ST. LOUIS, June 17, 2020 — The St. Louis Regional Health Commission (RHC) has been awarded a $1 million grant from Missouri Foundation for Health for the second phase of the PrepareSTL campaign. Launched in April 2020 in partnership with the City of St. Louis Department of Health, the St. Louis County Department of Public Health, St. Louis Integrated Health Network, Alive and Well Communities, St. Louis MHB, Vector Communications and Emerging Wisdom, the first phase of PrepareSTL included a unified communications and outreach campaign, which provided vital information and resources to disproportionately impacted community members (specifically low-to-moderate income African Americans and people of color living in St. Louis City and County) to help them stop the spread of the coronavirus and survive its adverse social and economic impacts.
“Strong, collaborative leadership has contributed to the success of PrepareSTL,” said Angela Fleming Brown, CEO of the RHC. “Black women have played a major role in developing and implementing this campaign, and we will continue to cultivate and celebrate the leadership of Black women and all community leaders involved with the campaign.”
During the first phase of PrepareSTL, the campaign partnered with the T (community trauma center founded by trauma surgeon and community activist Dr. LJ Punch) to assemble and distribute more than 50,000 PrepareSTL personal protective equipment (PPE) kits. Through the leadership of the PrepareSTL canvassing team, including both public health departments, nearly 200 volunteers were activated for a large-scale canvassing effort to distribute the PPE kits and information to more than 1,000 public places across the City and County. Focused on our Black neighborhoods, immigrant communities and senior population, PrepareSTL volunteers have been and will continue to listen and respond to the needs of our most vulnerable community members.
“PrepareSTL has created an incredible infrastructure for communications, community outreach, and economic development, which has all been rooted in racial and health equity,” said Courtney Stewart, Vice President of Strategic Communications at Missouri Foundation for Health. “We saw an opportunity to build on the outstanding work of our partners and we didn’t want to lose momentum during a time when accurate, culturally focused information is crucial to those experiencing this pandemic and the challenges it presents for Black and foreign-born St. Louisans in their communities. We are thrilled to have this impactful work continue.”
Brown noted the approach to the second phase of work is as critical as the work itself both with the goal of elevating community resilience through a restorative, equity-centered lens. The partnering organizations of PrepareSTL expects this approach will continue to adapt based on community input and leadership.
“Addressing systemic intergenerational trauma while working amidst public health crises is essential and worthy work,” said Bethany Johnson-Javois, CEO of St. Louis Integrated Health Network. “But the intensity over time without adequate supports and infrastructure will over tap and exhaust our community advocates, whose commitment and effectiveness are often tied to their direct experience of overcoming community traumas. As proven in the early stages of the success of PrepareSTL, we know that community health worker and community organizing leadership are critical for successful public health education and action. Caring for the sustained health and well-being of these front-line workers is a fundamental component of this effort.”
Serena Muhammad, Director of Strategic Initiatives for the Saint Louis MHB, added, “Through the outreach and engagement efforts, we are creating a structure for people to heal together – healers for the healers.”
PrepareSTL continues to acknowledge that a tailored public health message, delivered by trustedmessengers, is critical to reach at-risk communities.
“While our PrepareSTL canvassers have public health information to impart to residents, they remain committed to observing, understanding, and responding to community needs,” said Rebeccah Bennett, founder and principal of Emerging Wisdom and InPower Institute and lead for PrepareSTL outreach efforts. “Through meaningful community input and engagement, community residents will shape the communications strategy and action planning for PrepareSTL.”
Laurna Godwin, Owner of Vector Communications and lead for PrepareSTL’s communications efforts, described the value of this community-driven outreach strategy. “PrepareSTL demonstrates the importance of combining person-to-person strategies with advertising and media relations, because it often requires that people be exposed to a message multiple times and in different ways before they will take action.”
For more information on PrepareSTL, visit PrepareSTL.com.
Media Contact: Laurna Godwin, Vector Communications
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