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Saint Louis Community Builders Exchange

August 3, 2016


Augmented Reality And The Future of Community Development

By Gary Newcomer, Community Development Specialist at Community Builders Network of Metro St. Louis

I spent Friday night playing Pokémon GO. I admit it. In fact, I downloaded the iPhone app on the first day it hit the market. But before you relegate the game or my op-ed to Millennial hogwash, consider that Pokémon GO has strong implications for the future of community development.

I intend to convert the nonbelievers, but first let me take a moment to initiate those unfamiliar with the game.

Pokémon GO works by scattering Pokémon monsters, Pokéstops, and Gyms across a street map not too different from what you find on Google. By commanding your smart phone's GPS and pedometer, the game requires users to get out of the house and explore the neighborhood. Pokémon are all over (I caught a Rattata on a man's lap outside of Cafe Mochi), but the Pokéstops and Gyms are actual landmarks. These range from churches to statues to that Chinese restaurant you've been meaning to try. My roommate and I took to the streets of Tower Grove South to test it out. We meandered up South Grand, holding our iPhones at arm's length and attracting dozens of stares. What we discovered immediately, besides hordes of digital Pokémon bouncing across the sidewalk, was how much the game encourages social interactions.

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
Housing Policies in the Republican And Democratic Party Platforms
Both the Republican and Democratic 2016 policy platforms were formally adopted this month, and both discuss housing issues. The Republican platform calls for less government involvement in housing finance and criticizes federal fair housing and fair lending laws (pages 3-4). The Democratic platform calls for increased funding for the National Housing Trust Fund and rental assistance programs, increased support to first-time home buyers, and expanded access to housing counseling (pages 5-6).

Senate Unanimously Passes Housing Opportunity Through Modernization Act
The Senate unanimously passed the Housing Opportunity Through Modernization Act last month, a bill that reforms several rental assistance programs and allows housing agencies to use limited resources more effectively. Changes will enable broader use of project-based vouchers, make the voucher inspection process more efficient, increase access to the Family Unification Program to help youth at risk of homelessness, and allow more flexible use of of public housing funds at the agency level. To read the full recap from Enterprise, click here.

Make Room Campaign Advocates For Affordable Rental Housing
Enterprise Community Partners, the MacArthur Foundation, the Ford Foundation, and CohnReznick have partnered to launch the Make Room Campaign, which aims to elevate affordable rental housing on the policy agendas of national leaders and give a voice to struggling renters. The Make Room website features rental trend data, news, and video stories about American families who are struggling to pay their rent. Click here to learn more.

New Report Reveals Municipal Court Issues Throughout Missouri
Missouri State Auditor Nicole Galloway has released a report that reveals problems with municipal court practices throughout the state. Primary issues are related to missing funds, accounting controls and financial oversight, municipal division procedures, inadequate vehicle stop data documentation, and monitoring excess revenue. To read the full report, click here.

St. Louis City Police Buy An Ice Cream Truck
The St. Louis City Metropolitan Police Department has received a donation-funded ice cream truck for their new community policing program, Operation Polar Cops. The program will distribute free ice cream treats to local youth in community spaces like parks, recreation centers, schools, and churches. Operation Polar Cops, which was inspired by Boston's Operation Hoodsie Cup, is part of an effort to build more positive relationships between police and community residents. To read more, click here.

New North City Business Center To Open In Crown Square
A new business center for North City residents, families, and non-profit organizations is set to open next month at 2700 N. 14th Street, across from Prosperity Connection in Crown Square. The center will offer a range of services, including financial education and planning, small business training, mentorship opportunities, micro-lending, and low-cost banking options. A variety of organizations have partnered to make the center possible: Equifax, Old North St. Louis Restoration Group, Rise, the Small Business Development Center, Veterans Business Resource Center, Magdalene House, and LinkSTL. Click here to read the full story.

New Map Reveals Wide Variation in Life Expectancy Among St. Louis neighborhoods
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Virginia Commonwealth University’s Center on Society and Health has released a new map that shows a baby's life expectancy in the St. Louis region varies widely by birth neighborhood. Average life expectancy southeast of Ferguson in census tract 2121.01 is just 69 years. Eleven miles away in tract 2109.27, west of Old Jamestown, life expectancy is 12 years higher (81 years). Many factors influence neighborhood-level health, including education and income, the quality of housing available, opportunities to exercise, access to medical care, and residential segregation. Click here to take a look.

Debate Over Potential Expansions To The St. Louis MetroLink Continues
Four possible routes are being considered for a potential expansion to the St. Louis area MetroLink light rail system. East-West Gateway Council of Governments has put out a request for qualifications for planning studies that will evaluate all four routes, possibly starting this fall. The final decision will ultimately be made by board of directors from rural and urban communities with a range of differing priorities. Planners evaluating the routes will need to weigh opportunities for future investment, development projects, and projected ridership. Click here to read more. 

Upgrades Underway for The Sheldon And The Fox Theatre
Construction will start soon on planned updates for The Sheldon and The Fox in Grand Center. By November of this year, the west side of The Sheldon will feature a new plaza, pedestrian walkway, and renovated parking lot—all of which will serve to highlight The Sheldon's artwork and events and connect the building with other cultural institutions in Grand Center. Next to The Fox Theatre, a new five-level parking garage with space for 603 vehicles and 20 bicycles is being built, with completion planned for April 2017. Click here to read more.

Pulitzer Arts Foundation Exhibit Explores What Home And Vacancy Mean In St. Louis
The Pulitzer Arts Foundation has commissioned German architecture firm raumlaborberlin to reconstruct the interior of a Lewis Place neighborhood home initially slated for demolition. The house, originally located at 4562 Enright Avenue, has been rebuilt inside the main gallery of the Pulitzer building in Grand Center. The exhibit explores "the house's historical past, tenuous present, and speculative future" and calls attention to the dramatic residential decline that the City of St. Louis—and its urban landscape—have experienced since the 1950s. 4562 Enright Avenue will remain open through October 15th. Click here for more information and a viewing schedule.

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.


Balancing Priorities in State Low-Income Housing Tax Credit Policies
The Enterprise Policy Development & Research Team is hosting a free webinar at 1:00 pm today, August 3rd, to review a new analysis of state Qualified Allocation Plans. The webinar will discuss striking a balance between cost-effectiveness and strategies that ensure affordable housing improves the lives of low-income people. To register, click here.

Philanthropic Landscape 2016: The Future of Fundraising
The Rome Group will hold its annual Philanthropic Landscape event this 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.

Introduction to HUD/FHA Commercial Financing from ULI Young Leaders Group
On August 9th, the Young Leaders Group of the Urban Land Institute St. Louis will host a seminar from 5:00-7:00 pm on U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and Federal Housing Administration (FHA) commercial lending. The session will cover a variety of introductory topics, including eligible real estate and apartment complexes, qualifications and loan terms, and underwriting criteria. Click here to register. 

NACEDA Symposium: Community Development & The Social Determinants Of Health
On August 30th, NACEDA will host a symposium on community development and the social determinants of health in Cleveland, Ohio. The symposium will facilitate discussions on how community development practitioners and health professionals can work together to create healthier communities. Click here for more information and here to register.

University of Missouri Extension Community Development Academy
The University of Missouri Extension's Community Development Academy builds the capacity of community-focused organizations through intensive, experiential training courses that help participants learn how to work collaboratively on community issues. This fall's Community Development Academy will be held September 26th-30th in Excelsior Springs, Missouri. For more information and 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, 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.


Landlord Training: Leases and Leasing Practices
Each month, Tower Grove Neighborhoods CDC hosts a free Landlord Training workshop for all city landlords, investors, and other interested parties. On August 9th, the training session will discuss leases and leasing practices. The workshop will be held at the Missouri Botanical Garden (4344 Shaw Avenue) from 6:30-8:30 pm. For more information, click here.

FOCUS St. Louis Emerging Leaders Program
FOCUS St. Louis is recruiting for its fall Emerging Leaders civic leadership program. Emerging Leaders offers an opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of the St. Louis region, refine personal and professional leadership skills, and expand your network. Applications are due August 8th. Click here for details.

Nonprofit Financial Oversight Basics
In this workshop, CPA managers from RubinBrown LLC's nonprofit division will discuss financial oversight best practices for nonprofit organizations. This program is co-sponsored by UMSL's Nonprofit Management and Leadership Program and will be held at the Central Library on Tuesday, August 23rd from 3:00-5:00 pm. Click here for more information.

Small Business Workshop from SLU
On Thursday, August 25th, SLU's Law Entrepreneurship and Community Development Clinic will host its second of four Small Business Workshops for area business owners. The workshop covers both business and legal topics and includes an opportunity for attendees to connect with small business resource providers. The workshop is free, but registration is required; click 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.

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.


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

September 16
North City Business Development Center Grand Opening



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 home loans 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 last 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.

Lowe's Community Partners Grants
The Lowe's Community Partners Grant Program 2016 Fall Funding Cycle is open through August 26th. Municipalities and nonprofit organizations that require funding for high-need projects—including building and technology upgrades and safety improvements—are invited to apply for grants of up to $100,000. Click here for more information and here to apply.

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.
Regional Community Development Specialist
The University of Missouri-Extension is seeking a Regional Community Development Specialist to serve primarily urban regions in St. Louis City and County. This regional specialist role will develop, deliver, and evaluate educational programs that help improve lives, strengthen the economy, and build strong communities. The position will also serve as Director of the Neighborhood Leadership Academy and a Creating Whole Communities team member. Click here for the full job description and here to apply.

Promise Zone Support Assistant Internship
The St. Louis Economic Development Partnership is seeking candidates for an unpaid internship position for the fall 2016 semester. The Promise Zone Support Assistant will assist the Promise Zone director with communications, data, and community engagement work. This role provides an opportunity to gain hands-on experience in community development while furthering the goals of the St. Louis Promise Zone. For more information, click here.

Weatherization Auditor
The Community Action Agency of St. Louis County (CAASTL) Housing is seeking a Weatherization Auditor. Applicants should be familiar with house building performance analysis and building science, have good communication and analytical skills, and have a clear driving record. For more information, click here.

Part-Time Lending Administration Coordinator
Beyond Housing is looking for a part-time, grant-funded Lending Administration Coordinator to help their lending manager and lending closer prepare loan files for servicing, underwriting, and closing. This position calls for accuracy and quality in file preparation and processing. For more information or to apply, click here.

Rise Up Festival Needs Volunteers
The Rise Up Festival, Rise's annual one day street festival that celebrates revitalization in St. Louis, is just a few weeks away! 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.
New Research Finds That Race Plays A Significant Role In St. Louis-Area Mortgage Lending
The National Community Reinvestment Coalition released a new report last month that summarizes research on mortgage lending in several midsize Midwestern cities, including St. Louis. The study found that in the City of St. Louis, the racial composition of a neighborhood is almost as strong a predictor of neighborhood mortgage lending activity as is that neighborhood's median family income. In general, areas with a higher percentage of white residents tend to receive more mortgage investment regardless of that neighborhood's socioeconomic status. To read a New York Times article summarizing the study, click here. The full report is available here.
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