I set out to read the “For The Sake Of All” report, recently published and distributed by Washington University in conjunction with St. Louis University. It is “a report on the health and well-being of African Americans in St. Louis and why it matters for everyone.” They had me roped into the entire read at the Table of Contents. It is an eye-opening read for sure. One that you can’t walk away from without being a little more motivated and engaged to want to do something about the issues at hand.
Fast forward to the policy and programmatic recommendations responding to the major themes of the briefs contained in the report. Number two of six is what St. Louis Community Credit Union does. The recommendation reads as follows: “Help low-to-moderate income families create economic opportunities.” Yes, we couldn’t agree more and set out to fulfill this charge every day.
As the most active community development financial institution in a barren marketplace devoid of a community development bank, St. Louis Community Credit Union is doing all we can through access, product development, risk-tolerance, caring service, education, and fair and forgiving pricing. And we want to do more and need your help.
We have partners that join us from the banking world, public entities and the philanthropic community. Their contributions are helping to make a difference, but we need more. We don’t mind doing the heavy lifting throughout the day-to-day, providing resources to the community, but the need exceeds the resources we have available.
The opportunities to help solve the problems transcend all sectors of our community.
Should you question the authenticity of the needs of the community cited in the report, or worse yet, choose to take the flippant approach of “not my problem,” you may want to think again. Why aren’t businesses flocking to St. Louis for their world headquarters? Why do we export the talented youth that graduate from one of our many esteemed universities of higher learning? Why, with hosts of municipalities, does our region continue to be divided along lines of race and social class? Maybe, just maybe, the issues cited in the report are all of our concerns. We certainly think they are ours, and as a result, we are doing what we can with the influence the credit union possesses.
Businesses should look to establish private-public partnerships to advance the efforts to improve our region; philanthropic organizations should provide incentives to get things done; educators should ensure educational equity; government officials should understand the impact of policies across all sectors. Early childhood providers, health care systems and economic development gurus should heed the call to action as well.
The study is sobering and points to a tremendous need. As a compassionate and caring people, we should all jump on board. What’s the old saying – when the tide rolls in, all the boats rise? We are the tide for our community to be a better place – for everyone.