Promise Zone photo for STL American

St. Louis Promise Zone

The Promise Zone Catalyzes a More Equitable Region

The Promise Zone and their partners continues to push forward a resident-centric and place-based approach to their work.

As seen in the St. Louis American

The St. Louis Promise Zone, an initiative of the St. Louis Economic Development Partnership, which works to attract, retain and grow businesses, is a 10-year federal designation serving approximately 200,000 residents living in communities with the highest crime, unemployment, and poverty rates. The Promise Zone catalyzes a more equitable, thriving region through collaboration, alignment and intentional, strategic investment in our most disadvantaged communities.

The St. Louis Promise Zone encompasses 60-square-miles in north St. Louis city and county. They are partnering with local leaders to give communities proven tools to rebuild and put people back to work. The work centers around six pillars that focus on increasing economic activity, improving educational outcomes, reducing serious and violent crime, workforce development, investing in transformative development and improving health and wellness.

The St. Louis Development Corporation, the City of St. Louis Mayor’s Office and the St. Louis County Executive’s Office all partner with the St. Louis Economic Development Partnership and the Zone as crucial implementation partners.

The Promise Zone works with more than 100 partners providing direct services to residents within the Promise Zone geography.  The Promise Zone recently released its 2019 Promise Zone Progress Report, which highlights the collective work and impact of many of their partners, amplifying and elevating those organizations who are doing important work in the community.

Erica Henderson, Executive Director of the St. Louis Promise Zone says “there is still much work left to do. We will continue to partner with organizations, citizens and civic leaders to continue prioritizing the Calls to Action from the Ferguson Commission Report.” The launch of the #STL2039 campaign and release of the State of the Report from Forward Through Ferguson demonstrated both a strong regional buy-in and highlights the progress that has already been made in the region.

The Promise Zone and their partners continues to push forward a resident-centric and place-based approach to their work. The Promise Zone representatives advocate for community at the center and racial equity commitment to collaboration focused on systems, through work as members of several collaborative initiatives including the St. Louis City and County Affordable Housing Trust Fund Coalitions, the Social Policy and Electoral Accountability Collaborative, the Trailnet Public Input Committee, the Chouteau Greenway Project, Violence Prevention Commission, One West Florissant, and many others.

The Promise Zone has hosted two Neighborhood Leadership Fellows cohorts in partnership with the University of Missouri Extension and Creating Whole Communities – made up of Promise Zone residents who went through nine months of training preparing them to sit on state-level boards and commissions or run for office, bringing their voices and those of their communities to decision-making tables.

Looking forward, the Promise Zone’s role in the St. Louis region will continue to focus on capacity building and accountability. From helping municipalities streamline zoning, to empowering residents to become the developers of their own communities.  Henderson stated that “the Promise Zone leadership understands that to achieve greater equity, we must yield to the decision-making authority of the communities we serve. We only enhance collective impact when we integrate and elevate the expertise and authority of those closest to the issues at hand. Our residents have much of the wisdom and clarity to drive their collective agenda – it is our role to empower them with the tools to do so.”

The Promise Zone formed new partnerships including: WePower, CIC St. Louis, and CET, where they created a series of workshops designed to address equity in the entrepreneurship ecosystem, giving residents the opportunity to design a new system that best fit their needs and goals. Urban Land Institute (ULI) and The Heartland Black Chamber also partnered with the Promise Zone to host an equitable economic development series for community residents.

In addition to the Promise Zone, the Partnership houses the St. Louis Mosaic Project, led by Betsy Cohen, which is a regional public-private initiative to attract and retain foreign born people. With its hundreds of partners and 32-member Steering Committee, St. Louis Mosaic Project leads the way for a successful diverse community.

Cohen says, “St. Louis aims to be a cultural and economic mosaic because we believe immigrants invigorate our region, keep schools open and start neighborhood businesses. We are excited about welcoming newcomers to St. Louis because they bring new energy, ideas and talent with them.”

The St. Louis Mosaic Project offers various ways for foreign born individuals and local St. Louisans to learn more about the opportunities in our region, interact with our local immigrant communities, and get connected.

As seen in the St. Louis American Diversity, Equity and Inclusion issue

To learn more about the Promise Zone visit

To learn more about the St. Louis Mosaic Project visit