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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: James Seaton
(212) 784-5705
JSeaton@groupgordon.com

Nationally Recognized St. Louis Regional Racial Healing + Justice Fund
Awards 21 Grants Totaling More Than $394,000

Funding will facilitate sustainable, community-driven efforts to heal racial trauma and dismantle systems contributing to racial inequities for people of color in St. Louis

ST. LOUIS, MO (August 17, 2021) – The Community Governing Board of the St. Louis Regional Racial Healing + Justice Fund (RHJF) today announced the Fund’s second cohort of community grant recipients, who are receiving a combined total of $394,489 in funding. The 21 grant partners will lead efforts to (1) heal individual and community trauma, (2) engage a broader range of residents in systems change work, (3) prepare leaders of color to organize for healing justice, (4) build local capacity to nurture support and cultivate healing assets, and (5) align resources for long-term organizational sustainability. The inaugural cohort of grant recipients was announced in March 2021.

“With this second round of investment of nearly $400,000 in Black- and Brown-led grantees, the Racial Healing + Justice Fund is innovating a new model of trust in community decision-making to solve our region’s deepest problems,” said David Dwight, IV, Executive Director and Lead Strategy Catalyst of Forward Through Ferguson. “In this grant cycle, requests for funding almost doubled since the first grant cycle, demonstrating a huge potential for impact through community-based and anti-racist approaches to investing in healing and healing justice.”

Grant distributions for the first and second grant cycles total more than $554,000 of the Racial Healing + Justice Fund’s $1.69 million. Recipients include: the African People’s Education and Defense Fund, Agape Fulfilled (Youth Council for Positive Youth Development), ASK Films, Arch City Defenders Inc., Black Girls Do STEM, Catholic Urban Programs, Cornerstone Corporation, Creative Reaction Lab, Employment Connection, Happy Home Foundation, Haven of Grace, MO Ho Justice (Fiscal Sponsor Missouri Jobs With Justice), Missouri Faith Voices, Park Central Development, St. Louis Queer Plus Support Helpline (Fiscal Sponsor Missouri Jobs With Justice), The Community Reach, The St. Louis Black Repertory Company Inc., Ujima, Unleashing Potential, Visual Movements LLC (Fiscal Sponsor Missouri Jobs With Justice), and WerQfest (Fiscal Sponsor Missouri Jobs With Justice).

Grant recipients from the Fund’s second cohort will receive funding for a variety of projects and initiatives. For example, The St. Louis Black Repertory Company Inc.’s Professional Fellowship Cohort, a program that provides critical support and leadership opportunities for recent college graduates and young theatre professionals. Grant funding will allow for the creation of new opportunities for artistic training and the development of new and existing collaborations with local and regional school districts and community partners to engage new audiences and build empathy.

Meanwhile, through The Community Reach’s Black Motherhood Village new and expecting mothers will receive mental, emotional, social, and parenting support through free or low-cost services in an effort to decrease the stigma surrounding healthcare, increase visibility of doula services and black mental health providers, and support black maternal mental health.

The efforts align with the funding priorities community members identified, which are:

  • Youth at the Center – Creating opportunities for children and young people to process trauma, build power, and grow to be engaged members of the community;
  • The Sustainability of the Community – Capacity building within communities that drive holistic growth while dismantling systems of racial oppression, and which connect the people and the causes that promote continued growth, development, and wellbeing;
  • Storytelling and Sharing the Work – Cataloguing, widely distributing, and building awareness of racial healing justice work to facilitate the engagement, leadership, and activation of residents most impacted by systemic racism. In addition, teaching community members how to share their personal stories to activate others for systemic change;
  • Education and Training – Knowledge-sharing and -building opportunities for community members most impacted by systemic racism to access information on racial healing, power-building, and community advocacy as well as liberation practices and supports;
  • Supporting Healers and Organizers – Infrastructure and initiatives that support structural, emotional wellbeing, and capacity-building support for racial healing practitioners and community organizers; and
  • Direct Impact, Accessible Wellness Services – Expansion of impactful existing racial healing services, as well as the development of innovative new healing justice programs or services.

The priorities were identified by residents, community organizers, and healing practitioners, and affirmed by the Fund’s Community Governance Board. Most initiatives this round aligned with “The Sustainability of the Community” (57%) and “Direct Impact, Accessible Wellness Services” (52%) priorities. Similarly, most initiatives in the inaugural round aligned with these two areas (31% and 38%, respectively) and the priority of “Youth at the Center” (38%).

“This opportunity has allowed us to continue our work, give a voice to those who have traditionally been silenced, and to empower Black and Brown citizens to become powerful changemakers,” said Maggie Hourd-Bryant, Executive Director of Communities First, an inaugural Racial Healing + Justice Fund cohort grant recipient whose initiative aligns with the “Direct Impact, Accessible Wellness Services” priority and provides opportunities for elderly, differently-abled, and ex-offenders to participate in the movement toward racial healing, justice and equity.  “We can no longer allow others to tell our stories, to direct our narrative, exploit our circumstance, or to set our agenda.”

The Community Governance Board guides the distribution of the Racial Healing + Justice Fund’s grant dollars, and its members identify as Black and people of color and reside within communities across St. Louis City, St. Louis County, and St. Clair County. The Community Governance Board is comprised of two work groups: 1) Grants & Allocation work group and 2) Community Voice & Learning work group. The full Community Governance Board is charged with voting on the recommended slate of grant recipients in each cycle and refining priorities of the grantmaking process.

“As evident in the noble work of the Community Governance Board St. Louis residents are committed to fostering sustainable community wellness while dismantling systems of racial oppression,” said Cheryl D.S. Walker, Interim President and CEO of Deaconess Foundation. “As a funder, Deaconess Foundation is pleased to cede decision-making power and share resources to lead equitable, just, and restorative community transformation.”

The Community Governance Board works continually to optimize the Fund’s grantee application process, ensuring the utmost accessibility for prospective grant recipients. BIPOC-led organizations face systemic barriers to securing institutional funding, such as limited staff capacity and racial biases in application review. The Fund addresses these issues by providing technical support sessions to applicants, and by involving residents, community organizers, and healing practitioners in the review process; and specifically targeting BIPOC-led organizations for investments. There are plans to recruit new members to the CGB later this year to expand its capacity.

Deaconess Foundation, Forward Through Ferguson, and Missouri Foundation for Health collaborated to establish the St. Louis Regional Racial Healing + Justice Fund on October 21, 2020 to invest in healing community trauma and changing the conditions that reinforce systemic racism. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation supported the launch of the Fund with a matching grant, and 17 local and national foundations have joined the pool of participating organizations. Please visit https://forwardthroughferguson.org/healingjustice for more information on the Fund.

For more information on becoming a Funding Partner, contact Kiesha Davis, director of partnership and capacity building for Deaconess Foundation at kieshad@deaconess.org.

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Deaconess Foundation is a grantmaking organization building power for child well-being through philanthropy, advocacy and organizing for racial equity and public policy change. A ministry of the United Church of Christ, Deaconess has invested more than $85 million to improve the health of the St. Louis community since 1998. The Foundation’s advocacy and grantmaking footprint includes St. Louis City, St. Louis, Jefferson, St. Charles and Franklin Counties in Missouri and Madison, St. Clair and Monroe Counties in Illinois. For more information, visit www.deaconess.org. Follow the Foundation on Twitter and Instagram @deaconessfound and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/deaconessfoundation.

Forward Through Ferguson (FTF) is a catalyst for lasting positive change in the St. Louis, created as an independent entity to provide continuity for the calls to action outlined by the Ferguson Commission Report, Forward Through Ferguson: A Path Toward Racial Equity. FTF centers impacted communities and activates community advocacy to advance racially equitable systems and policies that ensure all people in the region can thrive. For more information, visit forwardthroughferguson.org. Follow FTF on Twitter at www.twitter.com/stlchange and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/stlchange.

Missouri Foundation for Health (MFH) is building a more equitable future through collaboration, convening, knowledge sharing, and strategic investment. Working in partnership with communities and nonprofits, MFH is transforming systems to eliminate inequities within all aspects of health and addressing the social and economic factors that shape health outcomes. To learn more, visit www.mffh.org. Follow the Foundation on Twitter at www.twitter.com/mofoundhealth and Facebook at www.facebook.com/mofoundhealth.