St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger creates affordable housing task force, cites Segregation in St. Louis: Dismantling the Divide

By: NANCY CAMBRIA
Communications Manager, For the Sake of All

Today, St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger signed an executive order creating a task force to begin the process of building an Affordable Housing Trust Fund for the county.

Stenger announced the news at a press conference at the St. Louis County Health Department before the first meeting of the task force. The 18-member group will help identify available funding sources for the trust fund and steps needed to accelerate its creation.

“The impetus for this action is based on a self-evident truth: that every St. Louis County resident deserves a decent and affordable place to call home,” Stenger said.

The creation of a trust fund for affordable housing in St. Louis County was one of 11 policy recommendations in the new community report, Segregation in St. Louis: Dismantling the Divide. The report was released less than two months ago by For the Sake of All and six local organizations: ArchCity Defenders, AscendSTL, Metropolitan St. Louis Equal Housing and Opportunity Council  (EHOC), Empower Missouri, Invest STL, and Team TIF.

“This is a tremendous advancement made in a very short period of time,” said For the Sake of All Director Dr. Jason Purnell. “We are gratified to see this formation of a task force by County Executive Stenger in keeping with one of the policy recommendations put forward by a collaboration of partners from law, community development, health, and fair housing. We applaud St. Louis County for taking this step towards a more equitable future and hope to see other housing policy changes in the days ahead.”

Dr. Jason Purnell

Earlier this month Dr. Purnell and several partners who created the report were invited to brief Stenger and his staff on the report’s findings and recommendations. Dr. Purnell presented the findings of the report during today’s first meeting of the task force.

Segregation in St. Louis: Dismantling the Divide presents more than a century of local, state, and federal policies that have contributed to a disturbing geography of segregated housing in our region, as well as data and human stories detailing how this geography of inequity jeopardizes the health and well-being of many residents throughout the region. The report found that much of the affordable housing in the region was segregated, isolated, deteriorating, and inaccessible to areas of opportunity with higher performing schools, employment, healthy food and retail, and primary health care.

Stenger’s executive order today referenced the research from the report Segregation in St. Louis: Dismantling the Divide and the report’s partners as driving factors in his decision to create a task force on affordable housing. The announcement came a week after significant media coverage that highlighted a new report by the National Low Income Housing Coalition that finds those earning a minimum wage can no longer afford a two-bedroom apartment anywhere in the nation.

The County Executive’s swift action on the task force is indeed indicative of the region’s growing concern for equity and the well-being of all of its residents. Affordable housing trust funds provide resources to not only develop new affordable housing, but also provide financial and programmatic supports that enable both renters and homeowners to remain in their housing. The trust funds often provide low-interest loans for housing improvements and other supports to further stabilize neighborhoods.

Members of the task force include several For the Sake of All partners: Karl Guenther, St. Louis Community Builders Network; Chris Krehymeyer, CEO Beyond Housing, who serves as a co-chair; Washington University Assistant Professor Molly Metzger, Team TIF; Gary Parker, director of the Clark-Fox Policy Institute of Washington University in St. Louis; and Will Jordan, CEO of EHOC.

Members of the St. Louis County Affordable Housing Task Force include Gary Parker of the Clark-Fox Policy Institute, Molly Metzger, assistant professor in the Brown School at Washington University, and Will Jordan, CEO of EHOC.

Other policy recommendations have also advanced since the publication of the report. In March, a new coalition was formed to advocate for increased funding to an existing affordable housing trust fund in the City of St. Louis. The coalition has already secured a guarantee from City of St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson for an additional $1 million in funding, though advocates say more is needed.

There have also been developments in recommendations regarding tax increment financing (TIF) reform and the creation of legally binding community benefits agreements (CBAs) with developers. Community benefits agreements are negotiated by community members with developers. By design, they often protect residents from gentrification, displacement, and other negative impacts. They also enable communities to require developers to include additional benefits for the surrounding community as part of the development plan.

Recently, a new coalition called Equitable St. Louis began advocating for community benefits agreements region-wide. The group recently published a policy guidebook describing the process of creating such agreements.

Indeed, in University City, many residents and stakeholders are currently demanding the creation of a community benefits agreement to accompany a proposed TIF that would help a developer finance a large retail center at Olive Boulevard and Interstate 170. There has been extensive media coverage on the issue. On May 30th, a  St. Louis Post-Dispatch editorial echoed a point made in Segregation in St. Louis: Dismantling the Divide regarding the negative impact of TIFs on African Americans and low income residents.

“Using TIFs to carve high-dollar shopping centers out of lower-income communities continues to divide the region by race and income,” the editorial said.

Since early May, the St. Louis American has been highlighting the report by publishing a series of columns promoting the recommendations under the heading “Dismantling the Divide.” Additionally, on Twitter, the hashtag #dismantlingthedivide continues to provide considerable public reflection on the report and its recommendations.

 

WANT TO LEARN MORE?

Read our partners’ guest columns on housing policy recommendations in the St. Louis American under the heading “Dismantling the Divide.” Topics so far have included:  consciously inclusive communities, St. Louis County affordable housing trust fund, City of St. Louis affordable housing trust fund, eviction prevention and tenant protection, and source of income discrimination.

Read the Vice News/Tonic report on Segregation in St. Louis: Dismantling the Divide. (Part of the story got picked up in the Nigerian Bulletin!)

Listen to the STL Nonprofit News podcast featuring Dr. Jason Purnell and EHOC CEO Will Jordan discussing the collaboration behind the creation of Segregation in St. Louis: Dismantling the Divide.

Listen to  St. Louis Public Radio’s podcast We Live Here. Its current season four is focusing on housing in St. Louis. It’s a good listen.

 


Faith and For the Sake of All: Merging faith and research to mobilize action on health inequity

 

 

By: NANCY CAMBRIA
Communications Manager, For the Sake of All

What can you do to help solve the St. Louis region’s inequity regarding the health and well-being of African Americans? How can you get the message out about systemic injustices that have blocked many of our region’s African American residents from essential opportunities that significantly influence their health? How can you be a partner to create positive change for the sake of all?

For one group, the answers to all of these questions are a matter of faith.

Faith and For the Sake of All is an organization independent of For the Sake of All that was formed in 2015 to address our region’s health and opportunity inequities by mobilizing a rich diversity of faith groups into action. The interfaith organization is grounded in the universal belief that all faiths are bound in service to alleviate injustice that harms fellow human beings.

Laurie Anzilotti

In St. Louis, health is a matter of critical injustice for African Americans who, on average, deal with significantly greater rates of pre-term labor and adult chronic disease and a shorter life expectancy than whites, said Laurie Anzilotti, director of the initiative.

“Our members come to our meetings with a palpable sense that faith is why they are here. The inequity and injustice that they are living in – whether they are black or white – their faith calls them to do something about it,” Anzilotti said.

On Tuesday, May 22, Faith and For the Sake of All will host the first of several Advocacy Forums to be held every other month. Free and open to the public, each forum will highlight one of a growing number of partner advocacy groups addressing health inequity in St. Louis. The upcoming forum will feature Alison Gee, vice president of community engagement for Parents As Teachers. Gee will discuss the proven health and socio-emotional benefits of home visiting programs for young children and their parents.  The event will be held at the headquarters of Ready Readers, 10403 Baur Blvd., St. Louis, MO 63132.

The Advocacy Forum is also intended to encourage participants to join Faith and For the Sake of All’s increasingly influential Liaison program.

Liaisons regularly discuss faith and its essential and universal obligation to address the injustices of health inequity in our region. The conversations are energizing and unifying, Anzilotti said. But the group also aims to combine those dynamic discussions with research about health inequity in St. Louis. They then bring both faith discussions and critical information about inequity to larger faith communities to inspire them to action.

“The program is pretty unique in its merging of information and action and in naming and talking about racism in an interfaith, interracial context,” Anzilotti said. “It’s different because it’s the intersection of faith and academia, which doesn’t happen much in our culture.”

Liaison volunteers participate in four training workshops. The groups learn the information and data contained in the May 2014 report, For the Sake of All: A report on the health and well-being of African Americans in St. Louis and why it matters for everyone. Armed with research and data from the report about the stark realities of health inequity, the volunteers then partner in groups of two or three to present this information in a workshop entitled “Mobilizing the Faithful” to various faith communities throughout the St. Louis region.

Ideally, Liaisons guide the faith communities into volunteer roles and projects to support evidenced-based programs or services that align with the recommendations in the original For the Sake of All report.

Jeff Schulenberg, a new Liaison, said “being a part of Faith and For the Sake of All and making these presentations really has driven home to me the universality of our faiths  and our responsibility to care for others.”

A member of Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church in Valley Park, Schulenberg said he did his best to do all the things one is supposed to do as a member of the community for over two decades: soccer coach, Boy Scout leader, active in church ministries, etc.

“I tried hard to be a good parent, a good parishioner, a good citizen. But after the kids moved out and I had a chance to look around, I realized there was more going on around me,” he said. “Ferguson was an eye opener that made me start to question some long-held beliefs. It was very humbling to realize the extent to which I’ve enjoyed white privilege and benefited from policies and circumstances that have limited others. I felt I had to do more from a faith perspective.”

This year, Faith and For the Sake of All is particularly encouraging faith communities to work with groups and non-profits offering services and programs that promote early childhood development and quality early childhood systems for under-served children.

Fifteen people have already taken the Liaison training. Ten are now full Liaisons and have spoken to more than 250 people from 10 different faith communities.

Anzilotti said the group is recruiting more volunteers and will conduct its next Liaison training session in June. The group will meet on Wednesday evenings from 6 to 8 p.m. at University United Methodist Church, 6901 Washington Avenue, University City, MO 63130. Anyone interested in taking the training or who has questions about the May 22 Advocacy Forum should contact Project Coordinator Laurie Creach.

Anzilotti said Mobilizing the Faithful workshops will soon expand in scope to include data and information in the new community report Segregation in St. Louis: Dismantling the Divide, released last month. Anzilotti said Faith and For the Sake of All is deeply committed to inclusion and is seeking Liaisons from all faith communities and ethnic and racial groups. Current Liaisons come from both Jewish and Christian faith communities – five religious denominations altogether. One third of the current Liaisons are African American.

Schulenberg, now retired from a corporate career, said Faith and For the Sake of All has set him on a new path both in life and faith.

“I have come to realize that if I really want to live my faith, I have to admit that Jesus Christ didn’t just spend his time at the Temple with church leaders. He spent most of his time with the vulnerable and the marginalized. And if I want to walk with him, I need to prepare myself to walk with the same people. I need to explore the needs of others and have a heart for them.”

Faith and For the Sake of All is made possible through funding from Trinity Wall Street and is housed out of Emmanuel Episcopal Church, Webster Groves.

Don’t miss out! For the Sake of All has been in the news. Read our latest media coverage here.

 


Embracing consciously inclusive communities makes economic sense: A look at recent publications

 

By: NANCY CAMBRIA
Communications Manager, For the Sake of All

This week, For the Sake of All Director Dr. Jason Purnell argued in an editorial in the St. Louis American that we continue to live in a deeply segregated America that has not met the great expectations envisioned in Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I have a dream” speech delivered on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.

Dr. Purnell alludes to “over a century of housing policies consciously and intentionally designed to exclude African Americans from access to opportunity, not just in terms of housing, but also education, employment, and ultimately, life and health.”

Among those pervasive policies were restrictive racial covenants that, in St. Louis, derailed financially capable African Americans from buying homes and building equity in both the City of St. Louis and in the suburbs of St. Louis County.

“But what if we turned the notion of restrictive covenants on its head and had ‘inclusive covenants’ instead?” Dr. Purnell asks readers. “What if neighbors came together not to keep people out but to welcome them in?”

What if we acted to create “consciously inclusive communities” to combat a history of exclusivity in our region? What if we viewed inclusion as an asset to be nurtured, celebrated, and even marketed to buyers and renters in our local communities? What benefits could such inclusion reap for the sake of all residents in our region?

In a new study, the Urban Institute essentially finds that fostering such inclusion has considerable economic benefit. The report suggests that cities in the United States more readily bounced back from the Great Recession if they demonstrated stronger inclusion of people of color and lower-income residents in their recovery strategies. Indeed, economically healthy cities tend to be more inclusive of socio-economic, racial, and ethnic groups than distressed ones, the report said.

The Urban Institute’s report was released on April 25, the very same day that For the Sake of All and six regional partners released Segregation in St. Louis: Dismantling the Divide, a 115-page report on the region’s history of segregation, its divided present, and its potential future. The report concludes with recommendations to begin dismantling our debilitating divides.

Segregation in St. Louis: Dismantling the Divide presents a unique “index of exclusivity” that ranks 41 out of more than 90 local towns and areas on housing inaccessibility to African Americans and/or low-income families. Many of those 41 towns and areas of exclusivity in the City of St. Louis and St. Louis County are marked by significant household wealth, stronger schools, easy health care access, and greater employment access.

And yet, the report explains through personal stories of residents dealing with these divides that those resources are highly inaccessible to people who may need them the most.

In its report, the Urban Institute further presented its own index of inclusion on a national scale by ranking urban areas on inclusion of both people of color and low-income residents during the economic recovery. In it, St. Louis ranked 238 out of 274 cities nationwide. The rank put St. Louis among the 15 percent of cities throughout the country found to be “least inclusive.”

The index of exclusivity presented by Segregation in St. Louis: Dismantling the Divide and the index of inclusion presented by the Urban Institute are not necessarily reciprocal due to differences in methodologies, purposes, and data. Yet, examined together, they do they suggest that St. Louis as a whole is greatly hobbled by its inequity and exclusivity. Because it has yet to dismantle its divides, St. Louis is missing out on critical economic growth relative to other cities that are more inclusive of all their residents.

The Urban Institute report argues that the availability of affordable, high-quality, and well-located housing is a crucial factor in fostering inclusive communities. This argument is echoed repeatedly in Segregation in St. Louis: Dismantling the Divide. The latter report concluded with 11 local policy recommendations – including fostering consciously inclusive communities.

In his op-ed in the American, Dr. Purnell says, “There is a chance to finally redraw the boundaries of opportunity to include everyone. Doing so will not be easy, and it will not be without costs and conflict.”

The Urban Institute report suggests our entire region is already paying dearly by failing to include everyone.

Segregation in St. Louis: Dismantling the Divide was release April 25 by For the Sake of All in partnership with ArchCity Defenders, Ascend STL, Empower Missouri, the Equal Housing and Opportunity Council of Metropolitan St. Louis (EHOC), Invest STL, and Team TIF. Please use our media toolkit to help spread the word about the findings of the report and its recommendations.

 

 


For the Sake of All and six partners release Segregation in St. Louis: Dismantling the Divide to a sold-out crowd

 

By: NANCY CAMBRIA
Communications Manager, For the Sake of All

How do we begin to dismantle more than a century of damaging laws, policies, and practices that have created a “geography of inequity” in St. Louis so pervasive that our region currently ranks among the ten most segregated areas in the country?

For the Sake of All in partnership with ArchCity Defenders, Ascend STL Inc., Community Builders Network of Metro St. Louis, Metropolitan St. Louis Equal Housing and Opportunity Council (EHOC), Empower Missouri, and Team TIF is pleased to announce the release of a collaborative report, Segregation in St. Louis: Dismantling the Divide.

The 115-page report details an extensive history of segregation and includes research on how we live now because of racial and low-income housing divides. The report concludes with 11 policy recommendations intended to drive community action towards equitable and inclusive housing in the region.

A media toolkit accompanies the report. Supporters are welcome to use the toolkit to help promote the report and recommendations on Facebook and Twitter.

“We hope that this collaborative report educates residents about our history and supports the kind of creative collective action needed to reverse over a century of destructive policy,” said Dr. Jason Purnell, director of For the Sake of All.

The report was released Wednesday, April 25 at a sold-out a conference of the same name presented by EHOC and For the Sake of All. More than 430 people attended the event at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. Richard Rothstein, author of The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America, was the keynote speaker.

“We have a constitutional obligation to take action to desegregate this country,” Rothstein said while outlining destructive federal policies that explicitly segregated integrated neighborhoods in our country and further pushed many whites into segregated suburban housing developments that restricted African American buyers.

The event included an afternoon workshops led by organizations already working to implement the report’s recommendations in the areas of affordable housing, equitable development, and housing and neighborhood stability. Participants learned about the recommendations and ways to promote and accelerate progress.

Among the presenters was Dr. Molly Metzger, an assistant professor at Washington University and founding member of Team TIF. She discussed the group’s efforts to reform the use of development incentives in the City of St. Louis so that they are used fairly to help disinvested, often segregated neighborhoods that need them most. Jane Oliphant, of Ascend STL, explained how her organization helps low-income renters locate rarely available affordable housing in areas of opportunity. Jackie Langum, an attorney with ArchCity Defenders, discussed the creation of community-based eviction prevention resources that would be located in low-income, segregated areas of St. Louis. 

Other topics included the creation of a “greenlining fund” for lending to combat the pernicious damage caused by the redlining of African American neighborhoods decades ago; support and creation of affordable housing trust funds in the City of St. Louis and St. Louis County; and targeted community investment.

Segregation in St. Louis: Dismantling the Divide is a culmination of two years of community meetings and cross-stakeholder collaboration to better foster quality neighborhoods – one of six priorities that originated from the May 2014 report, For the Sake of All: A Report on the Health and Well-Being of African Americans in St. Louis and Why It Matters for Everyone.

The new report, Segregation in St. Louis: Dismantling the Divide, presents an overview of more than a century of federal, state, and municipal policies, real estate practices, and development strategies that have kept far too many of the St. Louis region’s residents segregated in neighborhoods with less opportunity to advance economically and fewer resources to support health and well-being.

The report includes a unique “index of exclusivity” that ranks the 41 most exclusionary suburban communities/areas in our region regarding housing inaccessibility for lower-income people and/or African Americans.

“I think many people will be disturbed to see where their communities rank, particularly when they learn of the many policies and practices that went into making them that way,” said Dr. Purnell. “There is a disturbing history of pervasive policies and practices that established and maintain segregation in St. Louis.”

The report also presents maps showing how St. Louis residents of all races and socio-economic backgrounds are often excluded from opportunity by segregated neighborhoods. These maps are coupled with personal stories of residents in our region coping with housing divides that limit access to quality education, job opportunities, health care, retail, transportation, clean air, empowering social networks, and other critical resources.

Readers will learn about Shanette, LaTosha, Sam, Brandy, Derek, Alecia, and others – many of whom share personal stories of what it is like to live in areas that are segregated and disconnected from opportunity. They will also learn from Stephanie, Shauna, Betsy, Thera, Christine, and others who share their experiences regarding our invisible social boundaries with race and economic class that often work against inclusion and equity.

The conference concluded Wednesday with remarks from Dr. Purnell, who asked the audience for ideas on how to create a “consciously inclusive communities” movement in St. Louis.

“We’re in a time when our institutions are falling apart. When things are falling apart, we have an opportunity to think about what our communities should be and could be,” he said.

The release of the report on April 25 further coincided with Forward Through Ferguson‘s formal announcement of its STL2039 Action Plan, a strategy to guide the organization’s work for the next three years as it works to achieve a racially equitable St. Louis by the year 2039.

The report was produced with support from Missouri Foundation for Health and Wells Fargo.

Want to learn more about the report? Segregation in St. Louis: Dismantling the Divide was recently featured in the following media reports:

St. Louis conference ‘celebrates’ 50 years of Fair Housing Act, by Holly Edgell, St. Louis Public Radio. April 24.

50 years later: What kinds of improvements have been made in housing since the Fair Housing Act?, St. Louis on the Air with Don Marsh, St. Louis Public Radio. April 17.

New report offers recommendations to address housing segregation in St. Louis, by Janelle O’Dea, St. Louis Post-Dispatch. April  25.

(Re)Building a Healthy St. Louis, by  Dr. Robert Hughes,  director, Missouri Foundation for Health. April 26.

Fair housing conference panelists focus on reducing evictions in metro St. Louis, by Chad Davis,  St. Louis Public Radio. April 26.

Detailed Report Highlights Inequalities in St. Louis Housing, Development, by Brett Blum, KMOX NewsRadio. April 26.

 


Save the Date! Richard Rothstein to Speak at Conference on Segregation in St. Louis: Dismantling the Divide

 

By: NANCY CAMBRIA
Communications Manager, For the Sake of All

We are excited to announce that For the Sake of All is partnering with the Metropolitan St. Louis Equal Housing Opportunity Commission (EHOC) this spring to present Richard Rothstein, author of the highly acclaimed book, The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America.

Rothstein will present the keynote address for a day-long conference on April 25 at the University of Missouri-St. Louis entitled Segregation in St. Louis: Dismantling the Divide, which is also the title of a new report to be released this spring by For the Sake of All and local housing experts. The conference and report will focus on housing and segregation in St. Louis, its debilitating influence on health and opportunity, and recommendations to address pervasive segregation in the housing sector that divides the region and holds it back.

Released in May 2017, Rothstein’s The Color of Law presents a precise and exhaustive look at the laws and policies on local, state, and national levels that have contributed to persistent segregation and economic inequity in our nation. The book is an extension of The Making of Ferguson: Public Policies at the Root of its Troubles, a 2015 article on housing policy and segregation in St. Louis that Rothstein authored for the Economic Policy Institute. The article was written in the aftermath of protests responding to the killing of Michael Brown by a police officer in a poor, segregated neighborhood in Ferguson.

Rothstein will present his keynote speech as part of EHOC’s annual conference. The conference will be held at the JCPenney Conference Center on the campus of the University of Missouri-St. Louis. Registration information and further details will be released soon.

The conference and numerous break-out sessions will focus on the findings of the report Segregation in St. Louis: Dismantling the Divide to be released this spring by For the Sake of All in partnership with regional experts in the fields of equitable and affordable housing, law, and fair development.

Those partners include EHOC, Team TIF, Arch City Defenders, Community Builders Network of St. Louis, and others who, along with a 20-member housing workgroup, spent more than a year advising For the Sake of All on recommendations intended to break down patterns of segregation and build connections and equity in St. Louis.

One of the more disturbing research findings in the original For the Sake of All report focused on life expectancy and its connection to race and ZIP Codes. The report found that a child born in predominantly white, wealthy Clayton can expect to live 18 years longer than a child born in the Jeff-Vander-Lou neighborhood in segregated and poor North St. Louis.

The report outlines the many social determinants of health contributing to this profound gap: a lack of accessible resources such as jobs and healthy foods, segregated and underperforming schools, poor health care options, and a lack of other key services and healthy options.

For the Sake of All’s upcoming report, Segregation in St. Louis: Dismantling the Divide, will focus specifically on the region’s long history of segregated housing and its debilitating influence on health and opportunity. It will further illustrate through personal stories of St. Louisians how this legacy continues to divide our community and cause hardship among people living in our region today.

The report will conclude with recommendations that can be implemented by groups already working in these areas with the benefit of stronger community engagement and support. These recommendations will be discussed in break-out sessions and forums throughout the conference on April 25. We will post updates on the event and the report in the upcoming months.

Stay tuned by following us on Twitter @4thesakeofall.

 


Jennings, Normandy, and Roosevelt school health centers gain support from the Dana Brown Charitable Trust

 

 

From left to right: Daniel Watt, executive director of the Dana Brown Charitable Trust, Douglas Perry of Affinia Healthcare, Chardial Samuel of The SPOT at Jennings, Dr. Sarah Garwood of The SPOT at Jennings, Joe Miller of Wyman, and Kathleen Woods of Mercy Health Clinic at Roosevelt High School celebrate the Trust’s recent financial gift to health centers at Jennings, Normandy, and Roosevelt high schools.

 

By: NANCY CAMBRIA
Communications Manager, For the Sake of All

Earlier this year, with the help of For the Sake of All, health centers at Jennings High School, Normandy High School, and Roosevelt High School in St. Louis decided to jointly raise funds under the umbrella of sustaining school-based health centers in St. Louis.

Each health center has different medical partners and funding sources. But they recognized collaborative fundraising could reduce competition among the health centers and show donors they were unified for a greater good. This week their collaboration was richly rewarded by the Dana Brown Charitable Trust which publicly awarded $94,000 to the centers to help them operate for the next year and another $44,000 to For the Sake of All for work to expand statewide infrastructure for school-based health centers.

The health centers were recognized on Oct. 12 at SSM Health DePaul Hospital which graciously hosted members of the For the Sake of All school-based health center workgroup for a meeting and cocktail hour. Daniel Watt, executive director of the Dana Brown Charitable Trust, presented each recipient with a piggy bank to mark the financial gifts.

“These types of funding partnerships are critical for progress in St. Louis,” said Dr. Jason Purnell, director of For the Sake of All. “They alert funders and the public that groups are breaking down silos and working together for a bigger cause.”

There is more to come in St. Louis regarding school-based health centers. Two more health centers in North St. Louis County high schools will open next year.

For the Sake of All, with the leadership of consultant Marissa Paine, is further facilitating the current transition of its school-based health center workgroup into a non-profit entity named Show-Me School-Based Health Alliance of Missouri. The non-profit will provide leadership and infrastructure to support school-based health programs statewide, and is the foundation of an effort to make Missouri a full affiliate of the National School-Based Health Alliance. Stay tuned on this exciting project.

 

Want to learn more about school health in St. Louis? Read our Discussion Guide. And don’t miss this article by Post-Dispatch education reporter Kristen Taketa on the growth of school-based health centers in the St. Louis region.

Extra! Here’s a lighthearted but highly informative video on The Disturbing History of the Suburbs which explains the impact of our nation’s history of discriminatory housing practices.

 

 


Extra! For the Sake of All is in the news

For the Sake of All has been receiving positive attention in local and national media. Here’s a round-up of the many places people from around the country are learning about the work of For the Sake of All in St. Louis.

On Sept. 11, Director Dr. Jason Purnell wrote an opinion piece on For the Sake of All for the Huffington Post as part of its “Listen to America” tour being held around the country. Dr. Purnell wrote eloquently about how the program’s name refers to an unfinished score by Scott Joplin and the work to eliminate health inequity that still needs to be done in St. Louis, our beloved city by the river.

“If anything has become apparent to residents of St. Louis following what is known by the shorthand “Ferguson,” it is that all of us are implicated in and impacted by the inequities that have characterized our region for decades. And all of us are also necessary in addressing the multiple factors that result in an unequal distribution of health, life, and the resources that support them both,” wrote Dr. Purnell.

Dr. Purnell was also quoted in an Aug. 20 Washington Examiner Piece on the Affordable Care Act and stalled Congressional efforts to bring the social determinants of health and health equity more prominently into national public health policy.

In August, For the Sake of All and multiple community partners celebrated the opening of a school-based health center on the campus of Normandy High School, a part of For the Sake of All’s “next steps” to foster healthy schools.

Print and digital stories about Normandy’s new health center ran on Aug. 23 in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and July 27 in The St. Louis American. Fox 2 News also aired an extensive story on a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the center held Aug. 31 at Normandy High School. St. Louis Public Radio aired an Aug. 10 piece on student health centers in the region highlighting Normandy’s new health center, now named Affinia Healthcare at Normandy High School.

For the Sake of All was also the recent recipient of a prestigious $1.1 million grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to work with the Normandy Schools Collaborative and St. Louis Public Schools to develop a “toolkit” to better coordinate and implement programs that foster healthy schools.

The Post-Dispatch and the St. Louis American each published stories on the project on Aug. 9 and Sept. 6. Washington University also wrote about the project in its campus-wide digital publication, the Source.

On Sept. 10 the Post-Dispatch published an editorial praising our momentum on fostering healthy schools, noting “public education is too often a political battlefield where children’s basic needs are forgotten. For the Sake of All puts the emphasis back where it belongs.”

Washington University graduate Joe Madison, AKA The Black Eagle, interviewed Dr. Purnell on his national Sirius XM radio talk show Aug. 31 to discuss healthy schools that attend to the needs of the whole child.

“We can begin to close the gap in educational outcomes by actually attending to the issues that stand in the way of the ability to learn,” he said. “A child who can’t see, can’t hear, can’t breathe, hasn’t slept, has been traumatized doesn’t know where they are going back home to at night doesn’t have the opportunity to learn, and none of us would.

Staff has also been out in the community discussing For the Sake of All’s research and work. On Aug. 25, Dr. Purnell presented research on health inequity to a new class of Focus St. Louis Impact Fellows, a group of community leaders currently learning about the region’s health care safety net. On Aug. 31, Communications Manager Nancy Cambria presented to the St. Louis Regional Chamber on the critical importance of investing in quality early childhood programs to promote optimal brain growth and build a future labor market.

Finally, For the Sake of All is pleased to announce it has developed a concise Fact Sheet that includes information on its history, research, goals, and current work. Please share this fact sheet with anyone interested in the mission of health equity for St. Louis.

Supporters can always follow For the Sake of All on Twitter to see up-to-date posts on research, current news, and other notable items regarding health equity and progress in St. Louis. Supporters can also sign up for email notifications about new blog posts on the bottom of our website home page.

 

 


A shiny bite of hope: Partners celebrate a new health center at Normandy High School

By: NANCY CAMBRIA
Communications Manager, For the Sake of All

For the Sake of All doesn’t usually get the time to truly celebrate the positive work happening among our partners in the St. Louis region to solve health inequity.

But the morning of Thursday, Aug. 31st was a tremendous exception.

Nearly 100 people attended a ribbon-cutting to celebrate the recent opening of Affinia Healthcare at Normandy High School, a primary care health center located on the high school campus. So many people attended, the school opened its football field to handle the overflow in parking.

St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger declared it a landmark event. He issued an official proclamation for the day honoring the new health center and the partnerships that made it possible. 

The morning was truly a demonstration of school spirit and partnership. Students in the band joined their clarinets, flutes, drums and tubas to pump out music by Prince and other songs. Their peers in the high school’s culinary arts program spent the morning preparing sweet treats like banana bread and strawberry cream cups which they served to a line of eager guests. Normandy High School junior Kaviyon Calvert prepared a speech for guests.

“The center will give students the opportunity to network with trustworthy health care professionals,” he said.

The celebration was held in a large gathering space outside the health center decorated with bright murals painted by St. Louis artist Cbabi Bayoc and Normandy High students, making the space an inviting place to seek out health services.

Normandy Schools Collaborative Superintendent Dr. Charles Pearson emceed the event which highlighted the district’s partnership with four organizations that worked together to make the center possible: Affinia Healthcare is providing medical care and staffing; BJC HealthCare is donating in-kind donations, including furnishings and medical supplies; Wyman, a youth development organization, is working to integrate the health center into the everyday activities of the school district; and For the Sake of All, which is conducting critical needs assessments in schools and fostering partnerships to support and increase school-based health.

“This is about giving schools all of the tools and partnerships they need to create truly healthy schools – schools that cater to the whole child so they can be healthy and succeed,” said For the Sake of All Director Jason Purnell, one of eight speakers.

Honorary guests came from as far as Jefferson City. They included local and state elected officials, as well as Dr. Margie Vandeven, commissioner of the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

“It’s a really exciting thing when research and common sense just collide,” Vandeven said. “Our students will learn when their basic needs are met.”

After the speeches, all of the partners squeezed in behind the long paper banner in front of the health center – each armed with jumbo gold-handled scissors.

Affinia Healthcare President and CEO Alan Freeman gave the final count-down.

The banner was so big It took several cuts. The crowd cheered the partners long after the banner fell to the floor in pieces. The celebration continued with small tours of the health center’s two examination rooms and its waiting room and lab area.

It is not without some somber recognition that this this joyful moment took place in Michael Brown’s high school just two weeks after the anniversary of his death. In a way, Normandy’s health center and Mike Brown’s legacy are linked.

The outrage that emerged after his death in Ferguson, MO in August 2014 brought critical attention to For the Sake of All’s Report on the Health and Well-Being of African Americans in St. Louis and Why It Matters for Everyone. The research in the Report, published just four months before Brown’s death, was clear: inequity from poverty and segregation was severely harming the health and longevity of African Americans in St. Louis.

Opening more school-based health centers in high-need school districts like the new one in Normandy High School was a direct community response to this Report.

For the Sake of All’s work in school-based health is far from done. For the Sake of All is working to foster more partnerships to open two new centers in North St. Louis County by the start of the 2017-2018 school year. Work is also underway to establish Missouri as an organized affiliate of the School-Based Health Alliance, a national organization empowering the creation of effective school-based health centers. Ultimately, For the Sake of All aims to open a health center in every high-need high school in the region. 

When the party wound down at Normandy High School, red and green apples reflecting Normandy’s school colors were handed out to the crowd. As they headed to their cars, guests carried with them a symbol of the merging of health and education – and a shiny bite of hope.

Want to learn more? The ribbon-cutting was covered by Fox2 news reporter Shawndrea Thomas on Aug. 31. Reporter Kristen Taketa of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch also wrote an extensive Aug. 23 newspaper story on the growth of school-based health in St. Louis.

Photo credits: Sam Nuernberger for Wyman


The latest on school-based health: Partnership launches a health center at Normandy High School

By: NANCY CAMBRIA
Communications Manager, For the Sake of All

The choices were not great: attend school sick and not feeling well or spend the entire day getting to the doctor’s office to obtain treatment.

That was a decision often made by many students at Normandy High School, according to surveys, interviews, and focus groups on community health held by For the Sake of All.

With few primary care options in the 23 communities that make up the Normandy Schools Collaborative and a lack of health insurance and transportation, students in the high-need public school district were typically missing a full day of school to visit a doctor’s office or a medical clinic far away. Some students were calling in absent to take sick siblings to the doctor’s office. Or, they were just skipping the doctor altogether, gritting out symptoms at home – or while attending school.

But that is soon to change. A new health center opened on Aug. 10 at Normandy High School with full primary health care and behavioral health services offered by Affinia Healthcare.

No longer will students have to take two bus lines and MetroLink to get to health services in the Central West End as many did. Nor will they find themselves going to a hospital emergency room for routine treatment at more than double the rate of students in wealthier school districts because of a lack of nearby primary care.

“We hope that with a resource like this conveniently located on one of our campuses our families get needed health services, but also eliminate a barrier that can keep some students out of school,” said Normandy Schools Collaborative Superintendent Dr. Charles Pearson. “This collaboration can have a direct, positive impact on the entire community.”

The health center, named Affinia Healthcare at Normandy High School, is also a cause for celebration among For the Sake of All and its many partners. Last year, For the Sake of All staff and dozens of community partners identified school-based health centers as a key strategy in tackling health inequities affecting African Americans in the St. Louis region. The Normandy High School health center is the first new health center to open under this initiative.

“School-based health centers provide access to health care and preventive services where young people spend most of their waking hours—in school,” said Dr. Jason Purnell, director of For the Sake of All. “When properly implemented in schools with high needs, they result in better health and better educational outcomes. Thousands of these centers exists across the country, and we’re excited to be part of the expansion of the model here in St. Louis.”

Though there are thousands of school-based health centers in the United States, St. Louis has just a handful. For the past year, For the Sake of All has convened work groups with participants in the health, education, and student development fields to forge partnerships and establish proven steps to sustain the existing health centers and open many more.

The Normandy High School health center was made possible through a partnership formed in January between Normandy Schools Collaborative, Affinia Healthcare, BJC HealthCare, Wyman, and For the Sake of All.

Affinia health practitioners will provide the primary care. BJC will provide equipment and supplies. Wyman will work with the school district’s nurses, counselors, student development providers, and administrators to integrate the health center into the everyday culture and programming of the school. And For the Sake of All will continue to consult with the center to support its sustainability and best practices.

Two more health centers are currently in the planning stages in schools in North St. Louis County, and similar partnerships are forming to ensure those health centers are sustainable and effective. Part of that work includes making Missouri an affiliate of the School-Based Health Alliance which works to expand and sustain high-performing school health centers around the nation. That emerging organization, to be named the SHOW ME School-Based Health Alliance, is in the early planning stage.

For the Sake of All and its partners aim to build infrastructure and support to open a health center in every high-need high school in the St. Louis region.

The centers have many benefits beyond direct healthcare delivery. Research found in our Discussion Guide on healthy schools shows school-based health centers improve attendance and curb school drop-out rates. They enhance learning environments and empower students to take care of themselves. Further research shows the stress of poverty and neighborhood violence can harm child development and trigger poor health in adulthood. So getting accessible health care for students in a highly supportive setting is an important intervention.

Over the course of conversations in the high school this past year For the Sake of All also learned students and parents were having difficulty finding accessible behavioral health support for mental health issues, despite coping with many intense stresses in their homes and neighborhoods. This gap in services was concerning because a quarter of Normandy High School students surveyed by For the Sake of All reported having trouble sleeping at night, feeling sad, or worrying about the future.

Wyman, a youth development organization, is working with Affinia Healthcare to ensure the center will be highly sensitive to trauma among its young patients and will work throughout the school district to ensure students are aware of the center and have access to it. In For the Sake of All surveys, more than 85% of Normandy students, teachers, and staff said they would utilize its services.

There’s more to come in the next year in St. Louis on school-based health. Stay tuned. But for now For the Sake of All is excited students, faculty, and staff of Normandy schools have this important resource within steps of their classrooms, sports practices, clubs, and other activities.

WANT TO LEARN MORE? Check out For the Sake of All’s full Report on the health and well-being of African Americans in the St. Louis region and why it matters for everyone. Make sure to follow us on Twitter @4theSakeofAll.


Investing in our children’s futures: hope grows for Child Development Accounts

By: NANCY CAMBRIA
Communications Manager, For the Sake of All

Research from the Center for Social Development at Washington University suggests nine out of ten parents aspire for their children to go to college regardless of their income, their ethnicity, or where they live.

Ask Charlene Jackson of St. Louis. She firmly believes college will one day happen for her two young grandchildren, despite her lower wages.

But that dream often fades and doesn’t become a reality for low income families. Jackson, for example, said that until recently she had no plan for how to get her grandchildren through college, but was just expecting it to all work out someday.

In the City of St. Louis and St. Louis County there are critical racial disparities when it comes to African Americans going to college. Though trends are improving, only a little more than half of African Americans 25 years and older have gone on to take college level courses. That’s compared to nearly three quarters of white residents. Finances certainly are a challenge for African American families overall. More than 30% of African American households live in poverty compared to 9% of white households.

It’s important to empower African American families like the Jacksons with strategies to get their children and grandchildren to college. How can St. Louis push more children on a path to college built on a concrete plan and not just dreams?

One strategy backed intensively by For the Sake of All is the creation of Child Development Accounts that enable families to build assets targeted for children’s higher education. The creation of such accounts is also listed among the Ferguson Commission’s “Calls to Action.” For the Sake of All and its partners believe every child in the City of St. Louis and St. Louis County should be automatically enrolled in these accounts at birth. To get there, a collaborative group of partners is working on a plan to enroll 30,800 children in 20 of the region’s most high-need ZIP Codes into the Missouri MOST 529 College Savings Plan. There’s more work to be done on this venture, but momentum is building.

Research shows the accounts have positive effects for parents and children – even if assets in those accounts seem minimal or don’t approach the full cost of a college tuition. According to the SEED OK experiment conducted by the Center for Social Development, Child Development Accounts made available to a sampling of children throughout Oklahoma were found to help mothers increase expectations of their children’s education, boost mothers’ mental health, and improve children’s social-emotional development.

Several of these accounts are already in place in St. Louis. They include Beyond Housing’s Promise Accounts, which were recently highlighted in the online publication, The 74; The Scholarship Foundation of St. Louis’ Future Forward program; the City of St. Louis Treasurer’s Office College Kids program; and Focus on College!, a program created by Wells Fargo and the United Way of Greater St. Louis featured in the above video. “Having money saved for college is about more than just the dollars in the account, it’s about actually instilling a sense of hope,” says For the Sake of All Director Jason Purnell in the video.

Charlene Jackson can attest to the power of Child Development Accounts. In 2015 Jackson’s grandson and granddaughter were automatically enrolled in savings accounts through the College Kids program. Jackson described the presence of the accounts as “a boost” that’s made her think more clearly about how to get her grandchildren to and through college: “They have given me the push to say, O.K., you can do this.”

WANT TO LEARN MORE? Check out For the Sake of All’s Discussion Guide on creating economic opportunity, or its full Report on the health and well-being of African Americans in the St. Louis region and why it matters for everyone.