Logo for Children's Service Fund
Logo for Children's Service Fund

As we prepare to step into the new year and tackle a whole new list of projects and initiatives, all while continuing to provide the best support to the kids and families of St. Louis County, I am truly astounded by all we accomplished at CSF this past year.

It has been a whirlwind of a year and I cannot begin to list all that our team has worked on without first taking a moment to recognize them. Their talent, passion, and hard work have made this a truly successful year. I am extremely proud of the work we have done to further our strategic plan, project by project. We are living out our mission one step at a time, and I cannot wait to see where 2023 will take us, but first a look back.

In 2020 we set out to transform the way CSF looked, communicated, and interacted with the community. In September 2022, after two years of effort, we launched our new brand and website. As I think about writing this letter last year, I can’t believe how different our organization looks, but also how energizing this branding campaign felt for our board and team.

Our new brand gave us a platform to better tell our story and illustrate our impact over the last 12 years. We see ourselves as not only funders, but advocates, collaborators, and connectors. One of the most exciting projects of the past year has been the development and launch of our new website – stlcsf.org. This user-friendly platform allows visitors to learn more about CSF and our funded partners, and to easily connect with resources in the region through our Find-A-Service tool.

In the new year, you will see more of our rebranding. Our funded partners will receive CSF stickers for doorways and entrances, tri-folds, flyers, and more. In the past few months, CSF has also expanded its social media platforms from Facebook and Twitter to now include Instagram and LinkedIn. In the new year we will be expanding once more and debuting on TikTok. We are so excited to find more ways to connect with St. Louis County residents.

Through our work with the School-Based Advisory Committee we deepened our understanding of the needs of those working with our youth, including school personnel. In May, CSF hosted a second virtual suicide prevention training with over 300 attendees – nearly doubling the attendance of our first suicide prevention training in 2021. We also hosted our first-ever WellEducator STL Conference and Fair in coordination with our School-Based Advisory Committee. As we continued to learn from and experience the fallout of the pandemic, we were so grateful to be able to provide a day of self-care for our area teachers, administrators, and school support staff. We are looking forward to expanding opportunities for connection and sharing resources next year. As always, I am so impressed with our community of care practitioners and school staff who are willing to take time out of their day to come together for the betterment of our community and the lives of St. Louis County kids and their families.

We continued to strengthen our alignment with the other children’s service funds throughout the state and are working collaboratively with St. Louis Mental Health Board (MHB) on a number of different initiatives. This fall, in partnership with MHB, CSF hosted two Youth Mental Health First Aid trainings, bringing school staff members together to grow their understanding of youth mental health and learn how to help young people in crisis and non-crisis situations. The trainings were provided by Mental Health First Aid Missouri, and we plan to offer more trainings in 2023.

CSF also partnered with SKIP Designed and spent time out of the office with fourth-grade students from Rockwood and Hazelwood School Districts as part of a pilot program to better understand the mental, social, and emotional health needs of children and youth in St. Louis County. We hope this project – Community Based System Dynamics (CBSD) – will illuminate the system underlying mental health challenges experienced by elementary students in schools and allow us to use that insight to inform strategy for meeting the uptick in needs in the wake of COVID-19.

Last but certainly not least, we are in the midst of reviewing applications for the 2023-2026 Core Funding Opportunity. Although the application opened in September, our team began diligently working last January on reviewing, analyzing, and improving the application process. As part of our process, we intentionally sought to connect with organizations not currently partnered with us discuss possible alignment with our funding. We loved learning about all of the important and innovative work that is happening across our community. This cycle we had 128 applications, including applications from 16 organizations not currently funded by CSF. We are looking forward to wrapping up the review process this spring and announcing our new Core partners for 2023-2026.

While I am so grateful for everything our team has done in 2022, I am excited to see what the new year holds. We will continue work on projects like the St. Louis County Community Resource Initiative with St. Louis County Public Library, which places social workers in library branches across St. Louis County as well as continuing to connect and align our efforts through the School-Based Advisory Committee, Community Advisory Committee, Outreach Council, Psychiatric Services Cohort, and Grassroots Cohort. We will continue to look for ways to be more efficient and effective as a team. We will also dive into new projects like developing a Common Client ID and beginning our three-year racial equity initiative.

This year we completed the first of a two-year funding cycle for our Grassroots Funding Opportunity. We have been so impressed with the engagement and passion from our Grassroots partners that our board approved a second round of the Grassroots Funding Opportunity, doubling the allocation amount and number of partners we can engage with. We are excited to continue this journey and look forward to bringing you more information in the new year on this application cycle.

Again, this work – and there is a lot of it – could not be done without the support and guidance of our board and the commitment and passion of our team. I firmly believe our work is changing the funding landscape in the region. None of this would be possible without our funded partners. We are so proud to work with some of the best organizations in the region who share our passion and mission of making sure every child in St. Louis County has the resources and opportunity to reach their full potential.

Thank you for your hard work, care, and passion. We hope you have a wonderful holiday season. Here’s to 2023!