For more than 100 years, the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word have cared for the people of St. Louis and the surrounding communities. When the Incarnate Word Hospital was sold in 1997, the foundation was established with an initial gift of $30 million to continue their mission of caring in the area. That first year, we awarded five initial grants and have grown to award 50 grants throughout each calendar year. In 2003, our work really began as we know it today with the creation of grant focus areas to initially address immigration, domestic violence, and women’s incarceration. Our focus areas continue to change in response to the needs of the community.
In 2005, we began our place-based funding efforts and centralized investment into the Benton Park West neighborhood. Since then we have worked in many neighborhoods throughout St. Louis including Penrose, O’Fallon, The Ville, Dutchtown, and Gravois Park. In 2007, as a result of a mission trip to Zambia, we began a micro-lending program in St. Louis. From this work came the Women’s Helping Hands Bank.