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.
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.
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.
We began our first 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.
We expanded placed-based funding in North St. Louis and also created the Marketplace of Ideas: a small neighborhood funding program. As a response to a spike in gun violence, we launched STL Youth Jobs in partnership with the Mayor of St. Louis and MERS Goodwill to provide employment opportunities to youth in specific neighborhoods. Shortly after this, our executive director, Bridget McDermott Flood, was asked to serve as the co-chair of the Mayor’s Task Force on Youth Violence Prevention in St. Louis.
In response to the civil rights unrest in Ferguson, MO, we came together with nine other foundations to address racial inequities in the juvenile justice system in St. Louis. In 2016, we started another place based funding effort on the South Side in Dutchtown and Gravois Park.
We continue to expand our efforts to act as a catalyst for change. We serve as a convener, grant maker, educator, collaborator, and advocate addressing the root causes of poverty and injustice.
As a ministry of the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word, our mission is to extend the healing ministry of Jesus Christ, the Incarnate Word. We believe in a community where the poor and marginalized, especially women, children, and seniors, are empowered to attain quality of life.
We believe in a community where the poor and marginalized have the ability to attain quality of life. As we envision and actively work to advance equity and well-being in St. Louis, we went to our grant partners. We asked them about their vision for St. Louis and what their organizations are doing to move toward that vision.
Our community footprint includes under-resourced communities throughout Missouri and East Saint Louis. Each year the Foundation prioritizes certain neighborhoods based on research and community need. In all of our work, we hold true to our values of:
We engage in the work of social justice as a living expression of the hands of Jesus Christ, the Incarnate Word.
The work of justice is complex and requires shared resources, common goals, and cross-sector cooperation.
We work with determination and care with the resources, relationships, and vision that are entrusted to our hands.
We do not presume to be the voice of those we serve. Rather, we want to hear their voice, engage them in developing solutions, and amplify their voice in leading change from within their own communities.
Complex problems require bold, intelligent, thoughtful solutions. We operate with creativity, in pursuit of long-term outcomes, and fund organizations that share this value.
We prioritize listening, sharing, and communicating as we build all of our work on authentic relationship – seeing and calling out the character of Jesus Christ, the Incarnate Word, in each person we meet.
Our Impact on the St. Louis Community
Funding neighborhood work fosters systemic change by addressing the root causes of poverty and oppression. It fosters the confidence within individuals to dream while simultaneously creating access to the tools and resources needed to achieve those dreams.
We are blessed with to have such passionate, hard-working individuals on our Staff and Board.