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 students in the St. Louis region who earn a postsecondary degree. St. Louis Graduates' goal is that 50% of adults in the region will have a postsecondary degree by 2020.  St. Louis Graduates supports this goal through collaboration, service coordination, professional development, communications and advocacy.

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

Jane Donahue, co-chair
President, St. Louis Public Schools Foundation

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

Scott Baier, Executive Director, College Bound

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

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

Cynthia Curry Crim, Foundation Program Manager, Commerce Bank

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                       

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

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

Allison Williams, Senior Vice President, Wyman Center

Lisa Orden Zarin, Chief Executive Officer, College Bound


Laura Winter, Project 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.

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. 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.

In Summer 2013, St. Louis Graduates coordinated a first-of-its-kind community effort to address “summer melt”, where students with plans to enter college after high school graduation somehow do not enroll in the fall. The High School to College Center provided free college counseling and financial aid advice to 214 students, more than double the number expected. Over 60 counselors provided counseling on a daily basis over 11 weeks. The High School to College Center is in its second year this summer. Missouri College Advising Corps is operating a similar center in Kansas City based on the experience in St. Louis.

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 portal allows students to complete a common application to connect to more than 50 local scholarship and interest-free loan programs. In 2013, over 2,700 applications were received and 350 awards were made. Since Scholarship Central was started, over $5 million has been awarded to area students.


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!