News and Announcements

News and Announcements /

APEDF board president Ona Zené Yeshitela speaks at press conference following fire at The Sanctuary church in St. Louis

The following statement was delivered by Ona Zené Yeshitela, Board President of the African People’s Education and Defense Fund (APEDF), at a press conference on Monday, January 16—Martin Luther King Jr day—following a fire that destroyed The Sanctuary church, which APEDF was under contract to purchase for renovation as a community center.


My name is Ona Zené Yeshitela.

I’m the Board President of the African People’s Education and Defense Fund.

APEDF is the sponsor of the Black Power Blueprint that has been transforming and building economic and political power to develop the north side of St. Louis since 2017.

We renovated a 9,000-square-foot building on W. Florissant Avenue to create the Uhuru House community center with a beautiful events venue that is popular for conferences, birthday parties and weddings.   

Across the street from the Uhuru House, we built an outdoor event venue and the Gary Brooks Black Power Garden, which has completed its third season of planting and harvesting.

Our One Africa! One Nation! Farmers Market completed its 2nd year at the end of October.  We worked with black growers and farmers locally and in the region to bring fresh fruits and vegetables to a community living under food apartheid. 

The market also provides opportunities for economic development for community members that build their business through vending their products and services. 

We worked for two and a half years to raise over $150,000 to build the Black Power Vanguard Basketball Court where our children now have a safe place for recreation that promotes health and uplifts the whole community.

We have taken a dilapidated property and renovated it to provide quality housing to community members coming out of the prison system. Under the slogan “Our Labor! Our Future!,” the African Independence Workforce Program Housing is designed to reverse the negative economic impact of prison on the north side of St. Louis. 

All you have to do is just look down W. Florissant and you will see the mark we have made, including the beautiful murals that we have created to uplift and inspire the entire community!

This is not everything we’ve done. We have a commercial kitchen and bakery under construction, a Black Power Square retail center coming and more!

Just like in the times of Martin Luther King Jr., we have had to overcome nonstop obstacles and even violence.

On July 29 of last year, when the FBI raided seven of our Movement’s homes and institutions in violent pre-dawn 5am military-style raids, we held strong and went ahead with the doula training program set for that day at the Uhuru House. We trained 14 African women to become doulas.

Now we see the violence and destruction of this historic church in our community. 

Last October, the African People’s Education and Defense Fund signed a contract to buy the Sanctuary Church here at 4443 Red Bud Avenue in order to transform this space into a larger community center to serve our people.

The seller asked us to extend the contract twice, pushing the closing date to mid-December, and then suddenly without explanation demanded an additional $50,000. 

Then on Sunday morning January 9, I looked out the window of my home on Red Bud Ave., the one that the FBI raided on July 29, and saw this church completely engulfed in flames!

The burning of this church is an assault on this community, that in a few short years has worked with APEDF to build and invest in our future! 

We want to know who burned this church! Where is the investigation? The attacks on our community and our Movement must stop!

We will not be set back. We are continuing our projects. Our major project for 2023 is building the Uhuru wa Kulea, which is our African Women’s Health Center on property we have already acquired. 

Uhuru wa Kulea will not only impact the women and families it serves, but also train women to be entrepreneurs. Economic empowerment is the foundation of a healthy life.

APEDF’s mission and mantra is to defend the human and civil rights of the African community and we believe African people have the right to self-determination!

Uhuru!

News and Announcements /

Highlights from the 2022 Black Power Blueprint volunteer appreciation party

On December 10, 2022 we held our first “Heart and Soul” Volunteer Appreciation Party for all the Uhuru N2U Volunteers involved in the Black Power Blueprint projects.

The Black Power Blueprint projects have addressed the disparities in health, education, and economic development that exist in our communities and the change we have created is possible because of the help from our amazing volunteers.

The volunteer appreciation party included an award ceremony, delicious food, and time and space for attendees to mingle. The event was a great success and we look forward to doing it again next year.

Award Winners

Awarded to volunteers who always strive to make things the very best they can be for the African working class and our struggle for self-determination. The winners are:

Awarded to volunteers who are always there when you need them, and also when you don’t, to do whatever is necessary to complete the task or assignment at hand. The winner is:
Brendan McCoy (Uhuru Solidarity Movement), Program Coordinator for the #GivingTuesday Telethon

Given to volunteers who have contributed a lot of their time. Nothing in the world takes the place of persistence and determination. The winner is:
Marisa Martinez, One Africa! One Nation! Farmers Market

Awarded to a young person (age 10-18) who enthusiastically steps forward, taking responsibility to be a positive role model for their peers. Leadership is not a position or a title, it is action and example. The winner is:
Torryn Gray, Black Power Blueprint Garden and Black Power Vanguard Basketball Court

Given to a group of volunteers whose outstanding performance and accomplishments together warrant recognition. The sign of a good leader is not how many followers you have but how many leaders you create. The winners are:

Recognizing individuals whose positive attitude impacts those around them. Their positive spirit is contagious, motivating and enhances the confidence of everyone they work with. The winners are:

Awarded to a volunteer who makes others better as a result of their presence and who makes sure that impact lasts in their absence. The winner is:

Tobias Pristupin, Black Power Blueprint Projects

Whether it is a novel improvement or an innovative way to accomplish a task, Bold Initiative Award winners help move the organization forward. Suggestions that improve the quality of the organization’s operations and services are eligible for consideration for this award, as well as accomplishing a task or advancing the struggle. The winner is:
Rhya Fogerty, Uhuru N2U Coordinator

Given to individuals whose performance demonstrates extraordinary efforts above and beyond the “call of duty,” who demonstrate enthusiasm and who promote pride, teamwork and a positive image throughout the organization. The winners are:

More photos from the volunteer appreciation event

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Akwaaba Hall is available to rent!

The Heart & Soul Volunteer Appreciation Event was held in St. Louis Akwaaba Hall, a beautiful event space available for community rentals. The room can be used to host events of up to 150 people including birthday parties, weddings, meetings, classes, repast services, graduations, baby showers, and so much more. Call (314) 380-8016 to speak with a representative about reservations, pricing, and tours. You can also learn more about Akwaaba Hall on the APEDF website.

News and Announcements, Projects /

African Doula Training

Fourteen African women from North St Louis were trained as doulas by the African People’s Education and Defense Fund at the end of July 2022. This was a first for this Northside neighborhood which is 97% African and where the conditions of birth are so serious that the number of babies that don’t survive the first year of life would fill 15 kindergarten classrooms.

The training was led by Bianca Nash-Miot and Akhmiri Sekhr-Ra, doula trainers from the Commonsense Childbirth Institute. Each new doula will participate in five births each in order to receive their certification.
 
The new doulas are also receiving business training from APEDF President Ona Zene Yeshitela and Uhuru Movement members Dr. Aisha Fields, Director of the All African People’s Development and Empowerment Project, Yejide Orunmila from African National Women’s Organization and Director Akile Anai.
 
News and Announcements, Projects /

African Doula Project Students sponsored by APEDF and The Black Power Blueprint

Here are African People’s Education and Defense Fund’s newest African Doula Project students taking their class photos! These women along with 13 other students will be offering free doula services to 100 families who are planning to get pregnant or who are already pregnant.

These African Doula Project students attended an informational meeting at Akwaaba Hall on May 31st. The doula students signed commitment forms to do online pre-training in June and July, and will be back at Akwaaba Hall for the in person training July 29-31.  

These students will be changing health for black mothers and babies throughout North St. Louis, one birth at a time. 

If you want to be part of this amazing project CALL 314-334-2070 or email africandoulaproject@blackpowerblueprint.org

AFRICANDOULAPROJECT@BLACKPOWERBLUEPRINT.ORG OR CALL 314-334-2070


Volunteers Dree Nicole Smith and Starya Pope, two of our new African Doula Project students, get emotional about their new role to serve African women and babies as Doulas in North St.Louis. APEDF and The Black Power Blueprint will save our black women and children. We Will touch One and Touch all.AFRICANDOULAPROJECT@BLACKPOWERBLUEPRINT.ORG OR CALL 314-334-2070

 
News and Announcements, Projects /

African Doula Project Orientations Held to Register New Doula Students

Orientation sessions on March 22 and March 26, 2022 were held in Akwaaba Hall at the St. Louis Uhuru House for students to register for the African Doula Project, one of the newest projects of APEDF and the Black Power Blueprint to improve infant and maternal health in the African community.
 
APEDF Board President Ona Zene Yeshitela and Zondlile Mpiko, Doula Project  Coordinator presented informational videos on the work and challenges of a doula. Participants had a chance to ask questions and discuss the issues before registering for the Doula and Business Training sessions coming up in April and June of 2022.
 
Job Opportunities, News and Announcements, Projects /

African Doula Project seeks Program Coordinator

The African People’s Education and Defense Fund (APEDF) is hiring a Program Coordinator for our African Doula Project.

Coordinate a six-month doula training program in St Louis, Missouri to improve infant and maternal health in the African community. Ensure recruitment and success of 20 students, following an established work plan and timeline for grant goals and objectives.

Oversees project and partner relationships, responsible for promotions and marketing, meeting grant requirements, assists with reports and project evaluation, supervises volunteer staff.

A full job description can be found below.

This position would ideally start in early February. This is a six-month / short-term grant-funded position. It is a part-time hourly position at $20 an hour for 25 hours per week.

Applicants must be able to work from the APEDF office in north St. Louis and travel locally for networking, as this is not a remote position.

To apply, please email africandoulaproject@blackpowerblueprint.org or call 314-334-2070.


Job Description

Definition:

The APEDF Doula Project Program Coordinator, under the supervision of the African Doula Steering Committee in St. Louis, MO. Oversees project and partner relationships, responsible for meeting grant requirements, assists with reports and project evaluation, supervises volunteer staff. Reports to APEDF Board President and Doula Project steering committee.

Essential Functions:

(Essential functions, as defined, may include the following tasks, knowledge, skills and other characteristics. This list of tasks is ILLUSTRATIVE ONLY, and is not a comprehensive listing of all functions and tasks performed by positions in this class.)

Tasks:

Coordinate a six month doula training program in St Louis, MO to improve infant and maternal health in the African community. Ensure recruitment and success of 20 students, following established work plan and timeline from APEDF for grant goals and objectives.

  • Promote doula training project through community outreach, social media, print media, HTML email announcements, website, blog, signs and other marketing methods that result in recruiting African women to participate in African Doula Project.
  • Implement promotions and marketing plan. Promote program through monthly online and printed calendar, media, internet postings, social media, regular HTML email announcements, website, blog, signs, community outreach and other marketing methods. Assist in designing and distributing promotional literature.
  • Network with community members, organizations, hospitals, nurses, CNA workers, schools, teachers, the healthcare industry, local businesses and others to participate in identifying African women who want training to become a Doula.
  • Create and manage orientation meetings with speakers, calendar and materials to introduce interested participants to the program.
  • Respond to all inquiries regarding signing up for Doula training. Conduct pre-screenings with interested applicants and coordinate with Jamaa Village Doula training coordinator to confirm accepted participants, forward financial scholarship information and other needed information.
  • Create and manage a database of all contacts and donors that inquire about the African Doula Project, and of all accepted doula trainees to record progress to certification completion.
  • Maintain necessary records to meet grant reporting requirements including communicating with Jamaa Village Doula training coordinator to get the statistics needed for reports to the African Doula Project grant funder. Assist with completing final reports to funders.
  • Recruit and supervise 10-20 volunteers to participate in community outreach, event coordination and project evaluation. Work with doula certification candidates to participate in community outreach for education and clients.
  • Coordinate and manage business development training for doula trainees with speakers and materials from APEDF.
  • Conduct clerical duties like answering phones, handling emails, managing print materials, scheduling events, preparing regular reports, organizing files.
  • Maintain all promotional photo storage of events, training and portfolio album. Ensure all events are photographed for promotional use.
  • Attend all meetings of the steering committee of the African Doula Project and present reports on project progress weekly.

Knowledge, Skills, and Other Characteristics:

Agreement with the mission statement and policies of APEDF. Passionate about social justice, economic development and improving the health and well-being of the African community.

Skill in oral communication and effective interpersonal relationships in one-on-one and group situations. Knowledge of the principles and concepts of customer service. Skill in written communications. Skill in supervising and developing volunteers. Knowledge of telephone operations and call handling procedures. Knowledge of social media, blogs, google docs, flickr photo storage and other online promotional tools.

Physical Requirements:

Work may involve light to moderate lifting.

Qualifications:

Requires an Associates Degree or Higher or the equivalent work experience, a valid driver’s license.

Experience with developing and implementing project work plans and multiple timelines, and with managing budgets.

Proficient in Google docs, Google spreadsheets and other software programs to manage project, and excellent writing skills, with strong verbal communication skills and strong leadership skills, self-starting and the ability to multitask and delegate responsibilities.

At least two years related experience in marketing, social networking and sales. Proficiency in Microsoft Word and Excel. Proficiency in graphic design software and HTML email programs such as Mailerlite is a plus.

News and Announcements /

Enter the Garment Factory Naming Contest!

Support Economic Development and Commerce for and Between African People Worldwide

  • Chance to win R1400 ($100)
  • Enter by midnight June 19, 2021
  • No fee to enter
  • No limit on number of entries per person

This new garment factory is the first major economic institution organized by Black Star Industries in South Africa. We will design, manufacture and sell our own clothing and fabric worldwide. The factory is slated to open in Vaal, Gauteng by 2023.

How to Enter

Submit your proposed name and/or slogan
with a brief explanation of the meaning of your name or slogan.

Include your contact info
First Name, Last Name, Email and Phone Number

Submit Entries

Mail to:
BSI Naming Contest
8331 Drieziek ext 5
Orange Farms 1841

Whatsapp Text to: (+27) 646-851-229

Email to: NameIt@BlackStarIndustries.org

Win R700 ($50) if your name is chosen for the factory
Win R700 ($50) if your tagline / slogan is chosen

For more info, visit the Naming Contest website!

News and Announcements /

Thank you to Mettagroup St. Louis!

Representatives from Mettagroup St. Louis accepted the invitation to tour the Black Power Blueprint projects after making a generous donation from their April monthly meeting.

Thank you to Mettagroup St. Louis! Your support, and that of other donors across the country, are forwarding Black Power Blueprint’s projects for self-determination in the African community!

Marketplace and Garden, News and Announcements, Projects /

One Africa! One Nation! Farmers Market coming to North St. Louis

In 2020, the African People’s Education and Defense Fund (APEDF) applied for and WON a 3-year grant to build a weekly farmers market in the outdoor venue across from the Uhuru House. 

The Farmers Market Team has been hard at work, preparing for the market’s launch in June!

The One Africa! One Nation! Farmers Market will support African self-determination, building an anti-colonial economy and connecting the community to black growers and farmers. 

It means that fresh food is coming to North St. Louis!!!

The Farmers Market Team wants to hear from the community about your interest in visiting or selling products at the market. Please take the One Africa! One Nation! Farmers Market Community Survey by May 15, 2021.