When asked what’s most inspiring about our city, one answer comes clearly to mind. It is the ability for us, for St. Louisans, to come together and work together to meet the needs of the community. The fact that St. Louis is a medium-sized city is a bonus. Being a medium-sized city means it is not too far removed from its rural roots while keeping a solid connection to the pulse of a growing city. This makes St. Louis uniquely poised to see and meet the needs of multiple groups throughout the region. There is an unnamed grassroots movement gaining traction with many local non-profits to team up with established community partners to meet the needs of the community and to strengthen and empower its residents.
This growing movement aims to help developers see that they have a social responsibility to improve the communities they invest in. As such, there appears to be recognition that a holistic approach—one that embraces all sectors of the community—is needed to heal the soul of the city. No more working in outdated, inefficient silos to get the much needed work done.
In October, the Social Policy Institute and MasterCard Center for Inclusive Growth presented “Inclusive Growth in St. Louis: Building an Inclusive Economy” to explore inclusive growth and opportunities present within St. Louis. The presentation afforded local experts with the opportunity to discuss current challenges and in turn allowed community members to discuss their vision for more equitable inclusion in the areas of housing and neighborhoods, education and workforce, training and leadership, and financial security. Conversations such as this one are a prime example of the movement to connect more leaders, organizations, and individuals to the heartbeat of the city, to drive the city towards serving as a model of inclusivity and empowerment for all—especially groups that have been historically marginalized. Trends across the city of St. Louis reveal that:
- Black residents in the City of St. Louis are more likely than white residents to live in low-opportunity environments;
- Residents of majority-black neighborhoods are more likely to live in neighborhoods suffering from disinvestment;
- Residents of majority-black neighborhoods are less likely to have access to amenities than residents of majority-white neighborhoods.
Now, more than ever, there is a calling from the masses to acknowledge that St. Louisans are stronger together. Through unique partnerships between cities, county, private, faith-based and non-profit organizations, St. Louis is strong enough to break the cycles that prevent others from achieving their dreams, and that is truly inspiring.