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Saint Louis Community Builders Exchange

October 12, 2016


Crystallizing A Multi-Faceted Approach to Community Development

By Sylvester Brown, Jr., Founder and Executive Director of the Sweet Potato Project

This column was originally published on the author's blog.

On Friday, September 9th, I was awarded the 2016 MLK Legacy Award for "Outstanding Service in the Community." About four other individuals were also honored during Beloved Streets of America's first annual MLK Legacy Dinner. It's always nice to be recognized for trying to do something positive, but for me, the true reward was the event itself and the realization that I am a part of a game-changing group with unrecognized potential.

I have to be honest: I've been besieged with doubt about the Sweet Potato Project (SPP). Our mission is basic but powerful. For the past five years, we’ve been working with at-risk teens to show them how to become self-sufficient and make money in their own neighborhoods. Students plant produce on vacant lots, and after harvesting they turn produce into products.

Simple, right?

To read more of this week's op-ed, click here.

We invite readers to contribute to the civic conversation about community development in St. Louis by writing an op-ed for the Community Builders Exchange. Op-eds should be short (400-700 words) and provocative. If you have an idea for an op-ed, contact Todd Swanstrom at
St. Louis Selected as A Finalist in HUD's FY2016 Choice Neighborhoods Implementation Grants Competition
St. Louis has been chosen as one of five finalists nationwide for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's (HUD) Choice Neighborhoods Implementation Grants Competition. The program seeks to fund initiatives that will transform public and/or HUD-assisted housing and the surrounding neighborhood. The next step in the selection process involves a site visit later this month. Click here for the full announcement.

Fact Sheets from The ACTION Campaign Review State-By-State Impact of The Housing Credit
The A Call To Invest in Our Neighborhoods (ACTION) Campaign has released a set of fact sheets that detail the state and district-level impact of the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit on affordable housing, jobs, and other local economic benefits. Data show that between 1986 and 2014, the Housing Credit has helped preserve or develop almost 70,000 homes and provided over 160,000 low-income households with affordable places to live. Click here for a project overview and here to download fact sheets for Missouri.

Stronger Economic Conditions Reported For the St. Louis Region
The Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis recounted a growing job market and increased home and car purchases in its latest quarterly Burgundy Book report on the St. Louis Zone, which encompasses Eastern Missouri and Southern Illinois. A separate government report released last month noted a 2 percent increase in all nonfarm jobs in the St. Louis MSA between August 2015 and August 2016. Click here for a summary of the reports from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

St. Louis Area 2014-2015 Increase In foreign-Born Residents Highest Among U.S. Top 20 Metro Areas
According to the American Community Survey, the St. Louis area foreign-born population grew by about 9 percent between 2014 and 2015, the greatest percentage increase of any top 20 U.S. metro area. Although immigrants comprise less than 5 percent of the St. Louis area's residents, without them, the region's population would have declined in 2015. The Mosaic Project is working to encourage and promote a growing immigrant population in St. Louis. Click here to read the full story.

University Square Celebrates Phase I Completion of Natural Bridge Great Streets Project
University Square held its first annual Fountain Festival on September 24th to celebrate the completion of phase I of the Natural Bridge Great Streets Project. The project, which has been in progress since 2006, has improved access to alternate transportation options like walking, cycling, and mass transit and enhanced the environment along Natural Bridge Road. The Fountain Festival featured music, food, and family activities with fountain displays throughout the day. The fountain is historic to the St. Louis area and has been relocated to Natural Bridge Road Fountain Plaza. Read more here.

New Park For Wellston Neighbors And Families
A partnership between Great Rivers Greenway, the National Recreation and Park Association, Beyond Housing, and the City of Wellston has transformed a once-vacant lot on the corner of Skinker and Etzel into a community park. Trojan Park celebrated its grand opening on October 8th with free food, performances, and family activities. The park features a playground, splash plaza, butterfly gardens, and a full-length basketball court. Residents and officials are excited about the park and hope it will serve as a "positive place where positive people come." Click here to read more.

City of St. Louis 2017 Annual Action Plan Available for Review
A draft of the City of St. Louis 2017 Annual Action Plan will be available for citizen review beginning at 12:00 pm tomorrow, October 13th. Interested residents can access the plan at the Central Branch of the St. Louis Public Library, at the Community Development Administration office at 1520 Market Street, or on the City of St. Louis website. The City is holding a public hearing to discuss the plan at 5:00 pm on October 27th and will accept written comments through November 13th. Click here for more information.

Public Hearings Scheduled For Input On St. Louis County FY 2017 Annual Action Plan
St. Louis County will hold public hearings on October 20th, November 2nd, and November 3rd to solicit input on proposed activities for its FY 2017 Annual Action Plan. The Plan must be submitted to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to receive funding for the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG), HOME Investment Partnership (HOME), and Emergency Solutions Grant (ESG) programs. Click here for more information.

HUD Accepting Comments on Proposed Fair Housing Assessment Tool
HUD will accept comments through October 28th on its proposed Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing Assessment Tool for States and Insular Areas, which is intended for use by states and insular areas that receive Community Development Block Grants, HOME Investment Partnership Program funding, Emergency Solutions Grants, or Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS formula funding from HUD. Click here for details.

How Do Affordable Housing Issues Figure Into the National Election?
A recent article from Nonprofit Quarterly examined affordable housing issues in the context of November's elections, noting that although comments from presidential candidates Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton during their first debate highlight the problematic "fuzziness" of housing concerns (per a post-debate analysis from Next City), housing affordability has been a rising concern among voters this year. The article touches on three recent Congressional hearings that might indicate an increasing national-level interest in housing policy. Click here to read more.


What's Brewing? Opportunity Neighborhood Series: Pagedale
Creating Whole Communities will host the first seminar in its What's Brewing? Opportunity Neighborhood Series tomorrow, October 13th from 7:30-9:00 am at Rosie Shields Manor in Pagedale. This series explores the gaps between communities and the opportunities they represent. Speakers and panelists include representatives of UMSL, Beyond Housing, and University City. Click here to register.

2016 MEDC Fall Conference
The Missouri Economic Development Council (MEDC) is hosting its fall conference October 26th-28th in Columbia, Missouri. The event includes two days of presentations and discussions on a variety of topics related to economic and community development. There will be opportunities to network and talk with other practitioners throughout the conference. Discounted pre-registration ends today, October 12th. Click here to view a conference flyer and schedule and here to register.

Capacity Builders Conference
The St. Louis Promise Zone is hosting the Capacity Builders Conference in partnership with the Missouri Department of Economic Development on October 20th and 21st. This opportunity is designed for nonprofits located in and/or serving the Promise Zone. The conference will provide attendees with tools to grow their organizations and secure sustainable resources. Click here to learn more and register.

Vacant Property Summit
Legal Services of Eastern Missouri, SLU School of Law Legal Clinics, SLACO, and Thompson Coburn LLP are sponsoring a Vacant Property Summit on Thursday, October 20th from 8:00 am-1:45 pm. The seminar will discuss legal tools for generating renewal of privately-owned vacant properties, with a special focus on a case study that shows how lawyers, neighborhoods, and other partners can work together strategically. Click here for details and to register.

Network for Strong Communities Momentum Conference
The Network for Strong Communities is hosting the first-ever Momentum Conference October 17th-18th in Westport. This multi-state event features presentations, breakout sessions, and networking opportunities that aim to help nonprofits, funders, volunteers, and community leaders and stakeholders build their capacity for collaboration and community work. Click here for more information.

SLACO Regional Neighborhood Conference
The 21st annual Regional Neighborhoods Conference from the St. Louis Association of Community Organizations (SLACO) is scheduled for Saturday, October 29th at Harris-Stowe State University. This year's conference theme is "Neighborhoods for Everyone" and will explore topics related to social and environmental justice, multigenerational and sustainable communities, and neighborhood health and safety. Click here to learn more and here to register.

How Housing Matters Conference
The National Housing Conference, the Urban Institute, HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research, and the ULI Terwilliger Center for Housing are hosting the How Housing Matters Conference on December 13th in Washington, D.C. The conference seeks to discuss how housing can help promote positive health, education, and economic opportunity outcomes and invites practitioners from different sectors to participate. For more information, click here.


Hot Legal Topics for HR Professionals in Nonprofit Organizations
Tomorrow, October 13th, UMSL's Nonprofit Management and Leadership Program is hosting a class on emerging legal "hot topics" in human resources, including discrimination claims, social media in hiring and firing, and issues with employee classification. Attendees will learn how to comply with legal requirements and avoid liability for their organizations. Click here to register.

Alive and Well STL: How To Champion Trauma-Informed Schools
On October 25th, Alive and Well STL will host its first quarterly event for the Trauma-Informed Schools Learning Collaborative. This interactive session will discuss the importance of "telling the story for change." Attendees will have an opportunity to craft their own stories and practice communicating them effectively to stakeholders. The program is free and all are welcome. Click here to register.

Workshop from Rise on Youth Engagement and Empowerment for Improved Community Outcomes
Rise Community Development (Rise), in collaboration with the United Way and East Side Aligned, is presenting a workshop focused on youth voice and leadership on October 28th. The session will discuss the importance of engaging youth in community improvement efforts and opportunities to elevate youth as active community stakeholders. Click here for more information and to RSVP.

Chancellor's Certificate in Planning and Zoning from UMSL
Registration is open for UMSL's 2016 Chancellor's Certificate in Planning and Zoning courses, which run on Wednesday evenings from October 19th through December 7th. Modules are taught by senior planning professionals and cover planning practices, processes, and topics that are central to local government success. Click here for more information and here to register. 

Asset Management Training from the Brown School of Social Work, NeighborWorks America
This three-course certificate program, Affordable Housing and Mixed Income Community Management, prepares professionals with key skills and knowledge to successfully manage property and services, maximize performance, and strategize sustainable growth. Courses can be taken as stand-alone opportunities or in pursuit of NeighborWorks America's "Asset Management Specialist" designation. Click here for details.


October 14
Delmar Station Placemaking Transit Stop Walk Audit

October 15
Fox Park Neighborhood Fall Festival

October 15
Central West End Pour & Pair Event

October 25
Cornerstone Corporation Information Party

October 27
2017 CDBG and HOME Funds Public Hearing



The Community Builders Exchange would like to highlight a map relevant to community development in each issue. Please let us know if you have a map that would be of interest to our readers.

This week, we are sharing maps that look at homeowners, renters, and residential longevity in the St. Louis region. To view this week's map, click here. To view maps from previous editions of the Community Builders Exchange, click here


The St. Louis Community Builders Exchange is put out by the Community Builders Network of Metro St. Louis, with the support of the Des Lee Collaborative Vision at UMSL, to bring you quality up-to-date community development information, analysis, and opinion.

Rise 2017 CDC Capacity Building and Collaborative Grant program
Rise Community Development (Rise) is underway with its 2017 CDC Capacity Building and Collaborative Grant Program application funding cycle. On October 14th, Rise will hold a grant workshop for St. Louis area community development corporations (CDCs) that serve St. Louis County, the City of St. Louis, and/or Madison or St. Clair Counties in Illinois and are seeking to apply for a 2017 Rise Collaborative Grant. It is not required but strongly encouraged that eligible CDCs from these jurisdictions attend the workshop. Click here for more information.

Ben & Jerry's Foundation Grants 
Pre-applications are due this Friday, October 14th for the Ben & Jerry's Foundation Grassroots Organizing for Social Change program. The Foundation is seeking organizations to apply for year-long grants of up to $25,000. Applicants should be community-organizing groups that are working to address issues related to social and environmental justice, including sustainable and just food systems. For more information, click here.

Community Progress Technical Assistance Scholarship Program
The Technical Assistance Scholarship Program from Community Progress provides progressive technical assistance to communities aiming to assess, reform, develop, and/or implement systems to address large-scale vacancy and abandonment. Five finalists will be selected for on-the-ground assessments to gauge project potential; three of these will receive up to 400 hours of reduced-rate technical assistance from national experts. Applications are due November 17th. Click here to read more.

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Culture of Health Prize
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's Culture of Health Prize awards up to $25,000 to local communities in recognition of outstanding efforts to prioritize community health and well-being. The Prize seeks to celebrate success stories that involve entire communities and "define health in the broadest possible terms." Applicants should note that this award is for work that has already been accomplished. Phase I applications are due November 3rd. Click here for more information.

Lodestar Foundation 2017 Collaboration Prize
The Lodestar Foundation is accepting applications for its 2017 Collaboration Prize from October 3rd through November 16th. The award seeks to recognize effective, impactful examples of permanent collaboration among nonprofit organizations, community foundations, government entities, and/or public agencies in response to challenges or opportunities. One grand prize winner will receive $150,000, with $10,000 awarded to eight finalists. Click here for more information.

Surdna Foundation Grants For Urban Infrastructure
The Surdna Foundation's Sustainable Environments Program invites Letters of Inquiry (LOIs) from nonprofit organizations working to improve or overhaul outdated, overburdened urban infrastructure. Grant applications are currently being accepted to fund three main program categories: Sustainable Transportation Networks & Equitable Development Patterns, Urban Water Management, and Regional Food Supply. Favorable proposals will foster collaboration, focus on underserved communities, and/or encourage long-term investments and solutions. Click here for more information.

Sam's Club Community Grant Program
The Walmart Foundation's Community Grant Program is accepting applications for grants ranging from $250 to $2,500. Applicants should operate within the service area of a Walmart, Sam's Club, or other Walmart facility. Applications will be accepted through December 31st. For more information, click here.
Habitat For Humanity: Real Estate Development Manager
Habitat for Humanity is looking for a Real Estate Development Manager to coordinate tasks and responsibilities related to planning and implementing the organization's build projects and programs. This role encompasses work related to site development, finance and administration, property inventory, and community outreach. Click here for more information.

Habitat For Humanity: ReStore Associate
Habitat for Humanity is seeking a ReStore Associate to operate a 16-foot box truck for the purpose of donation procurement. This role is also responsible for operations in the ReStore, donation processing, customer service, and retail floor stocking. Click here to learn more.

Beyond Housing: School District Wellness Coordinator
Beyond Housing is seeking a School District Wellness Coordinator. This role provides strategic leadership to improve the healthy eating and physical activity environments of K-8 buildings in the Normandy Schools Collaborative. The Wellness Coordinator is responsible for managing district efforts to strengthen, support, and align their wellness policies with best practices and bring those policies to life. Click here for a full job description.

Positions Available at Beyond Housing/24:1 Construction Company, L.L.C.
Beyond Housing is looking for a Painter and a Finish Carpenter to join the 24:1 Construction Company, L.L.C. team. Both positions are responsible for managing work on the interior and exterior of structures, buildings, and other surfaces. Click the links above to learn more about each role. To visit Beyond Housing's Careers page, click here.

City of Ferguson: Director of Finance
The City of Ferguson is looking for a Director of Finance to plan and direct the City's financial operations. Applicants should have demonstrated experience in participatory and collaborative budgeting, revenue and expenditure forecasting, and technologically progressive approaches to customer service programs like bill payment. Click here for more information.

White House Releases Housing Development Toolkit
Last month, the White House released a Housing Development Toolkit that explores local barriers to housing development, including land use and zoning restrictions, preservation and conversion regulations, off-street parking requirements, and slow permit processes. The report argues that these issues stifle housing supply, compromise housing affordability, and negatively impact the environment and local economies. It urges cities and states to modernize local practices and outlines examples of state and local efforts to "
promote healthy, responsive, and high-opportunity housing markets." Click here for a summary from Enterprise and here to access the toolkit.
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