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The Dutchtown Community Improvement District and Dutchtown Main Streets are excited to announce the start of a new community-oriented Neighborhood Beautification Service Program in partnership with employer and training vendor Employment Connection. The program, funded by the Dutchtown CID, is designed to keep Dutchtown’s main thoroughfares clean while recirculating taxpayer money back into the community. Services are expected to start in August 2021.

“After getting our feet wet with standard trash porter services when the Dutchtown Community Improvement District got up and running, we really challenged ourselves as a community to envision a model that could have additional benefits to make this use of our tax dollars stretch even further,” said Joel Silliman, Chair of the Dutchtown Main Streets Design Committee. “What we are putting into place here in Dutchtown is a program that helps keep our streets clean, provides job opportunities for people who live here, and pays a fair entry-level wage.”

The scope of the Dutchtown Neighborhood Beautification Service Program was crafted by neighborhood volunteers serving on the Dutchtown Main Streets Design Committee. The new services will allow for the routine emptying of trash cans and litter removal along the Dutchtown CID footprint covering Virginia Avenue, Meramec Street, and South Grand Boulevard within the Dutchtown neighborhood.

The program aims to employ beautification workers locally from the Dutchtown neighborhood with a starting hourly wage of $15. This community-oriented model fosters clean streets while directly employing people from the community and paying them a fair wage.

Selecting a vendor for the Neighborhood Beautification Service Program followed a request for quote process with Employment Connection being awarded the contract. Employment Connection has existing ties to the Dutchtown community as the City of St. Louis’s chosen facilitator of the Cure Violence program in Dutchtown and a longstanding history of connecting local residents with employment opportunities and other services. Employment Connection will hire, train, and supervise the Dutchtown beautification workers.

Along with funding from the Dutchtown Community Improvement District, US Bank is providing financial support through its US Bank Foundation Rebuild and Transform Fund grant awarded to Employment Connection last Fall to support job training in targeted neighborhoods like Dutchtown. Habitat for Humanity, which has its St. Louis headquarters in Dutchtown, has also joined forces with Employment Connection to provide a utility vehicle for trash removal along the designated service footprint.  

“We have a lot of exciting momentum in Dutchtown and growing grassroots community engagement. The goal is to use our momentum to implement more projects and services that have equitable benefits for Dutchtown similar to what was accomplished with this local neighborhood beautification program,” said Nate Lindsey, President of Dutchtown Main Streets.

Now Hiring for the Neighborhood Beautification Team!

Are you or someone you know looking for rewarding part-time work? Join Employment Connection’s Neighborhood Beautification Team! Supervisor positions start at $17 per hour, and beautification workers start at $15 per hour. The jobs offer 15 to 20 hours per week beginning in August. Employment Connection especially seeks to hire from within the Dutchtown neighborhood.

The Neighborhood Beautification Team gives workers the opportunity to foster change within their community and play a key role in building a stronger and better Dutchtown for all. Take pride when you see tangible results as the Neighborhood Beautification Service Program helps to transform Dutchtown into a cleaner and safer neighborhood for residents, business owners, and visitors.

To apply, send a resume or letter of interest to smartinez@employmentstl.org. If you have more questions about the positions, you can call (314) 333-5622. Employment Connection is a background-friendly equal opportunity employer.

EncoreSTL is a collective of performance artists and creatives located here in Dutchtown at Thomas Dunn Learning Center. They produce live theater performances as well as digital media with a mission to impact and transform communities.

This summer, EncoreSTL is introducing their Encore4Youth Leadership Program, a paid opportunity for young people ages 16 to 24 to gain experience in the performing arts, digital production, and other vocational areas. EncoreSTL provides training and mentorship to participants, in addition to a $1,200 stipend. Read more about the program and learn how to participate below.

Who Is EncoreSTL?

EncoreSTL is a digital media and live production company based on the South Side of St. Louis. Their mission is to create high-quality productions while making the arts accessible to everyone who wants to experience them. Through culturally relevant theater productions and youth programs, EncoreSTL is dedicated to enriching the lives of members, patrons, and the St. Louis community, “because everyone deserves an Encore.” EncoreSTL’s activities mainly focus around its theater and youth programs, run under the names Encore! Theater Group and Encore4Youth, respectively.

Encore4Youth Leadership Program.

Encore4Youth

Effrem Grettenberger, founder and CEO of EncoreSTL, crafted Encore4Youth to be an innovative and engaging youth program. Having come from a rough background himself, Grettenberger found stability and structure in the arts and theater. From that experience, he saw the need for genuine and enriching youth programs.

Encore4Youth Leadership Program participants.

Grettenberger and Encore4Youth want to teach kids “how to act”—both literally and through soft skills. Encore4Youth supports kids’ passions, teaches a variety of skills, and provides mentorship in addition to pay.

The EncoreSTL team works to meet participants at their strengths and interests. While EncoreSTL primarily focuses on theatrical productions, they can also help kids interested in, for example, producing their own music. EncoreSTL provides resources, equipment, and mentorship to help realize the visions of Encore4Youth’s participants.

Encore4Youth Leadership Program participants at Busch Stadium.

Encore4Youth Leadership is a year-round program with opportunities varying depending on the season. Youth will participate in stage crew activities throughout the year, and the leadership program also includes immersive drama therapy in the summer. For more information on how to participate, email info@encorestl.org.

This summer, Encore4Youth has teamed up with STL Youth Jobs to provide paid employment to several participants. The young employees assist with staging shows and providing administrative support, in addition to participating in the immersive drama therapy program which will culminate in a final artistic presentation led by the youth later this summer.

Upcoming EncoreSTL Programs and Performances 

Encore Theater Group Murder Mystery Dinner Theater

Encore! Theater Group and Chakq Nation bring dinner theater to Cherokee Street! Join Encore on July 22nd for a murder mystery at Empire Hall, 3407 California at Cherokee. Call 314-814-6808 or click here to reserve your table and dinner for four. Additional shows with different themes take place on August 5th and August 19th.

In September, Encore! Theater Group performs Fade by Tanya Saracho. Fade is the story of writer Lucia and janitor Abel, and approaches issues of class and race within the Latinx community and the world at large. EncoreSTL is currently casting roles and seeking a director for Fade. If you’re interested in performing or participating in the production, contact info@encorestl.org. Performances will be on September 17th–19th and September 24th–26th.

Stay up to date with EncoreSTL’s performances and programs by visiting the EncoreSTL website or following them on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter. You can also find upcoming programs here on the Dutchtown Calendar.

In 2019, the City of St. Louis selected Dutchtown to be one of the city neighborhoods to participate in Cure Violence, an anti-violence public health initiative that has been successful in many cities and neighborhoods across the country. Taking a new approach to issues of crime and safety has many Dutchtown residents hopeful for the future of our neighbors and neighborhood.

And that hope is paying off. On May 26th, the city’s Health Department released statistics showing year-to-date crime statistics in the Dutchtown catchment area, which covers significant portions of Dutchtown proper and the Mount Pleasant neighborhood. Gun-related crimes—aggravated assault, robbery, and homicide—are down significantly at a time when other parts of the city continue to struggle with violent crime.

Map of violent crime in Dutchtown year over year showing sharp decreases since implementing the Cure Violence program.

The Cure Violence program in Dutchtown just got up and running in November last year, and the results so far are impressive. Not only have we seen steep declines in violent crime in the neighborhood, but the Cure Violence team has become an integral part of the community. If you’ve attended a Dutchtown event in the last several months, you’re sure to have met some of the Cure Violence program managers and violence interruptors that are out on the Dutchtown streets every night to make the neighborhood safer for everyone.

What Is Cure Violence?

Taking an approach that addresses crime and violence as a public health issue, Cure Violence addresses root causes of crime rather than treat the symptoms. From their website:

Violence behaves like a contagious problem. It is transmitted through exposure, acquired through contagious brain mechanisms and social processes, and can be effectively treated and prevented using health methods.

Cure Violence began in Chicago in 2000. Dr. Gary Slutkin, a physician, epidemiologist, and former director of the World Health Organization’s Intervention Development Unit, founded the program. After years of work combatting epidemics of tuberculosis, cholera, and AIDS, he moved on to tackle the epidemic of violence.

In cities across America and throughout the world, the Cure Violence approach precipitated drops in violence of 40% to 70%.

How Does Cure Violence Work?

Cure Violence takes a three-step approach to stop violence that is similar to the approach used to contain other epidemics. The program employs interrupters, outreach workers, and a number of other people to enact their approach.

Detect and Interrupt Conflicts

Cure Violence employs interrupters that are known and trusted in the community. Interrupters are usually people from the neighborhood with “street cred.” Interruptors use their credibility to get to know people in the community who are involved in violence and criminal activity. They work to prevent retaliation after violent occurrences, deescalate conflicts through mediation techniques, and monitor situations to make sure that they don’t rekindle.

Identify and Treat High-Risk Individuals

Outreach workers identify and approach individuals at high risk of becoming involved in violence. The workers can help those at risk get access to social services like drug treatment and employment assistance. They also seek to change behaviors by discussing the consequences of violence and teaching alternative methods for conflict resolution.

Change Social Norms

The Cure Violence team engages with people throughout the community including leaders, residents, business owners, faith leaders, and service providers to change and strengthen the response to violence in the neighborhood. They respond to every occurrence of violence to demonstrate the community’s objections and resolve. Additionally, they work with neighborhood organizations to encourage positive social norms and convey the message that the community will no longer tolerate violence.

Cure Violence in Dutchtown

The St. Louis Board of Aldermen allocated funds to Cure Violence in 2019. Along with Dutchtown, the Wells-Goodfellow and Walnut Park neighborhoods on the North Side participate in the program as well.

The city selected local non-profit Employment Connection to administer Cure Violence in the Dutchtown neighborhood. Their team will work out of the Neighborhood Innovation Center on Meramec. Besides operating the program, the presence of Employment Connection in the neighborhood has provided opportunities for unemployed neighbors to find jobs and training. Employment Connection is a frequent partner at Dutchtown neighborhood events including Dutchtown Summer Vibes and Movie Nights, where you’ll find the Cure Violence team talking to neighbors of all sorts.

As we see at the top of this article, the outcomes have been outstanding so far. Cure Violence has interrupted over 80 potentially violent situations in just their first six months in Dutchtown. Beyond that, the team has identified and worked with a number of at-risk neighbors and spoken with countless community members and stakeholders to ingrain themselves into the community and address root causes of crime. We’re incredibly thankful for their presence and we look forward to seeing more progress and a safer neighborhood for all!

Save the date! Join us in Downtown Dutchtown on Saturday, June 5th for Dutchtown Summer Vibes, a neighborhood festival and community event! Dutchtown Summer Vibes is presented by Crawford-Butz Insurance.

Dutchtown Summer Vibes will feature live music, food and drink, a job fair, community organizations, and of course shopping! Shop with our Downtown Dutchtown shops and boutiques as well as pop-up vendors from around the city. Grab a bite from the Urban Eats Neighborhood Food Hall or from other local food trucks and vendors. We’ll have bands and DJs at the Neighborhood Innovation Center, and drinks from Earthbound Beer.

We’ll also have employers and employment organizations seeking to hire folks in Dutchtown, as well as community organizations offering programs for the summer and beyond.

After a big day in Downtown Dutchtown, close out the evening with our first Movie Night of 2021! Come to Marquette Park at sunset for a free showing of Jurassic Park on our 22 foot big screen!

Thank You to Our Sponsors!

Dutchtown Summer Vibes is presented by Crawford-Butz Insurance and sponsored by Earthbound Beer, Employment Connection, and Cure Violence.

Marquette Park Movie Nights are sponsored by the Dutchtown Community Improvement District, Employment Connection and Cure Violence, Lutheran Development Group, Original Crusoe’s, St. Joseph Housing Initiative, St. Mary’s High School, Thomas Dunn Learning Center, and Tower Grove Neighborhoods Community Development Corporation.

Entertainment

Join us at the Main Stage at the Neighborhood Innovation Center on the corner of Meramec and Compton for DJs, bands, and more all day! While you’re there, grab a beverage from our Earthbound Beer drink stand and a snack from our pop-up food vendors.

Performance Schedule

Participating Shops, Vendors, and Organizations

We’re still signing folks up, but here’s a list of our confirmed participants. Come out and support them!

Shops

Downtown Dutchtown is home to a variety of unique boutiques, vintage and modern resale shops, restaurants, and other retailers and services. We have lots of one-of-a-kind offerings at values that can’t be beat. Make sure to step in while you’re in the neighborhood.

Pop-Up Vendors

Food and Drink Pop-Ups

Employers

Community Organizations

Kids Activities

DT2 • Downtown Dutchtown is at a critical point for capacity building. With the hiring of a part-time staff member and establishment of our UrbanMain committees, we are poised to grow and take on big challenges.

On Give STL Day, May 6th, we’re asking our neighbors and friends to help us continue growing and building momentum towards a better Dutchtown. Donate now!

Crawford-Butz Insurance has made a very generous offer to match up to $5,000 in donations on Give STL Day. Thanks to this match, you can double the impact of your donation and help us reach our $10,000 fundraising goal.

Donate Today!

This year, we are hoping to raise funds for a business facade grant program, an emergency needs fund, public art installations, small business training and capacity building services, and numerous community events. We know that building physical and economic infrastructure is just as important as building social infrastructure. We have a big vision, but we need your help to realize it!

Until recently, DT2 has been operated exclusively by volunteers. Through additional fundraising, we’ll be able to maintain a part-time staffer to help us organize our volunteers, apply for grants, raise additional funds, and streamline our operations. Building this additional capacity is key to our implementation of the UrbanMain initiative, a first of its kind program in Missouri that aims to revitalize our commercial corridors and the surrounding neighborhood.

Please help us to keep the momentum going! In spite of the health crisis we’ve all worked through over the last many months, DT2 has attracted more interest, brought on new volunteers, and produced more results for Dutchtown than ever before. We are ready to grow even more and we hope to take on bigger and better projects to deliver a stronger neighborhood for everyone.

Donate Today!

With the amazing matching donation of up to $5,000 from Crawford-Butz Insurance, we can make great strides towards our goals of expanding capacity and providing more to our neighbors, businesses, and community at large. Please donate today!

Other Days and Other Ways To Donate

If you can’t contribute on Give STL Day, we can still always use your help! Visit dutchtownstl.org/donate to make a one-time or sustaining monthly donation. You can also read more about the work we’ve done over the last year.

One-Time Donation   Sustaining Donation