St. Louis Regional Racial Healing + Justice Fund Aims to Invest $800,000 in Community this Fall

The Community Governance Board will disperse the largest sum of grants in the Fund’s history to local Black and Brown-led community initiatives

ST. LOUIS, MO (August 22, 2022) – Today, the Community Governance Board (CGB) of the St. Louis Regional Racial Healing + Justice Fund launched the Fund’s third grant cycle with a goal of investing $800,000 this round in Black and Brown-led community healing and racial justice initiatives. The investment would mark the largest dollar amount distributed in one cycle in the history of the Fund and add to more than $550,000 already distributed to organizations in the first two cycles.

“The opportunity to serve on the Racial Healing + Justice Fund’s Community Governance Board is an immense blessing,” said Diamond Spencer, member of the Community Governance Board. “My hope is that the $800,000 we plan to invest into Black and Brown-led community healing and racial justice initiatives this round, will push us one step closer to the healing that can create positive change in our communities.”

Deaconess Foundation, Forward Through Ferguson, and Missouri Foundation for Health originally established the Fund as a three-year pilot with the first cycle having launched in 2020. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation supported the launch of the Fund with a matching grant, and local and national foundations joined the pool of participating organizations. As the pilot approaches its third year, community members and leaders are calling for an endowment of the Fund for long-term, locally driven change.

“To address systems of racial oppression deeply embedded in our society, we must dig up the roots and plant anew,” said Bethany Johnson-Javois, President & CEO of Deaconess Foundation. “Investments are seeds below the soil that give changemakers the confidence and capacity to engage in systemic transformation. This work must be out of the hands of gatekeepers accountable for the damage done and in the hands of the community. Each dollar contributed to the Fund in perpetuity, and each co-funder that joins in shared vision and values, will help bring into existence the vibrant and inclusive region in which we aspire to belong.”

The CGB for the Racial Healing + Justice Fund comprises Black residents and residents of color residing in St. Louis and Southern Illinois who have complete decision-making power over the allocation of funds. Placing this power in the hands of the community emphasizes the Fund’s vision to practice trust-based, anti-racist philanthropy. Community members are trusted to direct investments to where they are needed most in support of the envisioning, articulation, and creation of a transformed St. Louis region through community organizing and healing arts. In a recent interview, Johnson-Javois acknowledged the significance of this work being led by people directly impacted by racialized oppression and generational trauma.

Past grants have seeded a wide range of initiatives, including various forms of artistry, storytelling, documentary films, academic enrichment, and leadership development programs. Recipients of the first cycle and second cycle grants honor the Fund’s vision to (1) heal individual and community trauma, (2) engage a broader range of residents in systems change work, (3) prepare leaders of color to organize for healing justice, (4) build local capacity to nurture support and cultivate healing assets, and (5) align resources for long-term organizational sustainability.

Applications for this cycle must be submitted on or before October 5th. Learn more about the process and the application here.


Deaconess Foundation is an institutional advocate that invests and mobilizes people, policy, and power for the well-being of children and their families. A ministry of the United Church of Christ, Deaconess has invested more than $85 million to improve the health of the St. Louis community since 1998. The Foundation’s advocacy and grantmaking footprint includes St. Louis City, St. Louis, Jefferson, St. Charles and Franklin Counties in Missouri and Madison, St. Clair and Monroe Counties in Illinois. For more information visit online. Follow the Foundation on Twitter and Instagram and on Facebook.

Forward Through Ferguson (FTF) is a catalyst for lasting positive change in the St. Louis, created as an independent entity to provide continuity for the calls to action outlined by the Ferguson Commission Report, Forward Through Ferguson: A Path Toward Racial Equity. FTF centers impacted communities and activates community advocacy to advance racially equitable systems and policies that ensure all people in the region can thrive. For more information, visit online. Follow FTF on Twitter and Facebook.

Missouri Foundation for Health (MFH) is building a more equitable future through collaboration, convening, knowledge sharing, and strategic investment. Working in partnership with communities and nonprofits, MFH is transforming systems to eliminate inequities within all aspects of health and addressing the social and economic factors that shape health outcomes. To learn more, visit online. Follow the Foundation on Twitter and Facebook.