Who We Are / What We Do

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

St. Louis Graduates is a component fund of St. Louis Community Foundation.

To learn more about the history of St. Louis Graduates, read the case study about the formation of the network and how it evolved.


St. Louis Graduates Steering Committee

Co-chairs:

  • Alan Byrd, Jr., Dean of Enrollment Services, University of Missouri-St. Louis
  • Allison Williams, Senior Vice President, Programs, Wyman

Members:

  • 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
  • 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, University of Missouri College Pathways
  • 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

Operations:

  • Laura Winter, Project Director
  • Ellen Vietor, Scholarship Central Manager (with The Scholarship Foundation of St. Louis)
  • Karissa Anderson, Manager of Advocacy (with The Scholarship Foundation of St. Louis)

WHAT WE DO

The mission of St. Louis Graduates is to transform lives through postsecondary education equity. St. Louis Graduates seeks to strengthen the system of support for students by:

Increasing collective commitment to support low-income students, first-generation students and students of color to postsecondary degree completion. 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 St. Louis Regional Chamber, collects, analyzes and shares data to support collaboration; convenes those working to support students to coordinate efforts; encourages community leaders and organizations to commit to equity in degree completion; and communicates the accomplishments and needs of students and those who work with them.

Advocating for state, federal and institutional policies that support degree attainment for students who are low income, first generation, and/or students of color. 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. St. Louis Graduates convened a task force to look at effective institutional policies in support of student graduation with less debt which led to the Degrees with Less Debt report.

Promoting and encouraging the use of best practices at the high school and postsecondary levels to support access and success across systems in St. Louis.  St. Louis Graduates operates Scholarship Central in partnership with The Scholarship Foundation of St. Louis, St. Louis Community Foundation, Missouri Scholarship & Loan 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 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.


WHY IT MATTERS

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.