2018 Annual Report
Throughout 2018 Better Family Life made steady progress in several important areas such as workforce, community outreach, youth services and housing. Our Cultural Arts initiative attracted diverse populations to the Cultural, Educational and Business Center by developing programs (i.e. Art Empowerment Mural) that has attracted people from all corners of the United States.
We were a vital source of community improvements by serving over 4,000 youth, enabling 44 first-time home buyers to purchase affordable housing, helping over 320 chronically un-employed residents find meaningful full-time employment, and facilitating pathways for the de-escalation of 64 conflicts that could have led to gun violence and death.
Our “Clean Sweep” initiative was instrumental in gaining the support of twelve major construction companies and the Mayors of St. Louis and East St. Louis that resulted in the demolition of 65 abandoned buildings (14 in St. Louis and 51 in E. St. Louis). These structures were eye-sores in their respective neighborhoods and often were used as a breeding ground for crime and other nefarious purposes.
Other significant accomplishments achieved throughout 2018 included working with organizations such as area-wide faith-based institutions and their pastors, the Monsanto YMCA, the Brown School at Washington University, Peoples Health Centers, Annie Malone and the Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis to devise innovative ways to collaborate to realize measurable evidence-based goals for the populations we collectively serve. These efforts focused on our campaign to highlight the impending opioid epidemic/explosion and the summer youth job initiative where we employed 99 youth (69-SLATE / 30-United Way).
As we prepare for 2019, Better Family Life has garnered a well-deserved reputation as one of the most effective organizations with a unique ability to reach into the sub-culture of populations that are outside of the safety-net of most governmental and social service initiatives. We take pride in our efforts of providing numerous individuals and families within this population with the resources they need to reclaim their place in the “mainstream and contribute to the forward development of their families and community.
”We trust that those reviewing our 2018 Annual Report will choose to join our efforts by becoming supporters of our mission (as a volunteer and work in one of our many programs), or by encouraging your network of family, friends and associates to learn of the work and follow your example of being a supporter, or by becoming a financial donor.
Better Family Life builds strong families and vibrant communities by
providing hope, comprehensive services, and meaningful opportunities
Integrity and Accountability
We have an unwavering commitment to integrity and accountability in all of our endeavors.
We believe that the self-conscious means by which a people create self, celebrates itself, and introduces itself to history and humanity is the primary route to personal family, and group growth and sustainability.
Social and Economic Growth
We place a high degree of importance on social and economic elevation of low and moderate income families, disadvantage populations, and those who are financially stable, as proven by our record of achievements since 1983.
We believe a cohesive family is the foundation for every human being’s development. We endeavor to rehabilitate individual on a complete cultural, educational, social, and economic level by helping them become self-sufficient and contributing members of society.
Board of Directors
Etefia Umana, Chair
Nicole Colbert Botchway, Vice Chair
Aaron Robinson, Treasurer
Hazel Fantaayo Green
Eugene B. Redmond
AGC of MO
American Job Centers – Counties of St. Charles/St. Louis/Jefferson /Franklin
Ben Hur Construction
Betty Jean Kerr Peoples Health Centers (PHC)
The Brown School at Washington University
The Center for the Acceleration of
African American Business – (CAAAB)
Center Missouri Arts Council
Center for Self Sufficiency
City of St. Louis, Mayor’s Office
Charter Spectrum Communications
Community Development Administration
Dana Brown Foundation
The Daruby School
United States Department of Agriculture
Department of Public Safety of St. Louis County
East St. Louis School District 189
Fox-Clark Family Foundation
Friendly Temple Missionary Baptist Church
Great Southern Bank
HHS - Office of Adolescent Health United States
Holland Construction Services
Jennings School District
KMOV Channel 4
Kranzberg Family Foundation
KWAME Building Group
Lutheran Foundation of St. Louis
McCarthy Building Companies
McCormack Baron Salazar
Missouri Arts Council
Missouri Department of Social Services
Missouri Foundation for Health (MFH)
Missouri History Museum
NAACP – St. Louis
New Horizons Computer Learning Centers
Normandy Schools Collaborative
Regional Arts Commission
Regional Business Council
Riverview Gardens School District
St. Louis Agency of Training and Education (SLATE)
St. Louis American Newspaper
St. Louis County Executive Office
St. Louis City Department of Public Safety
St. Louis Development Corporation
St. Louis Public Schools
St. Louis Regional Chamber
State of Missouri Division of Family Services (FSD)
Teen Pregnancy Prevention Partnership of St. Louis
United States Dept. of Health and Human Services
United Way of Greater St. Louis
Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis
Malik Ahmed has a dream, a vision – BIG one. A dream and vision that will not be denied, no matter the challenges . . . no matter the daunting uphill battle he is, admittedly, facing. Ahmed’s life’s work to serve his community propels him forward; even though he realizes raising the funds for such an ambitious venture is like “finding needles in the proverbial haystack.”
The Page Boulevard Redevelopment was officially launched by Better Family Life, Inc. earlier in 2018. The goal: Raise $20 million to bring the area known as the Page Corridor, the original ‘Central West End,’ the original heart of St. Louis, back to life; to breathe new vibrancy into a forgotten piece of valuable real estate that spans from north of Delmar Boulevard to Martin Luther King and from Skinker to Kingshighway; and revitalize this predominantly African American neighborhood.
The centerpiece of this initiative is Page Boulevard. “People are already feeling and seeing ‘the vibe,’” Ahmed enthuses. “In this year alone, we’ve made a nearly $700,000 investment. Our goal is to purchase and renovate 100 homes. To date, three homes are completed. Two are currently undergoing renovation. This is a pretty bold undertaking for a community service organization. Our capital campaign for this Page Renaissance is a 5-year vision. It’s not just housing. It’s commercial development, innovative recreational venues, employment and public safety. We want this area to be as thriving as it once was – and then some – where people can enjoy their homes and surroundings, go to work, leisurely stroll or ride their bikes through the area. We want to see pristine yards and safe, clean, beautiful parks for children to play and thrive in.
The Page Boulevard Redevelopment is a 4-pronged endeavor which includes Operation Clean Sweep, Public Safety, Streetscape and Housing Renovation.
Along with the completed renovation of three homes, Operation Clean Sweep was successfully launched this summer with the inclusive partnerships of BFL, the Regional Business Council, the City of St. Louis, contractors, 12 major construction companies and residents to raze and remove derelict buildings, haul away abandoned cars and appliances, clear vacant lots, cut down overgrowth and clean up trash and debris. The program was so successful, it expanded to three additional North City neighborhoods and East St. Louis. Ahmed believes that residents and passers-by can feel ‘the vibe’ of the positive activity – houses that were eyesore nests of criminal activity coming down, a stronger police presence and the beginnings of rebuilding.
Internationally acclaimed, Bolivia born muralist, Gonz Jove, is walking the talk. He and his wife, Estella, purchased the first renovated home in Better Family Life’s 5-year Page Boulevard Redevelopment Renaissance. The 12-room, 5 bedroom, 3 & ½ bath residence has been restored to its original glory and Jove couldn’t be happier. He’s owned homes across the U.S. and in Bolivia, but this magnificent, turn-of-the-last-century mini-mansion is particularly special to Jove because “it’s part of a movement.” Jove’s journey to his new home all centers around the masterpiece he created: the dazzling, 96-foot long, BFL Art and Empowerment Mural that graces the entire wall on the first floor of its Page headquarters. “All of the pieces fell into place just like a puzzle,” Jove muses.