Securing funding to start and implement our program has always been our greatest challenge. However, we are positioned to start the 2016 Sweet Potato Project (SPP) educational program on schedule. We are expanding our program this year by recruiting more youth and partnering with residents, public schools, churches and community organizations in low-income areas to grow produce that we will purchase in the fall. We’re looking for a few go-getters to help us get to the finish line. We have several objectives to accomplish in a short time and need help in the following areas:

Thanking you in advance for all that you do.-Sylvester Brown, Jr. – Executive Director


DONATIONS: As always, SPP has to raise funds before and after the summer program begins in June. We have applied for several grants and corporate donations and hope a few will come through in time to offer the most effective program possible. However, we can’t rest on this expectation.

NEEDS: Donations of any amount. Online donation: http://sweetpotatostl.wpengine.com/donate/

VOLUNTEERS: SPP needs qualified, committed and energetic individuals to help us expand, implement and grow our program. First and foremost, we need take-charge individual(s) who will serve as volunteer coordinator(s). Throughout the year, SPP receives inquiries from individuals and groups asking how they can best serve our program. As you read more, you’ll note several areas of need, including fund-raising, planting days, event-planning and classroom instructors.  Until SPP receives adequate funding, we rely on volunteers to help us meet our objectives and operate all facets of our program.

 NEEDS: Volunteers to sign up and commit to operating the program.

SECURE GARDENS & GARDENERS: This year, we’re seeking to recruit 25 “partner gardeners” comprised of community gardens, public schools, churches and community organizations to grow sweet potatoes in North St. Louis. St. Louis University’s Department of Nutrition & Dietetics has already committed to buying all the sweet potatoes we grow this year. Additionally, SPP will purchase some of the yield for our current and new food-based products.

NEEDS: 25 partner gardeners signed up by the end of April 2016

COMMUNITY PLANTING DAY / BUILD RAISED BEDS / RECRUIT YOUTH: We need to execute community-wide “Planting Days” through Mid-May to Mid-June, 2016. Volunteers are needed to help prepare gardens for planting, build raise beds and plant sweet potatoes for the summer. These are the days where we invite youth out to work and apply for our summer program.

NEEDS: Volunteers will be assigned to “partner gardener” sites. If need be, organic dirt will be purchased for each site. Additionally, we need people with skills to help build and fill raised beds with the youth. It would be helpful if someone with expertise could help us secure in-kind donations (Home Depot, Lowes, Menards, etc,) who will donate wood, supplies and other materials necessary for beautification and building raised beds on selected sites.

HOSTS FOR SMALL FUNDRAISERS: We’re looking for individuals and entities (bars, restaurants, churches, etc,) to host small fund-raising events where their friends/neighbors/customers will out for a presentation and a donation appeal.

NEEDS: Contact program director, Sylvester Brown @ 314-341-4071. We will determine the place, time and location. Mr. Brown, along with a few students will make a presentation and appeal for donor support. If need be and if possible, SPP will help provide snacks, drinks, etc.

INSTRUCTORS & SITE VISITS: The beauty of the Sweet Potato Project is that it provides at-risk youth a summer job where they learn entrepreneurial skills they can apply, today, in their own neighborhoods. We aren’t relying on degreed individuals alone to provide lessons and examples of neighborhood entrepreneurship. We want our kids connected to grassroots, hard-working tenacious individuals who will share their life lessons in a variety of fields from starting small businesses, to developing business plans, to developing stellar interpersonal and communication skills to securing and developing land. We are currently finalizing our 2016 curriculum & class schedules. Please contact us if you have a few hours between the 1st of June to the end of August to teach a class or to arrange a visit to your business or place of employment.

NEEDS: Professional and grassroots instructors to conduct a presentation or invite our youth to visit their businesses or places of employment.

MENTORS & MOTIVATORS: We find that, more than anything, our students need adults to mentor, encourage, motivate and validate their worth. Our curriculum this year has been expanded and will include several surveys and measurements. I’d like to have about 15 individuals for one-on-one support.

NEEDS: Individuals who will commit to one or more days out of our 10-week program (June-August) to serve as mentors, motivators and personal confidantes for the youth.

PRODUCT PRODUCTION & DISTRIBUTION: SPP youth have developed a quality product (sweet potato cookies) and are positioned to present their wares online and to coffee shops, restaurants, retail locations, schools and more. This year, we’re seeking to professionalize a product production and distribution system that will help our youth package and sell current and newly developed products to wholesalers, retailers and individuals in the region and beyond.

NEEDS: A food manufacturing company and/or experienced individuals who will work with St. Louis University and our students to improve, expand and professionalize a high-quality food production and distribution system.


Sylvester Brown / 314-341-4071 / Email: sylvesterbj@gmail.com