Deaconess Puts “Children at the Center” of Conversation

Festival includes advocacy forum, parent organizing,
grants and service fair

July 16, 2014 —Deaconess Foundation is sponsoring a day-long special event on July 26th at the YMCA O’Fallon Park Recreation Complex in north St. Louis. The special event, entitled “Children at the Center,” will include a child advocacy forum, parent organizing training, and recreational activities throughout the day for children and families. In addition, Deaconess Foundation will announce funding for endeavors aimed at aligning community systems and policies to enhance child well-being.

“We’re going to celebrate our children and shine a light on ways to improve their lives,” said Rev. Starsky Wilson, president and CEO of Deaconess Foundation. “The event is structured to create conversation about policies impacting children, empower parents with tools to get involved and let kids be kids having fun.”

The festival, which celebrates the 125th Anniversary of the Deaconess’ mission, will commence at 9:00 am with a children’s advocacy forum, featuring a panel discussing college access, child development accounts, youth violence, and aging out of foster care. Policy makers who will join youth and parents in the conversation include: St. Louis City Treasurer Tishaura Jones, State Representative Michael Butler, Deputy School Superintendent Phillip Boyd and former legislator Emmy McClelland. After the forum, 25 children’s service providers will host booths sharing information about their programs.  The afternoon will include organizing training for parents led by Metropolitan Congregations United and United Congregations of Metro-East.

In the forum, Deaconess will announce more than $500,000 in investments as part of its Community Capacity Building Program.  These innovative grants fund advocacy by non-profits, community mobilization and collective impact efforts that lead to better outcomes for children and youth. The foundation’s goal is to increase the community’s capacity to serve children and give families a stronger voice in policy decisions.

As part of its community capacity effort, Deaconess will share an update on its support for “Ready by 21,” a nationally-recognized collective approach to meeting the needs of youth from cradle to career. The program’s goal is to improve life outcomes for children of the region – at scale – by aligning and measuring the work of agencies, funders, business and civic leaders to assure that all young people will be ready for work, college and life.

Children and families are invited to join the St. Louis Rams cheerleaders and community leaders for an open house at the recreation complex featuring inflatable games, music, face painting, a balloon artist, a reptile show, swimming and open gym. All activities are free and open to the public.

Deaconess Foundation’s “Children at the Center”, July 26, 2014.

YMCA O'Fallon Park Recreation Complex, 4343 W. Florissant Ave., St. Louis.

  • 9 a.m., Advocacy Forum; funding announcements.

  • 11 a.m., Family Entertainment; Children’s Service Fair

  • 12:30 p.m., Parent organizing sessions.

For more information, click here.

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