Kristen Trudo, field organizer with the Black Census Project, reflects on the Project’s recent community organizing training in Atlanta.

As part of WEPOWER’s Connect & Cultivate programming, the St. Louis organization is partnering with Black Futures Lab on the Black Census Project. The project engages Black residents in conversations about what’s important to us. Be heard! Fill out the census.

Alexis Bates, WEPOWER’s other Black Census Project field organizer and power-builder, facilitates outreach conversations with the Black Census Project. Photo provided by Bates.

The training was unlike anything that I had ever experienced. There were around thirty black organizers from all over the country, gathered in a hotel ballroom in Downtown Atlanta. We traveled from Las Vegas. Mississippi. New Orleans. New Jersey. Charli, Alexis, and I: representing St. Louis. There were folx who had been organizing for decades. Folx in their 50s…

Monti Hill, a power-builder in WEPOWER’s inaugural Education Power-Building Academy in North St. Louis city, pictured here on Natural Bridge Road near her home // Photo by Kristen Trudo

On reading out loud.

One afternoon in grade school my teacher made up a new rule: each student must finish reading a section aloud from their book before leaving the classroom that day. I couldn’t make it through a page. I was stuttering so badly. Then to add to my embarrassment, I caused my classmates to miss their bus.

Even though I never thought that I would be able to go to college, I was still active in high school. I was involved in the fun things that came easy to me — clubs, accelerated science, art. My mom entered me in a lot…

Bijal Desai-Ramirez, WEPOWER VP of Entrepreneurship & Investments, at Love Bank Park // Photo by Kristen Trudo

On the entrepreneurial landscape.

There is a wealth of research that acknowledges how diversity — when valued and leveraged — can drive innovation. This has not only been proven in traditional organizational settings but also in startups. Diverse minds represent diverse ideas, whether they come from entrepreneurs themselves or diverse teams. They generate ideas that others may not recognize as opportunities, and solve some of our community’s greatest challenges.

Yet, we regularly hear stats that clearly suggest that black, brown, female, and other entrepreneurs are consistently being overlooked, underestimated, and undervalued. …


startup building power with black & brown residents of saint louis • envisioning a future of shared prosperity •

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