New Center to Boost Management, Training for Nonprofits at Delmar Divine

Community Engagement; Diversity; Faculty; Social Work

A new center at the Brown School is taking a leading partnership role in the development of Delmar Divine, the collaborative space for national and local nonprofits that is designed to promote innovation, racial equity and improve the lives of children and families in Metro St. Louis. Although the project – which includes affordable housing and retail – isn’t scheduled to open until December, the Center for Human Services Leadership is already working to support and strengthen the management and leadership of the nonprofit tenants.

“We’ve been ramping up the services we’ve been providing and now they’re going to take off like a rocket,” said Barry Rosenberg, the center’s director and professor of practice at the Brown School. “A big part of it is building community among the non-profits and making those connections to enhance collaboration.”

Delmar Divine recently hired Brittany Hogan, MSW ’09, to manage the center’s services at the complex on Delmar Boulevard, a street known as a racial and economic dividing line in the city. Hogan joined the center after work in economic development and education, most recently as Director of Educational Equity and Diversity in the Rockwood School District. “I’ve dedicated myself to continuing supporting and building of community in St. Louis, and this is a wonderful way to continue that work,” she said.

Rosenberg said the Center’s mission is “to transform this real estate project into a vibrant, collaborative, innovative community advancing social impact for our region.” He said the Center will serve four basic functions:

  • Building a dynamic community and values-based culture that makes Delmar Divine a great place to work and visit.
  • Facilitating information and referral on all matters involving leadership and management to help organizations be more effective, efficient and sustainable.
  • Deepening management knowledge and skill and expanding the leadership pipeline.
  • Building relations between the nonprofit tenants and the Washington University community, helping Delmar Divine to become an exceptional site for community-based education, research and programming.

Delmar Divine is the vision of founder Maxine Clark;  Washington University and the Brown School are active partners. Delmar Divine Charitable Corp., which operates the project, is chaired by Mary McKay, Neidorff Family and Centene Corporation Dean of the Brown School, who asked Rosenberg to manage the school’s role. The Center with funding from the Missouri Foundation for Health has been evolving for about a year. Sarah Hollstrom and Autumn Shepherd, two second-year MSW students in the Social Impact Leadership concentration, were hired on in September to put together a database of resources around leadership and management; and develop the Center’s website. They and Hogan are conducting a series of interviews with the 29 non-profits that will be in the building to better understand their needs and learn how the organizations will prepare to address matters of equity and inclusion.

“It’s an honor to share in Maxine Clark’s vision,” McKay said. “Using our expertise and resources to bring our community together to improve lives is a key part of the mission of the Brown School, and of Washington University.”

Clark, the founder of Build-a-Bear Workshop, is a major donor and namesake of the Clark-Fox Policy Institute at the Brown School, a center for public policy engagement to advance social and economic justice. “We are delighted that the Center for Human Services Leadership will be taking a leading role in strengthening our member organizations’ ability to play a sustained and effective role in strengthening our community and making a positive impact,” Clark said.

Hogan said she will aim to help the organizations in Delmar Divine find new ways to better connect with their clients, communities, and partners.

“Most non-profits are enormously stressed in terms of time,” Hogan said. “We will simplify their job by providing the information they need in a curated fashion, and help focus on things they need to know.” She said the Center will also provide much-needed resources for on-the-job training and skills in management, fundraising, and quality improvement. “We’re filling a hole in what they often struggle to do,” she said. Workshops in management will kick off this fall, followed by additional professional development opportunities.

One of the first tenants at Delmar Divine will be Behavioral Health Response (BHR), a St. Louis-based non-profit that offers 24-hour mental health services, including telephone counseling, in Eastern Missouri.

“I am so excited to be able to be located in a space with other nonprofits,” said Pat Coleman, BHR’s Chief Executive Officer. “It’s going to enable us to share services and get professional development for our staff and our team. Like the other nonprofits, we work saving lives.” She said the Center will help train BHR’s 185-member staff, research the needs of the community, and develop new fund-raising mechanisms.

“They’re going to be a great resource,” she said.