The death of Michael Brown in 2014 highlighted immense regional concerns regarding black boys and young men, namely long-standing disparities in health, academic attainment, employment, developmental opportunity and overall healthy transition into adulthood. National and local responses to Ferguson are yielding investments to increase programs and services to help improve the well-being of black boys and young men. There is a glaring gap, however, in the baseline data needed to guide strategic planning and evaluation of the region’s capacity to improve outcomes for this population. The mission of HomeGrown STL is twofold: to close the information gap, and to combine knowledge with resources in order to eliminate the disparities facing black boys and young men in our region. This university-community partnership is uniquely positioned to leverage both academic knowledge and community expertise for supporting the positive development of black boys and young men. We bring researchers together with regional leaders of local programs that largely serve this demographic.
HomeGrown STL brings together key St. Louis partners to provide focused attention and infrastructure for facilitating, planning and evaluating strategic investment in data that can be used to inform services and policy to improve the outcomes for black boys and young men. These strategic partners are on the front lines and hold a wealth of knowledge that should inform and guide regional planning.
HomeGrown STL is a community-engaged research project of the Race and Opportunity Lab, within the Center for Social Development at Washington University’s Brown School. The project seeks to fill the evaluation and data gaps and to facilitate community-level strategic planning. The Race and Opportunity Lab examines race in science, and the intersection of ethnicity and opportunity for social mobility with an emphasis on informing policies, interventions, and intra-professional practice to improve community-level capacity to reduce inequality in adolescents’ healthy transition to adulthood.
The quarterly Strategic Networking Breakfast convenes leaders of programs and services to black boys and young men in St. Louis City and county. These events have been taking place since the inception of HomeGrown STL with the goal of increasing provider knowledge of programs and services, sharing knowledge of evidence-based practices, providing capacity-building and professional development resources for program staff, and exploring opportunities for partnership.
HomeGrown STL is building a registry of programs and services for black boys and men in the St. Louis City and County area, while gathering baseline data to examine their capacity to fill existing and future needs. This impact strategy will allow us to: align working groups to leverage and strengthen the groups as they work toward community implementation; communicate HomeGrown STL summit recommendations widely, with a planned and systematic strategy that incorporates distilling key recommendations into a one-page summary.