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HomeGrown STL nearing action ‘on the ground’ for black males

​HomeGrown STL is close to putting its strategy for collective impact to work in St. Louis. The project, part of the Center for Social Development’s Race and Opportunity Lab, aims to support the social mobility of black boys and men between the ages of 12 and 29 in St. Louis City and County.

“We want to work and build a strategy to reach into those homes on the ground,” Sean Joe, PhD, who leads HomeGrown STL, told dozens of participants during an October 12 networking breakfast at the George Warren Brown School of Social Work. The morning’s topic was “Healing Policies for Black Boys and Young Men in the St. Louis Region.”

Joe said he and the HomeGrown STL member organizations have identified six ZIP codes “as the most challenged” in St. Louis. Those neighborhoods are home to 8,000 black males. By monitoring the progress of the children and young men over a three-year period, HomeGrown STL will be able to see if the group’s strategy works in the real world.

Political leaders at the event said some progress is being made. Missouri Sen. Jamilah Nasheed (D-St. Louis) recalled convincing then-Mayor Francis Slay three years ago to “ban the box” when hiring city workers. Ban the box is a term for no longer requiring applicants to check a box if they’ve been convicted of a felony. Last year, then-Gov. Jay Nixon did the same regarding applications for state jobs. “What I’ve been trying to do is deal with systemic problems,” Nasheed said.

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