President’s Letter 2023
Dear Valued Neighbors, Collaborators, and Friends,

The Green House Venture faced another challenging year in 2022 with our Urban Alliance schools still rebounding from the setbacks of the Covid-19 pandemic. We also faced some headwinds in our fundraising efforts due to the impact of inflation and other factors affecting the overall economy. Still, we were able to make important advances that I am eager to share with you in this year’s annual President’s Letter.

Since the program’s outset in 2015, we have progressed steadily on a course to establish a track record and a reputation for innovation in teaching bio-science, urban agriculture, nutrition and dietetics to elementary school students. Those efforts have paid off with our work being appreciated and embraced by leaders, principals, teachers, and the broader community as an extraordinary pathway to educating future scientists in our community. While we still have some distance to go, we are inching closer to realizing our ultimate dream of what the Green House Venture was meant to be and designed to become.

None of our achievements could have occurred without the commitment, dedication, professionalism, and performance of volunteers, consultants, Urban Education Alliance partners, community institutions, universities, and state and local government and neighborhood leaders. The Board of Directors, its committees, and the organization’s consultant team have worked very hard to ensure that The Green House Venture is able to achieve its goals through the constant expansion and management of its functions.

Here are some of highlights of our achievements in 2022:

Board of Directors
We continue to change and add to members to strengthen the board’s ability to provide leadership to our organization and committees. This past year, Ben Johnson, Sr. Sanjiv K. Bhatia, and Colleen Starkloff joined the board and have played an important role in the areas of bioscience, technology, curriculum, and disability policy. We thank them and all the directors for their valuable ongoing contributions to our mission.

Fundraising Committee
(Co-Chairpersons, Jackie Wellington and Tom Purcell)
The Fundraising Committee raised $55,116 for the Operations Account in 2022 for a total of $875,717 in general funding since the Venture was started eight years ago. The Growing Forward Campaign for the construction of the planned Education Center raised $350,000 in 2022, bringing that fund to a total of $1.5 million since the campaign began in 2021. With several outstanding donor opportunities coming up in the next few months, we hope that another $2 million will be raised, allowing us to begin development of the Education Center in 2023. Our campaign consultant, Holmes, Radford, and Reynolds has done a fine job in guiding our fund-raising efforts. We also participated again in the Give STL/Day for the 3rd year in a row, raising almost $10,000 overall from that program.

Site Committee
(Chairperson Peter Benoist, Co-Chair Nicole Mohler)

Despite the challenges of 2022, the Site Committee was very active and highly successful. Most notably, all the preliminary drawings were completed for the Education Center by our architectural firm, UIC, and the project is currently out for bid with the construction cost to be determined in the near future. If the cost conforms to the budget and fundraising has been successful, construction should start in late spring or early summer of this year. To assist the Committee in its construction oversight responsibilities, an Owner Representative will be hired to provide ongoing professional assurance that the project is proceeding according to plan. If everything goes as hoped and expected, the Education Center will be completed by late fall of 2024.

Signage Program
Our plan for adding signage to various parts of the GHV Campus has been completed and is undergoing review by MODOT, St. Louis City Department of Streets, and the Board of Public Service. We expect to receive approval by early March, at which time we will begin implementation. The signage program is focused initially on providing clear identification of plants across the 3 ½- acre Embankment Greenway and the public right-of-way along DeTonty Street from Thurman Avenue east to 39th Street. Maintenance is now a regular component of GHV Campus activities, and the Master Gardener Program of the University of Missouri Extension Service is an important part of that work.

Curriculum Committee
(Chairperson Don Stump)

Now that Covid is largely behind us, and schools have returned to their normal routines, we have renewed our Classroom Outreach Program. Its purpose is to connect the educational work of the Venture with the existing science curricula in the participating Urban Alliance schools. Becky Finnegan, a retired teacher and principal, was hired to manage the program, working alongside science teachers to coordinate field trips and outdoor classes for students across the GHV Campus. To support the work of the Curriculum Committee, two new groups are being established, including the Teacher Advisory and the Curriculum Advisory groups. These new additions will help ensure the continuing advancement of the programs being offered to our students. We expanded our work with interns in 2022 on two fronts. We had a graduate student from Saint Louis University studying the activities of bees in relationship to I-44 traffic at the Terrace Garden and the Embankment Greenway during the summer. We also engaged an intern from The University of Missouri/St. Louis working to activate the Growth Chambers at the four Urban Education Alliance schools. All Growth Chambers will be active by late winter of 2023.

Marketing and Communications Committee
(Chairperson Nicole Mohler)

Several actions were taken in 2022 to improve the image and understanding of The Green House Venture and our work:
•A new webmaster, Studio 2108, was hired to enhance the image and educational quality of the website. • The Campus Newsletter is now a quarterly production and provides a more in-depth report of the programs and personalities involved in the GHV activities.
• The social media strategy continues to show impact with increasing numbers of hits from individuals who are active on those communication platforms.
• Our annual Progress Report, describing the work of The Green House Venture for 21/22 was developed and distributed to various organizations and individual throughout the community.
• Two new important videos were produced: A virtual video tour walks watchers through an animated view of the various rooms and learning spaces in and around the new Education Center. It offers a vivid picture of what the educational experience will be for future students.

A Virtual Tour of the Forthcoming Green House Venture Education Center
Another video, “The Value of The Green House Venture to St. Louis Schools,” features five St. Louis leaders discussing the importance of the GHV program. It includes a portion of the virtual tour of the Education Center, along with other visuals that are accompany the comments of the leaders regarding the distinctive educational value of the Green House Venture.
Hear from Several of our Collaborators Regarding the Value of the Green House Venture to Our City.
Executive/Finance Committee
(Chairperson Thomas Purcell)

Our annual audit stated that The Green House Venture utilizes proper accounting practices in the conduct of its business. Those credentials are important as our fund-raising efforts mount for the development of the final phase of the GHV Campus, the Education Center.

We want to give special thanks the various departments of the City of St. Louis and the Missouri Department of Transportation with whom we work regularly in the planning and implementation of our strategies and projects. The Venture would not exist without their cooperation and guidance. In addition, we thank Alderperson Annie Rice for her assistance to The Green House Venture over the last many years as she concludes her public career as Alderman. Her impact on our work and the 8th Ward cannot be overstated. Finally, we thank Mayor Tishaura Jones for her support and her efforts to make the City of St. Louis a thriving and dynamic community.

Thank you,

Tom Purcell
President The Green House Venture