St. Louis Region Unites for Our Youth

United Way of Greater St. Louis will Serve as Backbone

Ready by 21 St. Louis, a collaborative effort to ensure that young people in our region have the supports they need to be productive, connected, healthy and safe, has chosen United Way of Greater St. Louis to serve as the initiative’s backbone organization.

“United Way is honored to be selected to serve as the backbone organization for the St. Louis region’s collective impact effort to improve outcomes for children and youth,” said Steve Maritz, United Way of Greater St. Louis board chair. “We understand that for this collective vision to succeed, we must work together to provide organizational support, servant leadership, and cross-sector partnership to meet the needs of youth from cradle to career. United Way understands that it will take a collaborative effort to achieve our community’s vision and we are committed to playing this critical supporting role.”

A Ready by 21 study commissioned in 2013 by a group of St. Louis funders who care about children show that the region is ready to initiate a collective impact approach to services for our youth. A collective impact approach aligns community efforts, services, and funding around a comprehensive “cradle to career” approach in services for children and youth.

“This signifies a real opportunity for change,” said Rev. Starsky Wilson, member of the Ready by 21 St. Louis Leadership Council. “The identification of United Way as a backbone organization, which will support the initiative through facilitation of efforts, technology, communication, and data reporting, is a big step towards empowering collective impact. By bridging the efforts across East St. Louis, St. Louis City, St. Louis County, and St. Charles County, we will have a broader impact with long-term sustainability and United Way is well positioned to serve as the supporting backbone,” said Rev. Wilson. Deaconess Foundation, led by Wilson, has invested in the Ready by 21 Initiatives of both St. Louis City/County/St. Charles County and East St. Louis.  

Now that the backbone organization has been identified, the leadership and work groups will begin creating a Youth Master Plan that engages the community and aligns existing community efforts towards a bold set of strategies on behalf of children. 

More than 30 community, nonprofit, and civic leaders participated in the process to select a backbone organization for the Ready by 21 St. Louis Initiative. The United Way was chosen because of their depth of resources and community leadership. 

Deaconess, established in 1889, celebrates 125 years of service to the St. Louis region and continues its mission pursuing health and hope for all St. Louis children. A ministry of the United Church of Christ, the foundation 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, visit Connect with Deaconess on Twitter @DeaconessFound and Facebook.