WEPOWER

Saint Louis, MO   |  https://www.wepowerstl.org/

Mission

We activate community power through providing spaces for everyday people to heal from the trauma of systemic racism, while reimagining, redesigning, and organizing towards the transformation of education, economic, health, and justice systems to support Black and Latinx liberation. We build infrastructure for community-level wealth building through scaling community-beneficial businesses, creating pathways towards living wage jobs, and catalyzing community-owned capital.

Ruling year info

2018

Principal Officer

Charli Cooksey

Main address

4240 Duncan Avenue

Saint Louis, MO 63110 USA

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EIN

82-3591958

NTEE code info

Urban, Community (S31)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Communication

Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Black and Latinx people across the US experience quantifiably worse outcomes than their white counterparts across education, economic, healthcare, and justice systems. This is especially true in the St. Louis region. A long history of intense racial segregation has impacted not just racial residential patterns but racial wealth, educational opportunities, food availability, and access to healthcare, forming a feedback loop of racial disparities. The St. Louis Equity Indicators report found that Black St. Louisans had half the median income of White residents, and were twice as likely to be rent burdened, four times as likely to be denied a home loan, and five times more likely to be unemployed. These outcomes are caused by systems largely designed by white and affluent communities, based on their own lives and perspectives. Systems are done to communities of color instead of imagined, created, and implemented with and by them.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Elevate/Elevar

Elevate/Elevar is a one-of-a-kind, six-month accelerator that elevates early-stage, for-profit companies founded by Black and Latinx entrepreneurs. WEPOWER activates community power. As our local communities are closely tied to our local economies, the Elevate/Elevar Accelerator is the part of our work focused on economic power building and job creation.

Elevate/Elevar engages entrepreneurs who:
- Identify as Black and/or Latinx
- Run an early-stage company with demonstrated traction
- Work in industries that can create living wage jobs that do not require a bachelor’s degree, and so can create living wage jobs for community-members living in poverty
- Commit to their company full time or agree to make the leap once the Accelerator begins

Participating entrepreneurs make five Commitments to Community:
- Hire at or on a path to a living-wage;
- Build partnerships with regional workforce development programs;
- Invest in their employees, by providing benefits and/or a share of profits;
- Work with an advisory board that includes community members; and
- Integrate racial equity into their company culture.

Our six-month model offers founders:
- Access to capital
- Village Capital’s research-based investment-readiness curriculum
- SLAM!’s branding curriculum in leveraging marketing to increase customer acquisition
- Advising from paid business coaches and teams of volunteer mentors
- Office hours with attorneys, accountants, HR and marketing professionals
- Co-working space and community

Population(s) Served

Our systems are poorly designed because Black and Latinx folks have been isolated from decision-making tables and idea-creation spaces. This harms our communities and limits our collective potential to thrive.

Our response: activate changemakers to reimagine and redesign systems that impact them.

Our inaugural cohort of Tomorrow Builders are focusing on Early Childhood Education. We believe building a better tomorrow for St. Louis starts with our kids, our future. Right now, the region’s early childhood education system is poorly designed and hurting folks most impacted by racism, prejudice, and poverty. Over the course of 2 years, the inaugural Tomorrow Builders fellows are reimagining and redesigning the early childhood education system across the St. Louis region.

There is not enough sustainable funding to create a high quality early childhood education system with well-distributed, subsidized spaces of all kinds so that every community in St. Louis thrives. Insufficient funding impacts both access to and quality of early childhood education. Adults and children alike in the St. Louis region face tremendous inequality, higher than average household poverty rates, and the detrimental effects associated with each. While education quality is notoriously hard to measure, the First Step to Equity Report still found large discrepancies in the quality of education available to white and black children. The First Step to Equity Report also found that while 8,7000 children in the region qualified for state-subsidized ECE services, only 3,9000 subsidized slots are available. With 41% of St. Louis children below the poverty line, there is a huge number of kids in need – and a huge opportunity to help them.

Fellows engaged and collected feedback from 1,000+ birth to five parents and educators to understand their dreams and the current challenges. They facilitated design process in which Fellows work with 40 community members on five solutions teams, each working to solve a critical piece of the current Early Childhood Education challenge in St. Louis. They recently released their solutions in The Playbook, and are transitioning their momentum from designing solutions to implementing them. With enough public support, we can transform these solutions from proposals to policies, ensuring that all St. Louis families have access to a high quality experience birth through five.

Population(s) Served

The Power-Building Academy program is a base-building strategy that develops residents’ advocacy and policy design skills. The goals of the program are to: (1) Develop new leaders who commit to long-term organizing to create policy and systems change (2) Support program participants as they design responsive and results-based policy solutions (3) Support program participants as they achieve issue-based policy changes that work to decrease racial disparities (4) increase voter turnout in targeted areas where turnout is low, but there could be a huge impact.

Past Power-Building Academy cohorts have formed the Rise189 campaign focused on school board transparency and strategic planning in the East St. Louis school district; the Better Budgets, Better Schools campaign, focused on budgeting transparency from the St. Louis Public Schools District; and the What’s Next, SLPS? campaign, focused on addressing the school closures process being undertaken by the St. Louis Public Schools district. Current Power-Building Academy cohorts are focusing on economic issues and early childhood education.

Population(s) Served

Chisholm’s Chair is a seven-month leadership development opportunity for Black and/or Latinx women in the St. Louis region that are interested in pursuing public leadership. Chisholm's Chair is for women that identify as champions of equity. Women that are unbought, unbossed, bold and unapologetic leaders, remaining connected to and inspired by a transformative vision for their communities, para la gente. It's for women that are ready to work hard and fight systems of oppression in the St. Louis region so that their community's most vulnerable can no longer just survive – but THRIVE. It's for women that see elected and appointed office as a lever for effecting policy change – a means to an end, not the end in and of itself. Chisholm's Chair is for women that are willing to work across lines of difference, listen deeply to others, and lead with humility and love.

Population(s) Served

Where we work

Our Sustainable Development Goals

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn more about Sustainable Development Goals.

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

Over the course of a generation, our goals are that an increased % of Black & Latinx St. Louis households in high poverty communities have:
a) high quality early childhood seats
b) high quality & equitably resourced K12 public schools
c) quality, affordable healthcare
d) more wealth than their parents
e) living wage jobs, guaranteed income, &/or job guarantee
f) quality food & green spaces within walking distance

Our annual goals include that an increased # of families in high poverty Black & Latinx communities:
a) engage in WEPOWER programs & campaigns
b) are aware of existing inequities that harm their wellbeing & understand the root causes of existing inequities that harm their wellbeing
c) know how to effectively engage in community organizing; design policy solutions; lead voter education & engagement efforts; and know how to leverage storytelling to build power & organize

How we listen

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Seeking feedback from people served makes programs more responsive and effective. Here’s how this organization is listening.

done We shared information about our current feedback practices.
  • How is your organization collecting feedback from the people you serve?

  • How is your organization using feedback from the people you serve?

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  • What challenges does the organization face when collecting feedback?

Financials

WEPOWER
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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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Connect with nonprofit leaders

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  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
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WEPOWER

Board of directors
as of 8/13/2020
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Andrew Yawitz

Roo Yawitz

Claudia Mendoza

Crystal Martin

Michael Butler

State Representative

Abdul Hardrick

Michael Woods

April Fulstone

Ryan Strode

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 08/12/2020

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? GuideStar partnered on this section with CHANGE Philanthropy and Equity in the Center.

Leadership

The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
Black/African American/African
Gender identity
Female, Not transgender (cisgender)
Sexual orientation
Heterosexual or Straight
Disability status
Person without a disability

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity

 

Sexual orientation

Disability