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2018 Whitney Young Society members Photo by Richard Davis

Founded in 1918, the Urban League is a nonpartisan civil rights organization headquartered in New York City, and the Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis, Inc. has served the local community since the beginning. The No. 1 ranked Urban League in the U.S., the St. Louis Urban League serves more than 100,000 clients.

“We were created to improve race relations and bring people together, and to make society better as a whole because of that,” says president and CEO Michael McMillan.

Programs put on by the Urban League push for self-sufficiency and active civic engagement, helping people get and keep careers, as well as teach the skills needed to get scholarships for continued education. “Individuals will tell us that they never had the resources to get employment or housing [before],” McMillan says. “[They] then come back and volunteer to help the next person become independent and have those same opportunities. That is the most rewarding thing we hear.”

The organization doesn’t just focus on adults, with education programs such as Head Start, focused on underprivileged youth. “I have had a chance to see some of the children and get to talk with them,” expresses board member Julio Suarez. “It’s pretty moving to see the impact at the child level as well as the adult.”

The senior director of community affairs at Anheuser-Busch, Suarez has been on the Urban League board for three years, beginning shortly after he moved to St. Louis. He explains that he was inspired by the work he saw Urban League doing during a tense period for race relations in the area. “The Urban League took a position of leadership … finding solutions and implementing programs that improve well-being.”

Anheuser-Busch, a longtime sponsor of the Urban League, will also host the 7th Annual Whitney M. Young Society reception on December 17. “[Young is] considered the father of the modern Urban League movement,” explains McMillan. “He helped grow it nationally and provided many new opportunities. We named it in his honor to celebrate our leadership donors.”

Suarez adds that the money raised by the Whitney M. Young Society is very important to nonprofit organizations. “Grants come in the form of restricted funds,” he describes. “Restricted for funding a specific program and can go to nothing else. The reception proceeds [are] unrestricted funds – these allow the organization to respond quickly to opportunities and emergencies. It’s good to have some flexibility.”

McMillan and Suarez encourage individuals to reach out and become a member of the Urban League and the Whitney M. Young Society, as well as attend the reception. “Anyone is welcome,” McMillan confirms. “This is a very unique moment in time. We could use any and all types of help.”

Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis, Inc., 3701 Grandel Square, St. Louis, 314-615-3611, ulstl.com

Whitney M. Young Society Reception

  • Tuesday, December 17 | 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. | Anheuser-Busch Biergarten
  • Celebrate the contributions of the Whitney M. Young Society, named for the historic National Urban League president and civil rights advocate. This 7th annual reception is sponsored and hosted by Anheuser-Busch Biergarten under their holiday lights, featuring excellent food and drink – all to honor the donations made to Urban League this year.