In 2020, Dutchtown non-profits faced unprecedented challenges and provided unparalleled responses to a nationwide pandemic that continues nine months after it began. Though our neighborhood organizations have come through for Dutchtown and its residents, resources have been stretched to their limits. This Giving Tuesday, we ask that you offer whatever support you can to keep our community organizations on track to help keep our community strong and united.
The Neighborhood Innovation Center
The recently opened community center in Dutchtown, otherwise known as the NIC, has been at the center of our efforts to maintain and grow our ongoing efforts to develop a better Dutchtown for all. But the NIC needs your help to raise $3,000 for real estate taxes as the end of the year approaches.
The NIC is not just the place where we hold our neighborhood meetings—though having a big, clean space to let us gather safely and conduct neighborhood business has been invaluable. But the NIC’s parking lot has hosted numerous outdoor socially distanced gatherings and events that brought our neighbors together throughout the year in spite of the ongoing pandemic.
The wide open space at the Neighborhood Innovation Center has allowed neighborhood organizations such as DT2 • Downtown Dutchtown, the Dutchtown Community Improvement District, and the Mount Pleasant Neighborhood Association to have small meetings and manage other business in person safely. The NIC also has technology resources that have allowed us to broadcast and share these meetings with everyone in the neighborhood.
Developing an Outdoor Public Space
Recently, the NIC received a Community Resiliency grant from Missouri Main Street Connection and AARP to make improvements to the site with a focus on developing the parking lot into a flexible multi-purpose outdoor space for neighbors to come together. You may have noticed the building is in the process of getting a nice new paint job—that’s just a part of developing a welcoming, open, accessible space for Dutchtown neighbors to utilize.
Events at the NIC
Neighbors masked up and gathered for Cuban food in April for DT2 After Hours, with people lining up six feet apart in the rain to enjoy a delicious dinner with their friends and fellow Dutchtownies.
The NIC has also co-hosted other events that span across multiple locations along Meramec in Downtown Dutchtown, like July’s Shades of Summer event that introduced new street furniture at Meramec Street shops.. The NIC acted as the home base for neighbors looking to find out more about ongoing community organization efforts, with volunteers offering information and opportunities (along with some cold beverages).
The Dutchtown Justice Alliance has organized marches, protests, and voter registration drives from the NIC. June’s 8:46 @ 8:46 march started and ended at the NIC, and the Justice Alliance holds their monthly Final Friday solidarity events in front of the NIC.
And the Dutchtown CID held their 10-10-1000 event at the NIC in October. 1,000 tulip and daffodil bulbs were distributed for planting in public spaces throughout Dutchtown.
Helping Small Businesses
In June, volunteers from DT2 • Downtown Dutchtown were at the Neighborhood Innovation Center helping small business owners navigate the application process for CARES Act grants from the City of St. Louis, bringing needed funds for our neighborhood businesses to continue operating through the COVID-19 pandemic.
Additionally, part of the NIC’s long term mission (hindered by the pandemic) is to act as a business support center for Dutchtown businesses both established and new. The NIC plans to create a labor pool to help businesses keep staff while putting neighbors in jobs. They will also offer coworking space for small startups and businesses needing a place to work from.
Cure Violence Headquarters
Cure Violence, a program aimed at reducing crime and gun violence in Dutchtown, held a backpack giveaway and open house at the end of the summer in the NIC’s parking lot. Employment Connection operates the Cure Violence program in Dutchtown and chose the Neighborhood Innovation Center as their local headquarters, placing our community gathering place at the center of efforts to make Dutchtown a safer neighborhood.
25th Ward Polling Place
25th Ward voters east of Grand have seen their polling place bounce around to several different sites over the last few years, each presenting challenges with location and accessibility. But the NIC has offered up its space as a polling place since it was established, bringing a centrally located and accessible polling place to more 25th Ward residents. The 2020 presidential election delivered unusually high turnout in the neighborhood, even during a pandemic. Along with outstanding and committed election workers, the NIC provided a safe, orderly, efficient place to cast your ballot.
The NIC has hosted free, family friendly Dutchtown Movie Nights for the neighborhood, including a showing of the Jackie Robinson biopic 42 in September, as well as screening The Wiz as a part of Dutchtown South Community Corporation‘s Boogie Down Dutchtown event in October.
The NIC Needs Your Help!
The Neighborhood Innovation Center needs your assistance as we approach the end of the year. The NIC is operated as a standalone non-profit, however the building is currently owned by Midwest Bank Centre. Because the building is owned by a for-profit entity, the building is still subject to real estate taxes, for which the NIC is responsible as the tenant. This year’s tax bill is thousands of dollars, and the tax is due on December 31st.
Without help, Dutchtown could lose what has become an integral part of our efforts to bring and keep our community together.
DT2 • Downtown Dutchtown
In recent years, DT2 • Downtown Dutchtown has been laying the foundation for community-driven change. While our community’s vulnerabilities were brought into focus and exacerbated by the virus, our collective vision for a more equitable Dutchtown prepared us to fight back together.
When the shutdown occurred in March, Downtown Dutchtown worked diligently through DutchtownSTL.org and other media to promote available aid and resources to neighbors and businesses. Our Dutchtown Proud signs were provided to anyone based on a “pay what you can” model so that anyone could be Dutchtown Proud in a time when feeling part of a community was even more important.
We came together in community safely around our summer Movie Nights. We welcomed new restaurants Juanita’s Creole Soul, Tacos Le Jefa, Perfectly Pastry, and Pies and Surprise, and welcomed new businesses like Cross Grand and Kwamboka.
Many of these efforts were derived from Downtown Dutchtown’s partnership with Missouri Main Street Connection for the UrbanMain pilot program. Working in conjunction with partners including Dutchtown South Community Corporation and the Dutchtown Community Improvement District, the UrbanMain pilot program seeks to continue community-driven development and vibrant activity along Meramec and beyond.
We will be pivoting into many new and exciting opportunities during this decade in Dutchtown. Investment is increasing, interest in the neighborhood is high, and we have a fantastic foundation and partners to build a vibrant and equitable community in Dutchtown in the years to come.
Please consider supporting DT2 and the momentum we’ve built with a recurring or one-time donation.
More Dutchtown Organizations
Dutchtown South Community Corporation
Dutchtown South Community Corporation has been committed to the improvement of Dutchtown for over 40 years. Their work is guided by the community and focuses on issues that matter to our neighbors. Your gift to DSCC helps them to continue their mission of advancing neighborhood vitality through community empowerment, housing stabilization, and real estate development.
Thomas Dunn Learning Center
The pandemic has put a damper on some of the services offered by Thomas Dunn Learning Center, but rest assured they’ll be back in full force soon. Even through the pandemic, they have continued to offer food assistance, tutoring and HiSET classes, financial education, field trips for the South Side Youth Council, and other online events. Thomas Dunn Learning Center’s mission is essential to building a better Dutchtown.
Other Neighborhood Non-Profits
Neighborhood organizations such as St. Anthony’s Food Pantry, ARJ Community Outreach, and Franciscan Connection offer direct assistance to Dutchtown residents in need. If you’re more inclined towards supporting the arts and creative endeavors, consider a donation to Perennial, South Broadway Art Project, Pianos for People, or Intersect Arts Center. Prefer pets? Donate to Tenth Life Cat Rescue or St. Louis City Kitties.
We have so many great non-profits doing outstanding work in Dutchtown during the pandemic and beyond. Everyone could use your help on Giving Tuesday or any day you’re able to spare a contribution big or small. We hope you’ll be able to donate to some or all of these organizations to help Dutchtown continue to grow and thrive.