Community Development is a Good Investment Strategy – Mary McMurtrey Speaks Out

Mary McMurtrey  wrote an important and informative article for the Community Builder’s Network. We would like to share this insightful article with you and ask that you share it with others.


Mary McMurtrey is currently the Director of Community Engagement for the Greater Saint Louis Community Foundation.  She previously served as President of the Gateway Center for Giving (formerly The Metropolitan Association for Philanthropy) for over six years.  Prior to joining The Center, she served as the Executive Director of Boys Hope Girls Hope St. Louis and before changing sectors to human services she served as the Executive Director of the Wildlife Rescue Center.  Before entering the field of nonprofit management, Mary was the communications officer for the Public Policy Research Center at the University of Missouri-St. Louis where she was recruited to create a new position within the PPRC and to direct the organization’s communications and marketing efforts as an established professional entity in the St. Louis policy arena with a focus on both regional and national issues.  Mary lives in Ladue with her husband Michael and their children, Sophia and Lyla.

Mary is a great proponent of non-profit fund development in St. Louis, enthusiastic and forward thinking. Please read on:

Our region fundamentally lacks the community development infrastructure needed to incent local and national development dollars. This is deeply troubling, as it means we are leaving meaningful philanthropic dollars on the table. The community development initiatives we choose to support must make business sense, but they must also help improve the quality of life for the people who live in those communities.

Think about it. Services exist in a place.  A community.  As such, before allocating dollars to a worthy cause, as funders I believe we have an obligation to give equal weight to the quality of life for the people within those communities. We need to think beyond our funding niche, and also focus on community and economic development and give those issues the attention they deserve. READ MORE.


The Rebirth of 4247-49 Russell

Here is a fantastic article put out by Tower Grove Neighborhoods Community Redevelopment:


Four years ago, 424749 Russell was a vacant shell of building with multiple owners and no future.  The property next door was an overcrowded nuisance with drug dealers on the front porch daily.  4247 49 Russell was originally owned by the infamous Doug Hartmann, who spent 5 years in prison for bilking investors of millions from real estate scams.  You can read more about him here  As with many Hartmann deals, some improvements were completed but the units were never finished.   Over the years, the building was converted into condominiums. More time passed and as the foreclosures on 4247-49 Russell proceeded, multiple owners connected to the scam and others like LRA were holding condos individually.  Alderman Conway suggested the Shaw Neighborhood Housing Corp (now TGNCDC) purchase one foreclosed unit that was offered for sale.  We did.  It took multiple years and negotiations with banks and LRA to assemble the remaining 3 units.  Once the building was secured, a developer, Novus, was selected to complete the renovation.  The end result is a beautifully renovated property which helps stabilize the block and bring new home owners to the area.  Both units at 4247-49 Russell were listed last week for $248,500 and both units were under contract the same day.  Also, due to the development sign and renovation of 4247-49 Russell, the property next door was bought and renovated.  Novus also completed the renovation at 4217 Russell which sold after one day on the market and at a record price.  State tax credits and tax abatement helped ensure the projects success. To view the rest of the article and photos click here.


Get invested in the Rise Annual Appeal

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It’s the time of year when we reach out to the community and ask for support for Rise.  Your support helps us continue our vital mission of revitalization in the St. Louis Metropolitan area.  Please take a moment to read a letter from our President, Stephen Acree, as you consider making a gift to Rise:

What kind of neighborhood did you grow up in?

What kind of neighborhood do you want your children, grandchildren, nieces and
nephews to inherit?

At Rise, we believe that neighborhoods should be safe, vibrant, and friendly. We know that the most successful neighborhoods include a diversity of incomes, cultures and lifestyles and are rich in amenities like grocery stores, restaurants and schools.  Our work strengthens neighborhoods and communities, making successful neighborhood revitalization possible. We would like to share with you what we have accomplished in the past year:

  • We celebrated the first new residents moving into their new homes at Emerald Ridge in East Alton, where we are developing 46 new single-family homes to replace deteriorated and obsolete barracks-style housing that was built for munitions plant workers during WWII
  • In all, we had 116 homes and apartments under development
  • Our “Rise Up Festival” brought the most people ever together for a fantastic family friendly event celebrating community revitalization
  • We provided capacity-building technical assistance to 12 community-based nonprofit organizations, applying our expertise to help them achieve sustainable success

As much as we have accomplished, we have as the old song says, “Only just begun.”

With your help, we can make St. Louis a city with more of the kind of vibrant neighborhoods that can sustain regional economic growth.  We can build on the success factors of diversity, accessibility and vibrancy that we already see in some of our neighborhoods to extend their success to other areas of our region.

What will it take to do this and how can you help?

It will take creation of places and spaces that respond to community needs and that’s what we at Rise do best.

By the way, did you know that Rise was named “Best Worthy Cause of 2014” by the Riverfront Times? The cause is worthy and we need you to continue our mission of enhancing the quality of life in our communities and making St. Louis a great place to live, work and play.

Please invest in the future of our community by giving generously to Rise.

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Executive Director and President

To make a secure one-time or recurring donation to Rise,  please click the Donate Now (PayPal) button.  Please note: The PayPal form requires that you spell out “Saint Louis” rather than “St. Louis.”  If you have difficulties utilizing the PayPal form, contact Larry Perlmutter.


Rise Open House is a Crowdpleaser

What do you think was most popular at the Rise Open House on 12.5.2014?

a. The fantastically brilliant colors the new office space boasted.

b. The warm and friendly greeting guests received from the staff.

c. The awe inspiring before and after photos of the work Rise has done in revitalization.

d. The spectacular toasted ravioli.

e. Schnickelfritz.

If your answer was “e.”, you are correct! Schnickelfritz bottled beer from Urban Chestnut Brewing Company was at the top of the list.

Although the brew was sublime, so were the people that attended the open house/gallery opening.  A very diverse crowd  was in attendance ranging from Bankers to Builders, to Abstract Expressionists and Architects.  There were some very interesting conversations and social interaction was constant right up to 9 PM.  It was our opportunity to show off our new office space and to share an event with our next door neighbors, the Des Lee Gallery.  It was wonderful to see so many people who the understand the importance of revitalization in our community.  We would like to send out a heartfelt thanks to everyone who made it to the party, especially on such a rainy night!

Happy Holiday’s from Rise and please visit us anytime.

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