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Summit aims to better lives for 60,000 black males in St. Louis area

The HomeGrown STL Inaugural Summit, February 9 at the Brown School, drew about 120 people committed to improving the lives of black boys and young men in St. Louis City and County.

“Equity and economics are different sides of the same coin,” said Joe Reagan, president and CEO of the St. Louis Regional Chamber, in welcoming remarks at Examining the State of Opportunity for Black Boys and Young Men in St. Louis City and St. Louis County. “We can’t afford to leave anyone behind.”

Sean Joe, PhD, who leads the HomeGrown STL initiative and organized the summit, laid out the barriers facing young black males and their consequences: higher mortality rates, higher unemployment, and lifelong lower wages. He emphasized the economic and moral benefits of improving the well-being of black men, stressing the importance of a strong community effort, during the segment “Arrested State of Black Male Development in St. Louis: An Opportunity for Regional Action.”

“We will be able to do something as a region that no other region has been able to do, and that’s to close the economic disparity gaps between one segment of the population and another. How powerful would that be?” said Joe, the Benjamin E. Youngdahl Professor of Social Development at the Brown School.

“We’re talking about changing the experiences of 60,000 individuals,” he said.

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