For Immediate Release: Contact: Patrick Wallace, (314) 231-3720
(St. Louis, MO) - Dr. Kelvin Adams, Superintendent of the St. Louis Public Schools (SLPS), delivered another success in his three year tenure with this year's Annual Back to School Fair and Community Empowerment Festival. According to the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department, over 13,000 people attended the event at Chaifetz Arena. Dr. Adams collaborated with two community partners to help SLPS reach more families. SLPS was able to pre-register and conduct on site enrollments to increase first day of school attendance.
As a result, a partnership was formed with 19th Ward Alderwoman Marlene Davis; Michael McMillan, Board Chairman of the St. Louis Community Empowerment Foundation and License Collector. The Office of the License Collector and Gregory F.X. Daly, Collector of Revenue, were joined by other city agencies for their Fifth Annual Licensing and Business Resource Fair as a component of the festival with bank and business assistance participation.
The overall intent of this event was to register more children into the St. Louis Public Schools and to provide needed services free to families who otherwise could not afford it. According to Dr. Kelvin Adams, "Providing quality education is our priority. By adding more components with our partners, we also reinforce the importance of family and community inclusion in the educational process." While St. Louis Public Schools offered on-site school enrollment and pre-registration; families needing social services, which included life skills training, an emergency food pantry, a healthy living nutrition program, housing related assistance, immigrant support and workforce development received them.
The event had unprecedented results that benefited entire families. The Back to School and Community Empowerment Festival had all of the needed elements for a one day extravaganza to inspire school enrollment with book bags and supplies; free health screenings by St. Louis Children's Hospital Express; financial literacy services by local banks; and fun too. Transportation was provided to make sure that students and senior citizens without resources could get to the event.
Over 250 vendors were in attendance. The St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department was on site to reinforce community relationships by offering safety demonstrations. A major attraction for the children was to see a Police Helicopter land in the middle of the festival and for them to have a chance to see it up close and talk to the officers. Also in attendance, were the St. Louis Fire Department and institutions of higher education. Among these institutions were Harris Stowe State University, St. Louis University offering job recruitment, while the St. Louis Community College District introduced its William J. Harrison Center and its African American Male Initiative.
To entertain the crowd, there was live entertainment, drawings every two hours, rides, go-karts, exhibits, a petting zoo, inflatable play gyms and camping exhibits among the many attractions and other services. Prizes from the drawing included health supplies and prescription support with gift cards from Walgreen's and food vouchers from Save-a-Lot. Other prizes included bicycles, free hotel stays and restaurant coupons in the city establishments.
"It is good when you can see an idea grow from a vision into fruition, and a successful one at that, "says, Michael McMillan, Board Chairman of STLCEF, who continues by saying, "With everyone concerned about budget cuts and the importance of keeping our children in school, this was a timely and successful collaboration.
The Licensing and Business Resource Fair was created to bring City services to the community by increasing accessibility and time flexibility for those businesses that have been delinquent in paying their taxes. City agencies in attendance as part of the fair were the Business Assistance Center, Health Department, Air Pollution, Personnel Department, St. Louis City Building Division, Excise Department and the Recycling Division. Other services included a financial literacy area were participating banks included Commerce, Fifth Third, Regions and Midwest Bank Centre. Each bank provided information offering value-added support.
An Award distinguishing outstanding civic contributions were presented by Michael McMillan to Dr. Kelvin Adams for his leadership and vision. A special award was also presented to Clay Stacy, a high school senior, for outstanding achievements both academically and in extra curricular activities.
A legendary local entertainer, "Big George Brock," was highly recognized with the Ed Nutt Community Service Award for his ongoing support of the community by providing the best in entertainment for over 30 years. He was presented STLCEF's prestigious Bronze Eagle and he received the Lifetime Achievement Award for community service from the Office of the License Collector. The 100 Black Men presented a laptop computer to LaVon Williams, a student at Ranken Technical College. He is an active member of the Collegiate 100 organization.
Live entertainment was provided for the crowd throughout the day. Inside the Chaifetz Arena, a group of over 250 senior citizens were treated to food, gifts and more. Ameren Missouri, Pepsi, Keefe Group and STLCEF provided the gifts; St. Louis Area Agency on Aging hosted lunch and provided essential information, while Big George and his House Rockers Band entertained them. The seniors received important information and won prizes to offset health and food costs. Throughout the fair grounds and in the senior area there were animated costumed characters bringing smiles to everyone's face. Even Louie the Lightnin' Bug from Ameren Missouri made learning about energy efficiency fun
The St. Louis Area Agency on Aging (SLAAA) provided useful information by linking seniors to a range of services such as housing & home modification, transportation, legal services, benefits assistance, case management and emergency preparedness. They also treated the seniors to lunch.Special credit goes to a host of over 300 enthusiastic volunteers who worked to ensure that the event was run efficiently, safe, fun and helpful. Each collaborating partner was represented by a steering committee that worked diligently throughout the planning stages to produce this highly successful event. The success of this year's Back to School and Community Empowerment Festival will help SLPS realize its goals.