St Louis Racial Healing + Justice Fund Awards One-Time Crisis Response Grants

The St. Louis Racial Healing + Justice Fund — co-created by CHHSM member Deaconess Foundation, Forward Through Ferguson, and Missouri Foundation for Health — announced in mid-December the distribution of five unrestricted, one-time crisis response grants of $16,000 each.

The fund’s Community Governance Board (CGB) announced that the grants were awarded to The T/BRIC, Black Healers Collective, UnGUN Institute, St. Louis Community Health Workers Coalition, and Freedom Community Center. They will support these organizations’ ongoing efforts to provide frontline response to community trauma following the recent tragedies at Central Visual Performing Arts High School (CVPA) and Collegiate School of Medicine and Bioscience (CSMB). The two schools share the building where a teacher and student were killed in October 2022.

“Through our crisis grants, we are addressing the immediate and immense funding need of the leaders and organizers working directly in the community to address the lasting impacts of recent trauma,” said Darian Wigfall, member of the Community Governance Board (CGB). “These five organizations play a key role in providing impacted individuals with critical services. We recognize the importance of their work in providing St. Louis youth and their communities a safe space to gather, be heard and heal.”

The flexible, one-time crisis grants provide recipients with the necessary resources to fill gaps in capacity, cover overhead costs, build out existing programs, and respond quickly and effectively to community needs. The CGB chose the five grant recipients based on the urgent need for these organizations’ services during this critical time and the tireless dedication these organizations have shown to supporting the physical and mental well-being of individuals impacted by bullet-related injuries and other community wounds. 

“To bend toward healing, we must have a timely and deep response,” said Dr. L.J. Punch, Founder & Executive Director of The T/BRIC. “This is not responding in a sense of perpetual urgency or acting in trauma with fear, worry, or scarcity as the focus, but acting in solidarity, responding in generosity, and using the skills and resources we have right here, right now, to reduce the impact of trauma. The Racial Healing + Justice Fund’s crisis response grants made us feel seen, valued, heard, and recognized in a way that was so joyful and got our creative juices flowing about what else we could do.”

The CGB and its partners remain in solidarity with the families, students, educators, and staff of Central Visual Performing Arts High School (CVPA) and Collegiate School of Medicine and Bioscience (CSMB). While no words can heal the ripples of trauma, the CGB and its partners will continue to ground themselves in their commitment to grassroots organizing and community partnership.

“This grant is an answered prayer,” said Dr. Marty K. Casey, owner and founder of UnGUN Institute, LLC. “The funds from the Racial Healing + Justice Fund clear our path of the obstacles standing in the way of UnGUN and our increasing community crisis response work. We know that when we share trauma, we also have the ability to share healing. These additional resources empower us to guide and support impacted individuals and communities through this collective healing process.”

The Racial Healing + Justice Fund was created to prioritize community healing. Black residents and residents of color in the St. Louis region (including the Metro East) and surrounding counties are the decision-makers, and the Fund’s allocations are centered around healing the core of the community from racial trauma and changing the conditions of systemic racism that endanger lives.

At a later date, the CGB will announce awards for the Racial Healing + Justice Fund’s third grant cycle. The CGB has begun reviewing grant applications submitted from local healers, advocates, changemakers, and organizers, with a goal of investing $800,000 into the community in early 2023. 

About the award recipients:

  • The T/Bullet Related Injuries Clinic (BRIC) is dedicated to supporting patients and families after the experience of bullet injuries through whole person-centered care. Founder and trauma surgeon Dr. L.J. Punch is there to support patients who are managing their care on their own after leaving the Emergency Department. Patients are invited to the clinic for in-person care for wound care, pain management, and trauma recovery guidance. By providing just-in-time education and self-care support, The BRIC is both an asset to community members and hospitals.
  • Black Healers Collective are a community of change agents working to advance the healing and wholeness of African diaspora people. The Black Healer’s Collective engages in healing practices, programs and partnerships that support the Black Community in 1) re-membering itself – repairing that which feels fragmented and broken within its households, families and neighborhoods; 2) expressing its truths and exercising its power; and 3) creating healed futures that affirm and uplift Black lives.
  • UnGUN Institute releases trauma from violence in the mind, body, and soul in individuals and communities by engaging the arts, connecting, and communicating to achieve positive outcomes for healthy relationships. Created by Dr. Marty K. Casey, UnGUN holds sessions for individuals and groups that address and unpack trauma while fostering self-awareness, allowing self- forgiveness, and building self-confidence and self-love.
  • St. Louis Community Health Workers Coalition is a membership group, an organized consulting body, and an independent, social impact organization providing services towards social determinants. They define Community Health Workers (CHWs) as trusted and reflective, system intermediaries who work across sectors to build self-sufficiency within a client, patient, or neighbor through advocacy, outreach, and addressing social needs. The Coalition is the only non-profit organization in the state governed by CHWs, positioned to support the scaling, sustainability, and leadership development of the workforce.
  • Freedom Community Center is a Black-led organization in North St. Louis that was founded to dismantle systems of oppression that inflict harm and trauma on Black communities in St. Louis City, particularly the police and the criminal punishment system. Their work is grounded in the knowledge that the Black survivors of St. Louis have the solutions to the question: What will keep us safe? Providing the resources to alleviate immediate economic needs, the space to facilitate communal healing, and the time to dream collectively of alternative approaches, the Freedom Community Center creates opportunity for the community of survivors to meaningfully address harm happening in St. Louis.
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