Leadership Community

East Side Aligned

East Side Aligned (ESA) is one movement with many voices, powered by the unrelenting desire for children and youth in the East St. Louis School District 189 footprint to have equitable opportunities throughout their childhood and beyond.

In 2015, over 400 community stakeholders (half of which were youth) worked together to develop a bold agenda for young people. This agenda, known as The Roadmap, includes more than 180 strategies to improve the readiness and well-being of young people. Fast forward, ESA has become a vibrant movement, driven by a constellation of collaborative groups committed to creating the conditions for young people to thrive.

The ESA movement has facilitated transformational change, including:

  • Driving statewide policy change, resulting in 1,800 students receiving safe transportation to and from school.
  • Training more than 1,000 people in trauma-informed practices, resulting in policy and practice changes—within education, housing, law enforcement, juvenile justice, health, and social service systems—that prioritizes well-being, transitions from punitive to restorative, and contributes to building a thriving community.
  • Increasing access to high-quality early childhood and out-of-school time programs, supports, and opportunities for more than 2,000 children and youth.

The highlights above provide a glimpse of the impact the ESA movement is having in the lives of people who live and work within the East St. Louis area. At the cornerstone of this work are a set of core beliefs:

  • Resident Leadership and Engagement: We believe in residents, especially young people, being integral leaders and decision-makers in their own lives and community.
  • Collaborative Principles and Practices: We achieve more when we come together, pool our resources, and assist one another.
  • Public Accountability and Continuous Improvement: Community efforts work best with transparency and ongoing communication.

Lead Intermediary Organization

United Way of Greater St. Louis

Areas of Expertise

  • Collective Impact
  • Systems Change
  • Early Childhood System
  • Out-of-School Time System
  • School-Based Partnerships and Data Sharing
  • Coalition Building

Prioritized Focus Areas

  • Energy
  • Health Sciences
  • Information Technology

Key Successes

  • Continue to expand the Running Start program in partnership between School District 189 and Southwestern Illinois College, allowing students the opportunity to earn their associate’s degree while graduating from high school.
  • Annually increase the number of high school students earning college credit through dual credit courses and industry-recognized certifications.
    Increase academic rigor and student preparation in the Transitional Math program to reduce the percentage of students needing remediation coursework in college.
  • Selected to participate in the state’s Competency-Based Education pilot program.
  • Continue partnership between Vistra Energy, School District 189 and Illinois Science & Technology Institute (ISTI) for the annual STEM Challenge project. STEM Challenges are real-world projects that create opportunities for high school students to work alongside STEM professionals as mentors.
  • Continue partnership between Jobs for America’s Graduates and School District 189 to provide employability skills, work-based learning experiences and job placement for students at alternative school.
  • Conducted a Pathways to Prosperity Asset Mapping in East St. Louis with Jobs for the Future.

2-Year Goals

  • Fully implement school-wide AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) strategies at East St. Louis Senior High School and earn recognition as AVID School of Distinction.
  • Fully implement an enhanced diploma program providing high school students with Pathway Endorsements by 2022.
  • Develop an apprenticeship program for Career and Technical Education students.

Community Updates

East St. Louis Celebrates Class of 2022

East St. Louis HS’s Class of 2022 has has earned a combined total of over $29 million in scholarships and two graduates also earned their associate degrees while in high school.

Trauma-Informed Practices Webinar

Representatives from East St. Louis School District 189 and Township High School District 214 in the Northwest suburbs of Chicago shared how they have implemented trauma-informed practices in their districts in partnership with the Illinois Federation of Teachers and community partners.

Walking Across Two Stages

Montez Holton, Valedictorian of the East St. Louis Senior High School Class of 2018, walked across two stages in May: earning a high school diploma and associate’s degree.