We are a coalition of St. Louis, MO and East St. Louis, IL, community members with a common goal: to build communities where we can all thrive. Whether you have lived here for decades, are a new neighbor, run a small business, or work to build new places and spaces in the community, this is the place for you. We will listen and learn from each other and take action together to write a new chapter for our cities where everyone has what they need to thrive.


The Imagine If Issues Assembly is a community policy solutions design event. It's a space for neighbors, community groups, government officials, developers, and elected officials to come together and imagine solutions to create a St. Louis where everyone thrives. At the event, we will learn about Community Benefits Agreements (CBA) as a policy solution for equitable development and vote as a coalition on the best way to structure a Community Benefits Agreement law for STL that we can collaboratively champion in the months and years ahead.

You can expect to participate in a lively and engaging event that will inspire you to imagine new solutions for equitable development in St. Louis and East St. Louis. You'll learn about Community Benefits Agreements (CBAs), hear from community leaders, and participate in interactive activities to help us all imagine a better future. You'll also have the opportunity to network with other attendees and meet members of the Community Wealth Action Group (CWAG) who are working hard to make real changes in our communities.

Your attendance is important because we need everyone's voice to help create solutions that work for our communities. Being on time is important because we have a full agenda for the day and want to ensure we can cover everything. We also want to respect everyone's time and make sure we end the event on schedule.

Hosting the Imagine If Issues Assembly is important because it provides a space for us to come together and imagine new solutions for equitable development. By learning about Community Benefits Agreements and voting on the best way to structure a Community Benefits Agreement law for STL and that we can collaboratively champion in the months and years ahead, we can work towards building wealth and equity in our communities. The event is also an opportunity to meet other community members and build relationships that will help us all work towards a better future.


We believe in a just and equitable future for St. Louis, MO and East St. Louis, IL where we value each other's lived experience, foster the potential of every person and celebrate our shared prosperity. We know that when we imagine what’s possible, work together, listen deeply and stand in our power, we can transform our society from one that excludes and harms Black and Latinx communities to one that prioritizes and nurtures their wellbeing and economic prosperity.

We are transforming how development decisions are made across St. Louis City, MO and East St. Louis, IL to build communities where we all benefit from new investments. We know that Black and Latinx residents have been denied the opportunity to shape how development happens in their communities. But we are changing that—because the only way development can truly benefit a community is if residents are leaders in the development process. 


Community Benefits Agreements are a powerful tool that allow us to do just that. We like to think of them as a pact that residents and developers make to each other: residents promise to support, uplift and contribute to a new development project and developers promises to provide the community with benefits they identify as necessary, like quality jobs with good wages, affordable housing and public green spaces for everyone to enjoy. When we work together, we know that we can create a more just system that benefits us all.


A Community Benefit Agreement (CBA) is a legally binding contracts between developers and community based organizations, and are used to secure commitments from private developers around: 

  • Living wage ordinances 
  • Local workforce development
  • Local hiring
  • Community investment such as affordable housing

CWAG wants to achieve a Community Benefits Agreement ordinance in St. Louis City and East St. Louis that requires major development projects to engage in a CBA negotiations process.



As companies and developers plan to invest in St. Louis and East St. Louis real estate, there are currently no substantial, formal existing mechanisms to guarantee that the city tax dollars they create can be invested in workforce development and the revitalization of our communities. Community residents need a more direct route to negotiate community benefits with developers that seek incentives and support from St. Louis and East St. Louis taxpayers. 



We know there is a better way to approach development - a way that works for both the developer and the community. Over the next several months, we are working with as many stakeholders as possible to learn about your ideas, challenges, and experiences to help inform a truly collaborative and responsive set of policy recommendations that complement a Community Benefits Agreement. 


We believe that the most effective way to enact change is by centering the people who are most directly impacted. That is why our work is collaboratively led by community members and organizations who are deeply committed to St. Louis, MO and East St. Louis, IL. That means we center and value the lived experiences of our communities, honoring their perspective and trusting their instincts.     



We believe deeply that there is no economic justice without racial justice. We are honest about the centrality of racism in our society and actively work together to build a future where no one is left behind and everyone benefits from community wealth. 



We cannot do this work alone. We value each other’s potential and believe in the power that comes from bringing people together to fight for a common goal. We need neighbors, developers, elected officials, business owners and community leaders to contribute their knowledge and expertise. Bottom line: We are stronger together.  



We respect each other as partners on the path to a better future. We listen, learn, and create brave space for each other to speak hard truths freely and authentically.



We believe that relationships built on mutual care and respect are the foundation for a strong community. We know that when we come together, we can harness our collective power and actively work to shape our future.



We believe transformation requires imagination. The power of imagination gives us the ability to upend existing structures, create new systems and build a world in which we all have what we need to thrive.