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Dear Lou: It’s Time to Build a Stronger, More Equitable, and Prosperous St. Louis—Once and for All
“Dear Lou ...”
These two words form the opening salutation in a new communications effort from Beyond Housing to the greater St. Louis area called “Once and for All.”
Once and for All is based on the truth that our region is only as strong as the communities within it and that what happens in our underserved communities impacts our entire region.
There is a wealth of research and data published by Washington University’s Health Equity Works, Forward Through Ferguson, Greater St. Louis Inc., and the University of Missouri-St. Louis, as well other organizations across the country, that show how the high concentrations of poverty in our underserved, predominantly Black communities—as well the systemic racism and extreme disparities of opportunity that continue to perpetuate this poverty—is hurting all of us.
These issues have devastated the lives of generations of St. Louisans and have also contributed to our region’s greatest challenges—from failing schools to severe health disparities, reduced economic growth, lost economic opportunities, increased crime, and our region’s steady decline in prosperity, national prominence, and influence.
For these reasons, we believe that in order for St. Louis to succeed in the years ahead, it’s vital that we invest in our underserved communities and address these issues—once and for all.
The campaign begins with a series of videos titled “Dear Lou,” which are running on Fox 2 and across social media in the St. Louis area. The videos are an open letter to the region we call home and serve as a rallying cry for our region to come together and address these issues for the benefit of all of us.
Local social media influencers will also be sharing the videos and creating their own “Dear Lou,” letters, messages, and videos and encouraging their followers to do the same.
The videos end with the URL that takes viewers to a specific “Dear Lou,” page on the campaign's website at onceandforall.org where they are encouraged to create their own “Dear Lou,” letters and messages. On this website, also we present why strengthening families and transforming our underserved communities is vital for the future success of the entire St. Louis region and our new comprehensive model which we believe is the key to addressing so many of St. Louis’ longstanding issues.
We couldn’t be more excited about this effort. We believe it will be a win for the people and communities we serve, our many partners, and the entire St. Louis region.
We also believe this effort is launching at the perfect time. As a society, both here in St. Louis and nationally, we are at an inflection point. People are calling for change and greater equity of opportunity for Black individuals and communities.
We believe our comprehensive, holistic model for strengthening families and transforming communities provides a way to address these issues and create real change that will benefit us all.
It’s also the right time for our organization and our many partners. Over the last ten-plus years, we have honed and refined our comprehensive, holistic model and invested heavily in creating the infrastructure of partners, programs, and relationships to fulfill this model. We have learned much along the way in our drive to create greater impact.
To quote one of the upcoming “Dear Lou,” videos, “if we can realize that we’re only as strong as all of us put together, and that we can only progress so far while leaving so many of us behind, we can change our story to a new one.”
Once and for all.
Please visit onceandforall.org to learn more.
I’ve been working in community development in the St. Louis area for 25 years, and I’ve been the CEO of Beyond Housing since 1993. While I’m proud of our accomplishments, I don’t claim to be an expert. At Beyond Housing, the experts we listen to are the voices of the community members we serve. I’ll be raising issues here that I believe matter to our community. I hope you’ll join the conversation. We do reserve the right not to post comments containing offensive language. To paraphrase Dr. King, we can disagree without being disagreeable.