Who We Are / What We Do

You have a lot of supporters who want you to succeed in college!

Who We Are
The mission of St. Louis Graduates is to increase the proportion of low-income and first generation students in the St. Louis region who earn a postsecondary degree.

St. Louis Graduates is a collaborative network of youth-serving college access provider organizations, K-12 education, higher education, philanthropic funders and businesses. St. Louis Graduates was formerly known as the St. Louis Regional College Access Pipeline Project.

To learn more about the history of St. Louis Graduates, read the case study about the formation of the network and how it evolved. Thanks to Dr. Terry Jones for writing it and Citi Foundation for making it possible.

St. Louis Graduates Steering Committee


Alan Byrd, Dean of Enrollment Services, University of Missouri-St. Louis

Allison Williams, Senior Vice President, Wyman Center

Scott Baier, Executive Director, College Bound

Stacy Clay, Deputy Superintendent of Student Support Services, St. Louis Public Schools

Cynthia Curry Crim, Foundation Program Manager, Commerce Bank

Jane Donahue, President, St. Louis Public Schools Foundation

Leslie Gill, Executive Director, College Summit St. Louis

Sherry Harsch-Porter, Ph.D., Principal, The Porter Bay Group

Brandon Haynes, Ph.D., Director of Community Engagement, Deaconess Foundation

Dave Hilliard, President and Chief Executive Officer, Wyman Center

Wendy Jaffe, Executive Director, The Trio Foundation of St. Louis                       

Anne Klein, Vice President-Education Strategies, St. Louis Regional Chamber

Mary McMurtrey, Director of Community Engagement, The Greater Saint Louis Community Foundation

Amy Basore Murphy, Director of Scholarship and Donor Services, The Greater Saint Louis Community Foundation

Michael Petersen, Senior Vice President, Wells Fargo Advisors

Kathy Reeves, Corporate Community Relations Director, Enterprise Holdings

Faith Sandler, Executive Director, The Scholarship Foundation of St. Louis

Don Senti, Ed.D., Executive Director, Education Plus

Beth Tankersley-Bankhead, Ph.D., Executive Director, Missouri College Advising Corps

Randall Weller, Director, Citi Community Development


Laura Winter, Project Manager
Ellen Vietor, Scholarship Central Manager
Karissa Anderson, Advocacy and Public Policy Manager

What We Do

St. Louis Graduates’ goal is for 50% of adults in the region to have a postsecondary degree by 2020. St. Louis Graduates supports achievement of this goal in the following ways:

Increasing public will to support low-income students in their pursuit of postsecondary success: St. Louis Graduates first raised the issue of inequality in college access and degree completion with the 2009 publication of a regional report, Building Better Futures. That report spurred creation of a community plan that continues to guide St. Louis Graduates’ work.

A follow-up report, One Student at a Time, released in November 2012 noted that St. Louis now leads the nation in the percentage point increase in degree completion. While a significant accomplishment to be celebrated, at the same time the data indicate significant disparities remain for degree completion among African Americans and in some geographic parts of the St. Louis region. St. Louis Graduates advocates for policies that address disparities, including need-based financial aid.

St. Louis Graduates actively advocates for public and institutional policies that support low-income and first-generation students so they are supported financially, academically and socially in their pursuit of a postsecondary degree.

Building capacity and scale of the community that works directly with low-income high school students: Strengthening the network for students requires building the capacity of the people who are on the front line working directly with students. St. Louis Graduates offers a free Professional Development Institute for professionals who work directly with students. The PDI workshops connect counselors with the research base and to a growing network of local professionals. PDI is made possible in partnership with Education Plus, Laclede Gas Charitable Foundation and the Norman J. Stupp Foundaiton.

In addition, St. Louis Graduates supports some strategic advising to high schools that serve a predominantly low-income student population and seek to strengthen their student postsecondary success plans.

Cultivating an environment in which all players work in coordination to maximize access to services for a growing number of low-income students: Recognizing that one of the most common barriers to postsecondary enrollment is access to financial resources, St. Louis Graduates created Scholarship Central, an online system that connects scholarships to the students who need them. The free online system allows students to complete a common application to connect to more than 50 local scholarship and interest-free loan programs. Over three years, nearly $10 million has been awarded to area students. Scholarship Central is a partnership of St. Louis Graduates with St. Louis Community Foundation, The Scholarship Foundation of St. Louis and Wells Fargo Advisors.

St. Louis Graduates also convened partners from area schools and community organizations to create a community solution to the community challenge of "summer melt". Summer melt is when college-intending high school graduates fail to enroll in college due to hurdles that arise in the summer months when their high school counselor is no longer available. The High School to College Center is a free, drop-in counseling center where students can receive free professional counseling and financial aid assistance during the summer.  The High School to College Center is made possible by College Bound, Deaconess Foundation, Equifax, 501creative, Monsanto Company, St. Louis Community Foundation, The Scholarship Foundation of St. Louis, Sigma-Aldrich Corporation, United Way of Greater St. Louis, Washington University in St. Louis and dozens of area counselors.


In the St. Louis region, an adult with a bachelor’s degree has median earnings 40% higher than one with just a high school diploma and 17% higher than one with an associate’s degree.  Approximately 59% of jobs will require some form of postsecondary education yet only 38% of adults in the region have a postsecondary degree.


We thank the funders of St. Louis Graduates and those who have Joined the Movement!