St. Louis Mosaic Project

students celebrate graduation day with flags
Facebook|Mosaic Project

The foreign-born population in the St. Louis area grew by about 9 percent from 2014 to 2015, according to census data collected in the American Community Survey.

During that time, the number of immigrants grew to 129,559. St. Louis attracted the highest percentage increase of the nation's top 20 metropolitan areas, beating out New York City, Chicago, and San Francisco.

Donnie Harris, principal, Nahed Chapman New American Academy.
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

Donnie Harris is the principal of Nahed Chapman New American Academy, located at 1530 S. Grand in the City of St. Louis. The school opened in 2009 as an “International Welcome School,” which provides a safe environment for immigrants and refugee students who have low formal education and struggle with limited English and, for some, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

The school has 300 students from 24 different countries.

Betsy Cohen, Anna Crosslin and Alaa Alderie joined "St. Louis on the Air" to discuss the economic impact of immigrants on the state of Missouri.
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

Today, there are 224,430 foreign-born people living in Missouri. Some 14,000 of those immigrants are self-employed and immigrant-owned businesses that generated over $250 million in business income in 2014.

Those are some of the findings in a new report published by the Partnership for a New American Economy, a pro-immigration advocacy group launched by Michael Bloomberg to influence policymakers toward immigration reform.

Wayne Crosslin | International Institute of St. Louis

The immigrant population in the St. Louis region has been declining in recent years.

The U.S. Census released 2014 numbers on Thursday. In St. Louis’ metropolitan statistical area it showed an estimated loss of about 10,000 foreign-born residents between 2011 and 2014.

Anna Crosslin
Courtesy of the Intentional Institute

Picking up your roots in one country and moving to a land with different customs and language is a daunting prospect. That story is not unfamiliar to Anna Crosslin, president and CEO of the International Institute of St. Louis.  

“I am a Japanese American and have grown up with my foot in two cultures. So what I have done for a living has been very grounded in what my personal mission has been, which has been building bridges between two worlds,” Crosslin said.

Anna Crosslin (left) and Betsy Cohen (right)
Alex Heuer

St. Louis regional leaders launched an initiative entitled the St. Louis Mosaic Project to make the region the fastest growing metro area for immigrants by 2020. Now in its third year, the goal of the project is to promote regional prosperity through immigration and innovation.

Mayor Francis Slay, SBA Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet
Wayne Pratt|St. Louis Public Radio

A new partnership will focus on training and business development in the St. Louis region’s immigrant entrepreneurship community.

Dancers perform at the Our Lady of Guadalupe celebration at Holy Trinity Parish on Sunday, Dec. 14, 2014.
Camille Phillips | St.Louis Public Radio

At Holy Trinity Catholic Parish in St. Ann, the feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe is cause for major celebration. The north St. Louis County church honored the patron saint of Mexico last month with a special mass attended by more than 300 people, many of them Hispanic.

When the church bell struck noon, the parishioners processed around the church with an icon of the patron saint, singing songs in Spanish, led by a mariachi band. Inside the sanctuary, dancers in red moved to the beat of a drum, and the priest gave a blessing to the children.

International Institute
Emanuele Berry | St. Louis Public Radio

Windows. That’s one of International Institute Director Anna Crosslin’s favorite parts of the International Institute of St. Louis’ new location. Its previous office building only had skylights on the second floor.

NathanReed / Flickr

On the national level, the issue of immigration seems to be as divisive as ever. President Barack Obama is reportedly preparing to sign an executive order to protect millions of people from deportation. In response, Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, has warned that if the president acts unilaterally, it will “poison the well” when it comes to relations with GOP members of Congress.

Tim Lloyd / St. Louis Public Radio

Friday morning a new initiative to help international students find jobs at local companies is being unveiled. Called the International Student Global Talent Hiring Program, the effort is being spearheaded by the St. Louis Mosaic Project, an initiative to make the St. Louis region the fastest growing major metro area of foreign-born residents by 2020.

Tim Lloyd / St. Louis Public Radio

The St. Louis region needs more immigrants to help bolster the economy.

That's the basic premise behind the St. Louis Mosaic Project, an initiative to make the St. Louis region the fastest growing major metro area of foreign-born residents by 2020.  

A key part of the project – which is supported by an A-list of St. Louis city and county officials – is retaining international students. Area universities figure they can pitch in and are gathering at Washington University Tuesday to discuss the best ways for St. Louis to hang on to international students after graduation. 

Tim Lloyd / St. Louis Public Radio

Yinzi Liu sat in the café at Washington University’s Medical School and nervously fiddled with the sleeve on her coffee cup.   

The 28-year old will graduate tomorrow with a doctorate in developmental, regenerative and stem cell biology.  While earning her degree she spent countless hours glued to a microscope, peering into zebrafish embryos for clues that could one day lead to the early detection of human birth defects.

By most accounts she should be brimming with excitement. Instead she’s loaded with anxiety.

“The clock is ticking,” Liu said.     

(courtesy St. Louis Mosaic Project)

St. Louis city and county lost population in the 2010 census which created big concerns about the region’s future.

In reaction, the area's civic leaders quickly turned their attention to immigrants.

Foreign born residents make up less than 5 percent of the metropolitan area, far below most other major U.S. cities.

The St. Louis Mosaic Project came together this last year to address the issue.

St. Louis Public Radio and The Beacon’s Maria Altman spoke with Betsy Cohen, the Mosaic's project director.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon - When Cileia Miranda-Yuen first came to St. Louis from Brazil in 1999 to pursue a master’s degree at Webster University, her initial reaction to the area was less than positive.

“The first year I was here, I couldn’t wait to find a way out,” said the 47-year-old Clayton resident. “I was really not happy. I didn’t feel embraced. I felt judged.”

NathanReed / Flickr

Earlier this year, St. Louis leaders launched the St. Louis Mosaic Project, an initiative to make the region the fastest growing metro area for immigrants by 2020.

According to Betsy Cohen, who is managing the project, the St. Louis community is making great strides.

The goal of the St. Louis Mosaic Ambassador Program is to make the area more welcoming to non-native people.

(via Flickr/NathanReed)

Late last month regional leaders launched the St. Louis Mosaic Project, an initiative to make the region the fastest growing metro area for immigrants by 2020.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: When Jason Jan came to the United States, he traveled a bit, even spent some time in California. But when it was time to settle down and found his own company, the native Malaysian knew just where he wanted to do it.