Collaborating for Systemic Change

Andrew Carnegie said “Teamwork is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results.” There’s power in collaboration, strength in unity, and YouthBridge finds hope in both to solve some of our region’s biggest problems.
“Just as we are a bridge between the philanthropic community and nonprofits, we want to be a link in the chain between problems and solutions for the welfare of our children,” says Michael Howard, YouthBridge CEO. “When the issues are persistent and systemic, it does take a village.” He describes two important collaboratives that YouthBridge has recently joined.

In January of this year, the Missouri Collaborative against Human Trafficking (MCAHT) was launched to support ground-breaking research and develop an action plan aimed at eliminating Missouri’s status as a top destination for labor and sex trafficking. MCHAT is a funding partnership comprised of nearly a dozen Missouri grantmakers. Andrea Nichols, Ph.D., St. Louis Community College, and Kathleen Preble, Ph.D., MSW, University of Missouri Columbia, two leading experts on human trafficking in Missouri, are spearheading the effort. The partnership is identifying gaps in services and developing an action plan for combating sexual exploitation and labor trafficking in Missouri and Metro East St. Louis, IL. In addition to financial support, YouthBridge acts as the fiscal sponsor of the Collaborative.

Also this year, YouthBridge became an active participant in Turn the Page STL, described as a full-on blitz by community leaders, foundations, corporations, educators, nonprofits and others to change the literacy landscape in St. Louis. Currently, less than one in three students in St. Louis Promise Zone School Districts is reading proficiently by the third grade, a critical educational milestone for children. Turn the Page STL is aligning and measuring its work based on the National Campaign for Grade-Level Reading, which focuses on school readiness, attendance and summer learning. YouthBridge serves as fiscal sponsor, sits on the Advisory Council and offers meeting and office space as the project builds momentum.

“Any way in which we can support, we are,” says Howard. “These are two examples of how YouthBridge continues to help build a stronger community through leadership, collaboration and believing we are better together.”