list of funding opportunities for 2020. Responsive Grant proposals are due October 30, 2020.
On Saturday, September 19, we joined our neighbors to dream about the future and plant new possibilities!

The neighbor-driven North Central Plan to develop several communities, including the historic Vandeventer and Covenant Blu-Grand Center neighborhoods, was completed in 2000. That plan guided the development of the North Sarah Apartments, Guardian Angel Settlement Association, Deaconess Center for Child Well-Being and several residential projects since initiation. Last year, Deaconess invited neighbors, business owners and institutional partners to evaluate the existing plan and explore opportunities to update it.
As a result of the initial gathering, we partnered with the St. Louis Promise Zone and Urban Land Institute of St. Louis to host a series of workshops on equitable community development for residents. Together we expanded understanding of neighborhood planning ane explored calls for development in our community.
In consultation with the United Church Building and Loan Fund, Deaconess is funding the community-led visioning and strategic planning process to update the North Central Plan.

Join us for the first Community Townhall on October 6th to learn about the community-led visioning and core values sessions and provide input.
To learn more, get involved and to stay up-to-date on the project visit NorthCentralSTLPlan.com.
As we prepare for Executive Transition, we will use this special section in our monthly newsletter to keep our community informed and engaged. Succession planning is critical to effective governance. So, the joint boards of Deaconess Foundation and Deaconess Center for Child Well-Being keep an active Leadership Development and Succession Plan, which it updated in 2019.
As called for in the plan, the Foundation board has taken the first step in the journey to search for a new president and chief executive officer with the appointment of the Executive Transition Committee. The Executive Transition Committee will manage the overall transition process for the organization and determine the scope of the search process.
The Foundation Board Chair, Rudolph Nickens, Jr., director of Equal Opportunity and Diversity for Missouri’s Department of Transportation, will also chair the Transition Committee. The following board members and staff will serve on the Committee:
  • 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 - Director of Strategic Communications & Student Engagement, Washington University
  • Elizabeth Noonan, Esq. - Principal, Elizabeth Noonan Consulting, LLC
  • Devonn Thomas - Executive Assistant to the President & CEO, Deaconess Foundation
North St. Louis could be drastically undercounted in Census 2020, deadline is September 30

Rebecca Rivas | The St. Louis American

ILarge swaths of North St. Louis currently have a less than 30% response rate to the U.S. Census, according to The Center for Urban Research’s Census 2020 Hard to Count map. And parts of North St. Louis County have response rates of between 30 and 40%.
What does that mean? Fewer resources and political representation for these neighborhoods, said Kayla Reed, co-founder and executive director of Action St. Louis.
“For every person not counted on the census, we lose $1,300,” Reed said. “Over 10 years, that’s $13,000 per person. In the face of an undercount, we’re losing millions of dollars. Our communities need those resources. This is a way everyone can be an activist: by filling out the census.”

Resident of 'forgotten neighborhood' in St. Louis organizes in hopes of having more clout

Jesse Bogan | St. Louis Post-Dispatch

In 2001, with a development underway to build 80 new homes in an area north of Delmar Boulevard, Audrey Ellermann was one of the first to step up.
“When I bought my property, I was excited to transform things,” she said.
Ellermann, now 67, still lives in the large home in the 3800 block of Finney Avenue. A tall staircase with pots of purple flowers on each side leads to the front door.
The two-story house, which has a finished basement and garage, was one of about 35 that were built before the Great Recession ultimately halted the construction of dozens more. As years passed, weeds and trees grew wild on lots left empty from demolitions.

Begin Again: James Baldwin’s America and Its Urgent Lessons for Our Own by Eddie S. Glaude Jr. | Crown Publishing | June 2020

Black Funding Denied: Community Foundation Support for Black Communities by Ben Barge, Brandi Collins-Calhoun, Elbert Garcia, Jeanné Lewis, Janay Richmond, Ryan Schlegel, Spencer Ozer, Stephanie Peng | NCRP | August 2020
Sep. 24: Understanding Missouri’s School to Prison Pipeline, hosted by ACLU of Missouri. 6 – 8 PM. Register here

Sep. 29: Power Moves Virtual Public Assessment Results Release, hosted by Deaconess Foundation, 9 – 10:15 AM. Register here.

Sep. 30: Last day to complete the US Census. Respond at: 2020census.gov.

Oct. 8: Advocacy and Lobbying 101: Legal Tips for 501(c)(3) Nonprofit Advocates, hosted by Missouri Foundation and Alliance for Justice, 10 AM – 11:30 AM, Register here.

ArchCity Defenders seeks volunteer attorneys to provide representation. Learn more and apply here.

Tuesdays: Free Our Youth Participatory Defense meetings, Metropolitan Congregations United. 6 PM, RSVP and learn more.

Monday-Friday: National Prayer Call, Samuel Dewitt Proctor Conference, 7:10 AM CDT, View on Facebook, YouTube Live and Instagram.

Do you have an event you'd like to see in this Newsletter? Submit it here!
This conversation between Makiyah Moody, senior manager of La Piana Consulting, Carmen Rojas, PhD, president & CEO of Marguerite Casey Foundation, and Rev. Dr. Starsky Wilson, president & CEO of Deaconess Foundation aims to challenge, illuminate, and inspire more just philanthropy. In its theme, Begin Again: Urgent Lessons for Philanthropy, pays homage to Eddie S. Glaude Jr.’s most recent book, Begin Again: James Baldwin’s America and Its Urgent Lessons for Our Own. In the words of John Meacham, the book “challenges, illuminates, and points us toward if not a more perfect union then at least a more just one.”
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