Sean Joe developed Home Grown STL as a response to moving to St. Louis to take a faculty position at Washington University in August 2014 – the same month of the fatal police shooting of Michael Brown Jr. Home Grown STL is a research project that consists of networking events with local professionals to seek out solutions to problems facing black males.
“These were problems that were born here, but I felt like the solutions could also be born here,” said Joe, associate dean for Faculty and Research and an endowed professor of Social Development at the George Warren Brown School of Social Work.
The goal of HomeGrown STL is to focus on the strategic, long-term outcomes that are necessary to help black men prosper.
When asked if the problems facing black males in St. Louis are unique, Joe answered absolutely not. “The problems are facing all black males in urban areas,” he said, “but St. Louis is unique enough and big enough to matter, but small enough to change.”
Ciera Nash, an intern for the City of St. Louis’ Health Department, attended a Home Grown STL session on June 9. She said she wants to see more events like this in St. Louis.
“Black males don’t get the same opportunities as other males, and the crime rate, it’s like our black males are targeted,” Nash said. “They need some type help and guidance to prevent that.”
Or, as Joe puts it, “Not everyone sees our children as their children.”
Joe also is the prime investigator in the Race and Opportunity Lab at WUSTL. This lab looks at social mobility, along with race and opportunity, and how it impacts adolescents’ transition into adulthood in the St. Louis region. The research focuses on black males from birth until age 29.
The first step of Race and Opportunity lab was taking a census of all the programs working with black males. The researchers looked at family environments, church and community programs such as the Urban League and the boys and girls clubs. Then they asked program administrators if they wanted to participate in research and create a space to measure the baseline for opportunity in black men.
“So because these groups said, ‘Yes, continue to do this,’ that’s how we continued to engage these ideas,” said Joe.
Now, Joe said, researchers are “looking at evidence-based data on what works.”
Home Grown STL continues to connect researchers with community groups. The next Home Grown STL Networking Breakfast will be held 8-10 p.m. Friday, October 28 in at Goldfarb Hall, Room 132. On WUSTL’s Danforth campus. It’s a free event. Speakers include Halbert Sullivan, CEO of Father Support Center Speaker, and Sean Joe. RSVP here.
This article was originally published by the St. Louis American. View original article here.