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A Place to Grow

Kids don’t grow up in programs; they grow up in places. Children in our care are afraid of street violence, yes. But they’re more afraid their lives will evolve like the decay around them. CAC maintains an unwavering focus on the places our kids are growing up. This time it’s not through graffiti removal or visits to mothers of lost teens. A quarter century later, our strategy is a proactive one:  


  1. Invest in the education, experiences, and homes of the youth we serve

  2. Reclaim the brown space that makes up our kids’ panoramic view of the world

In the process of thinking through what is best for our children, we want to do everything possible inside our doors, yet the conditions and problems around us continue to deteriorate. We feel that the time is right where we must take audacious steps to change the world around us in ways that can have systemic impact.


If we could magically “fix” every child in our care, the next generation and those that follow will still face the same crippling challenges. Part of our work is intentionally focused on raising up parents for the sake of the child in our care. Family ministries will continue to grow, but growth follows beauty. Even the best families in this city fight against the tremendous negative influences that surround them. Why not change the world? We must create A Place to Grow.

Kids don’t grow up in programs; they grow up in places.

CAC is developing 22.3 acres of healing space around our families’ homes, with the intention of preparing youth for healthy futures both inside our building and in the places they live. The project is named A Place to Grow and is a natural extension of CAC’s historical programming.

CAC is converting four now-cleared city blocks immediately south of our building into:


  • Edible gardens to feed families raw foods year round

  • Chapel & prayer gardens

  • Walking & biking trails for family exercise and bonding

  • Tot-Lot & elementary playground

  • Pavilion & picnic grounds to model mother-child & larger family bonding

  • Splash pad/water features

  • Performing arts stage

  • Stone chess tables and coffee carts for elderly and family bonding

  • Promenade for social enterprising

  • Floral gardens for visual healing and the opportunity for micro-economies/sale of plantlife

  • Two youth baseball fields to establish community webbing/deflate territorial tensions

  • Two soccer fields to promote aerobic health and left-right brain connections/brain development

CAC’s long-term plan is to create a tipping point for change in the region. St. Louis as a region will never thrive until the east side is healthy. This is modeled in nearly a half-dozen two-state metropolitans connected by a riverfront: Hoboken, NJ/New York City; Jeffersonville, IN/ Louisville, KY; Cincinnati/Covington - the list goes on.  CAC’s prayer is: Let it begin with us. Let us message this historic national truth and inspire the St. Louis region with a shared vision for the development of East St. Louis that is about the productivity of its people.

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Our Mission
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