State of the Community

Below are stories highlighting the Transformative Services Division and several of its service specializations, as well as updates on other facets of our comprehensive approach to community development.

An Introduction to Our New Transformative Services Division

May marks five months since Beyond Housing began a significant transition in its service delivery under the leadership of Chief Transformation Officer Jaclyn Belt. The changes include centralizing multiple departments under a single umbrella, standardizing the service model, and routinizing service delivery.

The Transformative Services Division’s service delivery model prioritizes the quality and depth of interaction—which has been a hallmark of Beyond Housing’s programs since our inception—while ensuring thoroughness and efficiency through standardized processes by client-facing staff across six service specializations.

Chief Transformation Officer Jaclyn Belt shares the evocative story of how her background prepared her to lead Beyond Housing’s new Transformative Services Division, which integrates specialized case management services across housing stability, career development, financial empowerment, community health, entrepreneurship, and homeownership.

“If you’re having the experience of poverty,” Belt explained, “it is profound to have someone dedicate time to go alongside you and work through the system with you.”

Belt looks forward to further strengthening Beyond Housing’s service delivery model through thoughtful data gathering and analysis. “Instead of counting the number of bandages we hand out, we’ll be able to ask more interesting and efficacious questions,” she said. “Did the bandages stick? Did they stop the bleeding? Is the bleeding happening now? Ultimately, we’re interested in all the deeper, wider questions about our community’s well-being.”

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Advocacy in the U.S. Capitol

Beyond Housing President and CEO Chris Krehmeyer and Chief Transformation Officer Jaclyn Belt visited Washington, D.C. this spring to speak with elected leaders including Congresswoman Cori Bush. The $13.7 million in Community Project Funding she secured as part of the 2024 appropriations cycle includes several projects benefitting North St. Louis County. Krehmeyer is among nonprofit leaders within the NeighborWorks network who regularly visit Capitol Hill to discuss housing and other community development topics with national lawmakers.

Pagedale Town Center Homes Take Shape

Work on these 36 homes began during the coldest months of the year—but that gave general contractor Roanoke Construction and the rest of the team a jump start on this $12 million construction project.

“It’s exciting,” said Pagedale Alderman Minnie Rhymes, who lives on a street where five of the homes are being built. She was among the city officials who championed the project from its inception. “I can see our vision coming to pass,” she said.

Rhymes believes that the new houses will encourage neighbors to take more pride in their properties and will help further establish Pagedale’s reputation as an attractive place to live. “We’ve come a long way, but we still have a long way to go,” she said.

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Biz Smart Start Launched Its Second Cohort in May

The Biz Smart Start program kicked off its 2024 session on May 8 with 10 participants from the 24:1 Community eager to learn more about advancing their early-stage ventures. Following their 12 weeks of intensive coaching and mentorship from experts, each entrepreneur will receive a $1,000 award and the opportunity to compete to win an additional award.
Members of the inaugural cohort in 2023 say they’re still using the resources and strategies they received during their Biz Smart Start experience. “The classes gave me the confidence to be a business owner,” said Michelle Byrd, founder of Tender Love and Tresses. “I’m good at connecting with people, but I struggled with reaching out for help because I was taught not to take handouts. The program helped me see things from a different perspective—and it helped me add flexibility in my plan of action.”

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Home Repair Program Expands to More North County Communities

When homeowners get behind on repairs, they are more likely to sell their property below market value, which has long-term negative impacts on generational wealth. Even if they stay in their homes, they face a range of challenges, from health impacts to isolation.

“I was more or less housebound until this work was done,” said Beverly McCullough of Pine Lawn, who uses a wheelchair. Crews redid McCullough’s front deck, added new guardrails, and updated the electrical system. Then the Veterans Administration installed a lift. “Now I can get out of the house,” McCullough said, clearly delighted with his increased mobility. “The program was a godsend for me.

In 2023, Beyond Housing achieved a pinnacle in its home repair program, spending more than $4.2 million on repairs in 171 homes throughout North St. Louis County. In the first four months of 2024, repairs were completed at 35 homes, at a total cost of $883,610.

The Page Launches New Summer Entertainment Options

Shopping pop-ups, concerts, food trucks, a film festival … the downtown Pagedale neighborhood known as The Page is positioned for a busy summer. A variety of healthcare, entertainment, and business partners are teaming up to engage local residents and draw new visitors of all ages to the corner of Page and Ferguson.

Starting in late May, the greenspace adjacent to Carter Commons is the epicenter for the events, which organizers hope will help raise the visibility of destinations like Carter Commons and the 24:1 Cinema.

Freedom Schools Get a Boost from New Director of Youth and Family Programming

In her new role as Director of Youth and Family Programming, Carrie Henderson will lead Beyond Housing’s network of Children’s Defense Fund Freedom Schools® in partnership with Deaconess Foundation. CDF Freedom Schools provide summer and after-school enrichment for students in kindergarten through grade 12 through a research-based, multicultural program model.

Henderson has been leading in education for over a decade, serving in many roles from Servant Leader Intern for a CDF Freedom School to English Language Arts teacher to professional development guru, coach, team leader, and assistant principal. “My work in education has come full circle, and I’m feeling good to be back where my love for education began,” she said.

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Young Friends Bring Talent, Energy, and Passion to Our Transformative Work

Young Friends of Beyond Housing is a dynamic group between the ages of 21 and 40 who advance our transformative work through volunteer and fundraising opportunities during special events such as NeighborWorks Week in June, CDF Freedom Schools® in June and July, Beyond the Backpack in August, and Holiday Friends in November and December.

The Young Friends held their Happy Hour Kickoff on Thursday, May 30, at the 24:1 Cinema in Pagedale. Co-chairs Adrienne Groves and Nico Krehmeyer were joined by a crowd of 30 individuals over complimentary beverages and light bites. We’re looking forward to working with all the Young Friends in the months ahead!

Women’s Leadership Network Takes the Lead on Youth-Focused Initiatives

The Beyond Housing Women’s Leadership Network invites the public to its upcoming June Happy Hour on Tuesday, June 25, from 5-7:30 p.m. at Carter Commons in Pagedale.

Along with mingling over beverages from The Drinkhouse Pub, guests will discuss the two events the WLN spearheads: the annual Beyond the Backpack back-to-school celebration in August and the Holiday Friends gift-giving initiative in late fall.

> RSVP for June Happy Hour

From Humble Beginnings, Normandy High’s Chess Club Sent Two Students to National Tournament

In 2023, Beyond Housing Family Engagement Liaison Philip Berry started organizing lunchtime chess matches at Normandy High School. Since then, the modest gathering of a handful of students has blossomed into a powerhouse after-school activity under the leadership of Chess Club Sponsor Aparna Chandra, whose son is a chess grandmaster.

Recently, two NHS students, Zechariah Barber and Amir Brown, earned medals in their divisions at the National High School K-12 Chess Championship in Baltimore, and the Chess Club secured more than $10,000 in grants. ICYMI, here’s the story of Berry’s lunchtime gatherings.

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Normandy Early Childhood Center Principal Dr. Lanor Payne and assistant principal Aman Lado on campus Wed., Apr. 10, 2024. Photo by Wiley Price | The St. Louis American

St. Louis American Highlights the Success of the Normandy Early Learning Center

Men represent just 2.5% of preschool and kindergarten teachers and 21.5% of elementary and middle school teachers in America. That makes it all the more remarkable to see two Black men at the helm of the Normandy Early Learning Center: Principal Dr. Lanor Payne and Assistant Principal Aman Lado.

Since the NELC opened in 2019, it has achieved consistently impressive results in raising the achievement of the Normandy district’s youngest learners. Payne and his team have earned praise from the center’s parents for both the academic data and for their approach, which is deeply rooted in child development and educating the whole child.

“We just wear many hats here. I tell people that ‘I’m not only a principal; I’m a father, an uncle, a pastor, a counselor, a nurse … [laughs]. You know, we deal with it all,” Payne said.

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Save the Date! Nine PBS Documentary about North County Premieres June 20

Nine PBS and Beyond Housing are excited to announce the release of the station’s documentary “Rebuilding the Dream” about the individuals and organizations working to revitalize North St. Louis County.

The documentary premieres at a special screening on June 20 at the 24:1 Cinema and will also air on Nine PBS. Keep an eye on Beyond Housing’s social media for details!

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State of the Community

Our latest State of the Community highlights the new Transformative Services Division as well as other exciting updates on our ongoing work.

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