Cover Stories

Maintaining Its Mission

At a time like this, the incredible work being done by local nonprofits doesn’t stop. In fact, it seems to carry on with even greater strength, bringing positivity to the community when it needs it most. One such organization continuing its mission is the Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis, which creates opportunities for success for the disadvantaged in the region. Along with providing support, the nonprofit also recognizes the individuals who make its work possible and tirelessly give back to those in need. The annual Salute to Women in Leadership gala honors the contributions of women who embody the organization’s values.

The gala was created by Urban League president and CEO Michael McMillan. This year, it tentatively is set for June 27. If it has to be rescheduled due to COVID-19, all tickets will be honored for the new date. “The event focuses on women who have excelled, who are role models, who have broken through the glass ceiling and are using their personal and professional platforms to be an advocate for others,” McMillan explains. “We want to honor women who use their positions to improve the plights of those in the community who need assistance, and women who focus on helping the next generation be even better than the one before.” Honorees of the Lifetime Achievement Award have included women who have made an impact both locally and nationally in areas like business, the arts and civic leadership.

The Salute to Women in Leadership gala is the nonprofit’s second largest annual fundraiser. “It’s a wonderful evening for people to come together and celebrate the honorees, each other and the support they are giving the Urban League,” McMillan says. “We assist thousands of people in the region, and funds from the gala help provide resources to improve their quality of life.”

Even though the new coronavirus may end up impacting the Urban League’s event schedule, it has done nothing to slow down the support it offers the community. Although, while the nonprofit remains busy, McMillan notes that the current crisis has shifted its plans for 2020. “Our main goals have changed from what they were on Jan. 1,” he says. “We’re in a global crisis, and our first priority is the survival of our clients.” To help disadvantaged people in the region find stability in these uncertain times, the organization is dedicating its efforts to helping with housing, assisting with utility payments, distributing food and personal care items, and supporting the recently unemployed.

Urban League has been helping its clients meet their basic needs for more than 100 years. Many of its services have been in place for decades, and they are being adapted for the current health crisis. Along with working toward people’s immediate concerns, the organization is looking ahead to how it can address the situation further down the road. “We’ve always had a huge emphasis on employment,” McMillan says. “While it remains to be seen how this will unfold economically, we’re focusing on pivoting people who may be unable to return to their previous careers toward companies and industries that are hiring now.”

The nonprofit needs support more than ever to ensure it can continue its work. Along with financial donations, it can use nonperishable foods and basic toiletries for adults and children. “We welcome any contributions that can help us provide for those who are most in need,” McMillan says.

Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis provides programs for economic opportunity, educational excellence, community empowerment and civil rights advocacy. Its Salute to Women in Leadership Gala currently is scheduled for June 27 at the Marriott St. Louis Grand Hotel. Pictured on the cover, in back: Centene Foundation president Keith Williamson, Sen. Karla May. In front: St. Louis Symphony Orchestra president and CEO Marie-Helene Bernard, Urban League president and CEO Michael McMillan. For more information, call 314.615.3668 or visit ulstl.com

Cover design by Julie Streiler | Cover photo by Tim Parker Photography

Pictured at top: The Urban League honors actress Jennifer Lewis (center) with the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2019 gala.

Photo courtesy of the Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis

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Maintaining Its Mission
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Maintaining Its Mission
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At a time like this, the incredible work being done by local nonprofits doesn’t stop. In fact, it seems to carry on with even greater strength, bringing positivity to the community when it needs it most. One such organization continuing its mission is the Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis, which creates opportunities for success for the disadvantaged in the region.
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