In 2013, we begin quietly buying up four blocks (25 acres) adjacent to our Center and the Samuel Gompers Homes. From the time of acquisition, we began the reclamation process – removing derelict structures, 45 dump trucks of debris, rolling it all back to green. We strategically kept buildings that were able to be repurposed.
Green Space. This project will include the completion of the Community Activity Complex, which addresses multiple needs. Outdoor green space will have features that provide Community Webbing - activities that bring people together in healthy ways: baseball and soccer fields, outdoor performance stage, playgrounds, walking/bike trail, splash pad, edible/botanical gardens, pavilions. Family Bonding: picnics, usage of the physical activity features; family gatherings for repass, weddings, reunions, open fields for sports, flying kites, frisbee golf, etc.)
Education. On the North Boundary of the park, we purchased an elementary school. This project will finish bringing the Children's Academic Center to life. We will help fill the quality education gap for residents in our neighborhood.
Workforce Development. On the Southwest Corner, we are refurbishing a warehouse to expand success in Adult Diploma Recovery; the Introduction to Construction and Trades; and Build upon our pipeline into trade apprenticeships, living wage degree programs, urban agriculture.
These projects represent the voice of our community, each step involving every member. Success will be measured on the outcomes that reflect increased emotional and physical wellbeing, increased education and wages, and the reduction of crime.
The OLIVETTE PARK ESL COMMUNITY DEVEOPMENT CORPORATION has been created to bring together long time practitioners with regional partners to enact a shared vision of transformational change. It is time to activate the vast potential of East St. Louis. Our focus is three fold:
The quality of life for East St. Louis residents: Residents here want and deserve what every other human being wants: A place to live that serves quality of life – a safe, vibrant community where the human need for productivity can be lived, maintained, supported through the continuum of life. Affordable housing, accessible health care, amenities for growth and self-expression, quality education, and living wage employment. These are the areas Olivette Park CDC will address.
The quality of life for the St. Louis Metropolitan Region. Yes, what does or does not happen in East St. Louis over the next ten years, will dramatically impact the growth of the entire St. Louis Metropolitan region. If you analyze the growth of metropolitan areas - separated by a river state line – you will see exponential growth of GDP for both sides when municipalities work together realizing their economic unity.
Setting the example of building a region based on equity of life for all: Why does it take a pandemic and amplified social unrest for us to begin talking about what is right and just? Above and beyond our political leanings, the truth of inequity and injustice lives in our actions and inactions. Here is an exerpt describing just one issue of disparity:
“Rich kids and poor kids are now growing up in separate and unequal America’s, with their fates increasingly and unfairly tied to their zip codes. Poor and working-class children increasingly grow up in fragile families and communities where food and housing are insecure, crime is higher, relationships are volatile, and stress is toxic, leaving them too isolated to develop the skills, knowledge and social networks crucial for success.
Over the past 40 years, high-income parents increased their spending on kids’ enrichment activities tenfold when compared to parents in low-income communities. Art, music, and sports all contribute to higher achievement. Children born into poverty get the least exposure to these opportunities and are too likely to enter adulthood unprepared for college or careers. This is in small part due to less time in the classroom during the pre-K years, but the bulk of this disparity comes from a lack of access to enrichment learning that happens beyond the traditional school day. After all, kids spend 70% of their waking hours outside of school.” (based on a seven hour school day, 180-day school year.)
Taken from The Learning Gap: ExpandED Schools