Youth In Need, UCCC, and LUME Merger – True Synergy in Action

Synergy is defined as “the interaction or cooperation of two or more organizations or other agents to produce a combined effect greater than the sum of their separate effects.” YouthBridge Community Foundation of Greater St. Louis is built on this principle. Partners, fundholders, and grant beneficiaries often exhibit this trait as well, contributing to the overall impact within the community.

Youth In Need, a recent grant recipient of a YouthBridge Partnership or Merger Grant, is a prime example. YouthBridge and Youth In Need have collaborated for several years, leading to the awarding of a YouthBridge “Think Big for Kids” grant in 2018. Since then, the two organizations’ mission-aligned work on behalf of children and youth in the St. Louis region has only strengthened their mutual admiration. According to Pat Holterman-Hommes, President and CEO of Youth In Need, “We have long been aware of YouthBridge and have been appreciative of all it does in the community, from the youngest citizens through the youth years.”

Youth In Need’s Early Learning Program, which consists of both Head Start and Early Head Start programs, is well known and extremely well respected in the area. Using a strength-based philosophy, the program has grown steadily in reputation and in number of children served. Similarly, University City Children’s Center (UCCC) has an outstanding reputation with years-long waiting lists in place. Additionally, both Youth In Need and UCCC value racial equity and recognize that diversity of economic backgrounds is also beneficial to children. With shared visions and values, the leaders of the two organizations have organically gravitated toward each other over the years. When the long-time director of UCCC retired, it seemed natural to solidify the alliance. In February 2024, the formal partnership between Youth In Need and University City Children’s Center, including its sister organization the LUME Institute, was announced.

Appreciating the value this collaboration would bring, awarding a $50,000 Merger Grant was an easy decision for YouthBridge. The Partnership or Merger Grant Program is made possible thanks to YouthBridge’s ability to repurpose 100% of the fees collected from fundholders’ accounts. Instead of covering its own administrative expenses (YouthBridge has its own endowment for that purpose), YouthBridge stewards fee revenue for community good. In the case of Youth In Need, the grant will be used for consultant and legal fees as the merger takes place. Pat explained, “We want everything to be thoughtful – well planned and well executed. Working with a consultant provides a road map for the process and helps us avoid any missteps.”

When finalized, the new Youth In Need will have even stronger, more diverse programming all around — from its early learning program to its counseling and foster care and adoption assistance services. Indeed, the new organization, which celebrates 50 years of service to the community this year, will be greater than the sum of the parts of the original entities. Continued cooperation and partnerships between YouthBridge and St. Louis-area agencies like Youth In Need further strengthen its exhibition of synergy as its best.