A Red Circle
"The best way to visualize A Red Circle is to consider north St. Louis County ("North County"), its primary demographic, and its economic health. Where do you start? With schools that need funding, with vacant homes that need purchasing for tax revenue to fund the schools? With adults who need jobs and income to purchase the homes that fund the schools? With healthier food options to attract new businesses to hire the people who need jobs to buy the homes to fund the schools? With increasing the arts availability which adds flavor to everything? It's a circle, with no true beginning and no end. These disparities are the product of systemic and structural racism, but all blood is red."- Founder and Executive Director Erica R. Williams
What We DoA Red Circle is a community based, collaborative organization, which was founded to address racial disparities in the North St. Louis County region. It has five focus areas: employment, education, holistic living, policy, and the arts. Click here to view our latest newsletter, The Quarterly Circle. We had a great and productive second quarter, working to fulfill our mission and vision!
How We Do It
- A Red Circle’s Employment team works to break down barriers to securing and keeping gainful employment in North County. They work on job development and job creation through a racial equity lens. This can include supplying work appropriate clothing, advocating for high schools to incorporate a more jobs-focused curriculum, asking employers to provide transportation help, childcare assistance, and other necessities during the first few weeks of employment, and collaborating with policy organizations that focus on improving public transit.
- The Education team works with students, in grades pre-K through 3, in the Hazelwood and Ferguson-Florissant school districts who struggle with behavior, academics, and social-emotional learning skills. The team works with school personnel and parents to provide mentorship, tutoring, or practical resources such as hygiene products to students. It also provides referral and service resources to parents as needed. In addition, the team conducts Parent Cafes to empower parents on how to advocate for their children. Finally, the team has assembled an Education Advocacy Coalition to include professionals and organizations invested in the North County school districts of Hazelwood, Ferguson-Florissant, Riverview, Normandy, and Jennings. The coalition meets quarterly and works on issues such as discipline practices, academic achievement, parental involvement, equitable school funding, job-readiness, and financial empowerment.
- The Holistic Living team advocates for healthy food access in North County, while educating and empowering the community. Our healthy food kitchen, Healthy Flavor Bistro & Garden is open for dinner every Friday evening. We serve healthy, family style meals that are affordable and easy to recreate at home. Once our garden yields a harvest, our meals will be served directly from the garden! In the meantime, we are collaborating with local growers, farmers, and grocers to serve the freshest food possible. Come and join us for dinner at North Hills United Methodist Church, 10771 Trask Drive, St. Louis, Missouri 63136, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Donations are welcome but not required.
- The Policy team works on civic engagement, voter mobilization, and alongside community advocacy groups on issues that affect the Black community. Examples include school-to-prison pipeline, predatory lending, felony conviction box on job applications, police training, and others.
- The Arts team performs at events and provides opportunities for North County residents to become more exposed to the fine arts.
Upcoming Autumn Activities
- Racial Equity Film Series. Beginning in September, on select Fridays, we will show movies that highlight the need for our work in racial equity. After each movie, we will explore and discuss solutions and the stakeholders and resources needed to achieve the desired outcomes. All are welcome and, of course, healthy refreshments will be served. Our first movie will be Nappily Ever After, starring Sanaa Latham, on September 21. Find details and RSVP here.
- Financial Empowerment Seminars. One component of a healthy community is financial health. Watch the calendar and our Facebook Events page for seminar dates and locations. Topics will include banking, basic money management, estate planning, credit, and more.
- Rides to the Polls. August 7 and November 6 are important voting days in St. Louis County. We do not want a lack of transportation to be a barrier for anyone in North County. We are collaborating with multiple groups to ensure folks have a ride to the polls. The link to request rides for November will be available soon.
- Seasonal Celebrations. School will be back in session soon and then, the seasons will change. A Red Circle believes in working hard and celebrating our achievements and the community. We will host a back-to-school event, Autumn Harvest in our garden, and Kwanzaa. Stay tuned for details about those events.
CollaborationsI highly recommend Stl Youth Jobs and will definitely reach out to them for interns for Summer, 2019.
Maryville University's education studies department has joined our Education Advocacy Coalition as a way to introduce future teachers to the classrooms of predominately Black school districts. As part of our new collaboration, Executive Director Erica R Williams will introduce concepts around education justice to Maryville's students, who will then provide A Red Circle with volunteer hours within the classrooms of select North County classrooms. The collaboration came to be as a result of our Teach Us All panel discussion. At that event, we agreed that new teachers should be introduced to more urban areas sooner than when they begin student teaching, to begin forming relationships with students who might represent a different demographic from what they are used to.
A Red Circle’s vision is to restore North County to a safe, vibrant, sustainable, and economically sound community that remains diverse, and in doing so, help heal the racial strife and division that threatens to ruin North County altogether.
...because all blood is red