Helping St. Louis

A Blog About Helping Each Other

Archive for the ‘St. Louis’ Category

St. Louis Area Job Fair

Posted by Schevus on March 6, 2009

According to the United Way, “at the end of 2008 more than 108,000 people were unemployed in the St. Louis Metro Region.” Wow!

There will be a Job Fair held by the Partnership for the New Workforce on Thursday, 26 March. The event will run from 1 – 4 PM and will be at the following location:

The MET Center
6347 Plymouth Avenue
Wellston, MO 63133

The purpose of the job fair is expressed in the United Way press release:

The Partnership for the New Workforce (Partnership) is a collaboration of area employers, and employment and training service providers whose primary goal is to bring together trained and work ready job seekers with employers who need new workers. The goal of the partnership is to support employers and employees in ways that encourage retention and advancement in the workplace. The Partnership targets the employment and career development needs of first time job seekers as well as others who are reentering the job market, including older workers, ex-offenders, empty nesters and individuals with disabilities.

If you have lost your job because of the economy (or for any reason), it is important to be extremely proactive in attempting to regain employment. With so many people scrambling for jobs, you must do everything you can to stand out from the crowd and get noticed by potential employers. If you need more information about the job fair, you can contact the United Way at 314-539-4072.

Much thanks to Carrie Zukoski from the United Way for passing along this information.

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A Bit Of Good News

Posted by Schevus on February 4, 2009

I just happened across this post which has some good news to share. Apparently the St. Louis area will be receiving $14.8 million in federal grant money. Here is an excerpt from the post:

The money is being provided through the Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP), which was enacted in 2008 to assist state and local governments in addressing the impact of abandoned and foreclosed properties in the nation’s communities.

Hopefully this money will do some good for revitalizing the less trendy parts of the city. I guess we will have to wait and see.

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St. Louis – Education

Posted by Schevus on February 4, 2009

All too often when talking about the declining quality of education in America public schools take the lion’s share of the blame. Certainly there are many aspects of public schools that could be improved, but ultimately many of the shortcomings of our youth’s education are caused by parents. This point is one that President Obama makes regularly. No matter the quality of the school a child goes to, if the parents are not actively involved there is no guarantee that the child will be engaged and productive at that school.

I know that many families are single parent homes with the parent struggling just to make ends meet, let alone being able spend enough time involved with their children’s schoolwork or activities. I think if you absolutely cannot devote time to your children’s education then it is important to get them involved in a program that will serve to fill that role. There are many varied mentorship and after school programs that serve this purpose. If you need help finding one, please leave a comment and I will try to help.

Getting back to public schools, as I said there are definitely problems that need to be addressed. Many public schools are underfunded, which can result in loss of extra-curricular activities, lack of basic supplies, outdated equipment and books, or in some cases not even enough books for all students. It is pretty obvious to anyone that students need some basic amenities for education to be really successful. In many cases teachers spend large amounts of money out of pocket so that their students have the supplies they need. Obviously this burden should not fall on the shoulders of teachers.

Aside from material issues, public schools are often accused of dumbing down the curriculum. This is normally blamed on the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act. Basically the act states that students must progressively do better on standardized tests from year to year or the school will lose funding and face reforms to “get back on track.” Taking away funding from schools that are not “performing well” seems incredibly foolish to me, but I digress.

Based on these guidelines and fear of lost funding, many schools are accused of “teaching to the test,” rather than actually trying to educate students. Certainly curriculums must be tailored so that they focus on the information covered by the test, and this might limit flexibility.

In an effort to bring back some flexibility, the charter school movement was born. Charter schools are granted a charter to operate in a more unique way or to target certain special needs or at risk groups. Charter schools have their proponents and critics (I happen to be an ardent supporter), but one key point is that they are still open to the general public and still fall under the NCLB act.

After a cursory search, it does not look like St. Louis currently has more than a few charter schools. A friend of mine is currently in the process of setting up a new charter school called the Active Minds Institute.

So, what can we do to improve the quality of education in St. Louis? I have already mentioned what I feel is the most important solution, which is increased parent involvement. Every parent has the ability to improve the education of their children by taking the time to work with them. They also can improve situations at the school by becoming involved in PTA/PTO groups or simply by opening lines of communication with teachers and staff. Schools often welcome volunteers for various activities.

You can become involved in the charter school community by joining a committee at Active Minds, or even starting your own charter school.  Charter schools almost always welcome donations to improve their programs and also normally appreciate volunteers.

If you are interested in donating, but would prefer to improve the public school system, you can donate to the St. Louis Public Schools Foundation. Here is their mission statement from their website:

The St. Louis Public Schools Foundation seeks to fund projects and activities with a measurable impact on academic achievement, high school graduation rates, and the successful transition to post-secondary goals, such as college or entry into the workforce to ensure that each student has the opportunity to become a productive citizen.

Finally, you can volunteer for a mentorship, tutoring, or after school program designed to help at risk or underprivileged children. I have participated in these programs in the past and they are extremely beneficial for the participants. I will do some further research and try to highlight some of these programs in the St. Louis area in a future post.

If we work together we can make our education system better and keep it from continuing its slide compared to other developed nations. Our future depends on it.

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St. Louis – A Dismal Picture

Posted by Schevus on February 3, 2009

St. Louis is a city plagued by problems. The city is hemorrhaging jobs, the crime rate is extremely high, the education system is so poor that it lost its accreditation, there are large swathes of dilapidated buildings and neighborhoods, and the city is largely segregated and racial tensions are very prevalent. Now, I am not trying to say that St. Louis is significantly worse as compared to any other city, but only that there is plenty of room for improvement.

The “urban revitalization” of St. Louis is much vaunted, but seems to focus heavily on the trendy downtown areas. If you travel for 5 or 10 minutes past those areas you will inevitably find extremely run down neighborhoods. You cannot watch the evening news without a report about a murder or other violent crime. The news also brings stories of continuing layoffs and business closures.

I would like to write more on what might be done to ease some of the issues I have mentioned. This will require a level of commitment, research, and outreach that I have not yet attempted to devote to this blog, so I cannot guarantee success. That said, I would like to see real change and real good come to St. Louis, and I will try to do my part to make that happen. I will still continue to write about things you as an individual can do to help the community and beyond as well as other charitable happenings in St. Louis.

I honestly believe that if we all work together that we can make the St. Louis area a much better place. It will take much sacrifice by many to accomplish, but the reward will definitely be worth it. In this new era of our nation we must put aside our differences and come together as one people to propel our respective cities and our country forward. We cannot sit idly by as our infrastructure and society stagnates and festers, hoping that someone else will solve our problems. I ask you to join me in moving our city forward.

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