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Saint Louis Community Builders Exchange

July 20, 2016


The Public Sector's Role In Community Development

By Stephen Acree, Executive Director and President of Rise Community Development (Rise)

In May, the City of St. Louis Community Development Administration (CDA) solicited comments on its draft funding priorities for the 2017 Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) and Home Investment Partnerships (HOME) programs. The funding priorities will shape Request for Proposals that CDA issues for funding CDBG-eligible activities throughout the City of St. Louis in 2017.

This is a continuation of the revised citizen review and funding application processes initiated by the City with the development of its Five Year (2015-2019) Consolidated Plan. Rise is proud of the role it played as a member of the consulting team that worked with the City on the Consolidated Plan. Through public meetings, focus groups, and surveys, we involved thousands of City residents in the process, far more than the small handful that participated in recent years. As a part of this process, with assistance from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), a group of consultants completed a Market Value Analysis (MVA), or Residential Market Analysis, that established a baseline of information and a way to organize thinking about different residential market types throughout the City.

After years of administering an opaque funding system that allowed little room for competition and made it difficult to fund new or improved programs, CDA and its staff are to be congratulated for negotiating this difficult but important transition period.  I am now concerned, however, that the MVA may be becoming a “catch all” way to designate geographic target areas for various non-housing community development activities in ways that do not make sense.

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
State-Level National Housing Trust Fund Allocation Plan Information Available
Information on state-level allocations of the National Housing Trust Fund (NHTF), a dedicated fund for building and rehabilitating housing for low-income families, is now available online. Information for Missouri, including plan documents and contact details for implementation leaders, can be found here. To read more about the NHTF, click here.

Phase 2 of CRA Ladder of Capacity Building Initiative: Speed Networking for CDCs And Banks
The CRA Ladder of Capacity Building Initiative—a collaboration between Invest STL, CBN, Rise, and Midland States Bank—brings together local financial institutions and community building organizations to develop projects that serve low- and moderate-income communities. Phase 2 of the program was a speed networking event on June 23rd, where participating organizations met to make connections and discuss potential community projects. Click here to see photos and the full story from Rise.

Dutchtown South Community Corporation Receives Matching Grant For Arts-Based Community Development Outreach
Dutchtown South Community Corporation (DSCC) will be launching an arts-based community development outreach effort soon thanks to a matching grant from the Regional Arts Commission. As a part of DSCC's Pocket Park Project, area residents will be invited to participate in an animation project this summer that will imagine a new master plan for Minnie Wood Memorial Square and Laclede Park. To read more about what DSCC is doing to bring the community together, click here.

DeSales Community Housing's Youth Baseball League Helps Reclaim A Neighborhood Park
DeSales Community Housing's K-2 Youth Baseball League has helped reclaim Fox Park for local residents. The league brings together youth from different schools, neighborhoods, and socioeconomic and racial backgrounds and is part of DeSales's broader effort to reactivate Fox Park as a safe public space that neighbors can use for positive activities. Crime in the Fox Park neighborhood has declined significantly in recent years. Click here to watch the full story from KMOV.

Habitat For Humanity St. Louis Receives Indoor AirPLUS Leader Award from EPA
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has named Habitat for Humanity St. Louis (HFHSL) a recipient of an Indoor airPLUS Leader Award in its new Affordable Builder category! The award is a mark of HFHSL's longstanding commitment to improved indoor air quality. The organization provides ongoing education and training on this issue to volunteers who work on HFHSL homes. To read the full story, click here.

St. Louis Aldermen Pass Bill To Allow For Traffic Calming Policy
On July 8th, the St. Louis Board of Aldermen passed Board Bill 88, which will enable the City to address traffic calming issues more effectively. The bill establishes a process for enacting policies that could combat speeding on neighborhood streets, cut-through traffic, and safety concerns for pedestrians and cyclists. To read the full story from Trailnet, click here.

Interactive Maps Detail Changes in Area Rents Since 2012
Last week, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch used Zillow data to publish interactive maps that examine changes in St. Louis area median rents from 2012-2016. Data show that rents in the St. Louis region overall have risen more slowly (by 6.4 percent) in recent years than in other metro areas, but there is wide variability among zip codes and neighborhoods. Readers can view adjustments for inflation by clicking on individual map areas. Click here to take a look.

Better Family Life Beautifies Vacant Buildings
Better Family Life, Inc. caught the attention of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch this month for its Beyond the Walls project, which uses public art to honor community heroes and beautify local neighborhoods. Beyond the Walls has decorated boarded-up doors and windows of area vacant buildings with murals and portraits featuring prominent black politicians, entrepreneurs, and entertainers from St. Louis. The project was featured in a July 13th article from Nonprofit Quarterly that discussed similar public art initiatives in other parts of the country.

North County Incorporated Releases New Marketing Brochure
North County Incorporated (NCI) has created a new marketing piece for, NCI's online resource featuring the North County community's recreational, historical, and entertainment venues. NCI has brochures available electronically (click here to access a PDF) or as hard copies. Anyone interested is invited to request hard copies to share with others or to display at local businesses.

CBN's Gary Newcomer Receives Emerging Leaders Scholarship To Attend 9th Annual NACEDA Summit
Gary Newcomer, CBN's new Community Development Specialist, has been awarded an Emerging Leaders Scholarship to attend this year's NACEDA Summit in Cleveland, Ohio. The award helps cover summit expenses for professionals with less than seven years of experience in the community development field. Gary's background in urban planning and historic real estate development inform his approach to his work and have made him a strong believer in place-based solutions for promoting vibrant and inclusive neighborhoods. Congratulations and welcome, Gary!

Award Winners At This Year's MOWHA Conference
Karl Guenther, Community Development Specialist at CBN, was named the recipient of the 2016 Emerging Leader Award at last week's Missouri Workforce Housing Association (MOWHA) annual conference. Kathy Sorkin, Vice President and Business Development Director at Rosemann & Associates, was honored with this year's MOWHA Vision Award for Lifetime Achievement. Congratulations, Karl and Kathy!


FY2017 Our Town Grant: How To Apply Webinar
The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) will host a webinar today from 2:00-3:00 pm CDT to discuss FY2017 Our Town grant guidelines, how to apply, and the application review process. There will be a Q&A session held during the last half hour of the webinar. For more information and to register, click here.

FY2016 Promise Neighborhoods Competition: Upcoming Webinars
The U.S. Department of Education is hosting a series of webinars between July 20th and July 28th to discuss the application process for FY2016 Promise Neighborhoods Competition grants. All webinars will be held at 1:00 pm CDT. For a full list of dates and details, click here.

Philanthropic Landscape 2016: The Future of Fundraising
The Rome Group will hold its annual Philanthropic Landscape event on Friday, August 5th from 7:30-10:30 am. This year's keynote speaker is Dr. Una Osili, director of Research for the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy. Dr. Osili will discuss fundraising trends, including new funding mechanisms and changes in family giving patterns and high net worth philanthropy. To register, click here.

2016 Reclaiming Vacant Properties Conference
Registration is open for the Center for Community Progress's seventh national Reclaiming Vacant Properties Conference (RVP), to be held September 28th-30th in Baltimore, Maryland. This year's theme is "In Service of People and Place." Conference attendees will explore strategies for reclaiming vacant properties and strengthening neighborhoods facing vacancy, abandonment, and disinvestment. For more information, click here.


Fall Leadership Programs from FOCUS St. Louis
FOCUS St. Louis is recruiting for two civic leadership programs this fall: Coro Women in Leadership (WIL) and Emerging Leaders. Both programs offer an opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of the St. Louis region, refine personal and professional leadership skills, and expand your network. Coro WIL nominations are due July 22nd, and Emerging Leaders applications are due August 8th. Click here for details.

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.

Planning for Successful And Equitable Revitalization From Smart Growth America
Smart Growth America has added to its existing technical assistance training opportunities a new program, Planning for Successful and Equitable Revitalization. The training aims to help communities revitalize successfully and capture revitalization benefits for families of all income levels and small businesses. The program's pilot round will fund revitalization initiatives in three cities in the Eastern U.S. Click here to learn more about how a Smart Growth America workshop could be useful for your organization.

Cost-Free Business Education for St. Louis Business Owners
Business education program Inner City Capital Connections (ICCC) is accepting applications from growth-oriented businesses that have a presence in urban or economically underserved areas. Participating business owners will receive business education, marketing assistance, one-on-one coaching, and an opportunity to attend a day-long business education conference this fall. The program is being offered free of cost to participants thanks to the financial support of Regions Bank and the St. Louis Regional Chamber. For more information, click here.


June 9 - July 21
Grace Hill Whitaker Urban Evening Concert Series

August 6
Beyond Housing Beyond The Backpack Event

August 6
North by Old North Music Festival

August 20
2016 Rise Up Festival

August 27 - 28
International Institute's Festival of Nations



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 a map that looks at walking and biking commuters 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.

2017 CDBG Funding Request for Proposals Open Through August 5th
The City of St. Louis is accepting proposals for 2017 CDBG funding through August 5th. Detailed information, including a funding timeline, funding priorities, a list of references and resources, and RFP frequently asked questions are all available on the Community Development Administration (CDA) website.

U.S. Department of Education FY2016 Promise Neighborhoods Competition
The U.S. Department of Education opened the FY2016 Promise Neighborhoods (PN) Competition for implementation and planning grants earlier this month. The PN program provides funding to eligible organizations to pursue initiatives that are aligned with the PN vision: to improve educational and developmental outcomes for youth in distressed areas, and to transform communities as a part of the process. Notices of intent to apply are due August 11th, and grant applications are due September 6th. 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. Grants will fund four main program categories: Sustainable Transportation Networks & Equitable Development Patterns, Energy Efficiency in the Built Environment, 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.

Our Town Grant Program for Creative Placemaking
The Our Town grant program from the National Endowment for the Arts supports creative placemaking projects, initiatives that are designed to create more vibrant, livable communities by uniting art and culture with community development and revitalization. The grant requires partnerships between arts organizations and government, nonprofits, and private organizations. The deadline to apply is September 12th. For more information, click here.

EPA Brownfields Area-Wide Planning Grants
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will distribute approximately 20 grants of up to $200,000 each to organizations that want to develop an area-wide plan to assess, clean up, and reuse a designated brownfield area. Projects should involve research and/or technical assistance that is targeted to a specific area. The deadline to submit a proposal is August 10th. Click here for more information.

Ben & Jerry's Foundation Grants 
The Ben & Jerry's 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. Pre-proposals will be accepted from August 1st through October 14th. For more information, click here.

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.
Intern for City of Maplewood
The City of Maplewood is looking for a candidate to fill an internship position from mid-August of 2016 through May of 2017. The intern will work with Ms. Rachelle L'Ecuyer, Community Development Director for the City of Maplewood, and will assist with projects related to economic development initiatives, Maplewood's Special Business District, event development and planning, public relations, social media, marketing, and advertising. Interested applicants should contact Ms. L'Ecuyer via email at

Forest Park Forever: Executive Administrative Assistant
Forest Park Forever is seeking an Executive Administrative Assistant to support their Senior Leadership Team. Qualified applicants will be energetic and detail-oriented with strong administrative and leadership skills. Click here for more information.

Rise Up Festival Needs Volunteers
The Rise Up Festival, Rise's annual one day street festival that celebrates revitalization in St. Louis, is one month from today! Rise has extended the festival time and space this year and needs extra volunteers. If you're interested in volunteering, click here to sign up. Those able to help spread the word about the festival by distributing posters and handbills at events and in store fronts should click the "street team" box on the signup page. And don't forget to save the date for the Rise Up Festival on Saturday, August 20th!

Summer Volunteer Opportunities at Grace Hill
Grace Hill is seeking volunteers to help with a range of projects and initiatives this summer, including work focused on beautification, Head Start, senior services, community events, and Grace Hill's Women's Business Center. Click here for more detailed information. Interested volunteers should fill out Grace Hill's volunteer application here and return it to the volunteer office.
Research on Sprawl and Walkability from The George Washington University School of Business
A new report from Christopher Leinberger and Michael Rodriguez at the George Washington University School of Business uses data from walkable urban places (WalkUPs) to examine links between metro area walkability and other community characteristics. The study finds that more walkable urban areas also tend to be more affluent, more highly educated, and more socially equitable. Of the 30 largest metro areas in the U.S., St. Louis ranks 15th for its levels of walkable urbanism and social equity. In other words, it displays "lower-middle walkable urbanism." To read the full report summary from CityLab, click here.
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