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YWCA Metro St. Louis to bring critical new asset to the 39 North innovation district

March 24, 2022/St. Louis, Missouri – The lack of quality affordable childcare is a key contributing factor to the post pandemic workforce shortage. YWCA Metro St. Louis announced it is spearheading the effort to open an early childhood education center in 39 North in space owned by the Miriam School and Learning Center at 1138 N. Warson Rd, Olivette, MO 63132. The Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, St. Louis Economic Development Partnership and city of Olivette have been collaborating with YWCA to bring this much needed new asset to the 600-acre innovation district.

From left to right in the photo: Stephanie Regagnon with Danforth Plant Science Center; Dr. Cheryl Watkins with YWCA; Bill Florent with Miriam; Maxine Weil with the City of Olivette; Janet Wilding with St. Louis Economic Development Partnership.

The center will serve both the innovation district’s workforce and the community. The scheduled opening is Fall 2023 and will initially serve 70 children with plans to expand to serve 170 children at full capacity.

“It’s so appropriate we are making this announcement during Women’s History Month,” said Dr. Cheryl Watkins, MBA, YWCA President and CEO. “Access to childcare is the single most limiting factor for women in the workforce. If parents can’t find quality care for their children, they can’t work. Creating a space for children to thrive creates a space for families to thrive.”

YWCA and Early Childhood Education

Harnessing its expertise in early childhood education as the largest provider of Head Start and Early Head Start services in the region, YWCA’s new facility will be more than a drop-off daycare, the center will feature a STEAM-based curriculum designed to foster a lifelong love of learning. The partnership with the Danforth Center and the agtech community in 39 North will enrich the experience by integrating plant life science and innovation into the curriculum to expand the children’s knowledge.

Underscoring its strength in early childhood learning, YWCA’s Stacy Johnson, Chief Program Officer and Director, YWCA Head Start/Early Head Start, was recently recognized as Head Start Administrator of the Year by the state of Missouri. YWCA Metro St. Louis also was invited to become a nationally accredited Program of Excellence by the National Head Start Association (NHSA), an opportunity only accorded to select organizations.

Partner Support

“Innovation districts are created to bring resources and connectivity to companies and entrepreneurs,” said Stephanie Regagnon, executive director of Innovation Partnerships at the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center. “39 North provides world-class infrastructure, highly-skilled talent and access to tools companies need to launch and grow their business. We know that quality, affordable childcare is essential for a thriving workforce and will be a vital new amenity for company recruitment to our innovation community. We are thrilled that the YWCA, a nationally recognized leader in early childhood education, is filling that gap.”

“The opportunity for children to be exposed to the agtech community at an early age is really exciting,” said Janet Wilding, vice president of major projects, St. Louis Economic Development Partnership. “We are thrilled YWCA is bringing this critical amenity to 39 North.”

Miriam School and Learning Center has been looking for a quality tenant to utilize the unused space in our building,” said Bill Florent, Interim Executive Director at Miriam. “As an educational organization, we know the importance of providing affordable early childhood education for the community and are excited to be working on this project.”

Olivette’s Mayor Sidney Clark adds, “The city of Olivette is proud to partner with YWCA Metro St. Louis to bring an early childcare center to our community. All children deserve equitable learning experiences, and we look forward to being a part of transformative change for children and their families.”

Going Forward

YWCA hopes to repeat this model at other locations around the community, and it hopes that the partnership is noted and replicated around the world. “It took dedicated community leaders to come together to make this happen, and we hope others are inspired to follow our example for the benefit of children and their families,” added Dr. Watkins.

YWCA Head Start Readies for Another School Year Amid COVID-19


YWCA Metro St. Louis CEO Adrian Bracy Calls All Who Identify as Female to Support Women and Call Out Misogynistic Behavior

This St. Louis American OpEd from July 23, 2020, is in reaction to Rep. Ted Hoyo’s reported verbal slur against Rep. Alexanderia Ocasio-Cortez.

YWCA Metro St. Louis: YWCA Sexual Assault Counseling

You do not have to face sexual assault alone! Just listen to the joy in this YWCA therapist’s voice describing what it feels like when a client successfully terminates treatment because she has made the journey from victim to survivor! Tammy is just one of the therapists at YWCA Metro St. Louis who is specially trained in trauma-informed therapy for survivors of sexual assault.

Latest News

YWCA Services for Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault, Including Rapid ReHousing for Women and Children Fleeing Violence

Please watch YWCA Crisis Intervention Advocate Angela Broadnax discussing safety planning and rapid rehousing below:

Domestic Violence Services

YWCA Crisis Intervention Director Samantha Wayant and Court Watch’s Carla Maley participate in a panel on KPLR’s The Pulse of St. Louis along with partner agency Safe Connection to discuss violence against Women.

Watch YWCA CEO Adrian Bracy and YWCA Crisis Intervention Director Samantha Wayant discuss how YWCA helps victims of domestic and sexual violence heal from the trauma and become survivors. The 2019 YWCA Walk A Mile In Her Shoes is coming up on September 19, and is designed to engage men in preventing domestic, sexual and gender violence.

Learn about White Privilege and its role in the racial division in St. Louis in this article from The Riverfront Times:

YWCA Racial Justice Witnessing Whiteness

YWCA Message on Ferguson, MO:

Five Years Later

Five years have passed since Michael Brown was killed by a Ferguson Police officer on Canfield Drive. His death sparked an examination of the racial divide in our community, and the systemic racism infecting some of our municipal institutions. We came under scrutiny worldwide, and no less an entity than the United States Department of Justice issued findings. There were hard facts that our region could not ignore and, thankfully, progress has been made. But there is much more to be done.

As YWCA Metro St. Louis reflects on this sad anniversary, we recognize that few feel the agony as acutely as Michael Brown’s parents and family to whom we offer our condolences. We also mourn with those who lost loved ones to violent, racist hatred in El Paso, Dayton, and so many more communities nationwide.

YWCA Metro St. Louis and the entire community must turn our pain into activism. We must reject hateful rhetoric, derive power from progress, and pledge to move forward in the face of all that threatens to pull us back.

On this anniversary, we are saddened for all that is lost: the lives, the potential, the promise. But we promise to continue to do our work and fight for awareness, awakening and acceptance for all people in support of our mission to eliminate racism, empower women and promote peace, justice, dignity and freedom for all.

Photo Gallery: Leader Lunch 2021

Thursday, December 16, 2021

YWCA Metro St. Louis would like to once again congratulate the Leader Lunch 41 Academy of Leaders, Class of 2021! We would again like to thank our sponsors, event attendees, volunteers and staff for your generous support of the 41st Annual YWCA Leader Lunch on December 9th. See below for pictures of the event, including… Continue Reading Photo Gallery: Leader Lunch 2021

YWCA Metro St. Louis Announces Dr. Cheryl Watkins, MBA as New President and CEO

Thursday, July 12, 2018

July 12, 2021/St. Louis, Missouri – CHAMPION FOR WOMEN – INNOVATOR – STRATEGIC LEADER: YWCA Metro St. Louis is pleased to announce that Dr. Cheryl Watkins, MBA has been appointed the agency’s new President and CEO. Dr. Watkins brings a wealth of expertise to this role. She is an experienced senior-level business executive with a… Continue Reading YWCA Metro St. Louis Announces Dr. Cheryl Watkins, MBA as New President and CEO