St. Louis-based Urban Strategies, In Partnership with St. Louis Public Schools, Receives $20.8 Million Federal Grant to Increase Educational Achievement in St. Louis City

ST. LOUIS, MISSOURI APRIL 18, 2023 | Promise Neighborhoods Grant Awarded to an Organization in Missouri for the First Time

Urban Strategies, Inc., (USI) in partnership with the St. Louis Public Schools, will lead a five-year, $20.8 million Promise Neighborhoods federal grant to develop and implement strategies to increase educational achievement in the 63106 zip code. This is the first time that an organization in the state of Missouri has received a Promise Neighborhoods grant.

The project, known as the 63106 Promise to Success Initiative, will coordinate approaches from a number of federal, state and local agencies to increase equitable educational achievement. The main strategies will include family and community support as well as support for students, expanded early childhood education efforts and an emphasis on helping teachers implement new curriculum and removing barriers to attendance.

Other high-priority goals for the near northside neighborhood include increasing high school students’ participation in in-school workforce development programs; building a more durable bridge between 8th and 9th grades; connecting students to external programs offering support to and through college; assisting students in building networks with employers; and strengthening relationships with area employers.

To build and sustain equity, school structure will be designed to implement the anti-racism curriculum of the SLPS, using data to identify disparities and create responses and build protective factors in historically under-represented students of color.

The project is expected to benefit at least 1,400 students at Jefferson, Carver and Columbia elementary schools, Carr Lane middle school and Vashon high school. Scaling of proven solutions in other SLPS schools, both within and outside 63106, is planned for years 4-5 and beyond.

“We are excited to be a partner in The Urban Strategies’ Promise Neighborhood grant. The funds will take us a step forward in leveling the playing field for students attending the schools within the Promise Neighborhood” said George Sells, director of communications and marketing, Office of Institutional Advancement, Saint Louis Public Schools. “The equity component helps to allocate additional resources and community services to participating schools. Work made possible under this grant is 100 percent in line with our Transformation Plan as we work to provide wraparound services that strengthen connections between our students and families and the neighborhoods in which they live,” Sells added.

The equity-centered initiative proposes to begin its work at the earliest stages of family and child development, building early learning skills and helping families prepare to become their children’s educational advocates. As children reach school age, they and their parents will be equipped for general student success, and other priorities of the program including reducing adult and juvenile crime in partnership with existing strategies and by incorporating other federally funded resources; integrating community-based resources and SLPS’ existing post-secondary programs, such as dual enrollment and dual credit, to enable all high school graduates to succeed in college and their chosen careers.

USI president Esther Shin noted that the success of the program “will be rapidly advanced by the availability of strong, pre-existing relationships with collaborators, all of which have the capacity to fill gaps and extend the value and impact of the initiative.”

Timetria Murphy-Watson, operations director for USI, added “USI is proud to partner in this important work of centering equity in education through the announcement of the Promise Neighborhood award for current and future scholars of 63106 zip code. This opportunity allows us to be intentional in our educational strategies, and support neighbors as they transition from survival mode to a state of protection.”

Strategies used to implement Promise Neighborhood grant from the Department of Education include:

  • create a pipeline of solutions, from Pre-K through college and careers, that will strengthen families, remove school attendance barriers and prepare students for success
  • address the implications of trauma for students and families and work to reduce trauma-induing neighborhood crime
  • bolster SLPS’s evidence-based curricula with professional development resources designed to accelerate student achievement
  • invest in educational equity

See more about the 63106 Promise to Success initiative.

“Investing in our youth puts them, and our entire city, on the path towards a brighter future,” said Mayor Tishaura Jones. “The City of St. Louis was proud to play a role in helping secure this nearly $21 million in major funding, and we look forward to working with our community and education partners to lift up 63106. St. Louis appreciates President Joe Biden’s Department of Education for its support for our schools and our youth.

Founded in 1978, Urban Strategies, Inc. is a national nonprofit leader with extensive experience in implementing results-based human capital development strategies in communities that are undergoing physical revitalization. USI supports communities while working with partners to develop economic opportunities, cradle-to-college/career success, high quality health services and a range of comprehensive service supports. The organization is leading people efforts and neighborhood transformation in 24 cities and 41 neighborhoods across the nation. For more information visit

The vision of the Promise Neighborhoods program is that all children and youth growing up in Promise Neighborhoods have access to great schools and strong systems of family and community support that will prepare them to attain an excellent education and successfully transition to college and a career. The purpose of Promise Neighborhoods is to significantly improve the educational and developmental outcomes of children and youth in the most distressed communities.

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