ST. LOUIS – The Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis is helping thousands prepare for the upcoming school year with the Urban Expo and Back to School Empowerment Festival.

The Urban League says this expo is the largest event of its kind in the state of Missouri, and it’s designed to educate, inspire, unify and empower.

Community organizers and local pastors gathered Friday at the Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis to celebrate the growth of the Grill to Glory initiative. They also announced the Urban League is bringing an international gospel recording artist to the Urban Expo.

“These churches have been doing phenomenal work in the neighborhood though the Grill to Glory program. Churches are becoming visible and active and responding to the needs of family,” said James Clark.

Throughout the years, the Urban League’s Grill to Glory has sparked a movement in St. Louis City, St. Louis County and East St. Louis. Currently, over 250 neighborhood churches are active in this innovative model. 

It’s a faith-based initiative to bring more resources into the community to help deter crime. Neighborhood churches offer free hot dogs and other food. The goal is to enrich the community in hopes of bringing neighbors together.

“We are seeing neighborhoods stabilized. We are seeing families connecting with other families,” said Clark.

“So many people have come to our church for the Grill to Glory experience.  We have birth and other ministries, food pantries and clothing,” said Pastor Jevon Mann. 

The St. Louis Urban League’s “Urban Expo” and “Back to School Empowerment Festival” at America’s Center Downtown take place this weekend. As part of the experience, a career fair was held Friday. A boxing exhibition and gospel music show will be held Saturday, featuring international gospel, recording artist Fred Hammond.

The warrant recall initiative will also take place at the Urban Expo. Residents with active misdemeanor warrants will be provided a non-threatening way to re-engage the municipal courts without the fear of being arrested.