To bridge ‘Delmar Divide,' community program aims to get neighbors talking | St. Louis Public Radio

To bridge ‘Delmar Divide,' community program aims to get neighbors talking

Oct 14, 2018

A St. Louis nonprofit group is developing a program to bring neighbors from north and south St. Louis together.

The St. Louis Association of Community Organizations hopes to officially launch their Sisterhood Initiative next year. The program will pair neighborhoods north and south of Delmar Boulevard for year-long working partnerships in an effort to bridge the so-called “Delmar Divide.”

SLACO Executive Director Kevin McKinney said the initiative is an extension of another of the organization’s programs known as Neighborhoods United for Change.

That program, which began in 2016, facilitates conversations between neighbors from north and south St. Louis communities and takes them on half-day bus tours of each other’s neighborhoods.

“We felt that the Neighborhoods United for Change program was a great place to start, but it was just breaking the ice,” McKinney said. “You need to have more interaction, so you can learn about each other and communicate with each other. That’s why we’re putting the Sisterhoods Initiative in place.”

The scope of the program will be open-ended by design, with neighborhood leaders responsible for developing the partnerships.

The goal, said McKinney, is to start a conversation between residents that will help them find common ground. 

Kevin McKinney, SLACO executive director
Credit St. Louis on the Air

“My hope is that we can bring north and south together,” he said. “That residents will understand that this divide has to be broken down and that funds need to be allocated for the north just as well as for the south.”

To identify potential neighborhoods for the Sisterhoods Initiative, McKinney said SLACO contacted the leaders of St. Louis neighborhood associations by mail.

Based on the questionnaire results, he said the group expects to pair approximately 10 St. Louis neighborhoods.

The total number of participating neighborhoods and program launch date will depend on funding availability.

The St. Louis Community Development Administration has tentatively approved a funding package of $30,000 for SLACO programs in 2019, of which roughly $7,500 will be allocated to the Sisterhoods Initiative.

Final approval of the funding proposal rests with the St. Louis Board of Aldermen and Board of Estimate and Apportionment.

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