United Way of Greater St. Louis recently awarded 10 one-time community enhancement and COVID-19 response grants totaling $130,000 to local nonprofits, community agencies and faith-based organizations that provide programs and services to youth in East St. Louis and surrounding communities. Between the youth and their families, in total, the funding will allow organizations to support thousands of people through summer and afterschool programming.
“Our local nonprofits continue to face significant challenges this year because of the COVID-19 crisis, including shifting to virtual programming and modifying services to the community, making this support more critical than ever,” said Michelle Tucker, president and CEO of United Way of Greater St. Louis. “This support will allow these 10 nonprofits to provide even more help and support to young people who have faced incredible change and challenges over the past year.”
Organizations receiving the grants were carefully determined by a team of volunteers, which considered agencies offering enrichment, cultural, educational, employment and recreational opportunities for youth in the East St. Louis area and surrounding communities. The organizations have been offering these opportunities either virtually or in-person in accordance with CDC guidelines.
The following organizations each received a $5,000 community enhancement grant:
• The Arthur Johnson Foundation will use the grant funding to support its boxing and mentorship program that provides youth access to a positive and safe environment.
• The Biz Spot Community will use funding for its CEO in training program, which helps young people discover skills in problem-solving, critical thinking, money management, team building and public speaking.
• Gateway Region YMCA’s Vertical Horizons and STEAM programs provide children and young people afterschool engagement through physical activity and STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) activities with peers.
• Youth Arts and Technology Center will use the grant funding to support its STEAM initiative program, which introduces youth to the basics of computer coding and website development.
The following organizations each received a $10,000 community enhancement grant:
• Catholic Urban Program supports afterschool programming through the Griffin Center to provide educational support, social-emotional development and advocacy for young people living in East St. Louis.
• Community Performance Ensemble will use funding to support youth through its afterschool cultural drumming and dance program that performs at community events, churches and universities.
• Girl Scouts of Southern Illinois’ mobile STEM van brings experiential learning experiences to young girls and offers them exposure to career paths and educational opportunities.
The following organizations each received a $20,000 community enhancement grant:
• Boys Scouts of America – Greater St. Louis Area Council will use the funding on scouting activities and to connect youth with positive adult role models for mentorship.
• Jackie Joyner-Kersee Foundation’s JK Winning in Life Out of School Time Program gives students a safe environment and structured activities designed to inspire them to be the best versions of themselves through character building, gardening and other educational enrichments.
• Nu Chi Foundation’s Project Manhood Program enriches the lives of young people in East St. Louis by providing school supplies and inspiring African American male youth to enhance their personal and social development, academic performance, leadership and social acumen.
In addition, United Way also awarded Jackie Joyner-Kersee Foundation and Youth Arts & Technology Center with additional grants of $15,000 and $2,000, respectively, for programming to address critical needs stemming from the COVID-19 crisis. These grants will provide emergency rent and utility assistance to help the youth and families they serve stay safely in their homes.
Tucker noted the importance of United Way’s investment into young people. “Having safe environments and opportunities to learn enables our youth to build bright futures. As our entire community seeks to sustain and recover from the COVID-19 crisis, this is a critical investment into our future.”