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CWC Research Publications

Creating Whole Communities research findings and recommendations are catalogued into two broad categories: Neighborhood Innovations and Public Policy.

Neighborhood Innovations

Research that strengthens the field’s understanding of whole communities and identifies promising strategies in neighborhood revitalization.

  • Understanding the Role of Municipal Governance in Stabilizing Inner-Ring Suburbs in St. Louis By Napoleon Williams III, University of Missouri - St. Louis. St. Louis’ mature inner-suburban municipalities exhibit a range of economic conditions and racial compositions and serve as valuable living labs for examining social and political institutions impacting these dynamics. To better understand municipal governance effects on economic conditions and racial composition in St. Louis’ inner-ring suburbs, this paper seeks to answer the following question: What is the role of municipal governance in achieving and maintaining municipal-level stabilization in inner-ring suburbs?

  • Neighborhood Differences in Enforcement Activity in the City of St. Louis from 2002 – 2017: An Exploration of Neighborhood Arrest Trends and the Consequences of Concentrated Enforcement on Communities & Trends in Arrests & Crime by Neighborhood from 2002 - 2018 (Supplemental Graphs) By Lee Ann Slocum, Dale Dan-Irabor, & Claire Greene, University of Missouri - St. Louis

    This research describes trends in arrests in the City of St. Louis for 2002 – 2017 and examines how concentrated enforcement is related to resident engagement with the local and federal government. This research has three parts. First, we present trends in arrests for felony and low-level offenses for St. Louis and each of its 79 neighborhoods. Second, we examine how these trends vary across neighborhoods with different characteristics. Finally, we focus on the consequences of high levels of enforcement for communities by exploring the relationship between the number of arrests in a neighborhood and the extent to which residents engage with different government agencies/institutions.

  • Citizens Responses to Gunfire in St. Louis by Beth M. Huebner & Theodore S. Lentz, University of Missouri – St. Louis & Joseph A. Schafer, Saint Louis University. Citizen reporting to the police represents one of the most common pathways by which laws are enforced, yet many crimes go unreported. The current study draws on a unique source of data, gunshots detected using an acoustic gunfire detection system (AGDS), to better understand patterns of reporting behavior. The goal of the study is to: 1) understand the prevalence of gunfire in communities and citizen responses to these incidents, particularly the willingness to call the police; 2) model variation in community reporting of gunfire to the police and contrast calls to police with gunfire detection data to determine when and where gunfire goes unreported; and, 3) document the role of community characteristics factors associated with the likelihood that gunfire incidents are reported to police.

  • African Immigrant Perceptions of Non-Profit Service Providers in the St. Louis Metropolitan Region by Dr. Adriano Udani, University of Missouri St. LouisIncreasingly immigrants are locating in suburban areas which are often missing supportive services for immigrant populations. While immigrant households travel to access services, very little is understood about why immigrants seek services from one organization and not others. This study explored immigrant preferences for services and reveals what community context and communication vehicles affect a choice among service providers. This research has lessons for communities looking to provide better services within their neighborhoods and for those that provide services to immigrants from many different parts of the St. Louis Metropolitan Area. 

  • The Missouri Place Stories Project: Shaw and Botanical Heights by Andrew Hurley and Maris Gillette, University of Missouri–St Louis. Based on a community-led research project that took place in the summer of 2015, The Missouri Place Stories Project: Shaw and Botanical Heights is a compilation of residents' impressions of and feelings for places in the Shaw and Botanical Heights neighborhoods.  Community members took pictures of places in their neighborhood and explained their significance, and then University of Missouri-St. Louis researchers gathered together the information to find common themes.  This information can help the communities manage their urban revitalization process, leveraging their assets of historic preservation and urban greening.

  • Rebound Neighborhoods in Older Industrial Cities: The Story of St. Louis by Hank Webber, Washington University in St. Louis; and Todd Swanstrom, University of Missouri–St Louis. Based on 40 years of census data, Rebound Neighborhoods in Older Industrial Cities: The Story of St. Louis identifies neighborhoods in the St. Louis region that have bounced back from urban decline. Rebound Neighborhoods also includes five neighborhood case studies – Central West End, Botanical Heights, Shaw, Mark Twain, and Maplewood – that tell the story behind the numbers and draw lessons about what local actors can do to revive their communities.

  • Exploring Gentrification: Finding a Path to Inclusive Development

    by Todd Swanstrom, Karl Guenther, and Nathan Theus (UMSL). The St. Louis Association of Community Organizations, City of St. Louis Civil Rights Enforcement Agency, Community Innovation and Action Center (UMSL), and Creating Whole Communities (a partnership of UMSL and the University of Missouri Extension) are collaborating to conduct a series of community conversations around gentrification and strategies for inclusive growth. As a first step in this process, on October 16th we held three focus groups to unpack peoples’ perceptions about gentrification. The input from these initial focus groups is the basis for this Guide for Community Conversations.

  • Notes from the Field: The Saint Louis Bosnian Family and Youth Study by Dr. Florian Sichling (UMSL) and Dr. Ajlina Karamehic-Muratovic (SLU).  The St. Louis metro area is home to the largest Bosnian community outside Bosnia-Herzegovina. Since the arrival of the first refugees from the Bosnian war in the mid- to late- 1990s, the community has been widely regarded as a great success story of immigrant incorporation.  This report is to examine the experience of the Bosnian community and their children in St. Louis.  For a more detailed description of the Bosnian dispora, please click here.


Public Policy

Research that results in policy recommendations that strengthen the capacity of decision makers in government, philanthropy, business, and nonprofit sectors to create whole communities.

  • Tower Grove Neighborhoods: A Case Study of the Consolidation of Three Community Development Corporations by Karl Guenther, University of Missouri-St. Louis, Todd Swanstrom, University of Missouri–St Louis, and Rachel Hanks, University of Missouri-St. Louis. This report examines the causes and effects of the merger of three community development corporations (CDCs) in St. Louis. After analyzing the environmental factors that pressured the CDCs to consolidate, the study identifies key factors that made the merger possible and discusses the benefits of consolidation.  Click here to see news coverage of this study in Next City.