Community Against Poverty program breaks ground on north St. Louis playground

Phyllis Markus

Pre-school age children at an early childhood center in north St. Louis will soon have a new outdoor play space thanks to an interfaith early childhood pilot program coordinated by the Community Against Poverty (CAP) coalition.  The new playground will have its grand opening at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday Aug. 22 at the Perfect Gift II early childhood center, 1318 North Newstead Avenue. 

CAP is a broad-based coalition of interfaith and civic organizations coordinated by the Jewish Community Relations Council. CAP organized the project as part of an effort to build community/private/nonprofit sector partnerships to improve the educational experience of the youngest children living in north St. Louis.

“We know that improving the early childhood education experience is critical to helping children living in poverty and to reducing poverty in the next generation,” said Phyllis Markus, JCRC President and chair of CAP’s early childhood project. 

The project received grants from the Incarnate Word Foundation and the Energizer Trust Fund, along with additional funding from members of the Islamic Foundation of Greater Saint Louis (a CAP partner), from the Saint Louis Mental Health Board and from donations received from individuals and other CAP partnering agencies.  In kind services to assist the center also are being provided by Ibrahim Engineering Corporation, Ready Readers and the Children’s Environmental Health Program at the City of Saint Louis Department of Health.

Perfect Gift II was selected as the location of the pilot project after it was identified by the Child Day Care Association (now part of United 4 Children) and the Saint Louis Mental Health Board to participate in the Programs Achieving Quality (PAQ) program.

“We are heartened to see that this project has received funding from the non-profit and business sectors,” said Pam Mitchell of United 4 Children.  “These different sectors need to work together to bring improvements like these to the children of Saint Louis City.  Investing in our youngest children is an investment in the economic development of our region.”

For more information about the playground opening and the CAP Coalition, contact Gail Wechsler at [email protected] or 314-442-3894.