Positive Changes Through Resident Engagement

It was the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. who said: “our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” People who are vocal about important issues help the entire community be heard. People like Lucy Smith.

Lucy lives at the Preservation Square community in St. Louis, Missouri with her 11-year-old son, Kelechi. After attending a meeting to hear about the upcoming redevelopment plans for her community, Lucy spoke up. She had strong opinions about the right way to redevelop and the right way to involve the residents whose lives would be profoundly affected. She had a vision for a community full of engaged residents.

After the meeting, she was delightfully surprised that she was approached to take on the job of resident leader.

An integral part of Urban Strategies’ theory of change is empowering resident ambassadors. Residents, who take on an active role in the redevelopment of their community by vocalizing opinions, ideas, and working with others to engage, are the driving force behind creating stable and thriving communities.

Lucy took on her role with gusto—engaging residents in dialogues, connecting them with services, planning card nights, and block parties. Her vision extends even further; one thing that Lucy is passionate about is helping the young people in the community who could easily go down another path.

“It’s hard for young people. The streets call their names. I want to expose them to different things because they are who are going to carry the torch.”

Lucy is working on a host of programs that seek to connect, empower, and employ young people, including trade training, sewing floor, and an industrial arts program.

We have no doubt that, under her guidance, we’ll see significant advances for the community at Preservation Square—ultimately modeling this potential for the entire Near North Side of St. Louis.



St. Louis, Missouri – A Model for Community Change Nationwide

Urban Strategies’ roots are deep in the St. Louis area. It is not only the location of its national headquarters, but it is the foundation for its work nationwide. Urban Strategies began working in the distressed communities of the City of St. Louis, learning and refining its approach to creating stable and thriving families and communities.

Urban Strategies is pleased to announce that The City of St. Louis, in partnership with McCormack Baron Salazar and Urban Strategies, was recently granted a $30-million U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Choice Neighborhoods Implementation (CNI) Grant to revitalize the Near North Side of St. Louis, building upon the CNI Planning Grant that Urban Strategies received in 2015. The grant will create a brand-new Jonas Hubbard Jr. Family Center, programs to support workforce development, encourage healthy communities, and will also spur programs that will bolster the Financial Empowerment Center at Prosperity Connection’s Excel Center.

Urban Strategies was honored to be a part of the City of St. Louis’ team that was awarded the CNI Grant in 2016 and looks forward to expanding and enhancing the transformation of distressed St. Louis communities that has catalyzed its work across the nation since 1978.