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Monsanto launches new competitive grants for non-profits

(Rachel Lippmann/St. Louis Public Radio)
Hugh Grant, the CEO of Monsanto, announces the company's Grow St. Louis program, where non-profits and charities compete for up to $15,000.

Building on the success and popularity of Pepsi Refresh and similar programs, Monsanto has launched its own competitive grants for St. Louis-area non-profits.

"We're asking St. Louis to nominate, and subsequently to vote on their favorite schools, their favorite agencies, their favorite non-profits," said Monsanto CEO Hugh Grant at Tuesday's announcement of the Grow St. Louis program. "They'll have the opportunity through that voting system to win a grant. It's kind of like American Idol without the music."

The Grow St. Louis grants will work this way:

  • Three grants will be awarded per quarter, 12 grants a year.
  • The top vote-getter will receive $15,000. Second place will receive $10,000 and third place will receive a $5,000 grant.
  • The program will continue in perpetuity.
  • According to the contest's official rules, a charity submitting a project must be in the St. Louis area (Franklin, Jefferson, Lincoln, St. Charles, St. Louis city and county, Warren and Washington counties in Missouri and Bond, Calhoun, Clinton, Jersey, Macoupin, Madison, Monroe, and St. Clair counties, Illinois).
  • The project must be focused on growing St. Louis positively, including, but not limited to "health and nutrition, parks and recreation, infrastructure, St. Louis landmarks, and the arts."

Monsanto has done this kind of competition in other parts of the world, Grant said, but he says the model is intriguing to try in St. Louis.
"It brings young people in, it kind of taps into social media and social networks, and it's collaborative," Grant said. "I think that's a pretty cool thing."

The Grow St. Louis program, said YWCA CEO Adrian Bracy, is an important opportunity to get everyone involved in improving the region's fortunes.

"Hugh [Grant, Monsanto's CEO]  said this is a small step, but it's a huge step to encourage our community to focus on the good that is being done," Bracy said.

Rachel is the justice correspondent at St. Louis Public Radio.

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