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Civic Progress Donates more than $600,000 to Programs Making a Difference in the Lives of St. Louis Area Residents

Civic Progress Donates more than $600,000 to Programs Making a Difference in the Lives of St. Louis Area Residents
Donations are the first in a $2 million commitment aimed at improving quality of life and increasing economic growth in North County

ST. LOUIS, May 9, 2016 — Civic Progress, an organization of top executives from the largest companies in the St. Louis area, today recognized the efforts of four community programs making a difference in the lives of St. Louis area residents with donations totaling $614,000.
The donations are part of a larger commitment by Civic Progress to contribute $2 million over the next four years to improve the quality of life and economic opportunities for young people in the St. Louis region, particularly in North County areas. This is in addition to the tens of millions of dollars Civic Progress members, their companies and families are donating to Forward Through Ferguson.
During a press conference Monday, George Paz, president of Civic Progress and chairman of Express Scripts, presented checks to representatives from each of the local organizations being honored for their accomplishments:
 $100,000 — Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis for its Community Empowerment Center, currently under construction at the former QuikTrip site in Ferguson. This donation brings Civic Progress’ total investment in this Urban League project to $245,000.
 $100,000 — Better Family Life for its community outreach efforts to transform at-risk individuals and reclaim high-crime neighborhoods.
 $164,000 — UM-St. Louis for its School Leadership for Innovation and Design Master’s degree and certification program, helping to not only transform schools by improving teaching and student learning, but also supporting growth in our educational systems, communities and the region as a whole. In addition:
‒ $100,000 — Riverview Gardens School District to fund fellowships in this master’s degree and certification program
‒ $50,000 — Ferguson-Florissant School District to fund fellowships in this master’s degree and certification program
 $100,000 — STL Youth Jobs to fund employment for 40 at-risk youth this summer.
“These organizations typify the commitment and vision our community needs to advance the priorities identified by the Ferguson Commission to drive economic growth and collaboration in the St. Louis region and make a tangible difference in people’s lives,” Paz said. “Civic Progress is proud to support their efforts and will continue to evaluate more opportunities to partner in inspiring programs like these.”
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“I would like to thank Civic Progress for their historic donation of $245,000 toward the construction of the Community Empowerment Center of Ferguson. This building, like a phoenix rising out of the ashes, will serve as a beacon of hope to Ferguson residents in the aftermath of the crisis,” said Linda Harris, senior vice president of administration and compliance, Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis. “We are proud to say that this building will house Save Our Sons, an employment program that has already helped over 200 men find jobs. In addition, the Community Empowerment Center will also offer services from the Salvation Army, Provident, Better Family Life, the University of Missouri Extension and the Lutheran Church of Missouri-Synod.”
“This contribution from Civic Progress is an investment in a model that embodies the paradigm shift in social service resource delivery. This model will bring immediate and long-term stability in our more challenged neighborhoods,” said James Clark, vice president of community outreach, Better Family Life. “The Better Family Life Neighborhood Alliance, when brought to scale, will place 50 Outreach Workers and 25 Case Managers in position to serve individuals and families residing in neighborhoods under social direst. It will address the most pressing need for resolve in the St. Louis metropolitan area, which is the escalating culture of crime and violence.”
“Over the past few years, UMSL faculty have worked with community members and a number of school administrators to develop a new leadership program. With a consortium of school districts, including Riverview Gardens and Ferguson-Florissant, we envisioned a program that would offer authentic learning opportunities for school leaders,” said Dr. James Shuls, assistant professor educational leadership and policy studies, University of Missouri – St. Louis. “The goal has always been to help build a bench of school leaders who will be change-agents in their schools and the community. We thank Civic Progress for joining us in this mission.”
“As youth unemployment is higher than any other working-age group, this lack of connectedness to employment has dire consequences for our region’s young people and our economy. It is critical that the business community play a leading role in the investment of our future workforce,” said Hillary Frey, executive director, STL Youth Jobs. “The generosity of Civic Progress and its member corporations will not only provide immediate summer employment to our city’s at-risk youth, but it also will enable these young people to learn the skills that are needed to fill critical workforce gaps. This investment signifies a strong commitment from the business community to improving opportunities for our at-risk youth while also increasing economic growth for our region.”
Civic Progress will be investing in organizations that are working on recommendations from the Ferguson Commission’s Forward Through Ferguson report as part of its mission to create a stronger region. The organization’s four-year, $2 million commitment is in addition to the volunteer efforts and employee support that its respective companies have already provided to help revive and strengthen the St. Louis community.
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About Civic Progress
Civic Progress, whose members represent 35 of the largest employers in the state, with nearly 150,000 employees in Missouri and $420 billion in revenue worldwide, is an organization focused on leveraging public and private resources to improve the region and better connect St. Louis with the global community. It focuses on a select group of areas that it believes will improve the region’s ability to achieve world-class status. Civic Progress works closely with a
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wide range of organizations in the community that share its goals and interests and with local, state and federal officials to build consensus and action. Since its founding in 1953, many significant projects in the St. Louis region have been successful because of Civic Progress’ involvement. More information is available at
About Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis
The Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis exists to empower African-Americans and others throughout the region in securing economic self-reliance, social equality and civil rights. The Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis, Inc. takes a holistic approach to economic empowerment and self-sufficiency. Through community programs in three counties across the bi-state region, it helps its clients to climb out of poverty by helping them to find economic opportunity, providing educational excellence and community empowerment, and encouraging civil rights and advocacy. More information is available at
About Better Family Life
Better Family Life Inc. is a nonprofit community development organization dedicated to the growth of the American family. Its mission is to plan and establish social, cultural, artistic, youth, economic, housing and educational programs that help to promote positive and innovative changes within the metropolitan St. Louis area. Much of BFL’s programming and community outreach is geared toward people who are unemployed, underemployed, disadvantaged and skill-deficient. More information is available at
About UM-St. Louis School Leadership for Innovation and Design Program
The University of Missouri-St. Louis College of Education recently introduced a new master’s degree and certification program, known as School Leadership for Innovation and Design, which features a 600 hour residency program and community externships that prepare select area educators for new, broader roles as change agents in their communities. UMSL partnered with New Leaders, a national nonprofit recognized for its exemplary efforts in educational leadership, to develop this program. More information is available here.
About STL Youth Jobs
STL Youth Jobs is a multi-sector collaboration that provides meaningful employment opportunities to youth in underserved communities. STL Youth Jobs responds to the high youth unemployment rate and the growing skills gap by connecting employers to young people who are eager to work. Through a proven model of job readiness training coupled with paid employment opportunities, STL Youth Jobs is helping reduce the number of unemployed youth each summer while also helping youth build transferable workplace skills like communication, problem solving, critical thinking, networking and teamwork. More information is available at

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