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Flourish St. Louis, Black Males In Education Lauded For Closing Gaps In Racial Inequities

(L-R) Mia Daughtery, Kendra Copanas, Marion Davis and LaTonya Neely attend the 2020 LaunchCode Moonshot Awards, where Flourish won an award in the Inclusion category.
Flourish St. Louis

Less than two years ago, the staff behind Flourish St. Louis set a daring goal: eliminate racial disparity and infant mortality by 2033. They called it their organization’s North Star, or main purpose, Kendra Copanas said. 

Copanas is the executive director of Generate Health, the center that provides staff support and coordination for Flourish’s community-wide effort.

The drive to reach that goal was reignited when the organization earlier this month received the 2020 LaunchCode Moonshot Inclusion award for its approach to improving the health of Black moms and babies.

“Sustaining the commitment and enthusiasm and the focus for this long of a time is going to be a challenge, and so awards like this help keep us going,” Copanas told St. Louis on the Air ahead of Wednesday’s program. 

She talked with guest host Jonathan Ahl about the work that’s led them to this point. Also joining the conversation will be Mia Daugherty, member of the Flourish Community Leaders Cabinet. She will share the experiences of the people the organization serves. 

Listen to the full conversation: 

LaunchCode Moonshot Challenge award winners

Wednesday’s program also featured Darryl Diggs Jr. He founded Black Males in Education St. Louis alongside Howard Fields III. He discussed how their platform helps educators of color connect, find mentorship and advocate for more Black voices in the classrooms. 

Howard Fields III (left) and Darryl Diggs Jr. (right) began Black Males in Education St. Louis in May 2019. The group provides mentorship, networking opportunities, and support.
Howard Fields III (left) and Darryl Diggs Jr. (right) began Black Males in Education St. Louis in May 2019. The group provides mentorship, networking opportunities, and support.

"Our group, BMESTL, we are working toward creating a memorandum of understanding. And in that memorandum, it dives deep into line items that are specific to inclusion, diversity, equity, anti-bias and anti-racism work," Diggs explained. "If I were to snap my finger, it would be for us to put this into effect, implement it and then also be supported in that work for all school districts, all kids and all educators."

Diggs and Fields received the 2020 LaunchCode Moonshot Challenge award. Diggs is the principal at Hardin Middle School in the City of St. Charles School District, and Fields is the assistant superintendent at Kirkwood School District.

Listen to the full conversation: 

St. Louis on the Air” brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. The show is hosted by Sarah Fenske and produced by Alex Heuer, Emily Woodbury, Evie Hemphill and Lara Hamdan. The audio engineer is Aaron Doerr

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Lara is the Engagement Editor at St. Louis Public Radio.