Who We Are / What We Do

Who We Are
St. Louis Graduates' mission is to transform lives through postsecondary education equity.

St. Louis Graduates is a collaborative network of youth-serving college access and success non-profit organizations, K-12 and higher education, business and philanthropy. St. Louis Graduates is a component fund of St. Louis Community Foundation.

To learn more about the history of St. Louis Graduates, read the case study about the formation of the network and how it evolved.

St. Louis Graduates was honored to be recognized with a Focus St. Louis What's Right with the Region Award in 2012.

St. Louis Graduates Steering Committee

  • Alan Byrd, Jr., Vice Provost of Enrollment Management, University of Missouri-St. Louis
  • Allison Williams, Senior Vice President, Programs, Wyman


  • Scott Baier, Executive Director, College Bound
  • Trent Ball, Assistant Vice President for Academic Diversity and Outreach
    Academic Support Centers, Southeast Missouri State University
  • Elizabeth Bender, Ed.D., Associate Superintendent for College and Career Readiness, St. Louis Public Schools
  • Cynthia Curry Crim, Foundation Program Manager, Commerce Bank
  • Anthony Cruz, Ed.D., Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs, St. Louis Community College
  • Jane Donahue, Co-founder of St. Louis Graduates, and President and CEO, St. Louis Public Schools Foundation
  • Melissa Findley, Executive Director, Missouri Scholarship & Loan Foundation
  • Sherry Harsch-Porter, Ph.D., Principal, The Porter Bay Group
  • David Hilliard, Retired President and Chief Executive Officer, Wyman
  • Wendy Jaffe, Executive Director, The Trio Foundation of St. Louis                       
  • Jerron Johnson, Executive Director, Missouri College Advising Corps
  • Greg Laposa, Vice President-Education Strategies, St. Louis Regional Chamber
  • Amy Basore Murphy, Director of Scholarship and Donor Services, St. Louis Community Foundation
  • Michael Petersen, Senior Vice President, Wells Fargo Advisors
  • Kathleen Reeves, Assistant Vice President, Corporate Community Relations, Enterprise Holdings
  • Faith Sandler, Co-founder of St. Louis Graduates, and Executive Director, The Scholarship Foundation of St. Louis


  • Laura Winter, Project Director
  • Ellen Vietor, Scholarship Central Manager 
  • Tamitha Walker McKinnis, Professional Development Consultant



The mission of St. Louis Graduates is to transform lives through postsecondary education equity.

St. Louis Graduates seeks to strengthen the system of support for students by:

Increasing collective commitment to support low-income students, first-generation students and students of color to postsecondary degree completion. 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, and equity continues to guide its work. St. Louis Graduates, in partnership with the St. Louis Regional Chamber, collects, analyzes and shares data to support collaboration; convenes those working to support students to coordinate efforts; encourages community leaders and organizations to commit to equity in degree completion; and communicates the accomplishments and needs of students and those who work with them.

Advocating for state, federal and institutional policies that support degree attainment for students who are low income, first generation, and/or students of color. St. Louis Graduates advocates for public and institutional policies that support students, particularly around access and affordability. St. Louis Graduates, in partnership with The Scholarship Foundation of St. Louis, launched the Active Advocacy Coalition, a student-led coalition advocating for student-centered policies in higher education. St. Louis Graduates convened a task force to look at effective institutional policies in support of student graduation with less debt which led to the Degrees with Less Debt report.

Promoting and encouraging the use of best practices at the high school and postsecondary levels to support access and success across systems in St. Louis.  St. Louis Graduates operates Scholarship Central in partnership with The Scholarship Foundation of St. Louis, St. Louis Community Foundation, Missouri Scholarship & Loan Foundation and Wells Fargo Advisors to simplify the process of finding and applying to local scholarship and interest-free loan programs. Since it was created, Scholarship Central has awarded over $21 million to more than 1,800 students.

St. Louis Graduates recognizes the valuable role of counselors in helping students make postsecondary plans while in high school and persist to a degree once enrolled in postsecondary education. St. Louis Graduates builds the capacity of professionals who work directly with students through the Professional Development Institute, an annual series of workshops designed to connect counselors to the research base while building a peer network across the region. The Student Success Learning Institute convenes higher education professionals for training on effective strategies to support completion.


In the St. Louis region, an adult with a bachelor’s degree has median earnings 77% higher than one with just a high school diploma; an adult with some college or an associate's degree has earnings 23% higher.  Approximately two-thirds of jobs will require some form of postsecondary education yet only 41% of adults in the region have a postsecondary degree. Among African Americans, only 27% have a degree.