The West End Planning effort is the result of a partnership between InvestSTL, an initiative from the St. Louis Community Foundation, and Cornerstone Corporation, a housing-based nonprofit organization located in the West End. While Cornerstone will manage and facilitate the planning process, it will ultimately be a resident-driven plan. To ensure this, a resident Steering Committee has been formed to drive the planning process.

Cornerstone intends to become place based and involved in the overall West End neighborhood. That intention began to flourish when Keaira Anderson, Cornerstone’s new Executive Director and a resident of the West End, was approach by several residents to apply for the Invest STL grant in early 2018. The grant was ultimately more than funds. It is a massive initiative to build Cornerstone’s capacity to support the neighborhood through a number of opportunities including funding and in-kind supports for what residents had been discussing—the development of a comprehensive community plan to be adopted by the City and implemented.

On behalf of the West End neighborhood, Cornerstone Corporation has extended its services and commitment from 39 families in rental units to over 10,000 families living within the boundaries of Skinker (west), Page (north), Union (east), and Delmar (south). Cornerstone is seeking to build upon its trusted position in the West End and cultivate the large amount of resident talent while launching a neighborhood planning effort.

As a recipient of the Invest STL award, Cornerstone has the ability to leverage technical assistance, in-kind services, and funds to support the collective efforts of residents to create and implement a resident-driven, comprehensive community plan. The planning effort will address those issues most important to West End neighbors: health, safety, housing, economic development, urban design,  and education; in order to create a sustainable community (not listed in an order of importance). The West End Plan will include the elements required by the City of St. Louis for formal adoption by the City’s Planning Commission.

It takes time, resources, planning, and support to become a successful community development organization that enables comprehensive community improvement initiatives to flourish. Invest STL has the tools and expertise to aggregate resources, leverage regional assets to build capacity in the field, and to create accountability and incentives that drive best practices and outcomes. Cornerstone is committed to leveraging its resources and support from Invest STL for the benefit of the West End neighborhood.

Sponsored by the St. Louis Community Foundation, Invest STL is a regional initiative that aligns investment, technical assistance, and community organizations to build healthy neighborhoods that are thriving, resilient, and livable for everyone. The goal of Invest STL is to influence the built environment through neighborhood level support for community design, economic development, place making, social services, and housing.

In the next three years (2018-2020) Invest STL will work with Cornerstone Corporation in the West End neighborhood  to provide technical assistance, planning, capacity building, and implementation. After those three years, Invest STL will provide continuous support that will build the sustainability of community organizations throughout the St. Louis region. Invest STL with its community partners will achieve the following in each of the neighborhoods that received Invest STL support grants:

  1. Development of a comprehensive community development plan that is in place and embraced by residents and stakeholders
  2. Implementation such as the process which is now underway for priorities in the Gravois-Jefferson Historic Neighborhoods community plan, where short-term milestones have been met;
  3. Community engagement is fully incorporated into the work of the grantee and each area supported by the grant has helped build confidence, trust, and participation among the residents who will ultimately benefit from neighborhood improvements;
  4. Neighborhood organizations are stable and have capable staff in place to implement interventions and leverage other resources;
  5. Community improvements are creating healthier and sustainable communities; and
  6. Interventions to reduce concentrated poverty and improve racial equity