Deaconess Building Regional Center for Child Well-Being


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Alex Stallings  



Deaconess Building Regional Center for Child Well-Being

Foundation to invest $8.5 million in hub for collaboration and advocacy   


September 20, 2016 – In a groundbreaking ceremony today, eighty St. Louisans, including children, neighbors, child advocates, church leaders and elected officials celebrated the announcement of the Deaconess Center for Child Well-Being. The new 20,000 square foot facility is being erected at 1000 N. Vandeventer in the Grand Center Arts District at the edge of St. Louis’ Vandeventer neighborhood. Projecting completion in Fall of 2017, the $8.5 million development will offer space for community convening and model cross-sector collaboration, housing a grantmaker, child advocacy organization and youth service provider under one roof.

“When communities make something a priority, they create space for it,” argued Cheryl D.S. Walker, a Bryan Cave attorney and Deaconess Foundation Board Chair. “We’re inviting the region to make space to advocate for children’s best interests.”

The Deaconess Center will include administrative offices for the foundation and long-term grantees, Vision for Children at Risk and Neighborhood Houses, in addition to meeting rooms, classrooms and conference space for up to 125 people in the largest setting. Between the co-locating partners, the building is expected to host more than 6,000 citizens a year in more than 250 meetings focused on children’s issues. Meeting rooms will be available at no charge to initiatives focused on improving public policy for children. Forty to fifty people will work at the site, re-locating from offices in Downtown, Downtown West and Jeff VanderLou.

“Through our funding, advocacy and this facility we want to cultivate a movement for child well-being in St. Louis,” said Rev. Starsky Wilson, Deaconess’ president and chief executive. “Movements need activated individuals, creative ideas and institutional expressions. This will be a place where they all come together for kids. ”

The Center for Child Well-Being will be Deaconess’ first building in a generation.  In 1997, Deaconess Incarnate Word Health System, including its main campus at Oakland Avenue, was sold to Tenet HealthCare, seeding the foundation. Construction plans call for the building to reflect Deaconess’ faith heritage - as a ministry of the United Church of Christ - and justice commitments, by exceeding the city’s minority participation goals. It targets 35% minority business enterprises and 15% women business enterprises. Elizabeth Noonan, an economic development professional and United Church of Christ member, is Deaconess’ Project Manager. Kwame Building Group is serving as the Construction Manager. KAI Design and Build is the design-build firm.

In site selection, the foundation considered its commitment to equity as a necessity for child well-being, proximity to its partners and opportunities to extend community development activity. The North Vandeventer location is across the street from the city’s family court and juvenile detention center and aligns with a neighborhood-driven development initiative, entitled the North Central Plan. The collaborative center model is also consistent with strategies of an emerging effort to coordinate social sector real estate assets, known as the St. Louis Social Innovation District, which the foundation financially supports.

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Deaconess Foundation invests in the well-being of children, engages our region around the plight of youth, and advocates for change. A ministry of the United Church of Christ, Deaconess has invested more than $76 million to improve the health of the St. Louis community since 1998 and believes healthy, hope-filled futures for children benefit the entire region. The Foundation’s footprint includes St. Louis, St. Louis, Jefferson, St. Charles and Franklin Counties in Missouri and Madison, St. Clair and Monroe Counties in Illinois. Visit



The mission of Vision for Children at Risk is to promote the well-being of children and youth in the St. Louis metropolitan area, targeting those who face socio-economic risk. VCR’s goals are (1) to ensure the community makes effective, systematic provisions for meeting the needs of all children, (2) that all children in the region have the resources, opportunities and supports to help them grow into healthy and successful adults and (3) that St. Louis devotes the necessary effort to take care of our children effectively. Visit



Since 1913, Neighborhood Houses, a ministry of the United Church of Christ, has supported low-income children and families of the inner core of St. Louis City.  Though our community has changed over the years, our mission remains the same — Neighborhood Houses inspires children and families to reach their magnificent potential through transformative, educational and empowering experiences anchored in faith, hope and love. Visit