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What We Do

Our Work

Invest STL seeks to shift the region’s approach to neighborhood development towards one that centers racial equity and amplifies the desires, power, and agency of people, particularly residents of color, within neighborhoods that have experienced decades of systemic disinvestment and the effects of structural racism. 

 

We prioritize equitable community development by evolving our work in three areas: direct investments in neighborhoods, convening thought leadership that can lead to policy development, and convening philanthropic, private, and public funding partners to test innovative ideas coming from community partners. 

Investing Directly in Neighborhoods

We invest in neighborhood leaders and neighborhood led organizations so they can drive equitable development in their neighborhoods. 

Driving Policy Changes

We meet with community leaders across sectors to share perspectives to ensure what we learn from our community investment partners influences regional decisions. 

Testing Big Ideas

We plan to take risks and invest in big ideas that challenge our assumptions and have the opportunity to yield big results. 

Our Vision for STL

Thriving People in all Neighborhoods

We hope to see improved conditions of wellbeing for individuals in neighborhoods where we invest. Equitable development results in existing neighborhood residents experiencing the social and economic benefits of developments in their community. 

Shifting Power to Neighbors

We envision a region where all community members can fully activate their power to lead and drive community development decision-making in their neighborhood.

Neighborhoods are Vibrant Places

We imagine neighborhoods where the physical spaces and assets reflect the vibrancy and highest hopes of the people who live there.

Responsive Community Development System

We want to see regional behaviors, understanding, practices, and policies in the community development shift toward equitable development practices. 

Where it all began

Our Origin Story

Invest STL began as a grassroots effort of resident leaders, academics, bankers, and community development professionals who came together to increase financial support for place-based investment in our region. With the belief that everyone could champion the building of thriving neighborhoods in St. Louis, they began crowdsourcing funding in local bars and micro-granting.

In 2014 and 2015, a group of philanthropic, community development, and other community stakeholders worked together as the Strengthening St. Louis Neighborhoods Task Force to develop a proposal for building a stronger regional community economic development system that better leverages the region’s assets to support neighborhoods. Their research and the recommendations in their 2014 report, Building a St. Louis Regional Community Development System, reinforced the need for Invest STL to not just fund community development, but coordinate the regional development systems. 

Today, Invest STL is elevated by the St. Louis Community Foundation to support greater funding and partnership around community development investing. Invest STL is led by its Executive Director and staff with guidance from its own leadership board. Invest STL continues to evolve to best catalyze sustained, resident-powered neighborhood transformation.