Delmar DivINe Blog

Equitable Development for North City

By JORGE RIOPEDRE
September 16, 2020

These past years have actually been economically good ones for the City of St. Louis. Since 2010, St. Louis has grown its jobs base every year, and according to the most recent complete annual data, city employment growth was faster than national growth for only the second time since the Great Recession.  And yet, the good news has largely bypassed North City, a testament to the infamous “Delmar Divide.”

Since you are reading this, you already know that Delmar Divine is trying to change this through investment in the nonprofit sector and the West End neighborhood where our campus resides.  But if there is to be a real renaissance in North City, it’s going to take the efforts of a wide range of stakeholders.

Fortunately, many projects and initiatives are underway that bode well for the future.  Among them are:

  • The development of 207 acres from Kingshighway, to Page, to Taylor, to Delmar with $1 million of residential construction currently underway and another $2 million set for the spring, to be followed by a $30 million construction of a 150 unit apartment building.
  • The Urban League recently moved its headquarters into the old Sears Building, along with the Save Our Sons and workforce development programs, with the goal to bring all 55 organizational programs under one roof and serve as an economic hub for African American women and people of color-owned businesses.
  • The next phase of the Great Rivers Greenway from Trojan Park up to the old Eskridge High School site is out to bid, and the final pieces between Wellington and Pagedale up to the St. Charles Rock Road are in the planning stages (Trojan Park won the Urban Land Institute’s “Open Space America Award,” along with Domino Park in New York City).
  • The St. Louis Development Corporation (SLDC) completed its Equitable Economic Development Framework to ensure economic development happens all over the city, but particularly North of Delmar in partnership with all of the neighborhood organizations.
  • The restoration of the historic Wellston Trolley Building which, when completed, will include mixed-use retail and a restaurant on the first floor. And it will house minority-owned startup businesses to help stimulate economic activity in the community.
  • The Page Boulevard Redevelopment was officially launched by Better Family Life, Inc. to revitalize this predominantly African American neighborhood that spans from north of Delmar Boulevard to Martin Luther King and from Skinker to Kingshighway. This year alone has seen nearly $700,000 invested in the project.

These are just some examples of the activity focused on North City that Delmar Divine is proud to be included among.  As the SLDC Framework states, addressing the challenge of equitable urban economic growth requires the commitment and capacities of a broad set of public, private, philanthropic, university, and community stakeholders employing a range of tools to address foundational issues of place, prosperity, and people.  It’s an acknowledgement of what we have always known to be true:  our fates —  Black, Brown and White; city and county — are intertwined.  We either prosper together, or we all inevitably decline.

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Delmar DivINe Blog

Delmar Divine: a data-driven approach

By JORGE RIOPEDRE
July 28, 2020

One of the reasons that it is so difficult to mitigate a phenomenon like the “Delmar Divide” is the number of overlapping factors involved:  housing, nutrition, medical care, mental health, education, employment, and environmental issues.  The list goes on.

This is why, out of the myriad approaches that could be taken to make an impact north of Delmar Blvd., the decision was made to focus on the nonprofit sector.  Rather than create yet another program, our focus will be on strengthening and empowering structures that are already in place and that have a track record of effectiveness.

Delmar Divine’s strategy is building on a format that has shown itself to be effective across the United States: the human services center.  Data shows that nonprofits which reside in these centers experience substantial benefits, including significant cost savings and an improved ability to achieve goals as a result of co-location.

According to the 2015 State of the Shared Space Sector Survey, each tenant in a typical shared space saves $25,000 per year. In addition, 75% saw costs stabilize, allowing for more accurate budgeting.  More than half of organizations in shared space also report stronger revenues. 74% reported being able to offer higher quality of services to their community. Many organizations have seen a significant increase in overall capacity. And more than 60% of shared space tenants saw increases in program scope and size.

Delmar Divine brings all of these benefits to our tenant agencies, and more.  While a typical nonprofit center is a 35,000 square foot facility housing 12 agencies and serving 250 clients weekly, our project will be over 100,000 square feet with up to 25 agencies serving thousands of clients.

The nonprofits in our community will have access to a three-person team to assist them with research, create professional development programming for their staff, and act as coaches and consultants to agency leadership. Moreover, thanks to a partnership with Washington University, they will have access to capacity-building and evaluation tools from the world-renowned Brown School.

None of this will directly erase the systemic racism that, ultimately, is the source of all the ills affecting north St. Louis. But there is real value in treating the symptoms of an illness as you work to cure the disease.  For its part, Delmar Divine pledges to always denounce racism, bigotry, and injustice while weaving the core values of diversity, equity, and inclusion into the fabric of all aspects of our operations.

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Delmar DivINe Blog

Bringing out the Best

By JORGE RIOPEDRE
May 29, 2020

A new Gallup poll conducted from April 14-28 found that the number of Americans donating money to charity has dropped to an all-time low of 73 percent. The percentage who say they have volunteered time to a charity is also down to 58 percent. Previous Gallup polls have found 80 percent of Americans typically donate, and more than 60 percent volunteer.

Generosity of time and treasure has always been at the heart of what it means to be an American. That’s even truer in St. Louis, which Charity Navigator ranked as the third most charitable city in the United States.

Massively disruptive events like 9/11, the Great Recession, and the current pandemic can make it harder to think of the needs of others.  But during such times is when we need each other the most. Please do what you can to volunteer or donate to charities that are working in very difficult conditions to serve our fellow human beings.  In the face of tragedy, let’s bring out the best in us.

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Inaugural "Tenant Town Hall"

By JORGE RIOPEDRE
May 29, 2020

Earlier this week Delmar DivINE had its inaugural “Tenant Town Hall”. Despite coming off a holiday weekend and the myriad issues that everyone in the non-profit sector is dealing with, 13 of the organizations that make up the “DD” community attended to hear from our founder, Maxine Clark, DD board member Eddie Lawlor, and Barry Rosenberg, professor of practice at the Brown School, who will lead the Center for Human Services Leadership at Delmar DivINe. 

About 15 percent of our space remains open. If your nonprofit organization is interested in learning more about our community, please contact us at info@delmardivine.com.

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