Deaconess partners with Churches to improve Childhood Literacy

Awards bolster national social justice initiative

St. Louis, MO – September 8, 2014 In conjunction with International Literacy Day on September 8, Deaconess Foundation announced commitments totaling more than $21,000 to 19 St. Louis-area United Church of Christ congregations in support of literacy work in their neighborhoods.

The grants align with the United Church of Christ Justice and Witness Ministries’ Reading Changes Lives initiative focusing on children’s literacy. The denomination acknowledges that literacy is a critical component to improving the lives of children living in poverty. The grants, which ranged from $300 to $1,500, are investments to connect the efforts of the national setting, headquartered in Cleveland, with congregations in the St. Louis metropolitan area.

“Deaconess recognizes research making a straight-line connection between third grade reading scores, high levels of poverty and mass incarceration,” said Reverend Starsky Wilson, president and CEO. “Literacy for children is a matter of social justice because it impacts the degree of freedom and fullness of life our children will enjoy.”

Grants went to ventures such as creating congregational lending libraries, reading rooms, tutoring programs, and after-school enrichment activities. The following congregations received grants: 

Bethel UCC, Cahokia, IL;

Calvary UCC, St. Louis, MO;

Christ the King UCC, St. Louis, MO;

Eden UCC, St. Louis, MO;

Epiphany UCC, St. Louis, MO;

Glory to Glory UCC; St. Louis, MO;

Good Shepherd of Faith UCC, East St. Louis, IL;

Grace UCC, St. Louis, MO;

Immanuel UCC, Edwardsville, IL;

Pilgrim Congregational UCC, St. Louis, MO;

Salem UCC, Alhambra, IL;

St. John UCC, Fairview Heights, IL;

St. John UCC, Granite City, IL;

St. John’s UCC, St. Louis, MO;

St. Lucas UCC, St. Louis, MO;

St. Paul UCC, Lebanon, IL;

St. Peter’s UCC, Ferguson, MO;

St. Peter’s UCC, Washington, MO;


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 Connect with Deaconess on Twitter @DeaconessFound and Facebook.