Deaconess Grants More Than $500,000 for Children’s Advocacy

Awards aim to strengthen systems through 24 unique projects

St. Louis, MO – July 26, 2014 —Deaconess Foundation invested in a wide range of St. Louis-area organizations to achieve better outcomes for children and youth by announcing grants totaling more than half a million dollars to 24 projects and the regional initiative entitled “Ready by 21.”

The foundation’s announcement came at its day-long “Children at the Center” event today at the O’Fallon Park Recreation Complex in north St. Louis. The special event, which is part of the Foundation’s observance of the 125th Anniversary of the Deaconess’ mission, was organized to celebrate children and to highlight ways to improve their lives. The grants, which ranged from $10,000 to $50,000, are investments to improve systems and sustain actions for long-term impact on the health and well-being of children.

“We believe that through collaborative engagement with diverse partners, we can achieve long-term sustainable improvement in the lives of St. Louis’ children,” said Reverend Starsky Wilson, president and CEO. “Our ultimate goal is to align community systems and encourage policies to enhance child well-being.”

Grants went to endeavors such as coordinating learning for school personnel to help identify children in crisis; establishing systems to screen children as early as possible and link them with needed support services; organizing neighborhoods to better coordinate interlocking service organizations; and a host of other efforts.

At the July 26 event, the foundation also announced an investment of more than $100,000 to promote local adoption of the nationally recognized “Ready by 21” program —a collective approach to meeting the needs of youth from cradle to career. The initiative’s goal is alignment and measurement of the work of agencies, funders, business and civic leaders to ensure all young people are prepared for work, college and life.

In addition to support for Ready by 21, grant recipients were: Beyond Housing; Better Family Life; Community Council of St. Charles County; Community Organizing and Family Issues; Epworth Children & Family Services; Family Resource Center; Greater East St. Louis Early Learning Partnership; Legal Services of Eastern Missouri; Let's Start; Lutheran Family and Children's Services of Missouri; Mathews-Dickey Boys' & Girls' Club; Metropolitan Congregations United for St. Louis; Missouri Health Care for All; Peace Economy Project; Scholarship Foundation of St. Louis; St. Louis Graduates; St. Louis Public Schools Foundation; St. Louis Regional Early Childhood Council; The Maidez Center; United for Children; Vision for Children at Risk; Washington University; and Wyman Center.

Hundreds of families and children attended the special event on Saturday for time to meet and greet St. Louis Rams cheerleaders and community leaders. The free open house at the recreation complex featured food, inflatable games, music, face painting, a balloon artist, a reptile show, swimming and an open gym.

Deaconess, established in 1889, is celebrating 125 years of service to the St. Louis area and continues its mission — pursuing health and hope for all St. Louis children. A ministry of the United Church of Christ, Deaconess has invested more than $72 million to improve the health of the St. Louis community since 1998. The Foundation believes healthy, hope-filled futures for children benefit the entire region. Deaconess Foundation invests in endeavors that improve the well-being of children, engages our region around the plight of youth, and advocates for change.

For more information about Deaconess Foundation or its funding opportunities, visit www.deaconess.org. Connect with Deaconess on Twitter @DeaconessFound and Facebook.