City Faces cancels programming for fall semester

| Senior Editor

City Faces will cancel programming for the rest of the fall semester following an incident where a volunteer’s car was stolen during scheduled programming, according to an email from the organization’s executive board dated Sept. 20.

The organization provides tutoring and mentoring to children in the Clinton-Peabody public housing community near downtown St. Louis by pairing a program participant with a Washington University student. However, disorganization in the group and crime in the neighborhood have presented persistent issues for volunteers.

The executive board of City Faces held a meeting to discuss their plans regarding safety and logistical concerns going forward. In a follow-up email sent to volunteers Sept. 24, the board announced their decision to cancel programming for the remainder of the fall semester and address disorganization within the group, stating that they felt they were unable to “adequately support students or volunteers in a way that can be both efficient and effective.”

“I was definitely disappointed to hear that programming was cancelled,” sophomore volunteer Jessica Huang wrote in a statement to Student Life. “My favorite part about City Faces, and specifically the mentoring program, was the committed, long-term relationship that we got to build with our mentees from Clinton-Peabody.”

During this period of restructuring, City Faces hopes to effectively utilize their time in order to “avoid running the risk of being shut down by Wash. U. and disbanded as a student group,” according to the email.

“I totally understand why it was a good decision to pull back for the time being, but I guess having been in the position to see the impact City Faces can [have] on the kids, it’s sad to see it go,” junior volunteer Jelani Daejon-Jackson wrote in a statement to Student Life.

The organization previously faced challenges within the community. Huang cited incidents such as physical fights breaking out during programming.

“I’m not quite sure what can be done specifically to improve safety for City Faces kids and volunteers,” Huang wrote. “For example, getting the police or some kind of patrol involved seems inappropriate, since the area is already over-policed, and [that] would definitely break the trust that City Faces has built with the community over time. I’m looking forward to seeing how exec will restructure the program, and I hope they keep open communication with us during the process.”

The City Faces Executive Board declined to comment on the cancellation and and wrote that they have yet to develop a plan in regards to what this restructuring will look like. The board says they hope to continue programming in the spring.

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