Join Hands ESL has a mission to build personal relationships and walk in solidarity with children and families of the greater East St. Louis, Illinois area as they strive to achieve their full potential and overcome barriers of poverty and racial injustice. Services include youth programming, education advocacy, mentoring programs, and the Ubuntu Center for Peace.
Join Hands ESL utilizes a unique approach to impact the lives of children and families, not only prioritizing education but also providing after-school and weekend activities, resulting in Join Hands ESL being one of the larger out-of-school-time providers in East St. Louis. Partnerships are formed with local churches, organizations, and residents of East St. Louis to strengthen community and services.
In 2016 the Ubuntu Center for Peace (the Center), located within the Orr-Weathers housing complex in East St. Louis, was established as the organization’s foundation and home to Join Hands ESL’s administrative offices. The Center is an oasis of peace, resources and welcome in the midst of an often violent neighborhood in East St. Louis. Coffee is on every morning. Yoga, meditation and mornings of reflection are offered as staff and volunteer capacity allows. Legal services are available through a partnership with Land of Lincoln Legal Assistance Foundation. There are also plans for the Center to include justice and equity work in the future. The concept of ubuntu means our humanity is tied together; Join Hands ESL believes when there are those among us who are hurting, or not being treated fairly, we have an obligation to speak out, we have an obligation to work for justice and equity.
Deaconess Foundation supports Join Hands ESL with their efforts to expand capacity of and infrastructure for organizing in the East St. Louis community and their movement focused on closing the achievement gap, changing the way children grow up in the toxic stress of urban poverty. Funding supports Join Hands ESL training individuals on the core principles of Kingian Nonviolence, not only as a way of life, but more importantly as an organizing strategy to address injustice and inequity. Since 2018, Join Hands and its Ubuntu Center for Peace has been teaching and spreading Dr. King’s philosophy of nonviolence to teens in the East St. Louis area.
Learn more about Join Hands ESL here.