A “playbook” was developed as a resource for individuals, organizations and corporations to use in pursuit of potential engagement with or action on the various calls to action found within the Ferguson Commission’s report.
Youth at the Center
A multimedia campaign was produced to address racial inequity in school discipline, also partnering with local organizations to bring superintendents, parents and community members together in a regional school assembly.
Opportunity to Thrive
A compelling case for the economic potential of a racially equitable construction workforce was assembled, along with outlining the best practices/component parts that need to be in place for the industry to change.
About the Program
While each of the FOCUS leadership programs exposes participants to a wide range of issues in the region, Impact Fellows is unique in its focus and application of leadership skills. Individuals selected for the program gain a deeper level of understanding of the selected community issue, meet and work with the area’s top experts and key players, and apply leadership competencies and innovative thinking to move the issue forward.
In addition to producing a tangible outcome, project and/or solution, participants gain considerable training and experience in change management, problem-solving, group dynamics, systems thinking and project management.
The program runs March – December and consists of 12 full-day sessions. Program days include time for both training and skill development, working time on the selected class project(s) and are held at the FOCUS St. Louis office downtown and at locations around the region, as dictated by the needs and focus of the selected project.
While the FOCUS Impact Fellows program is new for the St. Louis region, similar programs in other cities have had significant success in facilitating positive and sustainable change on issues ranging from economic development to health to education.
This is a one-of-a-kind experience to work alongside leaders to produce real and meaningful change.
At the end of her term as a member of the Ferguson Commission, Director of Policy and Community Engagement Felicia Pulliam thought about next steps and how to utilze the information, energy and social capital created in the process of developing the Forward Through Ferguson report and its recommendations.
The ultimate question became, “What to do next?”
FOCUS Impact Fellows answered that question. With an initial investment from the William T. Kemper Foundation, Felicia designed and implemented an experience intended to provide leaders an opportunity to apply their leadership competencies to produce tangible outcomes and address an issue of relevance in community.
With the Ferguson Commission report chosen as the guidepost for the inaugural cohort, the selected 23 Fellows stepped up with curiosity and commitment to positive change. Together they jumped into a learning immersion, a true journey of unpacking, research, interviews, discovery and they gained deep new knowledge. The journey proved to be altogether disruptive and difficult.
There was no process, no plan – only the commitment to dive into the report and do something.
Anxiety ran high at session 5 – it was a grueling, accountability day where later that day, the Fellows were to present their ideas in front of 150 family members, friends and colleagues. In a matter of eight hours, they self-selected into 3 projects, developed initial project designs, outlined project deliverables, gave a presentation to a full room, faced critique, made unreasonable requests and survived. This was the beginning of the recurring test of Impact Fellows: trial by fire, together.
In 11 months of heavy discussion, immersion and decisions, the call to tackle and confront racial inequity became ever more apparent. The inaugural cohort of Impact Fellows dug deep and on this website, you will find the three projects produced to help make the St. Louis region a better place.
Special Thanks: Program Partners
FOCUS St. Louis is incredibly grateful for the support of these entities for the Impact Fellows program. To view all of the individuals and organizations who contributed to the program’s efforts, click here.