Who We Are / What We Do

Who We Are
The mission of St. Louis Graduates is to increase the proportion of low-income, first generation and African American students in the St. Louis region who earn a postsecondary degree.

St. Louis Graduates is a collaborative network of youth-serving college access provider organizations, K-12 education, higher education, philanthropic funders and businesses.

To learn more about the history of St. Louis Graduates, read the case study about the formation of the network and how it evolved. Thanks to Dr. Terry Jones for writing it and Citi Foundation for making it possible.

St. Louis Graduates Steering Committee


Alan Byrd, Jr., Dean of Enrollment Services, University of Missouri-St. Louis

Allison Williams, Senior Vice President, Programs, Wyman Center

Scott Baier, Executive Director, College Bound

Elizabeth Bender, Ed.D., Associate Superintendent for College and Career Readiness, St. Louis Public Schools

Cynthia Curry Crim, Foundation Program Manager, Commerce Bank

Jane Donahue, Co-founder and President and CEO, St. Louis Public Schools Foundation

Melissa Findley, Manager, Foundation and Outreach Strategies, Missouri Scholarship & Loan Foundation|MOHELA

Sherry Harsch-Porter, Ph.D., Principal, The Porter Bay Group

David Hilliard, Retired President and Chief Executive Officer, Wyman Center

Wendy Jaffe, Executive Director, The Trio Foundation of St. Louis                       

Greg Laposa, Vice President-Education Strategies, St. Louis Regional Chamber

Amy Basore Murphy, Director of Scholarship and Donor Services, St. Louis Community Foundation

Meredith Naughton, Executive Director, Missouri College Advising Corps

Michael Petersen, Senior Vice President, Wells Fargo Advisors

Kathleen Reeves, Assistant Vice President, Corporate Community Relations, Enterprise Holdings

Faith Sandler, Co-founder and Executive Director, The Scholarship Foundation of St. Louis

Randall Weller, Director, Citi Community Development


Laura Winter, Project Director
Ellen Vietor, Scholarship Central Manager
Karissa Anderson, Advocacy and Public Policy Manager


St. Louis Graduates, in partnership with St. Louis Regional Chamber, has joined Lumina Foundation’s Community Partnership for Attainment, linking 75 metropolitan areas in developing effective collaborations around postsecondary access and persistence.

As part of a community plan, St. Louis Graduates works to:

Increase collective commitment to support low-income, first-generation and African American students in postsecondary success. St. Louis Graduates first raised the issue of inequality in college access and degree completion with the 2009 publication of a regional report, Building Better Futures, and equity continues to guide its work. St. Louis Graduates, in partnership with the Chamber, collects, analyzes and shares data to support collaboration; convenes those working to support students to coordinate efforts; and communicates the accomplishments and needs of students and those who work with them.

Reduce financial barriers for students pursuing postsecondary education.  St. Louis Graduates created Scholarship Central in partnership with The Scholarship Foundation of St. Louis, St. Louis Community Foundation and Wells Fargo Advisors to simplify the process of finding and applying to local scholarship and interest-free loan programs. Since it was created, Scholarship Central has awarded over $21 million to more than 1,800 students.

St. Louis Graduates advocates for public and institutional policies that support students, particularly around access and affordability. St. Louis Graduates, in partnership with The Scholarship Foundation of St. Louis, launched the Active Advocacy Coalition, a student-led coalition advocating for student-centered policies in higher education.

Facilitate student transition from high school to college without need for remedial coursework. St. Louis Graduates recognizes the valuable role of counselors in helping students make postsecondary plans while in high school and persist to a degree once enrolled in postsecondary education. St. Louis Graduates builds the capacity of professionals who work directly with students through the Professional Development Institute, an annual series of workshops designed to connect counselors to the research base while building a peer network across the region.

St. Louis Graduates assists students with the transition to postsecondary at the summer-only High School to College Center. A collaborative endeavor, the Center provides free counseling and financial aid advice to students in the Delmar Loop. Over four years, the High School to College Center has advised over 800 students with their postsecondary transition.

Connect postsecondary education to the needs of the regional workforce and students to work-based learning experiences. St. Louis Graduates supports the work of St. Louis Regional Chamber and others in this area.


In the St. Louis region, an adult with a bachelor’s degree has median earnings 77% higher than one with just a high school diploma; an adult with some college or an associate's degree has earnings 23% higher.  Approximately two-thirds of jobs will require some form of postsecondary education yet only 41% of adults in the region have a postsecondary degree. Among African Americans, only 27% have a degree.