Brown School launches partnership with Better Family Life

Community Engagement; Public Health; Social Work

The Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis has embarked on a new partnership with Better Family Life, Inc., a not-for-profit community development corporation that is dedicated to fostering healthy, strong and cohesive communities and families throughout the St. Louis and Illinois metropolitan areas.

The goal is to create a long-term relationship to improve community outcomes in the St. Louis area, utilizing the resources and expertise of two local institutions dedicated to positive change.

The Brown School and Better Family Life​ will collaborate in key areas such as social and economic development, affordable housing, mixed-income community development, social services and public health. As part of the partnership, the Brown School’s Evaluation Center​ will study and provide recommendations for programming led by Better Family Life.

To facilitate the work that unites the two institutions, the Brown School has created a satellite office within the Better Family Life Cultural, Educational and Business Center. This dedicated space, located on the third floor of the center, provides opportunities for Brown School faculty, students and staff to engage in teaching, practica, evaluation and service on-site.

“It’s important for students to learn within a community setting like Better Family Life,” said Cynthia Williams, assistant dean for field education and community partnerships at the Brown School. “Their practicum experiences help them to develop the skills and knowledge to advance change in the everyday lived experiences of individuals, families and communities.”

The Cultural, Educational and Business Center, located on Page Ave. in north St. Louis City, is the hub of Better Family Life’s educational and transformational programming across a range of service areas: youth development, economic prosperity, housing access, social connection, and cultural and artistic expression. The Missouri Department of Social Services–Family Support Division has also opened a facility on the third floor of the center.

The new additions were celebrated at an open house and ribbon-cutting ceremony on April 15, 2016.

“We’re proud of this partnership and this space, which reflect our commitment to the Brown School’s mission,” Williams said. “We collaborate with organizations to use evidence to improve access to and quality of social services and to advance social and economic justice. The Brown School’s commitment to the St. Louis community is at the core of our mission.”