UrbanFUTURE has received a $25,000 grant from the Monsanto Fund for their STEM-Focused Learning Initiative. The grant funds will supply hands-on learning tools and other critical support to further STEM-related career exploration and academic learning of underexposed middle school students in the St. Louis Public School District, and help get them on a “pipeline” to careers in STEM fields.  


As a result of UrbanFUTURE programs, 200 students in the 6th – 8th grades at Fanning and Busch Middle Schools, and another 65 at various SLPS high schools, will benefit from a deeper connection made between their classroom and their future careers. STEM-related career speakers, field trips to businesses and colleges, as well as the chance to earn technology-based incentives will be provided to students to connect them to careers and to further their interest in pursing higher education and jobs in STEM-related areas. 


“The support of the Monsanto Fund has become a critical component of our STEM programming,” says UrbanFUTURE Program Director, Anthony Lemons. “With their ongoing support, this year we can ensure that our students will continue to make positive gains and leap past their peers in terms of STEM literacy and career readiness.”


UrbanFUTURE students typically raise their grades and Lexile levels (a literacy measurement) at a higher rate than their peers, and show more growth in math and reading standardized assessments. Parents typically attend parent-teacher conferences at up to three times the rate of other parents at the schools. UrbanFUTURE students have typically shown growth on the Missouri Assessment Program (MAP) 2.5 times that of peers in communication arts and 7 times in mathematics.


On Thursday, January 28th at T-Rex (911 Washington Ave, 5th Floor), UrbanFUTURE held its inaugural UrbanFUTURE Shark Bowl: A Young Entrepreneur Showdown, where middle and high school student teams competed for prizes before a panel of St. Louis “Sharks,” including Deborah Patterson, President of the Monsanto Fund. Along with Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Dave Spence, and Mark Lewis, Ms. Patterson provided valuable feedback and asked thoughtful questions to our student teams, who presented their original business ideas to the panel and an audience of 175 guests.


“I was honored to witness first-hand the great work UrbanFUTURE is doing with our young people in St. Louis,” said Deborah Patterson, Monsanto Fund President. “Similar to what we witnessed during the entrepreneurship program, we’re hopeful that our most recent grant to UrbanFUTURE for hands-on learning tools and resources for teachers will inspire student interest in STEM careers and empower students to see themselves as problem solvers in STEM fields.” 


To view pictures from the event, click here.


Monsanto Fund

The Monsanto Fund is the philanthropic arm of the Monsanto Company. It is a nonprofit organization dedicated to strengthening the communities where farm families and Monsanto Company employees live and work. Visit the Monsanto Fund at to learn more.


If you would like more information about this topic contact Eleanor Borelli at





UrbanFUTURE, a nonprofit dedicated to preparing St. Louis’ youth for careers in tomorrow’s workforce, brought a group of thirty-five 6th, 7th, and 8th grade students from Busch Middle School of Character to visit the Technology and Innovation Center at Express Scripts on January 25th, 2016. Students spoke to employees about job opportunities and operations within the company, toured the automated packaging plant, and broke into focus groups in the Technology and Innovation Center to cover various topics including problem solving, communication, pharmaceuticals, and financial strategies.

 “UrbanFUTURE aims to form Real World Business Partnerships with local companies, “ says UrbanFUTURE President/CEO Frank Van Bree. “The goal of these partnerships is to expose our students to as many careers as possible, while engaging the community to become involved in the future of their workforce.”

In addition to being one of the most valuable companies in the St. Louis region, Express Scripts is on the forefront of such diversity and inclusion initiatives. It places a high value on having a diversified workforce, which is well represented by women, minorities and young people. Express Scripts can boast that their workforce is made up of 70 percent women, 37 percent of which are minorities.





UrbanFUTURE held the inaugural UrbanFUTURE Shark Bowl: A Young Entrepreneur Showdown on Thursday, January 28th at 5:30pm at the Innovation Conference Center at T-Rex (911 Washington Ave, 5th Floor). Middle and High School student teams competed for prizes before a panel of St. Louis “Sharks,” including 6-time Olympic Medalist Jackie Joyner-Kersee of the Jackie Joyner-Kersee Foundation, Dave Spence of Legacy Pharmaceuticals Packaging (and 2012 Republican Candidate for Governor in Missouri), Deborah Patterson of Monsanto and Mark Lewis of LockerDome.




After all teams presented their business ideas to the Sharks and the audience of 175 guests, they answered a barrage of questions from the expert panel. All teams performed admirably, but only one high school team and one middle school team could take home top prize. Team SOSO, consisting of four 9th grade young women from Roosevelt High School, was the first place winner at the high school level, with their all-natural sweet orange oil hair product.


“It was incredible to see my students grow their idea over the course of the semester through the Shark Bowl class every week, “ says Roosevelt High School Teacher and Team Coach, Sara Haag. “I am so proud of these girls for their hard work, and their ability to keep their composure and present themselves so well under the bright lights and pressure of a large audience.”


The top prize from middle school went to STL Illusion, from Busch Middle School of Character. The team of four 8th grade boys proposed a shoe-customization start-up business. Their presentation was well-thought-out, and even included a fully functioning website. And with initial costs of only $150, their presentation sparked Shark Dave Spence of Legacy Pharmaceuticals to pledge funding for the start-up of their business.


“The boys from STL Illusion put together a very dynamic presentation,” says Dave Spence. “They needed a minimal amount of funding to startup, and laid out a comprehensive plan for growth. I really believe they can make their business idea a reality, and I’m rooting for them to succeed.”


Each member of the top two teams walked away with $50 in cash, and an iPad mini. In an emotional moment, the four young women from Team SOSO were presented with free scholarships to the Allsup Academy, a weeklong immersive summer program at Saint Louis University’s John Cook School of Business. During the last week in July, high school students from around the nation come together at the Allsup Academy to explore, learn, develop, and present innovative solutions to real world market needs.








Join us along with our partners and sponsors at the Innovation Conference Center at T-RexThursday, January 28th from 5:30 - 8pm as our sponsored UrbanFUTURE student teams compete, presenting their best business ideas to St. Louis SHARKS!  6-time Olympic Medalist Jackie Joyner-Kersee of the Jackie Joyner-Kersee Foundation,  Dave Spence  of Legacy Pharmaceutical Packaging,  Deborah Patterson of Monsanto, and Mark Lewis of LockerDome ...along with YOU will determine this year's winning middle and high school ideas!

UrbanFUTURE middle and high school students have been working hard during the Fall 2015 semester crafting business ideas that embrace the spirit of entrepreneurism. The event provides the opportunity for our UrbanFUTURE students to develop and demonstrate mastery of essential knowledge and skills as they apply to the analysis of a business opportunity, the development of a marketing/promotion plan and the creation of a financial plan.

$25 pre-sale ticket (or at the door) allows entry, beer, wine and signature cocktails, appetizer buffet, entry into the door prize raffle, silent auction, and a vote for the team you think has embodied the spirit of the competition with the best presentation and business ideas.





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We were thrilled be featured on yesterday's KMOV news broadcast as part of the #EndViolenceSTL initiative. Check out the piece that aired!



Summer is officially here! Although some would think that means moving at a lower pace, UrbanFUTURE is busier than ever! This summer will mark the first year of our UrbanFUTURE Summer Leadership Academy, which begins on June 29th at our office on Olive Street in downtown St. Louis.


Many of you have visited our humble “headquarters” and know what a beautiful building it is. While it is beautiful, it is also a 125-year-old brick house in need of some work. We have already completed our environmental remediation and fixed our HVAC to allow for air conditioning for both the downstairs and upstairs. Last week, we began our build-out of the upstairs rooms to accommodate the students and staff this summer at the Leadership Academy. There will be a computer lab and well as workstations for our kids, and the expanded office space will allow our staff to spread out a bit. Construction will also include a much-needed new roof! Our current roof leaks terribly and has caused some interior damage, which will also be addressed before the Academy begins.  It’s all very exciting to watch our office transform and improve to make way for our kids!


The Summer Leadership Academy will focus on tutoring, leadership and character formation, college financial aid and scholarship awareness, job search training and resume writing, and includes both educational and recreational field trips. Our staff is hard at work developing a strong curriculum to advance our students’ learning, and to ensure that their time with us this summer is focused and impactful.


Please save the date of July 16 to join us as we celebrate the completion of the first session of our Leadership Academy!  It will be an evening of great food, drinks, music and a raffle with some spectacular prizes – all spent with UF staff, students, parents, and supporters.  Our Leadership Academy students will be one step closer to tomorrow’s workforce, and that is truly something to celebrate!


Sincere wishes for a safe and joyous summer,

Frank Van Bree

Thank you to all of our amazing donor, volunteers and community and business partners who have supported us this school year!

YOUR generosity makes UrbanFUTURE possible, and our staff and students are incredibly grateful.



As UrbanFUTURE continues to enhance its programming model to prepare city school students for the workforce, we are placing more emphasis on our Real World Business Partner (RWBP) relationships that provide our students the necessary exposure to people working in a myriad of jobs that await them.  Through RWBPs, students learn what suits them for future job opportunities and what classroom subjects pertain specifically to the jobs they could be interested in.  At the schools, the embedded UrbanFUTURE staff is then able to work with the student on aligning future career interests with current classroom responsibility. 


What elements comprise a Real World Business Partnership?

Two things primarily, 1) Human Capital - the gift of service.  To expose our students to the future world of the workplace requires the dedication of volunteer mentors, career speakers, Discovery Lab presenters and field trip tour guides.  Volunteers from our business partnerships ensures that UF students are working with career-driven folks that can share their knowledge of the workforce and their chosen profession. 2) Financial Capital - the investment in our infrastructure.  To adequately prepare our students for the workforce requires UF staff to manage volunteer relationships, work with teachers to connect classroom learning to eventual career opportunity, oversee DiscoveryLab and field trip experiences, manage parent leadership and engagement programs, provide soft skill training, create internship and summer job opportunities, manage transition into post-secondary schools, and purchase supplies, tools and software for our students.  


Real World Business Partner Agreements

Through written agreements, or MOUs, RWBPs work with UF staff to fashion a partnership that works for them.  Elements may include, Mentors, Discovery Lab instructors, Career Speakers, Field Trips, Internships and Summer Job opportunities; Funding for a designated number of students for a year – it is through capital investment that we are able to guarantee that our students receive the supplemental education, exposure and training to aptly prepare them for the workforce. 


What is in it for a RWBP?

Current RWBPs have reported it has helped their employees personal growth by giving them greater purpose which has translated into happier more productive employees.  Knowing their company invests in those without the same opportunities they had, creates a unifying bond between company and employee.  Both employee and company find satisfaction in knowing they are providing a pathway to students from diverse and underexposed backgrounds to discover, prepare and join them in the workforce.  Our city is strengthened - in the wake of recent unrest in Ferguson, RWBPs see this as a productive and tangible way to contribute to strengthening St. Louis' future generations. 


Will YOU help bring the FUTURE closer?

As an investor in UrbanFUTURE, we are turning to you for help.  Would your company give consideration to becoming a RWBP?  We know that many businesses in various sectors are experiencing a shortage of qualified applicants and with your partnership, we'd like to change that for our city. The best way our UF students can become properly prepared is through the exposure that you and your company can offer them.  For further discussion please contact me directly at or phone 314.504.0182.



Frank Van Bree



2823 Olive Street
St. Louis, MO 63103

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