After learning of the limitations imposed on Head Start programs regarding voter registration and education, Rose Eichelberger, then a parent representative on the YWCA St. Louis Head Start/Early Head Start Policy Council, created R.A.A.! – Ready, Aim, Advocate! Committee. We are a non-profit, non-partisan, volunteer-based organization whose main focus is volunteerism, goal setting, financial and life skills training and education, advocacy training and voter education in low-income communities.
In 2007, R.A.A.! presented its educational workshop, “Know Your Vote”, to several local Head Start facilities and churches. As a result, we were able to get over 300 new voters registered and to the polls during the November 2007 elections. Our work continued and expanded throughout 2008 with a series of workshops on Advocacy, Financial Literacy, Job Readiness, and Being a Volunteer; voter registration drives; and guest speaker spotlights. We accomplished our goal for 2009 and increased the number of families we mentor and assist through our various programs and services. In 2010, we began actively promoting our customizable Life Enhancement Action Planning (L.E.A.P.) Program® in the communities and launched our new Forward Leaping Youth (F.L.Y.) Program®. And in late 2012, we moved into our new home in Pagedale and held our annual Stuff the Stocking and Holiday Support Program drives.
Our member base consists of low-income community representatives and individuals from the business community, plus our “junior” members representing the youth. We invite anyone that shares our common goals to participate.
R.A.A.! is the coordinating organization for the Jennings/North Central St. Louis Community Response Team; and a member of St. Louis Equal Housing & Community Reinvestment Alliance (SLEHCRA); Missourians to End Poverty (MEP); St. Louis Regional Unbanked Task Force; and the National Coalition of Community Reinvestment (NCRC); just to name a few.